So, you’ve narrowed your choice of homes to purchase down to two, and as it turns out one of the homes has a home owners’ association and one does not. If you’re ticking off pros and cons of each home to help you make your final decision, here are 7 reasons why you’ll want to choose the home without the HOA.
- HOA’s dictate landscaping: Although an HOA might mow your lawn and trim your hedges, and that seems appealing, an HOA can also dictate what types of flowers you can and can’t plant, what times of day you can water your lawn, and even tell you it’s time to update your landscaping—even if you don’t have funds for new landscaping, you’ll still be obligated to get the work done within a certain time frame. Sonni and James Bass took too long finishing their landscaping, according to a CNNMoney.com report, and were sued by their HOA. Read the report.
- If you don’t comply, you will be fined. Just ask Jeffrey DeMarco. His HOA said he planted too many roses in his yard, and fined him for not removing them promptly. When Jeffrey took the matter to court, he lost, and was saddled with the HOAs $70,000 legal bill, as well as his own. (Read Jeffrey’s story.)
- An HOA can evict you or foreclose on your home. Ultimately Jeffrey lost his home to the bank because he couldn’t make the back payments on the late fees and the legal fees, but there are other homeowners who have lost their homes, had liens put on their property or received foreclosure notices after falling behind on their HOA dues. This happened to Lacey Pilat. About four months after she lost her job, the management company for her homeowner association sent her a foreclosure notice after several attempts to collect her $450 annual dues, which paid for the mowing of front lawns. The amount she owed grew to $1,800 after penalties and fees, according to an MSNBC report you can read here.
- The HOA dues can be raised at anytime. Maybe you think you can handle a $400 annual association fee, after all it amounts to less than $35 a month—less than a dinner out for two at the Olive Garden, but that fee isn’t static. HOAs can raise your dues for any number of reasons, such as assessments, lawsuits, cost of living, or simply because other homeowners aren’t paying, and those of you who are need to foot the bill. That is what happened to homeowner Robert Hanston. “The HOA told residents dues went up because more than 400 homeowners weren’t paying their dues,” Hantson said in a report for NBC.
- HOA fees are not tax deductible. Enough said.
- Want to rent out your home? Check with your HOA. They may not let you. Given the down economy, quite a few homeowners who can’t sell their properties have moved to renting them out. Some in HOA communities, however, need board approval before they can rent out their place. Some bylaws prohibit renting all together. This might not seem important to you now, after all you’re buying with the intent to make this purchase your primary home, but you just may never know what your needs will be in the future.
- Homeowners’ Associations can regulate many things. According to one real estate authority, it could be: Exterior paint colors, fences and hedges, trees, lawns, and weeds. Or, solar energy installations, swing sets, basketball hoops, and other play equipment.
HOAs also could regulate garages, sheds and backyard storage, parking, clotheslines and garbage cans. Outdoor lights and satellite dishes, they also can regulate, as well as window coverings and wreaths, home businesses, pets (size, types, total number), noises and obstructions of views.
By buying a home in a subdivision, or community with a home owner’s association, you are essentially giving up some of your rights that people come to expect with homeownership. Do you really want your neighbors telling you what to do with your property?
Just how much will you have to keep up with the Joneses? Well, you just may not know until after you purchased the home. If you bought into an HOA community, you typically would not receive a copy of the HOA rules and bylaws until after you have closed on the property….and then it’s too late.
At least you know what you’re getting if you buy a home that is not overseen by an HOA: the freedom to make your own decisions about your own property. That freedom is just what you’ll get, if you were to buy this featured property, which is not governed by any associations.
— by CurryMedia.com