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Top 5 Pros and Cons of Homeowners' Associations

Homeowners' Associations

The number of homeowners' associations is on the rise nationwide. 59 percent of newly constructed homes in 2014 were part of a homeowner's association, according to the US Census Bureau. That's a 46 percent increase since 2009!

So, what are the benefits of being a part of a homeowners' association that are making them so popular. Conversely, what are some drawbacks? It really depends on your HOA but here are some similarities across the board.

Pros

1. Your neighborhood will look good
Usually, an HOA will establish a set of guidelines to ensure the whole neighborhood looks good. Common rules are keeping lawns manicured, parking restrictions and regulations on exterior paint colors. These rules establish protection against one or two properties weighing down the value of the whole neighborhood.

2. You'll enjoy access to amenities
An HOA generally provides community amenities such as a pool, children's play areas or parks.

3. Your maintenance costs are shared
HOA dues include maintenance for shared spaces such as community lawn care, snow removal and upkeep of common areas.

4. You have a built in mediator
Having an issue with one of your neighbors about a precarious tree limb? Don't worry - take it to the HOA's board and let them settle it.

5. You will get to know your neighbors
If you serve on the HOA board or participate in the association, you'll be spending time with your neighbors and get to know them better. Who knows you might even make a new friend.

Cons

1. HOA dues
If you're considering the purchase of a home in an HOA community don't forget to factor HOA dues into your budget. Specifics vary but its usually hundreds of dollars per month.

2. Your freedom is somewhat restricted
Any significant changes you want to make to your property, such as adding a deck, usually have to be approved by the HOA's board. If they don't like how it will look or the impact it could have on the neighborhood, say goodbye to your new sunroom. They can also forbid you from getting a pet.

3. You might be hindered by an HOA's financial problems
If an HOA is having financial issues or is involved in a legal battle it could harm your ability to get a loan and hurt sale prices in the community. 

4. You'll have to play by the rules - no matter how absurd
Even if you think an HOA rule is ridiculous you have to follow it. However, you do have the ability to petition the homeowners' association to change a rule you don't agree with it. But if you do lose you just have to live with it. 

5. "Rogue" board members
Sometimes, the HOA will elect a "rogue" homeowner who flaunts the regulations. For instance if the board member decides something is necessary, they may just go ahead implementing it without consulting anyone else. Problems can also arise if homeowners stop attending HOA meetings - this leaves a small minority to make decisions. If you want a say in how things go, attend te meetings and serve on the board!

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