Buying A Home with a HOA- By: Jamie Mathwig
Once upon a time, the idea of living in a community with an active Homeowners Association seemed to be the reserve of retirees and empty-nesters. But as the US housing market continues to show signs of restlessness, many younger families and first-time buyers are being increasingly attracted to homes that fall under the watchful eyes of a residential association. But what are the advantages of buying a home in a community where owners are required to subscribe to a series of rules and regulations?
The convenience of having someone else take care of the overall maintenance of your immediate neighborhood can be very alluring. Monthly fees may cover everything from snow-removal, lawn cutting and property repairs, to the provision and upkeep of common areas including community buildings, pools and gardens. It is easy to see why these kinds of communities appeal to many mature home seekers who might be downsizing, and seeking a more relaxing lifestyle as they enter retirement. Many older buyers may well have a second home, and the convenience of being able to lock up a house and head off for protracted periods of time, adds to the appeal of buying in a subdivision with a homeowners association. Younger buyers too, many with families or simply too busy to worry about basic property maintenance, find the convenience equally appealing. Quiet, safe streets are also an attractive feature of these kinds of neighborhoods.
The variety of home styles available in such managed communities vary enormously. Buyers will find everything from large custom-built family houses, to lovely ranch homes with spacious yards in tranquil, private streets. As a result of the collective ownership of the neighborhood, most communities with a homeowners association are imbrued with an overwhelming sense of pride. And, especially important in the current housing market, the likelihood that properties will maintain their value better in well-kept neighborhoods, where frequent external property repairs and landscaping ensure an appealing aesthetic, only adds to the attraction.
One of the main criticisms aimed at such communities is that the rules and regulations enforced by some homeowners associations can seem somewhat Draconian and unnecessarily strict. Owners are often restricted in such seemingly trivial matters as what color paint may be used on the exterior of their property, or how high a fence around a yard may be. However, residents are encouraged to join HOA boards, where they can help shape the future of their community and become involved in decision making.
Ultimately, the thought of living in a community with a HOA will appeal to some home seekers, and not others. The sheer convenience of living in a private, single family home with all the benefits of a condominium, can be highly attractive for a number of reasons. Alternatively, the idea that home owners are required to adhere to countless restrictions can be seriously off-putting for many home seekers. Each homeowners association will have its own set of rules and regulations, and it is essential that would-be property buyers investigate the fine print before committing to a purchase. It may be that you find the perfect home in the ideal neighborhood, with a progressive HOA, but make sure that you do your research and seek the advice of a local real estate professional before making a commitment.
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