How HOA Boards Can Improve the Homeowner Experience?
Whether you are purchasing a home to live in or trying to decide if investing in rental properties with an HOA is a wise addition to your portfolio, you may have some preconceived notions that are making you hesitant about buying in an HOA-run community.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Many potential homebuyers struggle to get past common misconceptions about homeowner’s associations (HOAs), but why?
What is a Homeowners Association (HOA)?
Investopedia defines an HOA as “an organization in a subdivision, planned community, or condominium building that makes and enforces rules for the properties and its residents.”
An HOA typically has a board of directors elected by the community to oversee and enforce rules and regulations for the community who then have to comply with HOA voting laws. The rules are generally described in a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs).
If you purchase a property in a jurisdiction with an HOA, you will automatically be added to the member roster, and you will be required to pay dues or HOA fees. The fees may be collected on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.
To be fair, hearing HOA terms like covenants, conditions, and restrictions related to what you are or are not allowed to do with your property can sound like a direct assault on your liberties. Surely people who live in these communities must want to do away with rules, right?
In fact, statistics show that there are 30 times more homeowners associations in the United States today than in 1970.
With that kind of growth, they must hold some appeal.
According to the Community Associations Institute, Americans living in homeowners’ associations, condominiums, and housing cooperatives say they’re overwhelmingly satisfied in their communities.
- 89% of residents rate their overall community association experience as very good or good (70%) or neutral (19%).
- 89% say members of their elected governing board “absolutely” or “for the most part” serve the best interests of their communities.
- 74% say their community managers provide value and support to residents and their associations.
- 94% say their association’s rules protect and enhance property values (71%) or have a neutral effect (23%); only 4% say the rules harm property values.
The numbers don’t lie. Satisfaction is higher among members of communities that HOAs manage, so maybe it’s time to take a closer look at the benefits of an HOA.
What Are the Benefits of a Homeowner Association (HOA)?
Roughly 9.5 million people live in HOA communities. The high satisfaction rates make it clear that residents of these communities find value in their HOA.
Read on to discover what people like about their homeowner’s association.
Your Neighborhood Will Look Great
An HOA sets criteria and standards that community members are expected to meet regarding maintaining their property.
While some homebuyers may see these guidelines as a drawback, they result in a consistent, cohesive look throughout the neighborhood.
Homes, lawns, and personal property are expected to be well-maintained. Many people don’t want to abide by someone else’s rules about their homes’ appearance, but the benefit is that the HOA provides services to maintain those standards.
Need your exterior painted or your roof replaced? Your HOA makes it easy to find a contractor to do the work.
Between the guidelines and maintenance assistance, it will be the best-looking neighborhood around. Please don’t take our word for it. Take a stroll through an HOA community and see for yourself.
HOAs Provide, Preserve & Maintain Amenities
You will pay your dues when you live in an HOA community, but that money stays within your community.
HOAs use a portion of those funds for infrastructure development and maintenance of amenities such as:
- Tennis courts
- Swimming pools
- Community centers
Dues are used for the maintenance of all shared spaces. Community lawn care, snow removal, and upkeep of common areas are all included in the HOAs fees.
If there is any kind of damage to one of the community amenities, the dues you pay will cover the costs for the necessary repairs.
In a well-managed HOA community, you don’t have to worry that your favorite park is getting overgrown and neglected.
Increased Sense of Community
When the homeowner-funded association pays for common areas and facilities, members share ownership of the public spaces. Everyone owning an equal share of common areas and doing their part to keep it in tip-top condition can create a sense of pride and community.
Some HOAs hold events in their public community spaces, creating even more opportunities for neighbors to socialize and connect.
Added Safety & Security
Many HOA communities are “gated” with limited access to the neighborhood. Some HOA developments have private security forces.
Even without those types of security measures, the stronger sense of community and personal relationships with neighbors increases the neighborhood’s level of safety and security.
When community involvement is high, neighbors look out for one another and are more inclined to notice when something is amiss.
Your Personal Interests Are Protected
Living in an HOA community does not eliminate the potential for problems between neighbors.
You may still encounter a problem with a noisy neighbor, excessively vocal canine, or another dispute.
When issues arise between neighbors, the board of directors can step in to enforce existing rules or mediate a mutually agreed-upon resolution before the situation gets out of hand.
HOAs essentially act as a private government that has the best interest of the community at heart. They monitor local government decisions and lobby for their residents at a local political level if necessary.
Your Financial Interests Are Protected
One of the biggest reasons HOAs have rules, to begin with, is to keep property values from declining.
Because of community involvement HOAs are typically aware of issues that could have a negative financial impact on the community, such as foreclosures.
They often act quickly to keep those homes in shape to maintain the quality of the community.
If or when the time comes to sell, you will be able to do so at a higher price.
You don’t have to dive in blindly without knowing the rules, though. If you are considering buying a property in an HOA community, request to see their governing documents. You can see firsthand the specific rules for the community and the practices and methods to change them.
The bottom line is that research shows when an HOA is well-managed, the entire community benefits.