Home Owners Associations-Are They For You?

From time to time I get clients who request I search for a property that has no home owners association, or HOA, governing the neighborhood. Reasons range from having had a bad experience with one in the past, to not wanting the added expense, or in some cases, a desire to do something with the property that would be restricted under normal covenants and restrictions. So how do you decide if an HOA is for you?  Start by asking yourself a few key questions:

1) Do I have plans to use the property for something unusual, such as keeping livestock, or storing cars or trailers?
2) Will I have an issue if a neighbor wants to do something like that?
3) What are my expectations for my neighbors and my neighborhood? How can we keep it looking its best?
4) Do I want community amenities? A pool, a playground?

Generally speaking, if you want to escape an HOA, you need to think about a more rural location. Similarly, if you want a larger lot than currently being offered in new subdivisions, you also need to think rural. However, a larger lot in a rural location with no covenants and restrictions also means that unless there are zoning laws in effect (which seem to be rare in rural NC), you might end up with a singlewide mobile home on the lot next to your new all brick two story transitional home with the horse barn and oversize garage for your motor home.

So in some cases an HOA can be your best friend. Square foot requirements, siding restrictions, architectural review boards, all can keep your community looking nice, and protect your investment. What you have to decide is what do you get for your HOA dues, and do you preceive it as a good value?

If you are considering a neighborhood, and have questions about the HOA, ask your agent to find the covenants and restrictions for your review. Most real estate offices try to keep current CCRs on file for that purpose. If you are going to pay for the service an HOA provides, you should know what you’re getting.

Here’s one last thought; if you do move into a neighborhood and don’t like the way the HOA is run, get involved and change it from the inside. Most associations I know are always looking for people to step up and lead.


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