HOA Advice and Issues

There are many different opinions I hear regarding HOA’s as I help people in their endeavor to buy or sell homes. The now fairly ubiquitous home owner’s associations are mostly considered a good thing in home buyer’s minds.

While the restrictions seem a bit ‘big brother-ish’ to some of us, you might want to consider that for most folks, it’s the HOA that keeps your neighbor from allowing his lawn to turn into a two-foot high weeded lot or a paint-peeling monstrosity.

This definitely affects the value of your home. Having an HOA (or what’s sometimes called the Common Interest Community (CIC) in real estate parlance) is an excellent way to be more certain that the new neighborhood you move into will maintain its value.

Nonetheless, it’s never very fun to be the recipient of one of those dreaded ‘warning’ letters from the HOA or management company telling you what you must do right now to your house, lest you get fined.

I’ve had my own fair share of these letters. I guess it’s part of my personality to want to see where the line is drawn on these types of rules. I was surprised to find a warning letter this year in my mailbox that I needed to paint my house. After all, it’s only been 9 years. Jeesh, why are they picking on me?

Truth is, I had been planning on painting for the last couple of years and for whatever reason, life got in the way and I haven’t done it yet. (Almost said “hadn’t gotten around to it”. But thank you for that Joel, I will not).

So anyway, Connie and I bucked up and got into some serious color decision making and picked the new color scheme. I figure that if I’m going to paint and spend all that money, I should at least get some new color. You think the same way? It’ll be just like coming home to a new house, maybe.

After noticing the peeling paint and fading garage doors around my neighborhood and wondering why I was the only one to get the reprimand from the HOA, I had been feeling quite the victim. So after feeling singled out, I began to notice the assorted other homes that apparently got a letter just like mine. Evidence of power-washing, caulking, spot priming and painting vans throughout the neighborhood told me I was part of a much larger group.

I think now I can band together with my fellow brothers and sisters of the neighborhood: forced to paint on someone else’s schedule with the threat of fines and dunning notices, we shall comply and take care of that “deferred maintenance” this summer after all.

While we’ll all grumble about the heavy hand of the HOA forcing us to essentially do what’s right for our fellow neighbors and their respective property values, we have to remember that ultimately these people are helping us do what any good homeowner should do on their own: maintain our homes and neighborhoods.

You thinking about buying in an area without an HOA? Take a spin around the neighborhood first and see how you feel about the general condition of the homes in that area. In most cases, you may want to keep looking until you find a home you like in a neighborhood with a well-run and well-funded HOA. It may be a very good way to ensure that your biggest investment isn’t vulnerable to the whimsy of your neighbors.

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