What You Should Know About Having an HOA 

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If you’re actively house hunting, chances are very good you’ll come across properties governed by a Homeowners Association (HOA) or similar community organization. What makes them so popular? Well, in just about every case, HOAs are created by real estate developers to make sure all residents follow a set of rules designed to keep property values as high as possible. There’s nothing much wrong with that. 

A study by the Community Associations Institute (CAI) found that as of 2021, around 74 million people—nearly a quarter of the US population—lived in community associations as of 2021, a 20% increase over the previous decade. Even more surprising, 65% of single-family homes built in 2020 were in community association-governed developments.     

Obviously, living in an HOA community has become increasingly common and there are many positive aspects. However, if you’ve spent time on Q&A websites like Quora, you’ll also see that while they’re ideal for many people, others feel an HOA cramps their style. No matter how you feel about HOAs personally, we wanted to give you some top-level information about the pros and cons before you sign on the dotted line. 

The Upside 

One of the best things about living in an HOA neighborhood is that the board members focus primarily on maintaining property values. HOA rules help ensure that homes and yards are kept up to community standards and that nobody will paint their house neon pink or turn their front lawn into a junkyard. 

HOA fees are typically anywhere from $100 to $1000 per month. They pay for things like the landscaping of shared green spaces, snow removal, recreational facilities, community events and road paving. They may also go toward maintaining community swimming pools and fitness centers and in some cases, security, concierge and valet services. Living in an HOA also typically means a safer, more secure environment since HOA neighborhoods often have watch programs, security patrols and controlled access entries.  

With all this going for HOAs it’s not too surprising that CAI’s 2020 Homeowners Satisfaction Survey revealed that nearly 90% of residents rate their overall community association experience as “very good or good” or “neutral,” and that their elected governing board “absolutely” or “for the most part” serves the best interests of the community. 

The Potential Drawbacks 

If you generally find rules and regulations bothersome, an HOA community may not be for you. HOAs almost always have community covenants and rule restrictions (CC&Rs) in place that restrict how owners can paint or decorate their property, where they can park cars, and whether or not the home can be rented or leased. HOAs also have a reputation for imposing very specific aesthetic rules about things like the height of grass, lawn decorations, fencing and even whether you can fly a flag in your yard. 

Depending upon how it’s set up, an HOA board can wield a lot of power. And because HOA board members are volunteers, they’re at best a team of semi-professionals in terms property management experience and they may not always make the fairest decisions. There can be pettiness and ego trips—and if you disagree strongly about a new rule, a fine or a fee increase, you may find yourself in a frustrating, often expensive battle. Also be aware that many HOAs have the authority to attach a lien to properties and can even foreclose on them. Just do a basic online search and you’ll discover an increasing number of stories about people losing property due to unpaid taxes, HOA fees, liens or foreclosures. 

The Final Decision is Up to You 

An HOA isn’t for everyone, but for the right person in the right community, the positives can often outweigh the drawbacks. Still on the fence (and is it at an HOA-approved height)? Do some research online. If possible, talk to current residents to get the inside scoop on the HOA’s board members, rules and fees. Then make the move that’s best for you. 

Planning a Move Soon?  

Whether you’re headed to an HOA community, a big-city high-rise or a rural retreat, it’s smart to move with experienced, reputable professionals. United’s full-service moving packages provide flexibility to mix and match the services you want and need, from packing and unpacking to standard furniture placement.     

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Do you need help settling in? Check out our other blogs for moving tips and packing advice, as well as city guides and a wealth of other helpful, time—saving information.  

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