HOAs can provide many benefits for residents, and many homeowners are quite happy with their HOA governed homes. Here’s why:
Community Common Property
The largest single benefit from HOAs is the access to community properties and amenities that the associations maintain. Community public areas can be as simple as green space and storm water retention land; at mid-range include pools, parks, and recreational buildings; in the upper range sponsor golf courses, full-time security, staffed gyms and childcare facilities; or on the highest ends make up fully enclosed small towns, complete with fire departments and schools. Access to these amenities can greatly impact the residents’ daily lives and the neighborhood’s sense of identity and community. Well-maintained public areas allow homeowners the enjoyment of these areas and facilities without the personal maintenance and up-front investment of, for example, creating a large outdoor play-area, installing a pool, or building a home gym. Many residents consider these facilities alone well worth the association’s membership fees. These shared spaces also sponsor positive interaction between neighbors, rather than isolation, a trait that is beneficial to building healthy, involved communities.
A significant number of CC&Rs deal with property values. They aim to create clean, uniformly attractive properties that, together, make the neighborhood attractive and desirable to current residents and future buyers. These restrictions prevent a resident from painting her house a glaring bubblegum-pink or other potential eyesores, like piled trash or visibly exposed clutter. Most have a requirement for yard maintenance, or include a community landscaping service as a part of the membership dues. These restrictions, however, are not limited to paint color or landscaping. The goal is to prevent eyesores; those things that upset residents and make buyers’ look elsewhere, but the definition of eyesore is in the eye of the beholder. Some HOAs use statistical information from real estate reports to limit seemingly innocent additions to properties that may threaten future sales, including basketball hoops, or any item that makes a single property stand out, for better (making the neighbors look bad) or worse (making the property look bad). Matters of personal taste, like holiday decorations, are also restricted in efforts to be conservative, politically correct, and uniform.
HOAs frequently have CC&Rs that regulate behaviors. While some of these behaviors are related to property values (such as bans on parking vehicles on the street or lawn, which is seen to invite negative attention, block access, and look “trashy”), many of these restrictions are intended to regulate interactions between residents. Pets, for instance, are a common restriction. Potentially dangerous dogs (as breeds such as pit bulls are often defined), dogs that bark loudly, frequently, or at night, outdoor cats that roam other properties, and other animals that may upset the neighbors are the targets of such restrictions. Noise and views are also frequently cited in CC&Rs. Residents complaining of noisy neighbors or neighbors who do things that “mess up” the resident’s views from windows or the view of their property from the street can take their cases to the HOA for review and relief.
All of the CC&Rs are ultimately designed to create a certain type of community and support the community’s values. In most cases these are structured for conservative conformity, but more recently HOAs have been created for “green” co-ops and other lifestyle choices. Home buyers that find an HOA that is a good fit for them tend to give neutral (“my life is not affected by the HOA”) to fully positive (“the HOA does things that make my life better”) reports.
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About David Goldstein — David Goldstein is an Owner and Founding Partner of Express Schools, LLC. which operates online education providers Real Estate Express, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.