What to Look for in Your Neighborhood's HOA

Joining a neighborhood HOA can be a great addition to your family’s life and routine. Not all HOA’s are going to be the same, though, and it’s important to have a general understanding of how they will work. You may have heard bad things about HOA’s, such as that there are too many rules in place or that it’s just an organization taking your money for nothing in return.

In reality, HOA’s can offer immense benefits to neighborhoods and they are all going to offer something different. Before you move into a neighborhood, find out the HOA style to make sure you can get on board with them.

Variances in HOAs

Before moving into a neighborhood, make sure you’ve looked at the conditions and rules of this one to make sure you can envision following these rules. You may see regulations on paint colors and a section on expected dues. Be sure to check how much it will cost, the level of enforcement to expect, what services they will provide its residents and the schedule of board meetings. Knowing these things will help you determine if the services are something you desire enough to be a part of it.

How they are similar

All HOAs are going to have rules, dues, meetings, and interactions amongst the group. It’s actually a great way to make friends because you’ll be able to build relationships with the board and with other members of the group. You can easily attend a meeting to see if you’re going to be interested in what an HOA is going to offer and to see if you would like the politics of an HOA before moving into a neighborhood.

While there are rules in place, they are there for a reason and that is typically to help homeowners maintain their property values, to protect homeowners from neighbors that want to sell their house too low or build a taller house that ruins the view, and to look out for the community as a whole. Of course, paying dues is no fun, but in exchange for your investment, you are getting services such as upkeep of common areas and community events.

What to keep in mind

You may have heard negative things about HOAs, but it’s important to keep your mind open to having one in your new neighborhood seeing that they can often make a problematic neighborhood situation resolved to protect the other homeowners.

If you do happen to break their rules, such as violating a rule in renovating your home, you will pay heavy fines and sometimes have to 'undo' the work. It’s a good idea to learn about the bylaws, such as how board members are elected or removed if there is a problem, and you may move into a neighborhood in which all homes are required to be a part of it.

It’s also a good idea to look at how it will affect your family. Do you tend to hate being told what to do, or can you accept that in the case of an HOA? Can you accept being told how to maintain your lawn or what colors your house may be painted?

Will the cost of the HOA affect your financial picture too much? Be sure to get the notes from the last meeting or talk to members to find out what an HOA is like before you move into a neighborhood, in case you don’t feel that it’s a good fit for your family.

Make sure you understand how all HOA’s work and what the one is like in the neighborhood that you are considering moving to before making the move.

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