Confessions of a Compulsive Organizer

The Ins And Outs Of A Homeowner's Association

by Ricardo Hart

Many neighborhoods across America are part of what's known as an HOA, or Homeowner's Association. There are many perks as well as some downfalls of being part of an HOA. If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, there are several things you should know when it comes to dealing with the rules, and with reaping some of the benefits.

What Does an HOA Do?

The main purpose of a Homeowner's Association is to ensure that everyone's property is kept up (including their lawns), and that each resident maintains their home's resale value. While no two HOAs are alike, most have some general rules they ask residents to follow. Overall, everyone's home should be in good condition, with lawns properly cut and all siding intact.

Some associations ask that each home or townhouse have a certain color scheme, such as matching shutters and doors. Others prohibit displaying flags or hanging clothes outside on a clothesline. Before you purchase a home in an HOA neighborhood, it is always a good idea to ask for a copy of the bylaws to ensure they are something you can live with.

What are the Benefits of an HOA?

Living in a neighborhood with an HOA can be very beneficial to many people. If you're paying for your home, you expect others in your neighborhood to keep up their property as well. This is not only fair, but helps to ensure that your home's resale value is kept up when you decide to sell the property. Home buyers want to live in a neighborhood where the yards are landscaped nicely and where each home looks to be in good condition. Some HOAs provide services as part of the monthly fee, including road maintenance, trash removal, and even cutting the grass in communal areas.

Are There Downfalls?

With rules comes responsibility, and in some cases people may have a few difficulties when it comes to dealing with their HOA. Perhaps you want a new roof and you go ahead with the contractor, only to find out the shingle color was not the right one, or not approved. You then have to pay for a brand new roof all over again. Maybe you'd like to fly your favorite football team's flag in front of your home, only to get a letter telling you to take it down.

There are all kinds of rules when it comes to being a part of an HOA, so be sure they are all rules you plan to abide by. If you do not follow the rules, you can be subject to fines or other charges, so be sure you're doing everything by the book. (For information on town homes, contact Gerber Management Services)