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Housing Associations - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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By : Lauren Spencer    99 or more times read
You may have seen the story last year, concerning the Texas soldier who lost his home while on active service in Iraq. To summarize, US National Guard Capt. Michael Clauer's family lost the property after his local housing association sold it as a foreclosure after HOA dues, totaling less than $1000, went unpaid for period of time while Clauer's wife suffered from a bout of depression. The $315,000 house, which was fully owned by the Clauers, was sold for just over $3,000. Obviously, this story went stellar, and the whole question of how much power a HOA can wield was brought into question.

Texas law differs considerably to many other states in this respect and despite the moral question of whether this should have been allowed to happen, it was technically above board. The argument that home owners knowingly agree to abide by local HOA regulations, where non-payment of fees can result in a home being sold in foreclosure is clearly stated, is being used in defense of the order. Naturally, the fact that the victims here include a serving US soldier, is being used to highlight a significant issue of whether there should be certain dispensations, and a change in communication policies prior to a home being sold by a HOA.

While many home owner association supporters concede that the threat of foreclosures is an often regrettable tool used to ensure that fees are paid, they clearly stand by it. And, in their defense, they follow a strict, if seemingly flawed, set of guidelines in the process. Only if the terms, as set out in these guidelines, are not met, will the property be sold. Unfortunately there seems to be little flexibility, or consideration for circumstance, in so many cases.

Of course, a whole national debate is now raging about the validity of HOAs, and how much power they employ, and should be allowed to have. Especially as more and more US citizens find themselves in financial uncertainty. On the one hand, many people appreciate the many amenities and services that come with being under the jurisdiction of an active home owners' association. Others, meanwhile, question the intent of those on the boards, and of the strict and often draconian measures they enforce. Undoubtedly, there are great HOAs, and equally, there are some pretty terrible HOAs.

The situation of the unfortunate Texas soldier's tale, has had online forums and newspaper letters pages bursting with opinion, and Americans from coast to coast have been happy to support, or condemn, the organizations; depending on their many personal and varied experiences.

Many of those who oppose the actions of the Texas HOA are convinced of an 'inside job', citing the unbelievably low selling price and lack of personal attempts to communicate with Capt. Clauer's wife. After all, they say, the members of the association are, in essence, the Clauers' neighbors, not some distant autocratic alliance. Others argue that if HOAs are so keen to preserve the quality of the communities that they serve, why would they sell of homes so cheaply? Surely that would ultimately result in absent landlords, or low-income residents who may also default on fees? Why was there no attempt to try and work out a compromise in order to keep a family in their fully-paid-for home?

Perhaps this sad, far from clear-cut, story is simply one tale among many and the months ahead will see countless examples of unbending, rule abiding, HOAs simply sticking to the signed agreements with no question of leniency. Equally, it could be that many associations relax their terms, in an effort to keep more Americans in their homes during the bumpy ride back to fiscal normality.
Everything you need to know about Santa Cruz real estate is right here at Lauren Spencer, Coldwell Banker Realtor will be glad to answer your questions about homes in Watsonville CA.

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