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    Homeowners Associations 101: Get to Know the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    Like most things in life, homeowner’s associations (HOAs) come with their share of pros and cons.

    While some people welcome the chance to live in a well-run, orderly neighborhood, others resent the control these organizations exert over property owners. If you are considering a move into a Homeowners Associations managed community, it’s wise to get the lowdown first.

    Here is some important information about HOAs along with key benefits and drawbacks to consider.

    What is an HOA?

    A homeowner’s association is an organization that oversees a group of homes by setting and enforcing rules, as well as maintaining the common areas. HOAs are often found in planned communities and condominiums. Those who purchase a home in an HOA community are required to pay ongoing monthly fees to live there.

    The upside:

    • Your neighborhood will be neat and tidy.
      Most HOAs have rules about the community’s appearance. These include strict guidelines about keeping lawns manicured, sidewalks clean and free of debris, restrictions about parking large vehicles on the street, and limitations on exterior paint colors, among others. This type of oversight eliminates issues with a few rogue properties bringing down all the home values in the community.
    • You’ll enjoy access to amenities.
      Many HOAs provide recreational facilities, such as swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses, playgrounds, and community centers. Some sponsor children’s activities like sports teams and holiday parties, and some offer adult get-togethers as well.
    • Maintenance costs will be shared.
      HOA dues are earmarked for the maintenance of shared spaces. This includes community lawn care (not for your own yard), community snow removal (not for your own property), and upkeep of common areas like the entrance, pool, and fitness center.
    • They’ll run interference if needed.
      In many cases, your HOA can bail you out of neighborhood disputes. Are noisy late-night parties driving you nuts? Can’t stand your neighbor’s constantly-barking dog? There’s no need to confront your neighbor yourself. Instead, take your grievance to the HOA and they’ll make sure less-than-neighborly activity is put to halt.

    The downside:

    • The dues can be pricey.
      The downside of all the amenities, activities, and administration performed by your HOA is that they don’t come free. You’ll have to pay monthly dues over and above the cost of your mortgage. The dues vary, but they typically run in the hundreds of dollars per month, so be sure to factor them in when deciding whether an HOA home fits into your budget. And should you ever get behind on your dues, the HOA even has the authority to foreclose on your home.
    • Cookie-cutter policies can limit your freedom.
      HOAs can have some pretty stringent rules. Some even dictate what colors you can paint your house, how long your grass can be, what flowers you’re allowed to plant, and what types of decorations you can display.
    • Your community could be poorly managed.
      All HOAs are not created equal. While most HOA communities are well-maintained, there are always a few bad apples. Characteristics of a poorly-managed HOA include failing to provide regular lawncare or landscaping, failing to enforce parking rules, allowing public access to amenities, and failing to fix broken walkways or stairs. Before purchasing a home in an HOA community, ask residents for their opinions regarding the management.
    • Big Brother is watching.
      It sounds great to have the HOA taking care of pesky nuisance neighbors, but what happens if someone sees you as the problem? It’s not fun to receive a nasty letter or a fine for simple things like performing routine car maintenance or playing your radio too loud.

    HOAs aren’t for everyone.

    If you want total privacy or the ability to alter your home’s appearance, you probably won’t be happy living in an Homeowners Associations community. On the other hand, if you want to live in a pristine place with ample amenities, then HOA living may be perfect for your needs. Be sure to carefully weigh the pros and cons of HOA life before making a final decision.

    The Certified Title team is here with helpful insights and valuable resources that enhance all types of residential and commercial real estate transactions. If you have questions about HOAs or need more information, please contact our knowledgeable professionals.


    About Certified Title Corporation: Since 1994, attorney-owned Certified Title Corporation has been furnishing residential and commercial real estate stakeholders across the nation with robust title insurance, settlement, and escrow services. Renowned for its industry-leading reliability and exemplary level of service and quality, the Maryland-based company helps clients from all walks of life achieve their asset goals. To learn more, call (888)486-5511 or visit https://www.certifiedtitlecorp.com/.

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