3 Reasons I Wouldn't Buy a Home in an HOA

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  • There are certain benefits to owning a home in an HOA.
  • Due to the potential for restrictions, it's not a setup I'm comfortable with.

HOAs just aren't for me due to the rules involved.

At one point when my husband and I were looking to buy a vacation home (a plan that's firmly on hold due to the state of the housing market and the fact that mortgage rates have skyrocketed), we came across a property that seemed like a great fit. It was in our desired location and the price worked for our budget.

There was just one problem: The home was part of an HOA. And that alone was enough to make us pass.

Now, there are certain benefits to owning a home in an HOA. Often, you don't have to do exterior maintenance yourself, as that's covered by your monthly dues. That could amount to a lot of time-related savings on tasks like mowing the lawn and removing snow.

Also, some HOAs offer solid amenities. One reason I don't own a home with a pool is that I live in the Northeast, and the amount of money I'd spend maintaining a pool isn't worth it for the two months of swimming I'd get out of it. But I have friends with homes in HOAs who have access to a swimming pool they don't have to maintain themselves, and that's a nice perk to have during the summer.

But despite the potential benefits of buying in an HOA, I just can't see myself joining one. And here are three main reasons why.

1. I want the option to design my exterior as I see fit

Some HOAs are more restrictive than others. But I've definitely heard of HOAs that want all homes in the development to look the same from the outside. That's not something I'd be thrilled with. If I want to paint my door bright yellow or plant exotic bushes outside my home, I feel I should have that right. But an HOA with strict rules could take that right away.

2. I want the option to work from home

I work from home on a full-time basis. That's an arrangement I can't imagine giving up. But an HOA could potentially force me to.

Some HOAs prohibit workers from running a business out of their homes. Now, my business is writing content on a laptop -- something that's not disruptive to neighbors and generally does not involve a steady stream of visitors in and out my door. And so chances are, an HOA that prohibits home businesses would still allow me to continue doing what I do. But ultimately, I can't take that risk.

3. I'm a dog lover and want to be able to rescue any animal I choose

Some HOAs prohibit animals altogether, while others prohibit large dogs or certain breeds. As the owner of an almost 75-pound Lab who loves giant dogs, I refuse to land in a situation where I can't foster or adopt an animal because my HOA won't let me. If I fall in love with a bright-eyed pit bull, I want the option to bring it home if I'm comfortable doing so.

Some people really like being part of an HOA. But at the end of the day, if I'm paying a lot of money for a home, I don't want to be told what to do with it. And so I'd rather limit my search to properties that aren't part of an HOA -- even if that means having to do more maintenance work myself.

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