Homeowners' Associations - granorlaw.com

By Brett C. Meade

By definition, a homeowner’s association is a legal entity created by a real estate developer for the purpose of managing and selling a community of homes. It has the authority and responsibility to enforce the covenants, conditions, and restrictions of the community, as well as manage the common amenities provided to its members. (reference.com) Homeowner’s associations, also referred to as HOA’s, provide the residents of countless neighborhoods and developments with the type of lifestyle they desire. There are a number of reasons why you need an HOA, but this list of seven should be enough to help you understand just how important and valuable a good homeowner’s association can be.

1. Recreational Amenities – Most homeowners associations provide recreational amenities for exclusive use by its members. This added bonus allows homeowners of all incomes the benefit of countless desirable amenities; ranging from pools and trails to tennis courts and parks.

2. Neighborhood Fees Make a Big Difference – Members of homeowners associations are usually required to pay a monthly or yearly fee. However, these generally small fees can drastically transform an average neighborhood into a highly-sought after place to call home. In addition, annual fees tend to be cheaper for everyone involved. When you add up landscaping costs, amenity maintenance, trash pick-up and other various costs, you usually end up paying less when the entire community shares these expenses.

3. Shared Values – An HOA gives people with the same values and ideals regarding their neighborhood the opportunity to create change by enforcing specific covenants. Residents can work together to come to an agreement on what they would like to see in their neighborhood, and then enforce these rules accordingly.

4. Maintain Property Values – According to new-house expert, Katherine Salant, the rules and covenants enforced by HOA’s are intended to maintain property values, not limit your personal tastes. Salant states, “There will be rules about upkeep for a home’s exterior and lawn maintenance as well as specific approved fence types, fence materials, plant materials, trees, and so forth.” Some people may see this kind of regulation as binding or limiting, but it is intended to keep the value of every house in the development high. By maintaining a consistent, well-kept look throughout the community, housing prices and value will increase.

5. Clear Guidelines Help Avoid Problems – Times have changed. The average size of house lots is getting smaller and smaller, which is bringing neighbors physically closer together in proximity. As Salant points out, “What people do is a lot more in your face, and most people do not like to see pink houses, old cars up on blocks, or a half-built deck sitting unfinished for five years.” Clear guidelines help to avoid any confusion on what is allowed or not allowed, which creates a friendlier, more desirable atmosphere for residents to live.

6. Community Events – Homeowner’s associations promote positive relationships between neighbors by putting on and hosting community events. According to Salant, ‘an effective social committee ensures that neighbors meet and periodically interact with each other at social events such as block parties, annual picnics, or some other social function.”

7. Produce Content Homeowners – Recent research has shown that 7 in 10 community association residents are satisfied with their homeowner’s association and the lifestyle it produces. (Zogby International 2007) Robert Browning, a national board member of the Community Associations Institute, sums it up by saying, “Community association living isn’t perfect, and for some it’s just not a good fit, but it’s reassuring to know that most residents believe their associations are functioning effectively.”

Brett Meade is a Tacoma real estate specialist for Keller Williams Realty. He services the Tacoma WA real estate market and its surrounding communities.

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