Purchasing a home is a big deal, so when you do, you want to make sure it’s somewhere you can actually live. Just like in any neighborhood, living in a homeowners association has its pros and cons, but the positive outweighs the negative. That being said, it’s good to consider both.
PROS of Living in a Homeowners Association
- Sometimes it’s the only option available if you want to own – This is the norm in many cities. If you just want to be a homeowner then the only thing you have to choose from are homes that are part of an Association.
- There is a higher level of quality in general – This is due to the CC&Rs, Bylaws, and Rules and Regulations that are the governing documents of the Association community to provide a higher quality of life.
- You have access to amenities – Homeowners associations come in all shapes and sizes, but some common amenities you have access to include a clubhouse, pool, exercise room, and grassy areas.
- Social aspect – The clubhouse, pool and other common areas are great places to casually get to know your neighbors and other residents in the Association. Many Associations also offer events to attend and it’s always a good idea to attend a board meeting to stay informed.
- A uniformity in the community – Associations are (usually) well maintained. When an HOA enforces maintenance – for example, the structure of the building, type of roof, color of paint, cement, etc. – there is a sense of continuity within the community.
- Neighborhood watch spirit – Even if there isn’t an official neighborhood watch program in place, residents in a homeowners association tend to look out for each other and the well-being of the neighborhood community. Associations also have the ability as a community to hire onsite patrol if they agree to.
- A board of directors to enforce – Every Association has a board of directors that serves as an entity to hear and address issues in the Association community, as well as enforce the rules and regulations of the community.
CONS of Living in a Homeowners Association
- Rules & regulations that tell you how to live – When you live in a homeowners association you are expected to adhere to the rules and regulations of the community. They essentially tell you how to live, so you better read the CC&Rs, Bylaws and Rules & Regulations ahead of time to make sure you understand what’s expected of you and what’s expected of the Association – and can be okay with that. For example, it can be stressful to live in a community where the focus is only on keeping assessments low. This puts the financial integrity of the Association at risk and can lead to special assessments later.
- An ineffective board – When board members don’t enforce the rules and regulations or don’t understand the nuances of how to manage an Association, it could be a very dysfunctional and disorganized environment to live in.
- A heavy handed board – If the board has the overall attitude that it’s “The Boss” than there will be little grace in handling enforcement issues and interacting with the board in general.
- A property manager that isn’t a leader – If a homeowners association has an HOA manger their job is to pay attention to what’s going on in the community, help the board make reasonable business decisions, and stand up for the best interest of the Association.
It’s your job as a potential or current member of a homeowners association to be informed and think through everything that is part of living in an HOA. The best things you can do is understand the CC&Rs and the expectations of you and the Association; make sure the Board is making reasonable business decisions that protect, maintain, and enhance the Association; and become an active member, voter, and even board member in your community.