One of the first questions I try to ask when working with someone buying a home in Myrtle Beach is if they want to live in a community with an homeowner’s association (HOA) or not. Why? Because I would imagine more than half of the communities in the Myrtle Beach area now have some sort of association. To some this is a great thing, to others, they hate the idea of having a board tell them what they can and cannot do with their property.
Here are a few advantages and disadvantages to Homeowners Associations or HOA’s. First, lets discuss some advantages:
1. Get better rates on common utilities. Although what is included in your monthly fee greatly varies, if it includes a utility you normally are getting a better deal. For example, one local community called The Farm at Carolina Forest, has a monthly fee of $84.00 per month. For that fee you get basic cable, trash pickup, & amenities. If you went straight to the TV company for the same basic cable, you would spend $45/month for just that. Add in trash pickup and use of great pools, basketball courts, community center, and exercise gym, and your fees could easily be double.
2. Amenities, Amenities, Amenities! In order for a community to have amenities, they have to be managed by someone and be paid for by homeowners. Typical amenities could include pools, baskeball courts, playgrounds, lakes, gated entrances, security, tennis courts, movie theaters, private beach access, and much more.
3. Uniformity to Neighborhood. This is the biggest complaint that people have in regards to a community with an HOA. They do not want to be told what they can and can’t do. A community will have either a master deed, or covenants/restrictions that explain what you can and cannot do in the neighborhood. It does not mean that every single home will be the same, but that their are certain standards that must be followed.
Why is this good? Well the answer is easy…it helps to control your neighbors from doing things that may subtract from your home’s value. Here are a few examples of things that it may govern:
Lawn and landscape-Not everyone is as meticulous as to how their lawn looks. If you don’t keep up your lawn maintenance, you do run a risk of receiving some sort of fine.
- What is in your yard- If your neighbor had 2 broke down vehicles in the front yard that had been sitting there for 2 years all rusted, weeds growing up through them, it would not help attract buyers to a home next door. This past weekend I was out showing property to a family that absolutely loved the home we looked at. But when we walked outside and saw the neighbor have 3 work vehicles, tools, ladders, building supplies, and a backhoe in the front yard, my buyers immediately removed the house from their list of a potential purchase.
- Businesses/Hobbies- If your neighbor is starting their own rock band, you may be a little bothered by them constantly practicing at all hours of the night. Most associations address this by having noise restrictions/curfews in place to help prevent these things from happening.
- Animals- As crazy as this sounds, there have been several cases where people want to have chickens, roosters, goats and other animals in their back yard. Some may enjoy being awakened every morning by a rooster, but others would not. In a neighborhood with an HOA in place, these types of things would be regulated and you wouldn’t have to worry about the goat from next door getting into your back yard and consuming your gardenias.
- Appearance– Most HOA’s regulate the exterior appearance of the home. You cannot decide to make your home like a box of crayola crayons by painting half the house blue, half pink, adding yellow and green shutters, and a neon orange door. Usually there is some sort of style your home has to be and any types of changes have to be approved first by an architectural review board. For example in a community in Carolina Forest called Waterbridge, there are specific rules as to what the exterior of your home must look like.
So now that we discussed why HOA’s are good, here are a few drawbacks:
1. Parking your vehicles- If you want to park an RV in your driveway or bring home a work truck with advertisements for your business, a lot of HOA’s will not permit that in the neighborhood. Also, they may not allow a boat to be parked at your home. Some HOA’s are strict to the point of no parking on the street at any time. If you do, you could get some sort of fine. I remember one time when we went on a listing appointment, we were not aware of the no parking rule. We were at the home for less than 10 minutes before security showed up and was writing the homeowner a fine for our vehicles being parked on the street.
2. Restrictions on landscape & fences- Many of the HOA’s restrict what type of fence you are allowed to install and also require approval to make changes to your landscape. (removing a tree, planting new bushes, etc.) Remember, the HOA is trying to keep a certain standard throughout the community, so in order to do that, they must regulate what happens with everything including tree removal.
3. Rules & Regulations. If you are not used to living in an area where there are restrictions to your property use then going to a community with an HOA may not be an option to you. Having to get approval to make changes to your home & land can sometimes be difficult and can cause stress if you are not allowed to do exactly what you want.
So in closing, there is no right or wrong answer as to whether or not HOA are valuable or terrible. It all comes down to each person’s specific needs and desires. Which do you prefer? An HOA with restrictions and rules, or no HOA where anything and everything could happen that may not be always helping the value of your home? Leave a comment below!