If you’re in the market for a new home – particularly a new build in a planned community – you’ve probably come across listings that require owners to belong to a homeowners association (HOA). As part of an HOA, you will be entitled to benefits and amenities that can range from lawn care and snow removal to access to a private pool and clubhouse.

But as you’ll find out, being part of an HOA comes with an added cost. Before you say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to that commitment—and what could be your dream home —it’s important to know what you’re getting into.

What are the pros & cons of HOA communities?

Many HOAs provide members with time-saving and potentially money-saving services and can play a big role in a potential home’s desirability. Depending on your community’s homeowners association, you can expect to pay between $100 and $1,000 every month. Is it worth it?

Pro: Shared maintenance

Your fees may go toward paying for lawn care, snow removal, maintenance of common grounds, and more. Not only will this maintenance save you the time and energy of completing it yourself, but it also ensures the whole neighborhood is well-kept.

The condition of a home and its neighbors all come into play when determining a home’s value. A well-maintained community will help your home appreciate over time, increasing the income you can expect to earn when you sell down the road.

Con: Costly dues

Buying a home is an expensive endeavor – especially if you’re buying a home for the first time and don’t have equity in an existing property. In addition to making your monthly mortgage payment, homeowner’s insurance, and covering the cost of maintenance on your home, HOA fees can add even more strain to your wallet.

Not paying your dues isn’t an option. Depending on your HOA’s rules, they may be able to foreclose on your home for failure to pay.

Pro: Access to amenities

Many HOAs also offer their members perks in the form of well-maintained parks, swimming pools, community centers, and golf courses, and even spas and gyms. You’ll have convenient access to these amenities without the responsibility of paying for individual memberships (or having to leave your community).

Some HOAs also offer services that tailor to specific lifestyles. For example, a family-friendly HOA may offer activities and care opportunities for children of all ages, and one that caters to retirees may have mixers for people 55+. This can help you make friends with your neighbors.

Con: Limited individuality

If you’re a homeowner looking to make your home stand out from others, living in an HOA community may limit your options. It’s common for HOAs to have strict rules about how the home’s exteriors – and sometimes interiors – can be painted, decorated, and maintained.

Even if your HOA allows you to make some modifications to your home, you may be required to present all of your proposed changes to a board for approval. Depending on how often they meet, this could delay your renovation plans or have you starting from square one if they are declined.

Pro: Conflict resolution with neighbors

Everyone has heard horror stories about feuding neighbors who can make home life uncomfortable if not scary. In an HOA community, you can rest assured that you’ll have the support of the board to help resolve any conflicts that may come up over time.

It could be a dispute about a property line, someone building a structure that is an eyesore, or a question of animal waste being left behind on your front lawn. You can report all of your concerns to the HOA and have them take care of it, saving you from having to make any confrontations. Many of the common disputes that come up between neighbors will be enforced by the community’s rules.

Just keep in mind that you’ll be expected to follow all of the community rules yourself. Otherwise, you could end up in the hot seat for failure to comply.

Con: Have to follow the rules

In addition to promoting physical continuity, HOAs come with a list of rules that all members are expected to follow – or else. Failure to comply could lead to conflict with the board which results in costly penalty fees or even foreclosure.

Rules may include enforcing curfews, prohibiting unsanctioned noise, and even deciding whether or not you are allowed to have renters in your home if you’re looking to make it an investment property. While you may welcome some of an HOA’s rules, others may interfere with your plans for a property or your lifestyle.

When touring a property that belongs to an HOA, check with your real estate agent to make sure you fully understand all of the association’s rules before you make an offer. It’ll save you considerable time and trouble to know if their rules will interfere with your plans from the start.

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Article last modified on November 11, 2022. Published by Debt.com, LLC


Ben Mizes

CEO of Clever Real Estate & Homebuying Expert