Cynthia Owens - Five College REALTORS ®



Posted by Cynthia Owens on 9/24/2020

Photo by Robert Arthur Designs via Shutterstock

If you’re moving to a new city, particularly an area with new development, you may discover that most homes are part of a homeowner’s association. If you’ve never been part of one before, you might not understand their function and why they are useful within a neighborhood.

When an association functions properly, it improves the value of homes in the community. The rules and conditions keep your neighbors from infringing on your rights and vice versa.

Here’s a brief list of how your HOA benefits you:

  • It handles disputes between neighbors, so if your neighbor’s tree falls on your fence, the association mediates getting your fence repaired. Rules regarding approval for changes, renovations or upgrades to exteriors keep your neighbor from adding a second story that blocks your lake view or changing their exterior to a particularly obnoxious shade of orange.
  • It gives access to and maintains shared or common property. Typically, playgrounds, pools and parks fall into this category. In the case of condominiums and patio homes, the HOA often handles repairs to the exterior, roofs, elevators, garage doors and fences. Entry doors, hallways, and security also often fall under the jurisdiction of the association.
  • Many HOAs hire a property management service to take care of entry gates for a gated community, make agreements for waste removal and negotiate with the city regarding rezoning that might affect your home.
  • In some cases, HOAs handle the landscaping on the front of your home so that you only take care of your enclosed back yard or patio. For busy homeowners, this is quite an advantage. Other associations merely govern how long you can let your grass grow. This protects you from a negligent property owner that doesn’t take care of the house down the street.

While some of the rules may seem onerous, quizzing longtime residents can give insight into why one or another was added. A rule about basketball hoops in the driveway might make it seem as if they don’t want your kids playing out front. But perhaps the rule resulted from a freak windstorm that sent a freestanding basketball hoop across the street and through a neighbor’s window. Unless you ask, you don’t know.

Take time to attend your HOA meetings and become involved in the community. Even run for office and make your voice heard. If you have questions about living in an HOA community, your professional real estate agent can answer them.




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Categories: Home Buyer  


Posted by Cynthia Owens on 9/14/2017

While they have become ubiquitous with the emergence of suburban neighborhoods and townhouses, homeowners associations (HOA, for short) are a relatively new phenomenon.

In modern America, there are many ways to live: apartments, condominiums, houses, townhouses, and now even “tiny houses” are gaining traction. But it wasn’t until the late 1900s that property owners began to experiment with alternative ways of living that revolved around share, “common spaces.”

What constitutes a common area?

Whether you live in an apartment, a house, or in your RV you likely experience common areas every day that are owned by the government. Roads, bridges, and parks are all common areas in that they are used by multiple people and their upkeep is paid for with taxes.

If you take that analogy and apply it to the greenways and lobbies of a condominium, or the streets and sidewalks of a gated community, there are few differences.

What is a homeowners association?

When a developer plans a new community they will often create a homeowners association that will be managed by the people who move into the houses or condominiums. Once a certain number of people have moved into the development and joined the HOA the developer will typically hand over ownership to the HOA and relinquish their legal rights and responsibilities of the land. From there, the HOA typically has complete control over management. Though it should be noted that states have their own HOA related laws with varying levels of oversight.

What does an HOA do?

The most common thing we associate with HOAs is fees and rules. People who move into a community governed by a homeowners association are typically required to join the HOA and are therefore obligated to pay fees and adhere to the guidelines set down by the HOA board.

The fees you pay will go towards maintenance and development of the common areas of your community. That usually amounts to landscaping, maintaining pools and fitness complexes. Fees can range from anywhere between $200 and $450 per month depending on where you live.

HOAs also enforce regulations that homeowners must follow. These vary depending on the community but often include building restrictions for things like fences and additions, as well as other ways that homeowners can customize their homes such as paint and vinyl color. Some homeowners associations go so far as to regulate whether or not a homeowner may fly the flag on their favorite sports team over their door.

Advantages and disadvantages

So what are the advantages and disadvantages you can expect when you belong to a homeowners association? Let’s start with the clear disadvantages. If you are a tinkerer or someone who relishes the freedom to do what they want with their property, living in an HOA-run community might not be right for you. If your salary isn’t quite what you’d like it to be, the cost of living in an HOA neighborhood, along with the monthly fees, might be a bit more than you’re comfortable with.

What about the advantages? First, you can expect that the neighborhood will be well-maintained. This brings about another advantage in that you can expect your property value to grow or at least remain stable thanks to the quality of the neighborhood being carefully managed.




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