Should I buy a home without an HOA?

June 8, 2022
Posted in Programs
June 8, 2022 derekevansteam

Homeowners associations (HOAs) get a bad rap. Sometimes it may seem like they’re the fun police, cracking down on any and every violation no matter how small and doling out fines for homeowners who don’t comply. But there are reasons for their existence, and a lot of them are good. Whether or not you should buy a house in an HOA neighborhood really depends on your priorities, wants, and needs in a property. While you may not be able to paint your house pink or have a garden in your front lawn, typically homes in HOA neighborhoods are higher in value and do come with a sense of unity and cleanliness. In this article, we’ll go over some of the benefits and downsides of having an HOA so you can decide whether or not it’s right for you.

Benefits of an HOA

Higher property value. Curb appeal is an essential component in the property value of your home. Things like lawn maintenance, paint, siding, etc. are important to take care of to preserve the aesthetics of your home. But unfortunately when it comes time to sell, buyers aren’t just going to be looking at the state of your home. They’re going to survey the entire area. And if your neighbors aren’t as invested in maintaining the aesthetics of their property, that’s going to affect your home’s value. Seems unfair, right? This is where an HOA can benefit you, as they are able to impose fines onto those who do not maintain a certain standard of appearance.

Helping to resolve disputes with neighbors. Have you ever lived adjacent to someone so insufferable that you wonder if the universe put them there just to make your life miserable? We’ve all had that neighbor. But sometimes things go too far, and you may find yourself the victim of harassment from someone who lives right down the street. Or perhaps you’ve noticed a neighbor letting their weeds grow knee high and aren’t quite sure how to broach the issue. If you’re experiencing these issues, you can file complaints with your HOA and they will address the issues for you.

Common area maintenance. Oftentimes neighborhoods will have parks, pools, golf courses, tennis courts, gardens, etc. that offer perks to homeowners. They also serve to further beautify the neighborhood. The HOA not only allows these things to be offered, it will facilitate the maintenance and keeping of these facilities. You can enjoy these amenities fully knowing you’re not responsible for the hassle of upkeep!

Other benefits. Having an HOA can add a sense of pride and harmony for a community. Offering facilities and spaces where the community can gather is helpful for neighborly engagement and relationship building. Everyone pays into the HOA dues which creates a sense of responsibility and pride for one’s community. 

Downsides of HOAs

The jokes about HOAs being the actual worst don’t come completely unfounded. Like anything, there are cons. 

Fees and fines! In order to get the benefits of the HOA, you must pay monthly fees. These can range anywhere from $30 to $300, to even close to $3,000 for some of the extreme luxury neighborhoods. If you buy a home in an HOA neighborhood, you must pay the monthly fee. There’s no getting out of it even if you don’t use the amenities, everyone has to pay. 

In addition to base fees, you can also get fined if you violate the HOA code. Hopefully you will receive a warning the first time with instructions on how to get your home back into compliance. 

Lack of freedom. One of the main benefits of an HOA can also be one of the main downsides, depending on what kind of person you are. If you’re a creative free spirit who likes to personalize their property with unique paint, decor, and landscaping, living in an HOA neighborhood could be tough for you. Usually, you must follow a strict code that limits everything from landscaping to paint color. This also contributes to the cookie cutter effect where every house in the neighborhood looks the same.

What you should know when considering a home with an HOA

When deciding whether or not to buy a home in a neighborhood with an HOA, it’s important to consider a lot of factors across the board and analyze how they all interplay. For example, if the HOA fee is $300 a month, that’s pretty pricey. But if there’s a pool and a well-maintained golf course and your family loves swimming and golfing, this may be well worth the price. But if you’re someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy either of those activities and much prefers gardening and decorating your lawn with quirky ornaments, this is likely not the move for you. 

On a deeper level, you should also request a copy of the HOA covenants and restrictions to review before submitting an offer on a home. This will allow you to assess whether or not these are restrictions that you feel OK adhering to with your new property. 

All in all, this decision is highly personal. But as long as you stay informed and know what you’re getting into with an HOA before you buy, it could end up being the best decision you could have made.