You’ve found your dream home! The neighborhood is lovely, with well-kept lawns and freshly painted exteriors. There is a resort-like pool and a playground for the kids. Awesome. Oh, and there is a Homeowners Association that will cost you $500 a month. Didn’t see that coming, did you? It’s important to be informed about the pros and cons of living in a neighborhood with a homeowners association (HOA).
Pro – The neighborhood will look nice. Most HOAs establish rules for residents that ensure keeping up the appearance of the neighborhood. The guidelines might include keeping lawns manicured, whether you can have a fence (and the type and color of the fence), and what exterior paint colors you can use. You may even have to get permission to remove or add trees and shrubs.
Con – HOA dues. They can be expensive, sometimes as much as $1,000 per month depending on what amenities are offered. These fees need to be taken into consideration when deciding if you can afford a house in the neighborhood. They will be included in your mortgage lender’s assessment of your Monthly Mortgage Payment, so you will have to qualify for a loan amount that includes them.
Pro – Awesome amenities. You will enjoy the amenities that come with your HOA fees. Most HOAs offer luxuries such as a pool, a fitness center, play areas, parks and security gates. That’s in addition to covering the expenses of landscaping and maintenance of the common areas.
Con – Needing permission to make changes to your property. If you want to add a room to your home or modify it in some way, you will have to make a request that will go before the HOA board for approval. If they don’t approve it, you will not be able to make the changes you want.
Pro – Maintenance costs are shared. You won’t have to worry about the upkeep of the pool, fitness center or common areas.
Con – HOA financial problems could become your problem. If your HOA is struggling financially, it could damage your ability to obtain a loan for a home and it could be detrimental to home sale prices in the community.
Pro – An HOA will handle disputes between neighbors. If someone has a dog barking at all hours or loud parties, you can contact the HOA and they will contact the neighbor; especially if HOA rules are being broken.
Con – Keeping up with the dues. If you fall behind on your HOA dues, it can do great harm to you financially. You may even end up facing foreclosure. That’s why it is crucial that you include the fees when determining if you can afford a house or not. You may also be subject to late fees if you don’t pay on time. In addition, HOAs can fine you for not following guidelines and rules, so it’s imperative that you can afford the upkeep required for living in the neighborhood.
It’s vital that you make sure to consider all these pros and cons before deciding to purchase a home in a neighborhood with an HOA.
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