An HOA can have some benefits, such as maintaining curb appeal of homes, taking care of common areas, and covering amenities like parks and recreational activities.
But there could also be downsides to living in an HOA-controlled neighborhood. So consider these possible rules you might have to follow if you live with an HOA before you commit to buying a home. It could help you eliminate some money stress in the future.
HOAs may have specific parking restrictions that you might have to follow depending on the approved rules.
Check your HOA rule book or ask your real estate agent about issues like whether you can park on the street and when. You also may need to get a parking pass for yourself or get passes for guests who may visit.
Renting your home
Your local HOA might prevent you from renting out your property to someone else or restrict renters from accessing amenities such as a gym, pool, or other HOA-provided activities.
The HOA might also prevent you from using your property as a short-term rental as an Airbnb or other vacation rental services.
HOAs will enact rules to make sure everyone’s home has a good curb appeal in order to maintain exterior appearances in the neighborhood.
So you’ll have to stay on top of lawn maintenance to make sure your grass is cut before it gets too high and keep plants and bushes in good shape. Maintenance, however, can be expensive and hurt your wallet when you’re already struggling with financial fitness.
Some HOAs have the ability to limit how old residents can be.
A 55-and-over community can be a good place to live if you retire early and want to be in a community with other residents your age. But remember that when it comes time to sell your home, you will have to limit your potential buyers to those over 55.
An HOA may have the right to restrict or even deny your ability to make structural or architectural changes to your property.
You may want to add a room or extension onto your house that can be restricted or perhaps even be denied. Adding amenities like pools and patios may depend on the limits set by the HOA. And many HOAs require residents to submit plans and contractors for their approval.
Exterior paint colors
Have you ever dreamed of painting your house purple or making your front door bright yellow?
Then you probably don’t want to move to an HOA, which may require you to use specific HOA-approved colors for the exterior of your home.
Your HOA fees may cover trash collection, but those collections could have additional restrictions.
You may be limited to what you can put at the curb for collection or have specific rules for trash cans and collection bins. You also may have to pay extra for big items or special collection needs.
And remember to check on limits concerning how long you can have your trash cans at the curb. There may even be rules for when you can take them out and when you have to bring them in.
You may want to put a sign in your front yard to celebrate your kids’ birthdays or show support for a particular political candidate or policy. And when you sell your home, you may want to add a for-sale sign to your front yard.
But HOAs may have restrictions on certain kinds of signs or any types of signs, including for-sale signs, depending on their restrictions.
An HOA may allow you to park your RV in your driveway to pack up for a trip, but they could prevent you from parking beyond a few hours.
Check your HOA restrictions if you have things like RVs, trailers, or boats that you want to store in your driveway. There may be limits on what vehicle you can park on your property and for how long.
In order to keep a uniform look on each street, HOAs may restrict what type of mailbox you have or they may enforce specific rules about how to maintain your mailbox.
Remember to keep your mailbox within the HOA rules, including repainting it as necessary and what colors your mailbox can be.
HOA rules may affect your pets as well as your own home.
Your neighborhood HOA may have restrictions on how many pets you can own, what type of pets you can own, or how much a dog can weigh. You also might have to register pets with the HOA. A common rule is to keep a pet on a leash in common areas.
If you live in a wintery climate and expect snow, you’ll want to review HOA restrictions on snow removal.
HOAs may have requirements about how quickly you have to remove snow from sidewalks and walkways after a storm and where you can dump your shoveled snow. They also may restrict when you can operate machinery like snow blowers if you have one.
If you’re lucky, your monthly HOA fee will cover snow removal for the community.
Want to add a lush lawn to your home or plant a tree that’s unusual or unique? You may want to check your HOA laws first.
HOA might restrict what kind of plants you can add to your yard, such as using only native plants to protect the area from invasive plant species.
And if you may live in a drought-prone area or desert, you’ll probably have to give up dreams of a green lawn for something more drought resistant.
You may enjoy celebrating the holiday year-round with twinkling Christmas lights up in July or a Halloween skeleton that you like to dress up in different festive outfits throughout the year.
But check the HOA restrictions. You may find that there are specific limits to what kind of holiday decorations you can display and when. Your HOA may also have rules on when holiday lights have to be removed after the holiday season.
Alternative energy restrictions
You may be interested in adding solar panels to your roof to generate more electricity for your home. Or perhaps you want to install a more efficient plug for an electric vehicle in your garage.
Make sure you check on HOA restrictions before committing to a power change to your home. There may be restrictions on what you can upgrade or you might not be allowed to add solar panels.
You might love your home, but you just need a little more room by adding an addition to the back of your home.
Make sure your plans are approved by the HOA before you begin the construction process. Your HOA may have specific restrictions on what you can add to your exterior and interior or how much space you can add to your home’s footprint on the property.
There are some advantages to living in an HOA neighborhood, but you also may be turned off by the specific restrictions you face in a development governed by an HOA.
Be sure that you’re comfortable with the restrictions you may have to live with before you decide to buy a home in one of these areas. Thinking it through ahead of time could help you avoid foolish money mistakes.
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