So what exactly is an HOA anyway? Does this
neighborhood have one? How much? For that cost, I hope we at least get a pool!
HOA stands for Home Owners Association and it is exactly that, an association of home owners that govern a development. The community does not have to be gated to warrant an HOA, it just has to have an elected Board of Directors to manage and enforce the Community Covenants and Restrictions. The intention of the HOA is to preserve the integrity of the subdivision keeping home values up and maintaining roads, buildings, amenities and common areas such as playgrounds, walking/biking trails, swimming pools, club houses, tennis courts, etc… HOA dues are usually set based on the number of areas the development must manage.
Some people love HOAs and some despise the restrictions they set. There is not generally freedom within an HOA to paint your house all the colors of the rainbow and have pink flamingos in your front yard; but by the same token, neither can your neighbor. Proponents of HOA neighborhoods like the perks of improved property values. Normally, homes must comply with the approved paint colors, landscaping, # of pets, detached buildings, and any other prearranged rules.
Fines may be issued when regulations are not met by the Home Owners. For this reason, some people believe their rights are violated by the HOA. Many senseless disputes between neighbors can, and have erupted as a result of someone not following the rules as interpreted by the HOA Board of Directors.
Some HOAs opt for professional management so that neighbors can continue being just that, neighbors. An HOA should be run and perceived as a business in order to succeed. The HOA also carries an insurance policy that increases with more risk areas such as playgrounds and pools. Since the Board of Directors must manage budgets, negotiate contracts, and issue fines, hiring a professional is sometimes worth the increase in HOA dues.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to an HOA. If you live in a community with an HOA, it’s your right and your responsibility to vote in the people you want to represent you and your neighborhood.
Fredericksburg Communities, Spotsylvania, Caroline, King George and Orange Counties all have developments available with reasonable HOAs. These areas also offer open farm lands and country homes free of Associations. It’s all about what you want. Do your research and talk to your Real Estate Agent for information on your dream community.
By: Tom Smith
Associate Broker, Century 21 Adventure Redwood