Homeowners Associations – Good, Bad, or Ugly?

suburbAsk any experienced home buyer about homeowners associations and you’re likely to receive a strong opinion one way or the other. Many love the fact that an HOA (homeowner association) keeps a neighborhood neat, orderly, and predictable. Others see HOA’s as restrictive and overbearing, likening their control over your home to apartment living. Whether you’re for, against, or have no opinion on them, weighing the pros and cons of a homeowners association is an important step before making an offer on a home.

The Good

Every HOA has what are called covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CCR’s). These CCR’s spell out the rules of the community; basically, what you can and cannot do with your property and on the community areas. Each HOA is different in what it regulates, but some examples of what they cover are:

  • Keeping lawns cut and maintained
  • Keeping exterior of home maintained and painted (possibly in a pre-approved color)
  • No boats, recreational vehicles, or any other large vehicles.
  • Uniformity in style of roof

People like HOA’s because they keep a community looking nice long after the last new home is sold. This definitely helps keep home values high and makes it that much easier for homeowners to have a successful resale.

The Bad

The aforementioned rules and regulations are the primary reason why many people despise homeowners associations. If you’re the owner of a boat, RV, jet skis, or ATV, you better check the CCR’s before moving in to make sure that your toys are allowed. Many other activities, such as workshops, are forbidden in many communities. Some HOA’s even regulate the type, size, and number of pets you can have on your property.

The Ugly

Some homeowners associations can be nightmarish. Just Google “HOA from Hell” and you’ll find 2.7 million search results! These HOA’s have busybodies on the homeowners board that oversees the association and can be outrageous in their demands.

An ugly and bitter dispute between neighbors can also occur in HOA-run neighborhoods. Some people feel trapped in their own homes by associations that restrict everything they do.

On the other hand, some associations whither and die due to lack of  homeowner interest not long after the builder transfers HOA control to the community. In this case, the HOA often becomes obsolete and unenforceable, effectively making the neighborhood cease to have an HOA.


Far too many home buyers don’t take enough time to investigate the HOA of their potential future home. If the house you want has an HOA, make a checklist of your lifestyle and see if it meshes well with the CCR’s. If not, you may want to move on to the next house and avoid a future headache.


  1. Deanna Joy says:

    Hahha, love the term “busy bodies” that are outrageous with their demands…I have heard more about this than anything from friends with HOA, especially in condos. My friend Linda (I will call her), was in a Seattle lakefront condo and this very person described above decided that they needed their condos re-sided. There was some water damage. Most others thought that all they needed was a paint job but she insisted, using scare tactics – convincing all of the need and before all was said and done it cost each homeowner over 60,000 each to reside that condo building. In the end, they found that it could have been covered by insurance, but too late as this was pressed through with amazing speed. Beware, and always be cautious of one person’s strong influence. The next project this woman tried to get passed was new elevators….these condos are less than 15 years old.

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