Article Courtesy of MillionAcres
By Maurie Backman
Published October 13, 2019
The great thing about buying a home, as opposed to renting,
is setting your own rules. You don't need to get your landlord's permission to
paint your walls a certain color, install fixtures, or make permanent changes to
your layout. But when you buy a property that's part of a homeowners
association, or HOA, part of that freedom is taken away.
1. Added costs
Belonging to an HOA costs money; think of it as a mandatory club with recurring
dues. Those fees are typically paid monthly and can make the cost of
homeownership far more expensive than you may have bargained for. The more
services and amenities your HOA covers, the higher those fees are likely to be.
You're probably aware that failing to keep up with your mortgage payments could
put you at risk of foreclosure. But guess what: The same holds true if you fall
behind on your HOA payments. If you buy a property that's part of an HOA, make
sure you can swing those added fees on top of your mortgage, property taxes, and
2. Strict rules
When you belong to an HOA, you're often subject to rigid rules that dictate how
your home can look and what it can be used for. It's not uncommon for HOAs to
impose regulations on outdoor maintenance. You may not be able to paint your
home's exterior a certain color or let your grass grow too high. If you ignore
the rules, you'll often face extensive fines.
Furthermore, an HOA might prohibit you from renting out your home, whether on a
full-time or seasonal basis. That could be problematic if you're hoping to use
your home to generate income. An HOA might also prohibit you from conducting
business in your home.
And let's not forget about pets -- HOAs are notorious for dictating whether you
can have animals and what size they're allowed to be. HOAs can also impose
parking regulations that make it difficult for you and your guests to access
The takeaway: Read up on the rules before agreeing to buy a home that's part of
an HOA or you could be in for some unpleasant surprises.
3. Potential conflicts with neighbors
If you want a say in your HOA's rules, the best way to do it is to get on the
board. Not only does that mean spending some of your limited free time attending
meetings, but it could also mean getting into heated debates with your fellow
board members -- your neighbors -- and grappling with strained relationships
after the fact.
Does your home come with an HOA?
HOAs are often associated with condos, co-ops, and townhome communities, but
that doesn't mean standalone homes can't be part of one. If you're buying a home
in a new development, be on the lookout for the presence of an HOA.
If you're certain you don't want to be part of one, make that clear to your real
estate agent. The last thing you want to do is fall in love with a property only
to learn it's part of an HOA with hefty fees and lots of rules.