Is the Home Owner's Association a good thing or bad?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 25, 2009 3:58 AM GMT
    I'm very curious as to see what some people think about this. HOA fees can be very expensive (even if it is only yearly), but it wonder whether or not a person who lives in an HOA area actually owns their property. From anyone's experience, what is the good and bad in this association? Opinions?
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    Jul 25, 2009 4:29 AM GMT
    It really depends. In some communities, your HOA fees help pay for some or all of the following..

    Landscaping and upkeep, security, community center (pool, tennis courts, gym, etc), insurance, water/sewer service, trash pickup, basic cable, high speed internet.

    Are they bad? Yes and no. Most Associations have some legal stipulation that allows them to repo your house/condo if you don't pay your fees, or maintain their standards. Also, if you're a DIY kinda guy, you're probably going to hate a HOA because often times they are strict on any major changes/additions you make to your own house/condo.

    But if you prefer hassle free living and don't like to do chores and maintenance around the house, then a HOA would be a good thing.

    Personally, I would never want to live in a place that has a HOA. I really don't like the idea of someone else dictating what I can and can't do to my own home. Plus, around here in the LA area, the HOA fees are outrageously high and you don't get much from it. In some of the newer condo developments, there are two HOA fees you have to pay.. one for the general upkeep and another that goes directly to the HOA. WTF? The highest HOA fee I've seen was something like $1400 a month. Screw that. It's like paying two mortgages.
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    Jul 25, 2009 4:47 AM GMT
    If condo associations are included here, well, first, they are obviously necessary, because all the land, or a lot of it, depending, is owned in common. Secondy, they can be a pain in the neck, because you have to get approval for so many things -- generally you can't do any exterior change, even paint your door an anapporved color. Sometimes you will need approval for even interior work, because it may affect another homeowner.
    I am on a condo board, and so much depends on the personalities of the board members. Ours in a congenial group, but it is difficult to get people to join the board. I would not have done it before I retired, for sure. It takes a lot of time, you are constantly hearing complaints fro other homowners, and the pleasure of being there (this condo is at a beach) is considerably lessened.
    I would not be inclined to make my permanent home in an HOA or condo unless I were physically unable to take care of a single familly house, or could not afford one.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 25, 2009 8:05 AM GMT
    They keep people from painting their houses purple and keep people from putting pink flamingoes in their yards. Over all: good thing.
  • NursePractiti...

    Posts: 232

    Jul 25, 2009 8:10 AM GMT
    I never liked them. Here in Florida the INSIST you keep your lawn green and water it every day. Even though the city/county will fine you for doing so. Your damned if you do and damned if you don't.
  • kinetic

    Posts: 1125

    Jul 25, 2009 9:52 AM GMT
    Well you may as well rent. BLAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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    Jul 25, 2009 11:52 AM GMT
    xrichx said In some communities, your HOA fees help pay for some or all of the following...Landscaping and upkeep, security, community center (pool, tennis courts, gym, etc), insurance, water/sewer service, trash pickup, basic cable, high speed internet.
    Are they bad? Yes and no. Most Associations have some legal stipulation that allows them to repo your house/condo if you don't pay your fees, or maintain their standards.

    If you live in a subdivision or condo with a homeowners' association, your deed is subject to deed restrictions granting a forecloseable lien for nonpayment of maintenance assessments. The lien is necessary because without it, the association would have no way to collect the fees, since your homestead is otherwise exempt from everything except mortgage and tax liens.
    The associations provide essential services as noted by xrichx. If you don't want to pay the fees, don't buy in a neighborhood that has the pool, gym, clubhouse, and landscaping that the fees support.
    Full disclosure: I represent some HOAs in collections and deed restriction enforcement, so I'm not exactly unbiased. And I admit that some associations do overreach in terms of dictating things like paint choices, etc. But their attorneys usually try to get them not to do that. ;)
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Jul 25, 2009 3:31 PM GMT
    I've never dealt with them, but I have many friends who have. It's really specific to your condo, etc. There are some associations that are really effective and everyone is on the same page. There are others that are a struggle and ineffective. You need to do your research. Ask other members of the particular group their experience.
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    Jul 25, 2009 3:45 PM GMT
    I live in a neighborhood that has a HOA and I wouldn't buy a house somewhere without one. I am not sure there are really any condo places without some sort of HOA, because someone has to mow and upkeep the property. I know some have more control and power than others.

    It is annoying when you have to get approval to paint your house, or to build a deck on the back of your house, but overall the value of your property is protected. I don't have campers, boats, beater cars, long grass, or dead yards anywhere in my neighborhood. For me this works. I know people who live in areas with no HOA or covenant and they have all the things I don't, but they are ok with that.

    Mine isn't crazy expensive, and it doesn't do much other than take care of the common areas around the neighborhood and provide trash pickup, and enforce the rules.

    I would suggest you drive through an area with no HOA or covenant and look at the houses for sale and the other houses around it, especially in older established neighborhoods, and then drive through one that has the HOA. You will see a big difference.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jul 25, 2009 3:52 PM GMT
    I live in the Wichita, KS area in a neighborhood that was developed about 2000 (most of the houses on my side, including my house was built from about 2004-06). We have covenants that must be followed.. and an HOA

    I am a Board member with the HOA and am chair of the Landscape & Design committee. It is my job to review compliance requirements (which aren't too much honestly.. .mainly involving numbers of trees on each lot).
    I must also approve landscape changes in the neighborhood and paint color changes to houses. Most neighbors are considerate, I always try to be and strive to express the positive reason for the HOA.

    Our dues are $175.00 per year per household. Our HOA is in good shape, we only had 3 residents (of 166) that didn't pay last year... a few more this year and we have some legal leverage, including tax liens if not paid.
    They are a good thing... in most cases. One couple that lives here always relate their experiences with their HOA in California... talk about strong arm tactics! Some even regulate Christmas decorations, require you NOT have cars in the driveway, etc. We have nothing like that, but "trailers" left more than a week are a violation.

    The HOA in the neighborhood where I grew up did nothing except to have the common areas mowed. But the dues were only $60.00 a year (and still are).
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    Jul 25, 2009 4:20 PM GMT
    I think you have to ask yourself what it is you want in the place you call home. HOAs are infamous for instituting things like making all houses in the community have the same roadside mailbox (yawn) and making sure all the houses are painted within a scope of colors that range from beige to pale yellow (again, yawn). If you drive a pick-up truck, even a compact one, you may not be able to park it on your own driveway overnight.

    And this is not a critique. Some people like places like this, while others do not. If you like homogenized living, an HOA may be for you. If you are the type of person who travels to another city and eats at the Olive Garden instead of a locally-owned restaurant, then an HOA may be for you. To live in an HOA community, I think you have to subscribe to a certain localized hegemony.

    Living in a community that's not governed by an HOA leaves open the possibility that you could live next to neighbors who don't care for their home and property as well as you'd like them to... but it also brings a lot more variety to your neighborhood. I've lived in both types of neighborhoods, and I'd take the non-HOA variety any day. I'd rather live in an interesting community than one where everything is coated in a wash of sameness.
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    Jul 25, 2009 5:54 PM GMT
    Another issue with HOA and fees..

    Since we're in such a real estate clusterfuck here in CA, a lot of properties have been foreclosed or abandoned. It's not uncommon to see condos or communities with less than 70% occupancy. So in order to recoup costs, Associations have significantly raised the HOA fees for the residents that remain. Kinda shitty, but understandable. Just another thing to keep in the back of your mind when looking for a home to buy.
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    Jul 25, 2009 5:57 PM GMT
    nursemuscle saidI never liked them. Here in Florida the INSIST you keep your lawn green and water it every day. Even though the city/county will fine you for doing so. Your damned if you do and damned if you don't.


    I´d rip the lawn up and put in gravel. I DESPISE this sort of thing. Blue and pink houses are much nicer than the bland mediocrity of many subdivisions.

    Land of the free? FUCK NO. Freedom in the west is a TOTAL illusion, but this sort of thing destroys even the illusion of liberty which is so important to us.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jul 25, 2009 6:18 PM GMT
    BRIX saidI think you have to ask yourself what it is you want in the place you call home. HOAs are infamous for instituting things like making all houses in the community have the same roadside mailbox (yawn) and making sure all the houses are painted within a scope of colors that range from beige to pale yellow (again, yawn). If you drive a pick-up truck, even a compact one, you may not be able to park it on your own driveway overnight.
    .



    Much of what he said is probably accurate.. (however I've never heard of the same kind of "roadside mailbox"). In my neighborhood we have "mailbox clusters" in various parts of the subdivision for ease with the post office (and I hate it, I'm used
    to my mailbox at home in the house in which I grew up).

    Bottom line: If you look at homes in neighborhoods with an HOA, always, always, always know what the covenants cover, restrictions, etc. In some cases, it isn't a problem... and other cases yes. Review the positives (which are many) with those potentially negative restrictions.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 25, 2009 6:44 PM GMT
    My past experiences with HOAs have not been good. You may own the property, and be responsible for the costs & upkeep, but they make the decisions. What color you may paint your house & when, what your yard can look like, how long your grass can be, what vehicles may park in your driveway, whether your kids can have a swing set in your own backyard. (In one HOA I was actually barred from having swings for my kids, because they would be visible above the fence line)

    I'm sorry, but if I'm going to own a house and the land, I expect some control over them. I'll comply with reasonable town ordinances, and can legally appeal them for a variance, but to need permission for every single thing makes me no more than a renter, not an owner.

    There may be some cost savings and advantages in certain circumstances in an HOA, but my experience is that they negate the whole concept of personal home ownership. I don't consider the trade-offs worth it.
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    Jul 25, 2009 6:53 PM GMT
    I live in a townhouse. We pay assessments to the HOA for lawn care, landscaping, snow removal, trash service etc. For me, it is nice to be able to lock my front door and leave for a month or more and know that my place will look great when I come home. So many people I know either pay big bucks to have their property cared for, or spend a lot of their time doing it themselves. Either way the homeowner is a slave to their property. HOAs can be positive.
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    Jul 25, 2009 7:01 PM GMT
    Depends on how much you wan to personally care for your property.and if you are comfortable paying a group to do "maintenance" that you may or may not want or approve of....... personally "NO F-ing way!" otherwise I would rent.
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    Jul 25, 2009 10:25 PM GMT
    It just seems like it takes personality away from the neighborhood. I've heard of some HOAs getting so crazy, they've taken down standard street signs in favor of ones that are short and blend in with the environment. Thus making it hard to find your way around.
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    Jul 25, 2009 10:38 PM GMT
    Well, I still own a small bit of property in the mountains near Tehachapi, CA., and we have a Property Owners' Assoc. They basically ensure the roads are snowplowed within a day or two of a storm, they have trash facilities, and they have showers, mailboxes, and the clubhouse. The area is VERY rural, it's mountain property with dirt roads. They charge what I think is a lot: $450 per year. But they're also pretty relaxed about the kind of buildings you can put up as long as your roof can meet the snow load of about 3-4 feet per year, and as long as you don't paint your home an outrageous color such as lime green and purple in the same wall, they're pretty quiet. They will let you put up pretty-much whatever you want without a hassle in terms of structures. "A"-Frame? No problem. Geodesic dome? Great. Building that looks like an old mining structure from 1850? Terrific! Cutting down your trees? Fine, as long as you get the county permit. Vehicles? Whatever you want!
    I generally tend toward the side of Western anti-authority, and I don't like HOA's, but in this case, they also have a guard shack at the entrances to the mountian, and it does help keep the riff-raff out.

    And since my plans for building aren't particularly strange relative to the rest of the properties, they have left me pretty much alone.
  • bchbum

    Posts: 161

    Jul 25, 2009 11:05 PM GMT
    The good things about HOA. Don't have to worry about appliances, or cars on blocks in the yard.

    Bad thing about HOA's. You have to get "approval" to do mundane things like putting up fences, painting your house, putting up storm shutters, or shutters. Some HOA's have pretty draconian rules. One neighborhood near where I live won't even let you take groceries out of your car if the garage door is open....wtf??

    I have one house in an HOA, and one not. I like the Non-HOA home better because I can do what I want without "asking for permission". Unfortunately, I have some red neck neighbors.
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    Jul 25, 2009 11:29 PM GMT
    Lostboy said Land of the free? FUCK NO. Freedom in the west is a TOTAL illusion, but this sort of thing destroys even the illusion of liberty which is so important to us.

    You can have all the liberty you want by buying in a non-HOA neighborhood -- subject of course to applicable federal, state and local law, zoning, historic preservation ordinances, and environmental guidelines.
  • Menergy_1

    Posts: 737

    Jul 26, 2009 12:10 AM GMT
    I'd never been in a community with covenants, restrictions, etc. before I bought here outside Santa Fe in a small gated community with a Landowners' Association. But I did review the covenants and restrictions and bylaws for the corporation and the subdevelopment before I committed.

    I have to say, this community is a moderate, reasonable, and desirable "vision" type of group of landowners. There are only a few pages of "rules" which actually ensure keeping this area natural, rural, attractive, and all in all, as a kind of place we have bought for the purpose of having this kind of atmosphere, surroundings, and assurances/property value protections.

    I live in a 40 homes, 44 lots (2 of which have been sold and will be built on eventually as the owners retire)), and 2 on the market.) pretty upscale subdivision. The annual fees are $400, plus an additional $400 for eventual road resurfacing of the private road within the community proper (the roads outside are county maintained). Each home is individually designed and buil by the separate landowners, not a developer-built homogenous community/model home situation at all.

    There are a few acres to each home, and the homes are all in the "pueblo" style common to Santa Fe (flat roofed, adobe-like homes if you know the style).

    The covenants and my Association Board are reasonable and not Nazi-like compared to the association and its phone-book sized covenants of the neighboring subdevelopment near us. The general goal is to maintain a pleasant, similarly designed but individual southwest architecture style, with natural/native/drought tolerant landscaping plants (given that it's a high desert environment). Earth-tones, no glaring outdoor lights to interfere with night skies and neighbors' eyes, certain height restrictions and no visible "blights" like clotheslines, junk around houses, uscreened RV's parked at houses, unapproved architectural features added on that are not in keeping with the general desires and "look" of the southwest community we are (among hills, pinon pines and junipers, etc). This is what people who buy in my subdivision want and agree to -- if not, they need to go elsewhere to have total freedoms and also to have variable values of property, erratic zoning codes, multi-colored doors and wild house paints, dilapidated homes, lack of property maintenance etc. There are provisions in the covenants for liens for non-compliance. Luckily, these have been extremely rare.

    We're covered by the covenants and bylaws/articles of incorporation for continuing to have a community with similar aesthetic values, security as much as electronic entry gates can offer, snow plowing service arranged by the Board as necessary in winter, general landscaping upkeep along the private road and the front entry area among the rocks, gate electronic maintenance, some attempts at social events, etc.. We do not have a community center, clubhouse, pool, horse paddocks, etc. But the community seems pretty content with the reasonable approach to things, handling inter-homeowner disagreements and issues, looking out for the common good, and not being police about minor details. That does happen in many HOA and condominium management situations, to my knowledge. Luckily we have a pretty good set of expectations and conditions, all of which seem to be acceptable -- otherwise people go elsewhere, I guess.

    I became a Board member 2 years ago, decided it wasn't so onerous once the asshole family from Florida left this past December and moved into town (and I agreed to continue on the Board for another 3 years at that point, once they were no longer the tyranny of one in our community).
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    Jul 26, 2009 1:53 AM GMT
    HOA's or Home Owners' Associations can take many forms. They have two basic purposes in general: 1) maintaining common property and 2) acting as the legal body for the community in enforcement of covenants attached to each deed. Condo associations are generally the same as HOA's in general purpose.

    IT is very important in the development process that the developer author (via an attorney generally) a solid set of covenants. You never want convenants to be a tool where a small group in the community can use convenants to beat up on others. A good way around this is for the developer to require -- via the convenants -- that an outside third party manage the homeowners association.

    Fees vary based on locale. I pay around $70,000 in fees for a condo at The Mansion on Peachtree in Atlanta. I had a small condo at 15 Central Park West I purchased as an investment and fees there were around $3000 a month. I have several other properties where fees are as low as $600 a year.

    Before you purchase a home or condo, look at the covenants and the court record to see what activity the HOA has been taking BEFORE you decide to purchase.
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    Jul 26, 2009 2:22 AM GMT
    This is a lot of good information I wouldn't otherwise know or understand. I think when it comes down to it, I want to find an area that isn't regulated by the HOA, or at least one that isn't insane and dictatorial in their ideas.

    I think buying a house should mean it is yours; though some people like the comfort of not having to worry about drastic things occurring in their residence-I can understand that.

    I would never pant my house purple with pink trim, but I would like the right to! lol icon_biggrin.gif
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jul 26, 2009 2:26 AM GMT
    TheGuyNextDoor saidI was once elected President of a home owner's association.



    I wonder what it would be like to have Tony as our Board President of our HOA???