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Living in an HOA: What’s Myth Versus Fact?

Many who live in a homeowners’ association (HOA) recognize its value, but it can be difficult for some homebuyers to look past the common misconceptions about HOAs. Beyond dues, rules, and regulations, there’s so much more that defines an HOA and makes it an enjoyable place to call home. To help clear the air about living in an HOA, read on to learn what’s myth versus fact when it comes to settling down in one.

Myth: HOAs aren’t suited for young-adult living.

FACT: Many of today’s HOAs are forward-thinking and progressive. As the demographics of homebuyers begin to shift, communities are adapting to the wants and needs of their future residents. With millennials entering the home buying market at an increasing rate, more and more communities are offering more experience-based amenities, like upgraded pools and large playgrounds, investing in technology, getting social, and going green.

Myth: Architectural reviews make it difficult to upgrade your home and increase your property value.

FACT: One of the main reasons people buy into an HOA is the consistent property values, and the architectural review is an integral part of that. An architectural review occurs when a homeowner submits planned changes to the aesthetics of their property, also known as an architectural request. The architectural review board will then approve or reject the proposed changes. Without it, there’s no way to enforce the standards of homes in a community.

Myth: The rules and regulations are too stringent and impede on your liberties.

FACT: A well-run association provides the proper framework for a great community living experience. Established rules and regulations are designed to promote harmony and prevent problems like loud music, barking dogs, and neglected lawns before they become a real issue. They also provide guidance on the usage of common spaces, meeting areas, and activity centers, so neighbors and community members have equal opportunities to come together and socialize.

Myth: Neighbors don’t look out for one another.

FACT: The biggest emotional benefit to living in an HOA is a real sense of togetherness. Whether it’s a condominium or a master-planned community, you, your neighbors, and your association team are in it together. This benefit can be especially crucial for people who don’t have family close by, as neighbors often become their chosen family. Additionally, those who live within a community often have similar lifestyles, which helps build camaraderie. If and when there are issues between neighbors, the board of directors can be called upon to help resolve community conflicts. An advocate for all homeowners living within the community’s rules and regulations, the board can help enforce an existing rule or guide homeowners towards a mutually agreed-upon resolution.

Myth: Residents don’t have a voice.

FACT: From barbecues to board meetings and committees, there’s plenty of opportunities for neighbors to meet each other, create personal bonds, and do good for their community. An HOA is designed to foster engagement in fun activities and association duties, but it’s the board’s responsibility to encourage involvement and offer open lines of communication with residents. One of the best ways to get involved is to join the board, but there are other ways to make your voice heard, like attending board meetings and joining committees.

Myth: There are too many hidden fees.

FACT: HOAs generate their operating funds by collecting fees and assessments from members. This money allows the HOA to carry out its responsibilities, including maintaining shared spaces, saving for future repairs and improvements, and enforcing community guidelines.

Before you buy a home that’s part of an HOA, make sure you’re familiar with any fees you may be responsible for paying. You’ll need to decide for yourself if these fees are worth it.

Myth: Board members only act for the good of themselves, not the community.

FACT: The most significant responsibility for the board of directors is to act in the best interest of the association. A board member’s decision should never be made only to benefit themselves or a select group of people. Most boards have a mandated Board of Directors Code of Professional Ethics. This code outlines expected behavior regarding integrity and objectivity, technical standards, conflicts of interest, and more.

How to Get More Involved

One of the best ways to help change the perceptions of HOAs is to be more involved in the community. While serving on the board is the best way to affect change, it isn’t a small task, as your role can make the difference between the community’s success or failure. Read our article, “10 Signs You’re Cut Out for the HOA Board,” to learn what it takes to be a member of your HOA board.