Friday, September 25, 2009

Are HOA Neighborhoods Worth It?

Dear Property Manager:

IT Seems like suburbs in many parts of the country, including the Charlotte suburbs are full of developments with HOAs. What are the benefits and pitfalls of living in HOA development communities vs. just buying a house in a "regular" neighborhood?

Is it getting harder to find "regular" non HOA neighborhoods to live in in the suburbs of Charlotte? What is the appeal?

Ken - Fort Mill

Dear Ken:

It is possible to find houses not in a regulated HOA community in and around Charlotte, and you may find that they are less expensive than similar HOA homes, however there are pitfalls.

When a person moves into an HOA neighborhood they agree to the covenants of the neighborhood. They agree not to have more than say 5 animals in the home, or not to have a horse in the back-yard, or not to paint their front door purple. The rules of each neighborhood differ but they are designed to protect the homeowner, the value of the property and the neighborhood.

As a homeowner in an HOA neighborhood, you are given the opportunity to vote for changes in the rules and regulations, as well as participate on the committees that determine how much of the budget goes to things like common area maintenance or special projects, and what the covenants are. But majority rules, and you have to live with what the majority votes for--that is what you agree to when you move into the neighborhood.

The benefit to an HOA is that things are kept at a known norm. If the neighbor puts up a 12 foot fence all around his property, he will be fined and made to remove it. If he parks 3 rusted out Buicks in the back-yard he will be asked to move them, fined if he doesn't and potentially sued by the HOA if there is further non-compliance.

The down-side for you is if you are the kind of person who doesn't think they need any one's permission before digging a moat around their home, you will be the one who suffers the consequences with the Property Management company and the HOA. But for the most part, an HOA is a good thing, for most people they make sense, and that is why they are worth it, and that is why HOA neighborhoods are so popular!

I hope this answers your question!

Property Manager
Kuester Companies
HOA Property Management Company

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