Homeowners' associations (HOAs) often get a bad rap because they are known to be particularly inflexible with their rules. When choosing a neat, ranch style house plan for your new home in a community, your HOA will already have given its approval. It's still important to investigate the HOA rules before signing on the dotted line, however, so you know exactly what you can and can't do.
How HOAs Work
When you buy a home in a planned development or a gated community, you're required to join the local HOA. The association charges monthly, quarterly or annual fees for membership, which are applied to the costs of activities such as managing the common or public areas, the entrance landscaping, irrigation system and trash removal.
In some communities, the HOA also provides individual lawn care to ensure all properties are equally well represented. When you sell your unit, the buyer takes your place on the HOA and you are no longer responsible. If you rent out your home, however, you remain responsible for the upkeep in accordance with the HOA rules.
The HOA is responsible for maintaining standards in the community and protecting the real estate value for all its members. To enable it to do so, the HOA determines the rules or conditions that homeowners and residents are required to follow.
These usually include issues such as:
- Choice of architectural design, as well as the colors you can use to paint various areas of your home. This usually only applies to the exterior, but is important when it comes to doors, window frames and other decorative aspects of your ranch style house plan to maintain a degree of conformity for the community.
- Installation and location of equipment such as satellite dishes.
- Number and type of pets the homeowners are allowed to keep.
- Type and location of fencing around the home, where applicable.
- Exterior landscaping methods allowed.
- Type of vehicles that may be parked, and location of parking.
Some communities, for example, disallow the parking of RVs in the area, while others permit these on homeowners' private lots.
Get more information on the quality HOA-run community at Choto Meadows, or call 865-803-3895.
Benefits and Disadvantages of HOAs
Apart from the obvious advantages of having the common areas well-maintained and the disadvantage of being told what colors you can use, working with HOAs brings other offerings to the table, too. The HOA typically manages any amenities, ensures the elimination of pests in the area, and schedules HOA meeting
The downside of living under a HOA is that you're required to pay fees, which can range from $50 to $500 a month or more. You'll need to be sure of what you can expect for the amount you pay, to avoid dissatisfaction down the line. You'll also have to be certain you can afford the fees, because if you fail to pay or you're late with your dues, some HOAs have the right to place a lien on your home.
Another disadvantage of having a HOA running your community is that if you ever want to rent out your home while you, say, spend a year on sabbatical in Europe, you might find there are restrictions on what is permitted.
Working With the HOA
In many instances, there isn't a choice on whether to work with the HOA or not. Modern communities almost all have HOAs, so when you find that perfect ranch style house plan you should spend some time exploring the HOA covenants, conditions and restrictions. It's the only way you'll be able to determine whether you can live with the rules or not. Once you move in, your best bet for maintaining harmony with your HOA is to get involved with it, at least to a small degree. That way, you can ensure you have the chance to express your opinion about matters, and help moderate any more "heavy-handed" members who participate.
If the benefits of living in a maintenance-free HOA-run community like Choto Meadows outweigh the disadvantages, you have nothing to worry about. If you find yourself chafing at the idea, however, take a little longer to look around before settling on a community that has an HOA that's easier to accommodate.