Many neighborhoods have established homeowner’s associations for their communities. A homeowner’s association creates a set of rules and restrictions to keep its neighborhood and amenities clean and orderly as well as safe and supervised; it governs the community in a sense to keep residents accountable for maintaining a specific standard of living. Read on for some helpful information about homeowner’s associations before you consider buying a home in such a community.
So, what is a homeowner’s association anyways?

A homeowner’s association (HOA) is a private organization that supervises and manages common spaces and amenities shared by residents of a neighborhood. An HOA also functions as a kind of regulating body for the community, ensuring that property owners obey the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), Articles of Incorporation, and Bylaws—rules and regulations that have been established by the residents, that are meant to uphold and protect the standards of living within the community.

HOAs are usually established within communities that are comprised of neighborhoods with single-family homes to help maintain a certain way of life. That said, they also are present in many multi-unit residential buildings (e.g., condominiums) where they serve a similar purpose. People usually become members of their community’s HOA when they purchase a home there. HOA membership requires that residents pay a specific amount in dues, normally referred to as HOA fees, to support the organization. 

The duties of an HOA

HOAs generally have a board of directors, elected by the residents of the community; the board makes and enforces the rules and regulations established for their community and makes decisions based on the wants and needs of the residents. The duties of HOAs can vary, but the central duties of most HOAs typically include the provision of certain amenities for residents and organization and supervision of the activities within the neighborhood.

HOAs hold meetings all through each year. During the meetings, board members review the established rules and regulations and assess compliance, and in some cases levy fines for noncompliance; they also establish a budget and create committees to accomplish community goals and projects such as community maintenance and landscaping care. Non-board members are usually encouraged to attend, especially to participate in board member elections, to suggest addendums to the current rules, to vote on newly proposed rules, and to discuss general issues and community concerns.

A few words about the advantages and disadvantages of HOAs

Living in an HOA community requires some compromises from residents. The advantages of living in an HOA community can be profuse. For instance, residents in communities with HOAs commonly benefit from living in comfortable and safe neighborhoods with well-maintained amenities. Also, many people view living in an HOA community as a major privilege because HOAs help protect and preserve the property values of the homes in the neighborhood. They know that the HOA fees paid by residents are used to sustain features inherent to the highest property values, like maintenance of the landscaping in public spaces such as walking trails, playgrounds, and swimming pools, and preservation of security in the neighborhood. Further, residents of HOA communities generally are not permitted to have their yards unkept to the extent that it negatively impacts the curb appeal of their homes. Because HOAs encourage residents to remain invested in their homes and neighborhoods, they help to brace and buoy property values across the community.

There also can be some disadvantages when it comes to living in HOA communities, though. Besides requiring residents to pay monthly or annual fees, some HOAs have extremely strict rules that residents must follow. HOA rules restrict what residents can do to their houses and yards; these rules are in place to maintain the aesthetics of the neighborhood in most cases. For example, homeowners are not always afforded a lot of freedom regarding landscaping and embellishing their homes—many HOAs require that residents get approval to make even the most minor of changes to their property, from repainting front doors to the types of plants to be used in landscapes and more. Some HOAs even fine residents for not maintaining their landscaping according to the regulations! These factors can be key when considering the purchase of a home in an HOA community.

HOAs in Texas

There is no agency that regulates homeowner’s associations in the state of Texas, so while it may seem that an HOA has limitless control over residents, this is untrue. There are state laws in place that focus on HOAs and the rights of homeowners who live in HOA communities (like the Texas Residential Property Owners Protection Act which applies to HOA activities in the state, and the Uniform Condominium Act which deals with HOAs in condominium communities). While an HOA has specific powers to help maintain the neighborhood and its amenities at a precise standard, homeowners within that HOA community have counterbalancing rights. 

If you’ve found a home in a community you love but are concerned about the role of the HOA, it’s best to learn as much as you can about it before buying. A knowledgeable real estate agent, like those of WEICHERT, REALTORS® – The Place of Houses based in Corpus Christi, Texas, can take time to review the HOA fees, CC&Rs, and By-Laws for the communities in which you have an interest; understanding how the association operates and the requirements for which homeowners are responsible will be valuable as you consider purchasing a home in an HOA community. Weighing the pros and cons of living in an HOA community is key to determining what’s right for you and your family. To learn more about buying a new property, including the role of HOAs, WEICHERT, REALTORS® – The Place of Houses is the professional real estate team to call. This company employs experienced, dedicated real estate experts committed to offering outstanding service to each of their clients; consulting the professionals is your best bet when it comes to navigating the current real estate market in Corpus Christi and the surrounding area. Contact WEICHERT, REALTORS® – The Place of Houses any time online or by phone at 361-882-5588, so the skilled real estate team can assist you on the journey to purchasing your new home.

Written by Erika Mehlhaff