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Is a Homeowner Association right for you?

Friday, November 07, 2014
When you buy a home that is part of a homeowners association, you agree to live according to the association’s rules and pay a fee (often monthly) that contributes to the overall maintenance and management of the community.

Living in a neighborhood with a homeowners association has its advantages and disadvantages. Before you buy a home in such a neighborhood make sure you can live with the rules and that the community’s amenities and benefits make sense for you and your family. Your association fees are also included in your mortgage lender’s assessment of your monthly mortgage payment, so it’s important to make sure your credit score is in great shape so you can qualify for the loan amount you need. You can check your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.

Why pay a monthly association fee to abide by rules you don’t like and cover the costs of a swimming pool and tennis court you aren’t ever likely to use? Here is a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of homeowners associations.

The Homeowners Association (HOA) Sets the Standards for Your Home
One disadvantage of living in a home that is part of a homeowners association is that the association gets to determine what is an acceptable appearance for your home. The paint color, where you park your car, how often you clean your roof or mow your lawn, the landscaping of your front yard and how you decorate your home’s exterior for the holidays may all be scrutinized by a homeowners association.

If all of these rules seem reasonable to you and are in line with how you are likely to maintain your home anyway, this community may be right for you.  If not, you may want to consider other housing options.

To learn about the specific rules of a homeowners association, you can reach out to the homeowners association directly or visit your county clerk’s office, since homeowner association rules and restrictions are a matter of public record.

A Homeowners Association Handles Disputes Between Neighbors
One advantage of a homeowners association is mediating disputes between neighbors, so the association will contact a neighbor about a noisy dog or loud party, not you. And there may very well be a rule about noise levels after hours that the association will be able to enforce.

A Homeowners Association Manages Common Areas in Your Neighborhoods
Homeowners associations handle the upkeep of swimming pools and tennis courts and other recreational areas so the common areas and shared amenities in a neighborhood are likely to be maintained in a good condition.

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