Homeowners associations, or HOAs, are becoming increasingly common across the United States. HOAs typically can be responsible for multi-unit housing complexes, most often including condos and townhouses, or they can preside over planned communities full of single-family homes. Regardless of the type of residence they are considering, some potential homeowners still feel hesitant about committing to homes that involve HOAs. As soon as an individual buys a home that is a part of an HOA-run community, the homeowner will become a part of the HOA themself. However, much of the anxiety that potential homeowners feel when considering HOAs surrounds a perceived lack of control. Some homeowners feel as if they will be giving up control over their homes after becoming a part of HOAs, subject to rules and regulations that they may not necessarily agree with. Additionally, some are concerned about the fees associated with HOAs. On a general level, American homeowners paid roughly $88 billion in assessments towards community associations in 2016 alone. Those kinds of numbers can be frightening to potential homeowners, even if they really comprise the big picture rather than details.
But HOAs also come with a lot of benefits, especially for families. Parents need to consider not only what is good for them when evaluating homes, but what is good for their children as well. Though this can certainly make it more difficult for a person to decide whether or not HOAs are right for them, children’s needs must be considered as houses, condos, and townhomes are evaluated. With that being said, below is a list of pros and cons of living in a home with an HOA, for both the parents and their children.
Pro: HOAs Offer Recreational Amenities
This particular pro is especially important to parents with children. Many people invest in homes within neighborhoods or communities that are perfectly fine but don’t necessarily offer many — if any — recreational amenities. Homeowners are making big investments to live in specific areas but are really only benefiting directly through their homes, not the area at large. HOAs take the fees that they collect and quite often offer recreational amenities for adults and children alike. These could include a community pool, a tennis court, parks, and greenways. HOA members won’t have to pay any additional fees to take advantage of these amenities, and the amenities themselves are kept up through regular HOA fees. They’ll also be insured against losses, which means that HOA members and their families will always be able to access functional facilities. Not only does this offer parents and kids the ability to have a lot more fun and build bonds with their neighbors; they’ll also be able to get out and exercise more often.
Con: You Can’t Make Changes Easily
Yes, an individual does become a member of an HOA once they buy a home within an HOA-run community. Yes, they will fully own their homes just as they would if they did not belong to an HOA. But that doesn’t mean that they can make changes to their homes whenever they wish. If they’d like to make an addition to their property, like adding a deck or updating the porch, the homeowner will need to have their request approved by the HOA’s board. For a variety of different reasons, the HOA may deny a homeowner’s request to update their home. This means that HOA-run properties are not ideal for those who would like to flip houses; with over 6% of all homes sold in 2016 being sold as the result of flipping, this is something that all homeowners should consider.
Pro: HOAs Provide Maintenance Services
Although homeowners may feel limited by the fact that they can’t make updates whenever they wish, they also don’t need to worry about paying additional money for a lot of regular maintenance services. Usually, homeowners not only pay for their houses but the upkeep costs that will recur throughout the years. But HOAs have rules regarding the appearance of homes in their communities. Therefore, a home’s maintenance services will be maintained through the HOA. Things like exterior painting, cutting the lawn, and taking care of holes on the property will be handled by the HOA. Homeowners should consider how much value these maintenance services add; with duct heating and cooling systems being added to 90% of new homes in the U.S., these systems will need to be maintained, and HOAs can ensure that this happens in a regular manner. This not only makes life easier for homeowners, but it ensures that children are in safe, clean homes and communities.
Con: Homeowners Will Be Connected to HOAs Financially
Before committing to a community run by an HOA, homeowners need to recognize that they will be linked financially to their HOA as long as they live in the community. When an HOA experiences financial difficulties, it may be more difficult for homeowners to obtain home loans and could additionally hurt the value of the homes in the community.
Pro: HOAs Can Also Add Value
While it’s important that HOAs stay on top of their financials and ensure that they maintain the integrity of the community, if they do so properly they can add a lot of value to homes. It’s important for homeowners to understand this when considering whether or not they should invest in homes that are run by HOAs. Many buyers like the idea of maintenance services and special amenities being covered by HOA fees. All homes should be considered in terms of their long term prospects as financial investments, as 95% of buyers of houses listed with real estate agents need to go through bank financing processes in order to secure their funding. If homes with HOAs have the edge of homes without HOAs in this sense, that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In the long term, both parents and children can benefit from HOAs. But they won’t be right for everyone. Every buyer should consider factors relating to HOAs individually, and relate them to their own circumstances carefully. If they do so, it will be easier for them to make the right decisions.