I live in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. It’s a large area with many homes. Like many other metro areas, home owners associations “HOA’s” are scattered throughout. When buying a home in one of these HOA developments, you will be told of all the advantages.
Pools, landscaping, social centers
The streets, landscaping, pools, and recreation centers will be maintained and paid for by the HOA. This sounds good, but in addition to this, the HOA board will control how you maintain your home and how you live.
Right now in El Mirage, AZ a fight is brewing between homeowners and their HOA over house painting. The HOA decided that over 700 homeowners have to paint their houses in the next month or be fined. This was decided by the architectural committee, who walked the neighborhood and made the choice of which houses looked faded or outdated.
In addition, they are told what colors they can use, how the trim is painted, the type of screen doors, and their choices must be pre-approved by the board for an additional fee.
All HOA’s have their own rules and restrictions which can be changed at any time. In addition, the homeowner must pay a fee to the HOA for all this harassment. It could be monthly, yearly, or whatever they decide. Many times it amounts to $200 per month or more.
Also, they have rules about when and where you can park your car and if the garage door can be left open. You can’t leave your kid’s bicycle, skateboard, or toys in the front yard. The list goes on and on.
Worse yet, if you don’t comply, the HOA will fine you. If you don’t pay the fine the HOA can eventually take your house and resell it to recover their money.
How did this ever get started?
As cities grew, housing developers started buying up huge acres of land for a private development. To save costs and get more houses per acre they would build streets, community pools, recreation halls, park areas, and sports courts. The developer then set up an HOA to pay for all these extra amenities. Each home buyer had to pay a fee to join and a monthly fee while living in the development. These fees were also to maintain the streets and facilities as time went by. The city was happy because they were not required to maintain the areas within the HOA, but they still received property taxes.
Sounds good, but
It sounded good on paper, but in order to pay all this, the fees had to be raised each year, adding to the expense of the homeowner. By this time the original developer is done and gone, leaving all responsibility to the HOA. Add this to the fact that your life is controlled by the HOA property inspection committee and your life became a living hell.
I’ve heard there are some good HOA properties, but I’m not taking my chances. For 30 years in Arizona I have owned homes in areas without an HOA and only my wife tells me what to do.