Whether you’re basking in suburban bliss or living in a high rise in a major city, you’ve probably gotten a letter or two from an organization with a familiar set of initials; HOA. Homeowners associations have been a part of the American experience for decades, and are certainly present in communities around Northern Michigan.
But, is an HOA a good move for your next home? Do the benefits outweigh the hassles? Or should you steer clear? In this article, we’ll break down the pros and cons of living in a spot with an HOA in Northern Michigan.
What is an HOA and what does it do?
Before we get to whether or not an HOA is a good thing or a bad thing, let’s all get on the same page as to what a Homeowners Association is and what it actually does.
According to Investopedia, an HOA is defined as, “An organization in a subdivision, planned community, or condominium building that makes and enforces rules for the properties and its residents. Those who purchase property within an HOA’s jurisdiction automatically become members and are required to pay dues, known as HOA fees.”
In other words, the HOA is another level of protection (and control) for the residence of a particular community. In Northern Michigan, we most often see HOAs in planned subdivision neighborhoods or in multi-unit condo developments.
Is Living in an HOA Worth It?
Is living in a community with an HOA worth the price (literally and figuratively)? Let’s dive into some pros and cons and find out.
Northern Michigan HOA Pro: Your Home May Be Worth More
Studies have shown that homes in neighborhoods with an HOA sell for, on average, 4% more than equivalent homes in neighborhoods without an HOA. This means that by purchasing in an area with an HOA, your home investment may be worth more when you’re ready to sell.
Evidence suggests that one of the reasons this is true is that HOA-managed neighborhoods tend to have higher standards as far as the maintenance and care of homes that are a part of their association, thus increasing the overall curb appeal of the neighborhood, and by default the value of the individual homes in the neighborhood too.
Northern Michigan HOA Con: Those Pesky Fees
There’s no two ways about it – paying HOA fees sucks. For neighborhoods that offer a lot of perks as a part of being in the HOA, the fees can be very high, in some cases, hundreds of dollars a month. Sure, you get great services like lawn mowing, snow plowing, or even window cleaning, but those services come at a price.
A price, we might add, that you have no option of opting out of if money gets tight. There are very rarely HOAs that have optional membership; once you buy in the neighborhood, you’re in the HOA until you sell.
Northern Michigan HOA Pro: Access to Great Amenities
With the price of waterfront property these days, most of us can’t afford our own private beach. However, shared waterfront is a lot more accessible financially, making a shared beach a fantastic community perk; one that is necessarily managed by an HOA.
After all, who’s going to coordinate clean up, getting the dock in and out of the water, and shoreline maintenance?
There are lots of great community features that an HOA would manage; things like a neighborhood playground and swimming pools, just to name a couple.
Northern Michigan HOA Con: Restrictions On Use
Everyone gets excited about the fact that an HOA neighborhood tends to yield higher sale prices, but nobody seems to be excited about how that gets achieved, mainly through tougher restrictions on what you can and cannot do on your property.
A typical HOA will have guidelines on the color you’re allowed to paint your house, as well as require you to go through an approval process when it comes to adding an addition or installing a garden shed.
An aggressive HOA will require a certain color flower in the flowerbed every summer, and will even require approval before doing any home renovation, including on the interior of your home.
These sorts of restrictions can be challenging, especially for homeowners who are looking to escape the shackles of renting.
Northern Michigan HOA Pro: Built-in Dispute Resolution
Ever have a disagreement with your neighbor over who has to pick up the leaves that fell off of their tree but have blown onto your lawn? Maybe there’s a loud car that peels out of the driveway next door every morning at 430a.
Regardless of what your issue might be with your neighbor, sometimes, addressing them directly can be uncomfortable. Many HOAs offer dispute resolution services that allow (and in some cases, require) you to bring neighborhood disagreements to a dispute resolution committee for them to be solved objectively and quickly.
No more yelling across the fence!
Northern Michigan HOA Con: Potential For Mismanagement
The real possibility of mismanagement is a concern in just about every HOA, mostly because HOA boards are made up of representative members of the community, not professional property managers. For a community of 75 or 100 homes, the HOA may carry a cash reserve of something close to $50,000, as well as have significant money going in and out of HOA accounts every month.
If your HOA leaders aren’t skilled in the management tasks necessary to keep the community running, the potential for funds to be mismanaged (or out and out abused) is very real and can have very negative consequences on the entire neighborhood.
Bringing It All Together
We want to hear from you! Do you live in an HOA? Tell us about your experiences.
When you’re ready to buy or sell a home in any location (HOA or not!), The Brick & Corbett Group is ready to help. Reach out today to find out what our team can do for you.