With an eye towards helping homebuyers save money and perhaps find more affordable housing, tomorrow I’ll introduce the first in a series of posts that will highlight neighborhoods that are HOA-free!
Every so often a home buyer will let me know up-front that they’re not interested in looking at homes in any neighborhood run by a homeowner association. The most common reasons I hear are that they either don’t want to pay a homeowner association fee or they simply don’t want to live by other people’s sets of rules. Most homeowner associations (HOAs) have rules and regulations that anyone purchasing in that neighborhood has presumably been made aware of by the previous homeowner via the HOA documents. Among other things, maintenance fees pay for the upkeep of a community’s amenities… regardless of whether you use them or not. Many homeowner associations have protocols which residents are supposed to abide by. This can include completing an application to be submitted to the Architectural Review Committee if the resident wants to make any modifications to the exterior of their home, which is not necessarily limited to the structure as it oftentimes includes major landscaping changes.
On the flip side, there are advantages to living in a community that has a homeowner association. One of the benefits is that you don’t need to worry about such things as living next to a house whose owner painted it purple or some other color that doesn’t blend with the rest of the neighborhood homes. Another benefit (which some will dispute) is that it keeps property values up by forcing residents to keep their homes and its landscaping in good condition. However, this works best when the HOA has some “teeth” (for example: the ability to charge fines when a homeowner breaks the rules). Homeowner associations also allow residents to share in the costs of maintaining common areas and any amenities available within the community (examples include a pool, spa, clubhouse, exercise room, tennis courts, children’s playground, lighting, gated entries, etc.).
Throughout Florida, homeowner associations did not start to become popular or commonplace until about 20-30 years ago so you’re more likely to find more neighborhoods that are not governed by a homeowners association closer to the coast than further inland.