When buying a home, it is necessary to factor many key elements in your final decision. Some people tend to focus their search for the perfect home on neighborhoods near their place of business, while others opt for neighborhoods that are renowned for their excellent schools. Regardless of what matters most to you when you’re house-hunting, it’s essential to know whether your chosen neighborhood is governed by an HOA or Homeowners’ Association. The HOA is an organization of resident homeowners in the area who preserve the aesthetics of the homes in their neighborhood by enforcing a code of specific rules, regulations, and guidelines that must be complied with at all times.
Homeowners who have purchased houses in a neighborhood with an HOA can sometimes become aggravated by violations and, in some cases, exorbitant fees they are hit with for failure to adhere to set standards. It can be especially frustrating to receive a complaint notice from the HOA when you aren’t aware of breaking a particular rule, or if you do not feel that you are in violation of the covenant. Here are some helpful hints for keeping the HOA at bay while ensuring that your home stays beautiful, well-maintained, and within neighborhood regulations over the years.
Prepare to Paint
Each year homeowners across America get hit with one of the most common- and costly- HOA violations for having a house that is in need of a fresh coat of paint. In addition to ensuring that homeowners maintain a house exterior free from chipped, faded, or worn paint, most HOAs also mandate that the houses in the area follow strict guidelines for the paint color choice. While this can be beneficial to homeowners who don’t want to live next door to a bright-magenta house with orange shutters, some residents resent being told what colors they can and can’t paint their own home. In order to avoid bad blood with the HOA, not to mention crazy-high fines, we suggest you select an approved color that you like and plan to paint once every 3-7 years.
Let’s face it- not everybody has good taste. Your HOA makes it a point to keep all the houses in the neighborhood looking tasteful, and tends to frown upon front-yard clutter, an overabundance of knickknacks and statues, and decor that can generally be classified as tacky. Keeping your front-porch furniture in good repair and limiting your decorating to a few simple things, such as an American flag on a tasteful residential flagpole, will appease your HOA and spare you from violation notices. If your taste tends towards pink flamingos and garden gnomes, however, take heart: most HOAs let you decorate your backyard however you want- within reason!
Love Your Lawn
A healthy, green lawn is the focal point of the front of your home. One weed-filled, overgrown, brown patch on the block can cheapen the entire overall effect, not to mention ruin “curb appeal” for homeowners who are trying to sell in your area. Because of this, your HOA exerts a great deal of effort to ensure that everyone in the community adheres to the regulations and keeps their front lawns from becoming an eyesore. While some HOAs only ask that the lawn is properly trimmed, weeded, and edged, others are a bit more strict, going so far as to mandate a specific height, in inches, that each blade of grass should stand. Regardless of the specific set of rules laid out by your HOA, it’s good practice to keep your front lawn watered, freshly mowed, and looking great at all times.
An HOA is primarily in place to make sure the neighborhood looks its best at all times. Next time your local HOA is getting you down, try to remember that the rules are there for a reason, and imagine how different your block could look if nobody were around to enforce them. By taking pride in your home and keeping it looking fresh, beautiful, and well-cared-for every year, you can have peace of mind that your local HOA won’t hit you with violation notices, fines, and fees.