Should you steer clear of homes with HOAs?
When my husband and I were looking at houses to buy, we saw many properties that we liked but one stood out from the crowd. There was just one hitch: It was in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association.
We really appreciated the style and size of the home and it was in an area that provided a very close commute. It was also affordable and our mortgage payments would have been pretty reasonable.
But, despite the fact that the home was attractive to both of us and checked many of our boxes, there was one key factor that convinced us to pass up the property. Here’s what the issue was.
Some HOA fees can rival your mortgage
The home that my husband and I both liked was in a neighborhood with an association. Many properties we saw were in HOA neighborhoods since they are common in the area where we were looking to live. This was not, by itself, a dealbreaker.
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But, this one particular neighborhood had a specific fee structure that we decided we were not able to live with. Specifically, the HOA dues were more than $1,000 every single month. Now, there were a lot of amenities in this neighborhood including a golf course and some restaurants. And the dues covered a certain amount of food at the restaurant each month, along with access to community pools and the golf club but not cart fees.
But, while we liked the amenities, paying over $1,000 per month for dues for the entire time we owned the house simply was not something we were willing to do. We don’t play golf or want to eat out that often, and the other features that came with the neighborhood simply did not justify the added cost.
It’s crucial to learn all the HOA rules before buying
This house was actually not the only one that we passed up because of an issue with an HOA. I also walked away from another property because the rules were too strict regarding a variety of issues from landscaping to pets. But it was definitely the home with the highest fees that we came across.
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Because of all these HOA issues, we learned how important it is to look into all of the details before committing to buy a home. If the fees are too costly or if the rules are too onerous, then it may not be worth buying a property in a neighborhood with an association even if HOAs do have some upsides, including protecting property values.
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We wanted to be happy in our home over the long term and not worry about coming up with tens of thousands of dollars per year just for HOA fees for the entire duration of the time we lived in the home. That meant taking extra time to look for an association we could live with or find a home that wasn’t in an HOA neighborhood at all.
Ultimately, our search paid off and we were very glad we didn’t settle for a house we knew would come with too many unnecessary costs each year.
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