3 Reasons Why HOAs Scare Me

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KEY POINTS

  • HOAs can be very restrictive even though they offer perks.
  • You may face restrictions to what your property can look like, whether you can run a business from home, or even if you can have pets. 


There's a reason I won't buy in an HOA.

If you're looking to buy a home, you may come upon listings for properties that are part of a homeowners association, or HOA. Condos and townhouses are commonly part of HOAs, though it's possible to buy a standalone house that's subject to one, too.

Now there are certain benefits you might reap when you buy a home that's part of an HOA. Often, HOAs come with community amenities such as tennis courts, swimming pools, and playgrounds. And the HOA fees you pay monthly may give you access to perks like lawn care, snow removal, and a host of other things you don't have to do yourself.

But HOAs can also be quite restrictive, which is why I don't think I'd feel comfortable buying a home that's subject to their rules. Here are a few things that scare me about HOAs.

1. HOAs can dictate what your home looks like

When you buy a home in an HOA, you may be subject to restrictions regarding your home's exterior. And that's not something I'm comfortable with. Right now, I'm thinking of painting my front door bright yellow. But if I owned a home in an HOA, that's a choice I possibly wouldn't get. 

2. HOAs can forbid you from running a business from home

As a freelance writer, I don't have an office to report to. Rather, my job is 100% remote and I do it out of my house. But HOAs can restrict you from operating a business out of your home, and as someone who's self-employed, that just doesn't work for me. 

Granted, it's unlikely that an HOA would stop me from doing what I do all day -- sit at a desk typing on a laptop. But who knows if my husband might want to start his own business one day, or if I might want to start a business outside of writing? I wouldn't want that option taken off the table due to an HOA's rules.

3. HOAs can prohibit pets

As a dog owner who loves nothing more than snuggling up to her 70-pound lab mix, the idea of not being allowed to have a pet is unthinkable to me. But if you buy a home in an HOA, you may be prohibited from owning certain types of pets or certain breeds of dog. That's not a restriction I'm willing to face.

Should you buy a home in an HOA?

Some HOAs are stricter than others, so before you write off HOAs completely, it pays to do some research if you're looking at a home that's part of one. You may find that the rules at hand are pretty reasonable, and that they work for you.

But you should definitely be careful when buying a home that's part of an HOA. And rules aside, do keep in mind that HOA fees can rise over time. That could constitute a burden when you're already stretching your budget to cover a monthly mortgage payment.

Now in some cases, joining an HOA is unavoidable. Most townhouses, for example, are part of an HOA, so if that's the type of home you want, you may have to deal with the rules that come with it. But otherwise, be aware of the pros and cons of buying a home in an HOA. Our guide to homeowners associations is a great place to start if you want to learn more.

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