73.9 million people now live in a homeowners association (HOA) in the United States — that’s more Americans than ever before. In many residential communities, HOAs are responsible for single-family homes as well as condos and townhouses in order to maintain an orderly and cohesive community environment. By purchasing a home in an HOA, you become part of that community and must abide by its rules and regulations.
When considering joining an HOA, parents should weigh up the pros and cons to make the right decision for their family.
The benefits of joining an HOA
HOAs can be great for families with children since they offer a host of recreational amenities for all ages, such as parks, swimming pools, tennis courts, and play areas. These amenities are paid for with regular HOA fees, which means you aren’t charged extra to access them. Amenities give families more opportunities to have fun and bond together, as well as get physical exercise outdoors. Another benefit of joining an HOA is you typically won’t need to pay for external maintenance services. HOAs have community rules regarding home upkeep and appearances and cover the cost of exterior painting, property damage, lawn care, snow removal and other seasonal services. This saves homeowners a lot of time and hassle as well as helps ensure a safe, functional, and clean home for children.
What about the downsides?
Although HOA members own their homes, they’re unable to make changes to their property as they wish, which can feel restrictive. For example, if you want to update your living room or add a deck or patio, you need to put in a request to the HOA’s board. Your request may or may not be approved for a number of different reasons outside of your control.
Before buying a home and joining an HOA, it’s important to understand you’ll be financially tied to your HOA for as long as you live there. So, if your HOA comes into financial trouble, it may in turn become harder for you to be approved for a home loan, for example, as well as lower home values within the community. When an emergency expense arises in the community, HOA loans are commonly used to cover projects that exceed the HOA’s emergency fund. In contrast to having to make a larger, one-time payment, a HOA loan allows homeowners to make small payments to cover the cost over time. If the length of the loan lasts for 10 years, but you only stay in the HOA for five, that’s all you need to pay. The new family that moves in after you will be responsible for paying the remaining debt.
While joining a HOA can have benefits for both children and parents, they’re certainly not suited to everyone. Before moving into a HOA, it’s important to consider your own needs and financial situation to make the right decision for your family.