Before looking at homes, it is good to investigate and decide whether living within the confines of a homeowners association is right for you.

A HOA (homeowners association) is a group that you will belong to as the owner of property in a community with a Homeowner’s Association. Properties that have homeowners associations may include condominiums, town homes, and single-family communities.

FRIEND: If you like amenities and want your neighbors to stay in line, an HOA may be for you.

An HOA will have a set of guidelines to follow for the community. They will have services they offer in exchange for a required fee.

Amenities can range from maintaining the community streets to use of a common pool or clubhouse. Living in an HOA, you may not have to worry about the maintenance of certain aspects of your property like your roof or the lawn because the association will take care of it for you.

If you are considering a property that is part of an HOA, be sure that you review documents such as their financial statements and Bylaws. As a buyer, you want to make sure that the association is financially stable and that you have an understanding of their management their rules. If you break the rules they have the right to fine you, or worse, they may be able to lien your property.

When selling a property that is part of an HOA, you may be charged a transfer fee for selling your home. These transfer documents can average $300-$500, or more, depending on your association.

FOE: If you like to live on the wild side, an HOA may not be for you.

If you are looking for a community that is less restrictive, you might want to consider buying a home that is not located in a homeowners association. Properties that are not part of an association follow city ordinances and may have some neighborhood covenants. Enforcement of these rules outside of an HOA are not as restrictive. For instance, regardless if you are in an HOA or not, a city and neighborhood ordinance may not allow you to keep farm animals in city limits.

Depending on your needs, an HOA property may be worth considering. For the association fee, you may be able to hand off some of the maintenance responsibilities of home ownership to the HOA.

In conclusion: Assess your needs, take the time to explore your options, and decide if an HOA is right for you before beginning the search for your new home.

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