Weighing the Pros and Cons of a High HOA Fee
By Jane Blanchard
A lovely home in a gated community with a community pool and tennis court — it’s a dream for many. Communities such as this have an HOA fee to cover amenities, but is a high HOA fee a good thing or a bad thing?
An HOA (Homeowner’s Association) fee is designed to help the community maintain a level of consistency in appearance, and for upkeep of the pool, playgrounds, tennis courts, and golf courses, by collecting monthly fees. The association fees collects may be run by volunteers from the association board, or a management company may be hired to oversee the property.
The HOA oversees upkeep of all the common areas, including mowing, road repair, and all the community amenities. In short, they maintain all the things you bought the home for.
You don’t have to worry about shoveling snow or cutting the grass. This means you have more free time and don’t have to worry about hiring your neighbor’s kid. Your neighborhood will also maintain a well-cared for appearance.
If neighbors have a dispute, the HOA can act as mediator. They should be able to come to an impartial, amicable solution so that you and the neighbor can continue to live in the same community without any problem.
Your property value is protected because the HOA regulates all the little things that keep your neighborhood beautiful. No trash cans will litter the curb, cars will not be parked improperly on the road overnight, and garage doors will be closed.
Your HOA may host block parties and events, which builds community spirit.
You don’t have a say in individualizing your home. Grass is mowed to a certain height, you may not be allowed to have a big dog in the yard, and only certain flowers can be planted.
The dues raise your monthly house payment, and these dues will probably go up year to year. It is hard to budget when you don’t know what the dues will be. How much home you can afford may depend on the HOA fee.
There are so many rules that it is hard to keep track of them. Repainting your home will have to be approved, your fencing has to fit certain specs, parking in the driveway may be forbidden, who you rent to has to be approved.
Special assessments may be levied without warning for big improvements, such as repaving the roads, replacing the fencing, or repairs to the pool. If you aren’t able to pay the assessment in a timely manner, they can place a lien on your home.
HOA boards may be difficult to deal with. If you have a volunteer board, they may be hard to contact or have their own agenda in settling disputes. A management company is easy to contact, but may be impersonal because they don’t live within the community.
A Homeowner’s Association can be a great thing for your community and ensure that your property maintains its value. Do your homework, and be sure you and your family agree with the rules and can live within them before signing on the dotted line.
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