If you are house-hunting or thinking about starting your home search, you will more than likely come across a few homes that have an HOA or a Homeowners Association. It is important that you understand what a homeowners association is and how it can affect you. Living in a neighborhood with an HOA has its advantages and disadvantages. You should weigh the pros and cons before you make any decisions, but also keep in mind, not all HOAs are the same. Check out our list of pros and cons below but keep in mind you will want to get more specific details from your agent about an HOA at a property you are interested in.
What Is an HOA?
A homeowners association is an organization that oversees services and enforces rules over a defined group of homes. HOAs are commonly found in neighborhoods, communities, and apartments. According to the North Carolina Attorney General’s website, “subdivisions with homeowners’ associations established after January 1, 1999, are governed by the North Carolina Planned Community Act. However, no state or federal agency oversees homeowners’ associations. If you are unhappy with a decision made by the homeowners’ association board, you can ask the board to review the problem or consider consulting with a private attorney. ” If you purchase a home in an HOA community, you must pay dues to live in that community. You must also follow the rules established by the HOA. HOA fees can range from $20 a month to $1,000 or more.
Let’s start with the bad news first. Keep in mind all HOAs are different. These are just some of the things we have seen in our years of experience.
- HOA fees can be expensive. Unfortunately, depending on your amenities your dues can get pretty pricey. If you fall behind on paying them, the HOA can move to foreclose on your property.
- You may not be able to add on or paint your home. An HOA can tell you what you can and cannot do to the outside of your home. You may not be able to add on a screened-in porch or paint your front door. Want to get a basketball hoop or cut down a tree that is hanging over your car? Any exterior modification, no matter how small, will more than likely have to be approved by the HOA. Usually, you have to submit plans that then are discussed among them which can really slow down the process.
- They can spring assessments on you. If the HOA needs cash to cover an expenditure, they can impose an assessment to come up with the money.
- You have to follow their rules. This can be something as small as not being allowed to hang your towels over your front railing to something as big as not allowing dogs in the community. Unfortunately, what they say goes so you will want to make sure you understand all of their rules before moving into an HOA community.
There are a lot of benefits to community living with an HOA. Here are some that we feel are very important.
- HOAs provide amenities. Buying into an HOA may give you access to nice amenities that you may not be able to afford otherwise. Many of these communities have pools, tennis courts, clubhouses, gyms, and more that are all maintained by the HOA.
- You will have less responsibility. In some neighborhoods, the HOA takes care of maintenance you usually would have to preform yourself such as mowing the grass or snow removal. They also take care of the common areas such as the front entrance to the neighborhood or walking paths.
- The HOA handles disputes between neighbors. Fights with people you live near can become intense. One advantage of a homeowners association is they will usually help mediate disputes between neighbors. For example, if someone is having a loud party, you could call the HOA instead of contacting the neighbor directly.
- You may have more social activities. Many times, HOAs like to try to foster a sense of community so they try to get neighbors out to do things together. This can include block parties, social gatherings, and holiday events that are paid for by your dues.
When it comes to HOA communities, you want to have a real estate agent that you can trust. Our teams in Raleigh, Lake Gaston, and South Hill have years of experience with HOA boards. We can help you make a decision that is right for you whether that means you want to live in a community with an HOA or only want to look at homes without an HOA fee. Start your home search online today!