Owning a home isn’t always a fairytale story. On any given day, you might deal with a leaky roof, a weedy lawn or a bad neighbor. Homeowners associations can help with these inconveniences.

HOAs are governing, association bodies found within common-interest communities, such as planned or gated neighborhoods and apartment or even condominium buildings. They’re run and funded by residents, and have boards of directors that organize regular meetings/gatherings, establish and maintain budgets, and enforce rules and regulations.

An effective HOAs can increase property values by ensuring that their communities stay visually appealing — no unsightly, broken vehicles on front lawns, for example. When they don’t work well, whether because of high fees or poor management, they can make owning a home a bureaucratic pain.

In deciding whether you should buy a home in a neighborhood with an HOA, keep these two factors in mind.


HOA members are required to pay monthly, quarterly or yearly dues, depending on the agreement. These fees pay for the installation and upkeep of community common areas, including walkways, parks, lighting, elevators, pools and clubhouses.

Fees vary depending on living situations. A resident of an expensive city may be required to pay more compared to someone living in a small town. And owners of a two-bedroom condo will pay more than owners of a one-bedroom.

Based on a community’s maintenance needs and number of residents, its HOA can raise its fees. And if there isn’t enough money in a reserve fund, homeowners might be charged a special assessment — sometimes without a majority vote, depending on how the HOA is run.

HOA boards can also take action against those who don’t pay, from issuing a warning to putting a lien on the home or forcing the owner to foreclosure.

Before you buy a home in a neighborhood with an HOA, find out:

  • How much the fees cost.
  • How often fees are due.
  • What the fees cover.
  • If there’s a reserve fund for emergencies or special projects.

Check in with yourself, too: Are you going to use the amenities that the fees cover? Do the fees fit your budget?


HOA rules are known as covenants, conditions and restrictions. Always obtain a copy of the HOA agreement before making any homebuying decisions.

When it comes to houses, most HOA rules center on exteriors. For example, members might be required to keep their lawns green, even in a drought. For apartment or condominium owners, they might dictate the types of pets residents are allowed to have or whether they can smoke inside.

You might welcome these rules if you’re concerned about noisy or sloppy neighbors. But if you want to install solar panels, paint your front door neon pink or throw late-night parties, you might run into trouble with your HOA.

And if you don’t follow the rules the HOA will request that you reverse your actions. Further repercussions could include fines and even a lawsuit.

Before you buy a home in a neighborhood with an HOA, find out:

  • The rules.
  • How the rules are implemented.
  • What happens when rules aren’t followed.

And ask yourself: Are you the type of person who can abide by these rules?

You can also ask your real estate agent whether you can sit in on an HOA meeting or whether the minutes are available. This will give you a sense of the community dynamics. Successful HOAs are democratic, with board members acting in the best interests of residents.

There are going to be rules to follow and bills to pay no matter where you live. Living somewhere with a HOA — especially one that works well — essentially gives you a home caretaker and security provider all in one.

But they’re not for everyone. When you’re looking to buy a home, get more information about HOAs from your real estate agent — and ask yourself whether you can live happily ever after with or without one.


If you are planning to sell your home, let The Incorvaia Team make the process as easy as possible for you. Call us today!