Upon first meeting with buyer clients, they are anxious to share their wish lists for their new homes—open floor plans, quartz countertops, wood floors and large backyards with pools. We rarely hear a buyer say they would love a next-door neighbor with a weed-ridden front yard or a broken-down jalopy in the driveway. Most think they need to buy a home in a homeowners association (HOA) neighborhood to avoid this possibility. That is not necessarily the case.
These days, it is difficult to find a newer home that is not located within a homeowners association (HOA). The purpose of an HOA is to preserve, maintain and enhance the homes and property within the subdivision. The association provides services, regulates activities, levies assessments and imposes fines. Usually, each member of the HOA (meaning each household) pays a monthly assessment. Those assessments, or dues (which can range anywhere from $25 to $150 per month or more), are used to pay for expenses that arise from having and maintaining common property.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? The HOA will preserve your property values by ensuring that you and your neighbors adhere to the same set of rules. However, not all HOAs are created equal. While some neighborhoods enforce their HOA’s Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) stringently, others can be a little lax. It is best to do a little research before jumping in. Call the HOA’s management company and ask some questions; drive the neighborhood and observe what it looks like. Do homes appear to need painting or other maintenance? Are there broken windows or missing roof tiles? Do common areas appear to be maintained and attractive? Most importantly, read the CC&Rs carefully and determine whether you can follow the rules once you move in. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to be told when you can and can’t put your trash cans out, or that your basketball hoop violates the CC&Rs, an HOA neighborhood might not be for you.
Some folks believe that if they live in a neighborhood without an HOA, they must live with their neighbors’ RV permanently parked in the driveway, or put up with their other neighbor building a ramshackle garage addition. That is not the case. If you have a concern, call the code enforcement division of the city in which you reside. City codes exist to prevent neighborhood blight, and you do not need an HOA to enforce those violations.
If you’re looking for a new home—with or without an HOA—give us a call at Desert Heritage Real Estate!