What is an HOA?
HOA stands for Homeowners’ Association. An HOA is a governing board that has authority over an area like a housing development or gated community. They have the power to write and enforce regulations in their community. These regulations often include stipulations on things such as: exterior home maintenance, pets, using homes for commercial purposes, leaving garage doors open, washing cars in driveways, keeping RVs and boats, and sometimes more. The exact regulations will vary from association to association, but many of them are similar.
There are pros and cons to these regulations. While they may seem restrictive at times, remember that they ensure that neighbors keep their homes presentable and help keep the common areas in pristine condition. HOAs are consistently among the nicest and best kept neighborhoods in the US. They are very nice because you know what you can expect from your neighbors and there are many amenities available to you as a member of the association (i.e. pools, tennis courts, etc…)
If you live in an HOA neighborhood you will have to pay monthly dues to the association. The amount can vary from tens of dollars to hundreds of dollars per month, so do some research before buying a house under an HOA. The money that goes to the association is used to maintain and repair common areas like roads and utilities; it also usually covers community landscaping. If the community has pools, tennis courts or parks then part of the funding goes toward those as well.
If you live inside the boundaries of the HOA, then you are automatically under the regulations of the association. You can’t opt out of their rules or decide to not pay your dues. Everyone in the area contributes to and benefits from the association.