I’ve done videos on homeowner’s associations before and whew, does it spark some controversy.
Let’s dig a little deeper into HOA pros and cons, so that you can answer the question ‘Should I live in an HOA community?’ with confidence.
If this is your first time here, welcome! If you’ve been here before, thank you so much for coming back and spending your time with me. My name is Lindsay and I‘m proud to be your Anthem, Arizona REALTOR® with the Wise Move AZ Team at Realty ONE Group. On our blog and YouTube channel we have a lot of fun talking about all things Anthem and real estate every single Thursday.
Talking about HOAs Really Seems to Fire People Up
We did a video titled ‘What is an HOA?’, and you can watch it here if you’d like, but from the comments we received, it is clear that some of you hate HOAs with a fiery passion.
Yeah, it was intense.
Anyways, I also know from my job, that a lot of people really like living in an HOA governed community.
Are HOAs Good or Bad?
I want to be clear before we get too far, I don’t think that HOAs are inherently bad or inherently good. I honestly believe that there are really good HOAs and really bad HOAs. As a home buyer you MUST, MUST, MUST do your due diligence before buying a home and that includes doing your research on any applicable homeowner’s associations.
HOAs are very common in Arizona, so it’s something we find ourselves talking about often.
Anyways, if we can all play nice in the comments on this one, that would be great. I am all for sharing your opinion and experiences, but let’s try to keep it constructive.
HOA Pros and Cons
Personally, I think that the pros and cons of living in an HOA impact us all, and the decision you need to make is whether the pros outweigh the cons. So, let’s jump in.
Pro #1: Amenities
Chances are if you are paying HOA dues you’ll have access to some amenities. I live in Anthem, Arizona and our amenities are INCREDIBLE. Currently we pay $84.65 per month and we have access to the community center, community parks, pickleball courts, tennis courts, trails, and some of my favorite annual events.
If you want to learn more about Anthem you can always watch our Anthem playlist or click to download our free guide to Anthem HOAs. Anyways, for us, the amenities alone make the HOA dues worthwhile. For many people just getting everyone in the family gym memberships would be more than the monthly HOA dues.
If you’re going to be buying into an HOA, make sure you understand what it includes and that you feel like the value is in line with what you’re paying. It could include amenities, but it could also include some utilities, roof replacement, or any number of things.
Con #1: Cost
HOAs cost money. They cost money to belong to and they cost money to run. Our beautiful parks don’t magically maintain themselves, unfortunately. The cost to belong to an HOA can be prohibitive. If you are planning to buy in an HOA governed community, make sure you understand all of the fees.
The fees may include:
- Transfer Fees
- Capital Improvement Fees
- Monthly Fees
- Special Assessments
… and more.
I also recommend trying to track down information on the history of those fees.
Have they stayed the same over time? Do they go up every year?
You need to make sure you can afford the fees currently and that you aren’t spreading yourself so thin that you will be in trouble if they go up.
Pro #2: Not your Problem
What does that mean?! One thing that many people like about HOAs is being able to call on them when there is a problem in the community. The HOA has a vested interest in resolving concerns because the HOA board typically consists of current residents. If you’re unhappy with people speeding down your street, for example, chances are they will be too!
Again, it is important to know what falls under your particular HOA’s scope and what doesn’t, so that you know what you can call on them for. If you’re busy, being able to pass the buck to someone else can be a big relief.
Con #2: Restrictive Rules
This is probably one on the biggest complaints I’ve heard about HOAs. People feel like their ability to live their day to day lives is impeded by the HOAs’ rules. Personally, I haven’t experienced this. In Anthem, our rules don’t feel overly restrictive to me, and anything I’ve wanted to do or needed hasn’t been an issue.
In Trouble with our HOA!
I do have to tell on myself though; I did get in trouble with our HOA once and I was so embarrassed. It had been a particularly busy week, mixed with some rain, and I got a violation for the weeds in our yard. They were right, there were a lot of them, and if you’ve ever driven around Anthem you know how beautifully cared for and manicured it looks, and here I was with my yard full of weeds. Anyways, I picked them, sprayed, and let the HOA know. There were no fines, it was no big deal, and I’ve been much more careful since.
Do your Research
If you are worried about an HOA being too restrictive, read all of the governing documents before you buy in. This includes the CC&Rs, any addendums, and any bylaws. They may have restrictions on parking, paint colors, vegetation, property use and more. Every HOA has a different set of rules that they abide by, so you need to make sure you are comfortable with them before you buy in.
Pro #3: Uniformity
HOAs can really help to maintain the appearance of a community. The HOA may be responsible for maintaining common areas, but they may also enforce exterior maintenance of the individual properties within the HOA. Remember my story about the weeds? Well, thanks to the HOA my neighbors didn’t have to stare at my unkempt yard for too long.
Our HOA also oversees when owners need to repaint their homes, the colors they can use, and the types of vegetation that is allowed. This helps to give the whole community a similar look and feel while still allowing owners enough flexibility to make their exterior their own.
Does it mean that I can’t paint my door bright red when the mood strikes? Yes! But it also means that my neighbor can’t have 12 cars in their yard, so it’s a win in my books.
If you are thinking about buying into an HOA, drive the whole community.
How does it look? How does it feel?
If possible, stop and talk to other residents. Ask them what they think about the community and the HOA.
Con #3: Management
This could really be a pro or a con depending on the HOA, but the point is that you are kind of at the mercy of the HOA’s management. The HOA could be unresponsive or mismanaged. As an owner in an HOA you rely on the HOA to build up reserve funds and to keep the best interests of the community as a top priority. You want to be able to trust that they are making good use of your hard earned dollars.
Some HOAs use a property management company. If that is the case, I encourage you to do some research into that company. Again, if possible, talk to other residents in the community and see what their experience has been with the HOA. Lastly, make sure that you are also reviewing the financial statements to ensure that everything looks healthy and sustainable for the foreseeable future.
Pro #4: Involvement
I think one of the great things about HOAs is the ability to get involved with your community, to be able to serve the residents, and to truly make a difference. While I haven’t been on the Anthem HOA board, I was on the condo board and on a couple of committees in the community we lived in previously . I loved being able to meet other residents and to know what was going on in the community.
I know that sitting on boards isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay, but I thought it was worth bringing up.
Con #4: Red Tape
We talked earlier about how some HOAs may feel overly restrictive, but we also need to talk about the process of getting things done. If, for example, you want to put a pool in your backyard or build an addition, you’re going to want to know what the process of getting HOA approval looks like and how long it takes.
Carolynn did a whole video on applying to put art in her yard with the HOA. If you’d like to check that out and learn a little bit more about the process in Anthem Country Club, click here.
Your opinion of the HOA will depend on your perspective and what you personally think is reasonable, so make sure you ask questions and get the answers you need before you buy into an HOA.
Pro #5: Property Values
Homeowners associations can definitely help to preserve property values in an area. Since owners are held to a certain standard when it comes to the exterior of their home, you tend not to have issues with yards and exteriors being neglected. HOAs can also give prospective buyers peace of mind that the neighborhood’s appearance won’t change too dramatically in a short period of time.
Now, I want to put a caveat on this one. If an HOA is being poorly managed and the fees you pay don’t justify the value you receive, it can actually hurt property values.
So, there you have it! As I said before I really don’t think it makes sense to make blanket statements about HOAs being good or bad. You really need to do your due diligence on the specific HOA you are considering buying into. You want to make sure you are getting value, that you agree with the rules, and that you will still feel free to love and enjoy your home.
For us, the answer was yes. The Anthem Parkside HOA has been a pleasure anytime we’ve had to deal with them and I love what they along with the Anthem Community Council do for our community. If you would like to learn more about the Anthem HOAs click to download our free guide here. We talk about who covers what and how much it all costs.