This week, we had the annual Homeowners' Association meeting for my neighborhood. It was a very uneventful and (blissfully) short affair, but in my experience that is not usually the case! HOAs are something many people feel very strongly about - they love them, hate them, or think of them as a necessary evil. I've had buyers refuse to look at homes that have an HOA of any sort, and I've had others who are partial to a very active one. I live in Cary - the land of the planned unit development where HOAs are the norm, not the exception - and each one I've encountered has been unique with its own little quirks.
Here are a few of the commonly heard Pros and Cons of HOAs:
Pros: Maintains and pays for upkeep of common elements and amenities; in some communities, takes care of lawn, grounds, and exterior maintenance of individual residences; mediates disputes between residents; helps coordinate community events like holiday gatherings or block parties; and helps maintain or raise property values by regulating certain behaviors within the neighborhood.
Cons: The perception that "Big Brother" is watching and policing your every move; the HOA can regulate and even prohibit the leasing of your property; dues are an added expense many would prefer to avoid - and they can increase over time without much warning; if an HOA uses a management company to enforce its rules and regulations, some feel this is giving up too much control to people who do not have a vested interest in the community.
Whatever your preference, it is important to be informed! An HOA can determine whether you can put a For Sale or For Lease sign in your yard - definitely helpful if you are planning to sell your home - and sometimes, the HOA can prohibit leasing your property altogether, which is of vital interest to an investor. As a buyer, you will want to know if you are allowed to park your boat or RV in the driveway, or what type of fence you'll be permitted to use in your yard, and even whether or not your new home will allow your pet to move in with you.
As a Realtor, it's my job to make sure that my clients understand the role of the HOA in their community, whether they are buying or selling a home. In NC, sellers are required to disclose certain information about the home's HOA to prospective buyers - this includes contact info for the HOA management, dues and assessments, included amenities, what dues and fees cover, and restrictions imposed by the HOA . If buyers do not receive the necessary disclosures in a timely manner, they can (under certain conditions) even cancel the contract to purchase the home. Learn the facts about your HOA - then, you can be confident that whichever home you choose will be the right one!