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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why Buy a Home with an HOA?

Why buy a home within a home owners association?

We've all heard horrors stories of home owners vs. their associations and how poorly managed HOAs can make home values suffer but there are several reason why home buyers still choose homes with HOAs. 

The CC&Rs

Most home owners associations have what is known as CC&R's attached to the ownership of a home. CC&Rs stands for covenants, conditions, and restrictions. These are rules about owning a home that govern home use, appearance, and  other rules regarding that home. Some buyers do not fully understand what they are agreeing to and end up finding out the hard way, when their HOA notifies them that they have violated a rule in the CC&Rs. Many HOAs fine home owners when they break the rules. Don't let this happen to you - read and understand what the CC&Rs say. If you have any questions, make sure to find the answers BEFORE BUYING. You cannot opt out of an HOA.

If there are special circumstances in your situation, you may appeal to your HOA's board of directors to apply for a variance. A variance is when special permission is given to be non-compliant to a specific rule. Variances are rarely given and you are better off not buying a home with CC&Rs you cannot follow.

Although living with an HOA's CC&Rs may seem like too much for some buyers, others may not mind the rules because they may happen to be aligned with their personal preferences. Buying a home in an HOA has many positive benefits aside from the rules and restrictions.

Home property values

There is a lot of debate on whether or not HOAs improve or detract from a home's value. HOA dues add to the expense of buying a home. Sometimes, even low HOA dues can tip the balance on financing a home the wrong way. On the other hand, having an organization manage the maintenance, landscaping, use, and aesthetics of a neighborhood can insure value by preventing bad neighbors from making your home look bad when it becomes time to sell.

You would need to examine how each HOA manages their properties to decide whether or not it is good for a home's value. HOAs that provide top notch landscaping and grounds maintenance of common areas are a good indicator that homes in these areas will continue to have a better than fair resale value in the future.

Before you buy, take a look around the neighborhood you are interested in. Do the common areas look well kept? Are there homes that have fallen into disrepair? Are there a lot of homes for sale there? Are there new homes being built or are there empty lots nearby? What is the quality of the neighborhoods near it? What type of traffic and parking is there in the neighborhood? Does it have high or low traffic? Does the HOA have it's own website and/or social media account?

HOAs that are active and engaged in the community have a better chance of maintaining a better resale value than HOAs that aren't as responsive. Take a look online to see if your potential HOA has contact phone numbers, email addresses, websites, or social media accounts such as Facebook or Twitter. Good communication can help an HOA maintain its quality standards.

Buying real estate is one of the most important financial investments you will make in your lifetime. A careful investigation of past home sales and current listings can help determine whether or not a particular HOA is a solid investment. Hiring a Realtor that knows the market history of your potential HOA can help determine whether or not that HOA adds or detracts from a home's value.

In the end, would you rather buy a home next to neighbors that have guaranteed to take good care of their home, or next to neighbors that would let their homes fall into disrepair. If you would rather buy in the nicer neighborhood, so would other buyers, especially future buyers of your home. Having an HOA can be a good insurance policy for your long term real estate investment.

Community events 

Would you rather buy a home where your neighbors like to have block parties, holiday celebrations, games, and interest group meetings, or a neighborhood where everyone keeps to themselves? Many home buyers are looking for fun interactive communities within communities, especially if their extended families live far away. Establishing a circle of friendly neighbors can make living in a neighborhood a more positive and fulfilling experience. HOAs can help neighborhood events possible by providing the organization and communication lines needed to neutrally encourage participation by all owners.

Facility Access Benefits

Many home owners associations have common use facilities such as gyms, tennis courts, pools, basketball courts, parks, community meeting space, and more. Having access to facilities like these can make living in an HOA neighborhood an enjoyable experience.

Professional management

Dealing with your neighbors may not always be easy. If you are having a problem with a neighbor, your association management may be able to help diffuse the situation as a neutral party. Please read your HOA's policies on resolving potential disputes with neighbors.

Security

Neighbors that have met each other and communicate on a regular basis may be better able to spot suspicious activity in the area. Travelling, elderly, and disabled neighbors may feel a sense of security living in a neighborhood with an active home owners association. Many HOA's install walls, fences, gates or other physical security features that help prevent criminal activity from getting into their homes. An HOA can also alert home owners of suspicious activity reported near their homes. Some HOA's even hire their own security staff to patrol their neighborhoods. Check your potential HOA's security policies if you are concerned about security and crime prevention.

Maintenance

Many HOAs provide such maintenance services as lawn mowing, landscaping, snow removal, and more.  If your HOA is for a condominium or townhouse association, it may provide more maintenance services than an HOA would for single family homes. For a single family home, you may still be responsible for upkeep of your own yard and exterior. Check to see what is offered by your potential HOA and be sure you are capable of living up to your requirements before you sign. If you do not or cannot perform your own maintenance such as lawn mowing or snow shoveling, your HOA may offer to provide services for a fee or have good recommendations on reliable local companies to hire.

Ready to Buy a Home With an HOA?

Visit my Anchorage HOA Directory to view neighborhoods with HOAs and view homes for sale in each neighborhood.


© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

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