This is the fourth article in a four part series on our experiences with real estate transactions. Previous articles are Home Ownership: Our Experience, Home Ownership: Selling Our House and Home Ownership: Buying A Home.
The biggest change when downsizing in 2007 from a single family home to a condominium was belonging to a home owner association (HOA). Mr. Boomer had resisted buying a home with this requirement, but it was unavoidable in our price range and location.
He had heard horror stories about HOAs that get publicized via newspapers, magazines and word of mouth. The reality has ups and downs, but no chainsaw massacre.
Not only do we belong to the HOA of our condo development, but it’s part of a master-planned community which has its own HOA with monthly fees (of course).
1. Maintenance. Fortunately, we can see the results of our money most of the time. The trash is picked up every week and the gardeners are here at least 1 full day a week. We wouldn’t be as on top of all the work if left up to us.
It’s not only the little things either. All the buildings (5 residential, 5 garage and pool house) have been repainted in the past two years. The sprinklers were updated to be sensor based so less water is used and the landscaping was changed to require less water.
2. Control. The HOA rules and regulations keep neighbors from infringing upon other’s enjoyment of the community. This helps keep the monetary value up for us all as well.
3. Services.We have a private pool/jacuzzi at our complex plus belong to the master community center which has many tennis courts, two pools (one Olympic size), and a small gym.
1. Control. It’s a double-edged sword. In their effort to protect us all, the property manager and board members manage to infuriate residents and owners at times. After returning from vacation last April, a letter arrived regarding trash left outside our front door noted during the routine inspection. We weren’t even home.
It turns out my house-sitter son left it there for about an hour while cleaning. I see neighbors do this once in awhile but his timing was bad and the letter was annoying. I had to write back how I was going to correct the situation.
2. Autonomy. If we wanted to paint our door red too bad. Heck, the window coverings have to be white backed. Yes, the rules that protect us from crazy neighbors painting their door as a peace sign can hinder individuality.
1. Costs. This was the third New Year celebrated in our home. It was also the third straight year the HOA fees increased between 8-13%.
I’m sure the costs for water, trash, insurance and maintenance would have gone up at our previous home. But it wouldn’t have come all at one time.
Our HOA monthly fees are now higher than the mortgage payment. Granted we have a very small mortgage, but still!
Overall our experience with HOAs has been good. Our investment in the property is being well taken care of on the outside (and we’re doing our part on the interior). What has been your experience with HOAs?
Photo Courtesy of Aida
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