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Dear Dave,

We are downsizing and looking into different housing options that will require less maintenance. Most of the places we have looked at are part of an HOA or Home Owner’s Association.

What are typical things that you see a HOA managing? A couple of them seem pretty strict and we’re not sure what is normal and what might be a little over the top. We do not currently live in an HOA and are not sure if it is something we will like being a part of or not. We would really appreciate some feedback on this as we embark on this new phase of life.

Thank you!

Bob and Ellen – Grand Junction, CO

Bob and Ellen,

As with everything, being part of a home owners association can be a great or it can end up being a painful experience. It is kind of like a big party, how enjoyable it is, depends on who shows up. In the case of a home owners association, you can’t choose who is invited! One thing is for sure, if you are not used to being a part of a home owners association you will likely have some adjusting to do! If you purchase a home that was built in a neighborhood in the past 30 years it is unlikely you can avoid an HOA for the most part and all things considered it is a good thing.

In the development process most all subdivisions are done with a set of covenants that basically spell out how the subdivision is set up and the rules by which it will be maintained and governed moving into the future. In these covenants it also describes and instructs how to set up the different committees that will help enforce the rules and regulations of the subdivision and all who reside there. This means that the HOA is only as good and cooperative as your soon to be neighbors make it. The design and intent of the covenants and HOA is to maintain the subdivisions integrity and property values over the long haul.

If you are looking in a single family home subdivision then, more often than not, the Home Owners Association is in charge of maintaining subdivision open and common space and to ensure that it is properly maintained. They can also be in charge of the subdivision irrigation system, architectural control to ensure that any exterior improvements are in line with the subdivision covenants and general neighborhood rules. Examples might be that they enforce that RV parking be behind a 6 foot privacy fence or that the yards are maintained and mowed, or that no cars are left on the street for a long period of time. They will also ensure that any improvements made to the property fall within subdivision guidelines and are in turn complementary to the neighborhood and the other homes, thus protecting the neighborhoods consistency and value.

If you choose to live in a condominium or town home project then the HOA may also be responsible for water, sewer, trash and not only yard and common ground maintenance, but also exterior building maintenance and repair. This kind of HOA is much more involved and typically much more expensive, since they cover more monthly expenses and continued maintenance. Often times these HOAs have an on-site manager or a management company than handles the operation as it is much more extensive and time consuming.

As you are probably finding, most newer neighborhoods built in the past 25-35 years have a home owners associations that was set up when the subdivision was first developed. If you are the type that likes to do things without checking with others to gain approval, then an HOA may not be for you. If however you read through the subdivision covenants and find the rules and regulations to be acceptable, then you are likely to adjust easily. Just make sure to read through them and make sure you find them acceptable.

My bet is you will like and enjoy what the HOA provides and the easiest way to ensure it works well for you and others is to get involved!

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team


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