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How to Decide if an HOA Is Right for You

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If you're ready to buy a new home, one of the decisions you'll have to make is if you want to buy a home that is part of a homeowners association or HOA. There are several benefits of such an arrangement as long as you can afford to pay the monthly fees. Here are a few considerations that can help you decide if an HOA is right for you.

You Have Wiggle Room in Your Budget

If your income to expenses ratio is so tight that you usually live paycheck to paycheck, then you'll need to look closely at how the HOA fees will affect your budget. If you're buying a condo, some utilities might be included in the fee, such as water and cable service. This helps offset the monthly HOA fee. Keep in mind that the HOA fees may increase as the years go by too.

Also, the association can impose additional fees on top of your usual monthly payments. If the community decides to install a new swimming pool, pave the roads, or put a new roof on the community clubhouse, residents will have to foot the bill unless there are enough reserve funds available.

You Want Some Control Over Your Neighbors

One of the scary things about buying a new home is finding out you moved next door to an unstable neighbor or someone you can't get along with. If you live in an HOA community, you won't have to worry about your neighbor taking revenge by painting his or her house a weird color, parking on the lawn, or letting weeds grow wild in the yard. Every member of the community must comply with regulations.

It is likely all homes must maintain their yards, use approved paint colors and fence styles, and keep junk vehicles out of sight. On the other hand, you need to be the type of person who doesn't mind complying with rules. If you like to march to the beat of your own drummer and you dream of painting your home an eclectic color and filling your property with lawn art, then it may be difficult for you to live with the restrictions of a homeowners association.

You Want to Live in a Planned Community

One of the nice things about buying a new house is that you can buy into a planned community. Most of these have HOA regulations and fees to keep the community uniform in appearance and to maintain the roads and community buildings. Planned communities usually have great amenities like a community pool and recreational facilities. There may even be a school or grocery store on the grounds.

There are often many opportunities for social activities for residents of all ages. This keeps kids and elders engaged and active, and lets you get to know your neighbors. If you love the planned community lifestyle, then paying a monthly HOA fee is definitely worthwhile.

When you look at homes for sale, be sure to talk to your real estate agent about the specifics of the HOA. Also, talk to residents and attend an HOA meeting if you can. Do your best to make sure the association manages money properly so you won't constantly be hit with additional fees.

Don't look for an HOA with the lowest fees. Compare what you get for the price, look at how often the price has been raised in the past, and consider possible huge expenses the residents will need to cover in coming years. You may find paying a higher fee each month could actually save you from unexpected, large expenses later on.

To learn more about your options, contact companies like J & N Realty, Inc.