A recent column on Motley Fool’s www.Fool.com website caught the attention of our firm’s South Florida community association attorneys. Author Christy Bieber begins by noting the negative perceptions toward HOAs that she and her husband shared, but she ultimately acknowledges their benefits and appeal.
“Living in a neighborhood with a homeowners association (HOA) has always seemed like a huge hassle to me. Several times, my husband and I have walked away from buying a home we love in an HOA neighborhood because of the ridiculous rules and restrictions applied to homeowners or because of the high fees the neighborhoods charged,” begins her column.
“We didn’t want to commit to huge monthly costs on top of a mortgage payment, or have our association tell us what kind of flowers to plant. And we’ve also lived in HOA neighborhoods where the association was disorganized and caused nothing but trouble.”
She notes that they vowed never to buy a house in an HOA neighborhood again, but they have now changed their minds and are looking to buy a property in a community with a strong association.
Why the change of heart?
“We really fell in love with the neighborhood,” she writes.
Bieber notes that it is ideally located, near their favorite stores and restaurants, and hosts fun special events. She also loves the miles of walking trails that wind by beautiful lakes and streams. Rather than sitting in traffic to visit the area, they decided their best move would be to make the community their home.
“The neighborhood, unfortunately, does have an HOA. But we realized the association is the reason for all these special events and for the beautifully maintained walking trails — and we decided after having spent enough time there enjoying all that it had to offer that the HOA fees were worth the price and the hassle involved in complying with the HOA rules,” she concludes.
Bieber is not the first and will not be the last to make such comparisons and reach such decisions. She counsels her readers to carefully consider HOA communities, as they all have “varying rules, requirements, cost structures, and amenities. You need to go into buying in an HOA neighborhood with both eyes open if you’re considering it — but you don’t necessarily want to discount them offhand without taking a look at the trade-offs and really thinking about what’s right for you,” she suggests.
The reality is that almost two-thirds of new homes constructed are now located in community or homeowner’s associations, according to recent analysis from the National Association of Home Builders. The association model is growing in popularity in large part because homebuyers like the Biebers are closely comparing the amenities and benefits that HOA and condominium communities have to offer.
In order to maximize community property values and appeal, associations will need to build on a foundation of administrative and operational excellence that is based on the careful application of the industry’s best practices and procedures. With the help of highly qualified and experienced management, legal, insurance, financial, and construction professionals, boards of directors and association committees are able to operate and maintain highly successful communities with undeniable appeal.