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Is living in a homeowners association the right lifestyle for you? Living in a homeowners association or a property owners association is not for everyone. HOA’s (short for homeowners association) and POA’s (short for property owners association) are typically communities that have come together and decided that they want to be “governed.” But, some are put into place by a developer based on his or her development plan prior to anyone purchasing property within that community. If you are not familiar with living in an HOA or a POA , there are several things to consider.

For some, living in an HOA brings a sense of comfort because they feel that their property values will be protected. For others, they like the sense of camaraderie they get living in a community with common areas that all the neighbors can share and enjoy, like a pool or clubhouse.

I grew up in an HOA in the late 70’s and early 80’s and remember hanging out at the pool with friends and getting together with neighbors for cookouts at the clubhouse. As a teenager I thought it was pretty fun and enjoyed the area we lived in. For the most part, I believe that my mom and dad enjoyed living in the HOA as well as I don’t believe my mom had any real complaints (at least I don’t remember any) and my dad was pretty involved on the board and other committees.

As with all major decisions, people thinking of living in a homeowners association need to think of several things:

*HOA fees or dues
*Amenities provided
*Rules that you will need to live by
*How involved will you be

The dues and fees usually help with security, maintaining areas that all of the residents use, insurances needs for the community and the various financial needs of the HOA. Also note, that if these dues or fees are not paid by the homeowner when they are due, the HOA does have the right to put a lien on the home for the amount due and possibly sue the homeowner. They also have the right to impose fines for infractions of the rules or regulations.

Depending on the size of the community, the amenities may be few to many. Where I grew up, they consisted of a clubhouse, meeting room and three community pools. But, I know of many that include golf course privileges, boat ramps, marinas, restaurants, tennis courts and more.

By and far most concerns for people considering living in a homeowners association are the bylaws, rules and regulations governing the community and neighborhoods. Make sure you receive a copy of all the documents so that you know what you will need to do to make living in an HOA satisfactory to your style of living. Your title company and REALTOR can help obtain these documents.

And finally, how involved in the HOA do you want to be? Some folks prefer to pay their dues and go on, but others enjoy being on the HOA board or volunteering for various community committees. The more involved you become, the easier it will be to stay on top of issues affecting your neighborhood and community.

So, in the end, if you are considering living in a homeowners association or property owners association, really think about the pros and cons and if it will be the right lifestyle for you.


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