Home Owners Associations – Friend or Foe?

Category: Active adult communities

February 3, 2105 — If you have spent much time by now on Topretirements.com we would be surprised if you haven’t seen a lot of Member comments about Home Owners Associations (HOAs). To many, it would seem these mysterious entities are the devil incarnate. Usually without any actual experience with the demon, these folks want to avoid what they think are treacherous fees, political cabals, and mean-spirited rules at all costs. Only occasionally do we see someone sticking up in their defense. This article will try to dispel some of the misinformation about HOAs, and then let you draw your own conclusions – are they are something to be avoided or appreciated? We’ve also included links to our 3 part series on HOAs, which provides a lot more details and which we think you will find quite useful.

Based on the law
Home Owners Associations, often called Property Owners Associations (POAs), are governed by laws set up by the states. A condo association is the same idea. As might be expected, Florida and California, which have many private communities, are very advanced on the subject, with other states starting to catch up. There are many rules that HOAs are required to follow, along with other best practices. These laws are meant to protect the rights of their members. As an example, here are some common obligations that must be met in many states:
– Board members must be trained
– There have to be elections and bylaws
– Meetings have to properly announced in advance
– Annual budgets and rule changes have to be approved by the property owners
– Minutes must be published
– Financial statements must be available
– Owners have a right to be heard

The positive side
On the plus side HOAs provide a number of advantages to this form of communal property and government:
Protect owner property. The basic idea is that the Association bands together for the common protection of all of the residents. The object is to preserve the value of the homes and the community, along with enhance the enjoyment of the community, its property, and amenities.

Common sense rules. When people live together in close proximity they generally need rules. Those include rules about pets, smoking, quiet time, how many people can live in a unit, guests, what and where you can park on the property. A common example keeps people from keeping junk in their yards. Some communities go further, restricting the color of your home, what can be used for exterior decorations, and fencing. Most times these rules are reasonable and the residents agree that they make communal life less fractious.
camarillo-ca

Financial. Every property needs maintenance and security, along with other services. For example your association probably owns the roads and sidewalks, along with the elevators and exteriors of your home and common buildings. Swimming pools need to be taken care of, as do fitness centers and golf courses. There are operational, security, and maintenance staff that must be managed and paid. All of that takes money, so your association is charged with establishing a budget and collecting the money to take care of all of that. Plus it has to plan for the future, so when the roof finally gives out, the roads develop potholes, and the elevator is condemned, there is money on hand to pay for these major expenses.

The not so great sides of HOAs
Boards Gone Wild. It is usually the horror stories that get folks riled up about POAs. For example there are cases where the board is insular and self-appointed, and which makes petty rules that other people don’t agree with, or engage in selective enforcement. These can lead to many unpleasant situations.

Management failure. The board doesn’t meet its legal obligations – runs out of money, doesn’t order protective maintenance, or fails to pay employment or other taxes. The result is often very high assessments or even a bank takeover.

Collapse of the community. This is not usually the fault of the HOA, but it could be. During the real estate collapse that started in 2007 many communities neared financial disaster. Too many homes were foreclosed on, or their owners stopped paying common fees. The association ran out of money and had to cut services and/or staff. The result was often a rapid decline in the attractiveness of the community, less desirable neighbors, and the value of the homes sunk. Of course the same kind of problems can affect neighborhoods that don’t have HOAs, but they are less prone to a mass collapse.

What can you, or should you do about HOA
Just desserts. You get what you deserve is an old adage that is mostly true about Property Owner Associations. If you buy into a community before you checked out the POA, shame on you. You might have found rules you didn’t like, a non-functioning board, or a precarious financial situation – before you bought. If this does happen to you, it could be very unpleasant.

No one likes to volunteer. But if you don’t, who will. Everyone needs to take a turn, particularly if you have management, construction, financial, etc. skills needed by the group. You can’t complain if you don’t participate – at least by showing up for meetings having studied the materials provided. Board members are usually under-appreciated or often criticized, so goodness might have to be your only reward.

Bottom line
HOAs are meant to protect you in many ways. In the right hands they can be a reassuring defense against a lot of things going wrong. But when people in the community don’t work hard to make these boards effective, they can be a disaster. It is in your hands to control how that works out.

For further reading
Topretirements has a very informative 3 part series on HOAs and the issues around them.
Meet the New Boss – Your HOA (the first in the 3 part series, with links to the other 2)
CommunityAssociations.net (news about Community Associations)

Comments. Our previous HOA articles (see further reading above) all have long and interesting comment strings. You can comment there, or add your thoughts and experiences in the section below. It should be interesting!

Posted by Admin on February 3rd, 2015

39 Comments »

  1. […] Part 1: Meet the New Boss, Your HOA Part 2: What You Need to Know When the HOA Takes Over from the Developer Home Owners Associations: Friend or Foe? […]

    by » What You Need to Know about Your New Homeowners Association - Topretirements — February 3, 2015

  2. […] Owners Association Part 3: What You Should Know When the Association Takes Over from the Developer Home Owners Associations: Friend or Foe Wikipedia article on Home Owners Associations (very good) Community Associations Network Community […]

    by » Meet the New Boss – Your HOA - Topretirements — February 3, 2015

  3. Normally the blog articles don’t show a bias, but this one does. At least it acknowledged that “they” like to hear good things about HOAs. And if you have something bad to say, apparently it’s because you’re stupid (shame on you…you didn’t do your homework). Perhaps I’m just a little sensitive about this, since I thought I did my homework. I bought a house in a community with a HOA and about 150 homes, for a temporary relocation before retirement.

    I’ve discovered my HOA is composed of ladies (why is it always women?) who micromanage everything about the community, gossip endlessly about their neighbors, use the HOA as a private social club to support and fund their own social interests and charities, and feel justified in applying their own standards of taste to all of their neighbors. The HOA documents prohibit “unsightly, unsanitary or untidy” homes. Hmmmm. This is very subjective, so the HOA Board applies its own standards. We have a Facebook page that is only accessible by owners. On the Facebook page, I’ve seen complaints about violation letters being issued for a lawn gnome on a porch with a football jersey (wrong team, evidently), a garbage can that was left out for 2 extra hours because the homeowner got caught in traffic coming home from work, and a disabled neighbor picking up garbage in the community center parking lot. Yes, someone complained that they felt unsafe that he was walking around the neighborhood and doing things that weren’t his “job.” The Board has even tried to have the free township newspaper that is left in driveways once a week stopped for our neighborhood, because it’s deemed to be clutter. Of course, every year when the board switches back & forth among two competing groups of women, they stick a lot of clutter into mailboxes accusing the other group of not having the best interests of the community at heart. I have actually seen these women walk around houses to peek in backyards, looking for possible violations behind houses. Since I moved in, I’ve been approached by the camps asking for my proxy — wanting me to choose a side. It’s really unpleasant. I will not be here long enough to get involved, thank goodness. I’ve been asking others about their HOA experiences. I’ve heard nothing but complaints, whether it’s financial mismanagement or disagreements with HOA Board spending decisions, or whether it’s micromanagement as with my own HOA.

    The HOA Board members may have the loudest voice, but serving as a Board member is obviously not without stress. Aside from having all of your decisions and hard work under-appreciated by some homeowners, it can actually be expensive and stressful. A coworker served on a Board of her HOA, and has been sued four times by unhappy homeowners, once for something that seemed extremely trivial. She spent a lot of time in depositions and had to take time off from work on frequent occasions. She developed a twitch, and is selling her condo to move to a home without a HOA.

    Despite my current experience, I anticipate that I will choose a 55+ community with a HOA in the future. They seem to be a necessary evil if you choose condo living. I hope to find a larger community with a diverse population, to hopefully minimize the risks of the politics that I see with my current HOA.

    Editor’s note: Thanks for sharing your experience. Lots of things for us to consider in what you say.

    by Sharon — February 4, 2015

  4. I lived in a HOA for years, in the beginning it was great, but each year they found new rules to add. And after about 25 years, they hired an outside management company – major expense and not much return, but then you are locked in. By the time I moved away it was a very negative experience. And it was a factor as to why I moved. Picky rules, crazy crap. I had to follow the rules but the management company that would not answer the phone or return calls in a timely manner if at all but they were quick with demanding letters, which were wrong about 50% of the time. Nasty is coming home from work on a Friday night to a letter accusing you of not doing something and threatening you with sanctions with a situation that did not apply to you and then taking the following week on the phone trying to fix the problem they created. No, I no longer live in a HOA.

    Was the homework done, yes. BUT you are only doing homework on what is currently happening and it always changes over time.

    by robin — February 4, 2015

  5. I have been living in an HOA community for 11 years. I bought when the HOA was the developer and spent hundreds of hours on various committees. I wound up as the President of the HOA during the transition from Developer control to homeowner control. My staff and I re-wrote the more onerous conditions of the CCR to try to prevent the kind of BS that many HOAs develop. Sadly it wasn’t two years after I stepped down that the HOA began pushing to make illegal changes to the CCR. I had specifically written the rule that required any amendment be approved by the homeowners at either the annual meeting or by a special meeting called for that purpose. The board ignored that and began making amendments. When I called them out on it the answer was that the Management Company lawyer said it was OK. I am getting ready to sell my house. I will NEVER live in any managed community ever again.

    by Mike Crognale — February 4, 2015

  6. My wife and I have lived in a community (Big Canoe in the mountains of northern Georgia) for the past 1.5 years and we love it here. The HOA and the POA manage this community very well both financially and upkeep and maintenance of the facilities. There are many positions that are occupied by volunteers who do an excellent job. While we have our disagreements, overall people who live here are very happy and content with the way things are run here. But do not take my word for it, come up and visit Big Canoe for a day or two. You will be happy that you did !!!!

    by Don — February 4, 2015

  7. Unfortunately, HOAs are comprised of human beings. And those human beings run the gamut from libertarian to control freaks, from people who try to build a consensus among residents to people who have nothing to do with their time but to focus on every little rule to people who want to impose their view of what is nice on everyone else. I am currently on the board of my HOA and we try to avoid imposing any but the most necessary rules on the community, and yet we constantly hear from residents demanding more rules and more enforcement. The other major problem in an HOA is when money needs to be spent. There are always complaints even when need for repairs or improvements are self-evident, such as the need for new siding when the old siding is in gross disrepair or the need for new roads. Some people cannot afford the assessments, some people don’t want to pay assessments, and yet they forget that the members of the HOA board are also paying the same assessments. Working for the HOA is a thankless task for which I hear nothing but complaints, and yet our by-laws require 5 people to serve on our board. When I ran for reelection to the board I said I would stand aside if any resident ran against me for my position (nobody did). The only thing I can suggest is checking out the HOA, reviewing minutes and talking to residents. I suspect that most HOAs are ok and we hear mostly complaints when things are not perfect (in the eye of the beholder). But, undoubtedly, there are HOAs out there that are nightmares for the residents.

    by Bruce — February 4, 2015

  8. My experiences with HOAs are that most of the time they seem staffed by small minded people who become, while not quite “drunk” with their power, are perhaps tipsy with it. Their focus seemed to be enforcing the monotony and irrational, contradictory rules, more than providing their few perceptible benefits. To whit:

    * a homeowner was cited for having a storm door that had a white decorative square painted about 1/4 inch wide running a couple of inches in from the edges of each of the glass sections, yet a foil “tape” of a security system – which was about the same width as the white decorative line and ran more or less on the same path – WAS allowed.
    * a retired policeman a few doors down from my townhouse was cited for replacing the HOA-mandated cheap, black plastic porch light with a nice brass one.
    * my classic ’70 Boss 302 Mustang was cited as a “derelict” vehicle while its engine was being rebuilt. It was fully licensed but only occasionally driven so sat under a custom-fitted cover most of the time. The only way to tell the engine wasn’t in the car was if someone removed the cover and opened the hood.
    * until Federal law prohibited their doing so, the HOA members tried to ban small satellite TV dishes in favor of the local cable monopoly.
    * a bossy neighbor, who was the HOA Nazi, tried to add a rule at one meeting that all houses in our small development would be owner-occupied. I had the pleasure of telling him, “Too late. I have official Federal government orders sending me overseas and the house will be rented out as soon as we leave.”

    by Stephen — February 4, 2015

  9. We are 18 months into living in a 55+ community with an HOA. We are approximately 3 years out from taking over from the developer and are proactively learning about managing the community when the residents take over. For the most part, we don’t find the rules too difficult to deal with. I find some of them really stupid like not being allowed to park 2 vehicles in our driveway on a long term basis. However, there is a process in place to change rules.

    We have a lot of men serving on our various committees which tends to lead to more balanced discussion.

    by Kathy — February 4, 2015

  10. Property maintenance, whether by yourself on your own home or by a Board for a HOA, is very challenging and mostly ends up falling behind and ultimately failing (after a few decades). It is a lot of work to organize the tools, the supplies, the expertise and the labor to perform all the different maintenances and repairs. It is more work to continuously verify that the work is being completed to an adequate level every day over a few decades such that the property is “as good as new” after many years. Besides that huge management challenge, it is also easy to neglect maintenance for financial reasons such wanting to pay the same even though inflation has driven prices higher, refusing to pay for costly renovations which are needed to “de-age” a property and just hoping that the property will “take care of itself” even though little time and little money is put into it.

    A homeowner without a HOA might be willing to spend lots of time and/or money to keep his property in good condition. Or he might just let it deteriorate over the years. I think that often works out better. Without a HOA, a homeowner can live in luxury or squalor, depending on his budget and time/energy that he is willing to put into the property. Many people will end up in squalor; they reap what they (fail to) sow.

    HOAs “socialize” the results a bit. A HOA collects money from homeowners and spends it on shared property, even if some homeowners wish that shared property to be left to deteriorate (to save money). The really squalid properties aren’t quite as squalid as they would be without the HOA. The well-maintained properties pay more for less than if they were maintaining their properties themselves. The community is homogenized so properties that fall don’t fall quite as far and pristine properties aren’t quite as pristine.

    But property maintenance is a challenge for full-time professionals with lots of money (like hotel companies), let alone a bunch of part-time inexperienced volunteers (like a typical HOA Board) with their limited finances and limited access to expert managers, staff and construction people. It’s easy to collect money and waste it, due to inexperience, fraud, bureaucracy, unexpected events and more. Individual homeowners are more efficient and have fewer challenges than a HOA Board managing a larger shared property with a pool of money.

    Often, it’s a choice between paying more for a smaller, older house without a HOA or paying less for a larger, newer house with a HOA. Or it may be the difference between living in a newish condo in a nice location with a HOA instead of a rundown cottage in the cheap and inconvenient part of town without a HOA. As I said above, it’s likely (almost inevitable) that the HOA will be poorly run but the benefit of a larger, newer house might be worth the mismanaged HOA and the HOA fees over the years. Will the better starting point offset the “drag” of the HOA?

    Again, I think that most people will be happier without a HOA. Many will live in smaller, uglier, older and poorer conditions but, at least, they can live the way that they want/can afford to without having a HOA on their doorstep to frustrate them or to blame. Of course, they can still complain and blame the usual boogeymen: city government, property taxes, big corporations, corporate raiders, etc, etc.

    by Dan — February 4, 2015

  11. Wow, scary! What to do? Live with an HOA or perhaps next to a jarm (junk farm)? I’ve seen them, they do exist!

    by ella — February 4, 2015

  12. Would NEVER live in an HOA again. Like Mike C, been here since developer stage and, documents reviewed beforehand, but there’s no way to evaluate your neighbors. And many are like those discussed above–and men as bad as women. Worse part is they often make uninformed decisions with their new-found power–a power they likely do not have or did not have in their working lives. For the most part, the run-of-the-mill decisions–although often silly or petty–are irritating. But, in my experience, some have had the potential to put residents’ property at risk. Would never live in an HOA again. It’s a marriage with no option for divorce.

    by Marie S — February 4, 2015

  13. ella,
    What’s a junk farm? Sounds like something to look out for.

    by deb — February 5, 2015

  14. Deb,
    It’s a term a realtor, who was showing us houses in Waynesville, NC used. An (extreme) example- we saw about 300 – 500 acres of the some of the most beautiful land i’ve ever seen covered in old rusting trucks, and construction materials. What a waste! On a smaller scale, it’s someone who puts out a toilet seat as a front-yard decoration. (Yes, same realtor.) On another note, someone’s chicken’s or pigs could be roaming onto your property. I do think, however, i’d prefer animals to the HOA posts above. A meth lab next door (we’re talking acres of land here) is, of course, the worst!

    by ella — February 5, 2015

  15. Don’t change or decorate the outside of your house without getting approval from the HOA Board. It’s usually easy
    and free but most people don’t do it, then get mad later when they are cited or fined. If you get approval, they can NEVER fine you. Just apply for approval and avoid the trouble and bad feelings and bickering. Don’t just do it without approval.

    Most people who are mad at the HOA are ignorant: they don’t attend the meetings, they don’t read the documents, they don’t read their mail. They invent their own facts, they invent their own concept of what’s fair, they whine and wallow in ignorance.

    I quite agree that, when you buy into a HOA, it is impossible to know your prospective neighbors well enough to be an “informed consumer”. You simply won’t know. So, you either risk it or you avoid HOAs entirely.

    I agree that being a HOA Board Member is a thankless job. Somebody has to do the job but it’s time consuming, opens you up to legal entanglements, you listen many complaints that you can do (or want to do) nothing about and deal with deadbeat owners.

    by Dan — February 5, 2015

  16. Marie- I loved your posting. And I think you’re right – I’ve noticed that one of our HOA “camps” are composed primarily of people who aren’t professionals (lots of housewives), or people with any real financial or management experience. I talked to the spouse of one of the Board members, who told me his wife is on the Board because she figures it will look good on her resume someday when she looks for a job. Alternatively, our other “camp” is composed of retirees, including some retired managers. You’d think that the latter camp would be more effective, but they’re just as dysfunctional. In my neighborhood, they don’t agree with each other on anything either. The latest on our Facebook page is that the women on the newly-elected HOA Board are angry that new male HOA members were spotted having an “illegal, informal meeting together” at the bar of a local restaurant. Sheesh.

    by Sharon — February 6, 2015

  17. I do agree with Dan. Most of the problems with HOAs is the ignorance of the homeowners. Someone will do all the due diligence when it comes to buying a place and then never read the condo docs. My husband and I have both served on two different condo boards. I didn’t encounter any major issues when I served on the board for a mixed age community, but my husband encountered many misconceptions in our current 55+ community. Examples, people are offended when you ask them to take down their Halloween decorations around Thanksgiving. Or, one condo owner built a rock garden and did clearing behind their condo right on a wetland area. Gees! Read the docs and assume you have to ask permission for anything you do outside the unit. This consistency of rules is what keeps your community looking very nice and keeps up your home value.

    Neighbors are neighbors no matter if you live in a condo community or a non-condo community. You never know who’s going to move in next to you. ( I have a friend in an upscale condo community whose neighbor (a man) likes to parade around the front picture window with no clothes on. LOL) That could happen anywhere. We’ve always been very particular about our home, and we like the regulations that a condo community provides.

    If your philosophy is to protect your personal liberties at all costs then a condo community may not be for you. If you’re all right with your personal preferences taking a back seat (sometimes) for the greater good then take a look at a condo community. But, READ THE DOCS!

    by Carole — February 7, 2015

  18. I read and highlighted my CC&Rs and R&R’s soon after purchasing. Thankfully, I had experienced the good, bad and the ugly when it comes to HOAs. It still amazes me the number of people who buy and don’t seem to realize they now own a home with an HOA!! I am glad to say that most of the homeowners in my community enjoy their property and somehow exist without having to receive warning letters and fines. I’m on the Board of my HOA and it appears that, all too often, we have problems with renters of absentee owners who are either out of state or so far away they don’t bother to check up on their tenants until they receive a notice in the mail. Unfortunately, we can’t escape individuals who were inconsiderate neighbors before they became ours, but we can fine them until we drive them out!

    by Veloris — February 7, 2015

  19. How does one get a copy of the HOA rules before sitting down to sign purchase docs?
    I have asked at some communities and they say they are proprietary and cannot be given to non-residents. Quite a catch 22…

    by Dave — February 8, 2015

  20. Does anyone have experience in a community that went from self managed (Board of Directors, Committees, Community Manager, Director of Golf, Food & Beverage Manager) to outsourcing to a management company? We have 1200 homes with full amenities including golf course. Any experience would be appreciated.

    Dave, everyone has a right to read CC&R’s prior to purchase. We put ours on our website for all to see. They should never be considered proprietary.

    by LJ — February 8, 2015

  21. Dave, your purchase agreement should specify the right to read and review the HOA documents and financials. Generally, there is a period after you receive them during which you can back out of the purchase agreement if you don’t care for the restrictions therein.

    by Linda — February 8, 2015

  22. Self-managing requires detailed knowledge of State laws and regulations which are constantly changing. I would seriously worry about a HOA that insists on self-managing. It’s very likely there’s some self-serving going on.

    by Veloris — February 8, 2015

  23. We moved to Panorama Village in Hemet, CA, 55+ community of 501 homes, (not gated), in 2000 when we visited a friend who introduced us to golf. This is my ninth year on the board, with intervening time off, and my 4th year as president. We have had a board of 7 volunteers for 50 years and finally gave up and hired a part time management/consultant this year. California has instituted so many rules that tie the hands of good boards while discipling the bad. Because of the volunteers who I might add have always had the residents interest at heart, we support a 9 hole golf course with 2 Koi ponds, 4 employees, shuffleboard building, swimming pool and 3 spas, sauna, clubhouse with billiards, library, exercise room, craft room and a part time office manager for assessments of $84.00 per month. Our reserve is about 85% funded and we are installing solar panels as we speak. No most of us wern’t professionals but a few of us kept up with the legal requirements and the others just did their work of managing the common areas. Mostly our residents are happy as long as we don’t raise the assessments or cross them when they tend to break the rules. We have an Architectural committee who helps to enforce the rules, but you can paint your house any color you want. Is it an easy task? Heck no but most of us love this place and want to keep it legal, well maintained and you can’t beat the weather. Please don’t bad mouth all HOA’s because of a few bad apples. It’s peaceful and quiet here and none of us want to worry about backing out of our garage and running over a child on a big wheel or bicycle. Kelly Richardson has written many great articles about HOA’s and one of them is the fact that you give up some of your independence when you join one. But by the same token, you have people out there taking care of your interests. We send all documents and disclosures to the escrow company before closing but do the new owners read them? I doubt it. Look for us on our website panoramavillagehoa.org Our koi are beautiful.

    by Ellen Brantley Bettis — February 8, 2015

  24. Our HOA documents are available on the homeowner website, which is restricted to homeowners. However, before purchasing a home, my realtor obtained them from my prospective Seller for my review.

    The problem in my community is that our HOA documents are so vague and subjective that it permits the HOA Board and Management company to interpret them however they wish. The prohibitions are simply against maintaining your home in an “unsightly, untidy or unsanitary” condition, with the usual clearer restrictions on colors, fences and construction. The color, fence and construction restrictions are going to be acceptable to people who choose to live in a HOA neighborhood. However, most people don’t buy a house thinking that they’re going to maintain that home in an unsightly, untidy or unsanitary condition. It’s a wakeup call when the neighbors get violation letters every month: a lawn gnome is deemed to be ugly/unsightly, power washing homes every three months is mandatory to keep any unsanitary mold from beginning to grow, the local newspaper being thrown in the driveways once a week is untidy, etc. Well, another new HOA board is being elected (again) in my neighborhood, and we’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, I suggest reading the HOA documents and asking as many questions as you can of people who live in the neighborhood you’re considering. If you or your lawyer have access to Westlaw or a similar database, it might also be worth checking for litigation in the name of the Developer or the HOA.

    by Sharon — February 9, 2015

  25. That’s a good point about checking Westlaw. I’m a college librarian and most colleges in the US have access to LexisNexis. The Lexis component is a legal database that you can search for all types of legal information including US and state codes. Many public colleges allow people to walk in off the street and use their databases. Even at our private institution we allow people from the town to use our materials. Check first with the library to find out about their policies.

    by Carole — February 9, 2015

  26. Thanks, LJ, Linda and Sharon. I didn’t let myself get as far as a purchase agreement… Yet.
    At least I know now that the opportunity will arise and if they are still “hiding” anything, I just know to not buy there.

    by Dave — February 9, 2015

  27. Does anyone know if the larger corporate communities like Del Webb or Lennar go over to resident boards or does the corporation continue a hand in the operation after all homes are built and sold? It seems they would stay a part of the HOA boards with their names being at stake if they left a community to be later mismanaged.

    by Dave — February 9, 2015

  28. Just as Dave thanked you, i’d like to thank all who added insight and information to the HOA issue. I feel well-informed, whereas previously i was not. I will be diligent! In my opionion, this is an excellent use of this blog. Thanks again!

    by ella — February 9, 2015

  29. I live in a wonderful HOA Community 55+ and have lived here for 9 years. The neighborhood has been here for 11 years and everyone on the board are very well educated professionals. Our rules are not outrageous, if you want to make a landscape change within the confines of the agreement just apply for it…it is an upscale neighborhood perhaps that had something to do with it? From NJ

    by Joy — February 9, 2015

  30. In addition to HOA guidelines, ask if there are other guidelines that you will need to follow. We purchased property in a community with Homeowner Rules, Architectural Reveiew Board Rules, and Club Rules. Each has a board of elected volunteers from the community, and each meets monthly to address concerns, plan for future needs / wants of the residents, and manage financials. We received very clear, thoughtful, and reasonable documents from our realtor outlining guidelines for all three governing bodies at the beginning of our search process. We also reviewed the minutes of recent meetings for these groups and other sub committees in the community to see what was “on the burner” and if there were seeds of dissent among residents over any particular issue. There were many hours of reading to say the least! If you ask, and don’t receive any of these materials, RUN!

    by SandyZ — February 9, 2015

  31. I don’t see a problem with all self managed HOAs. My association in Minnesota has been self managed for years. We belong to a trade association which offers regular educational sessions. The treasurer has (at her own cost and expense) got herself certified as a property manager. We went to being self managed after going through several management companies that were pretty much useless, but still wanted to get paid every month.

    I’ve just purchased a condo in Florida. Also an association community and also self managed.

    In my experience (Minnesota and Florida) the law doesn’t change that frequently and is pretty easy to keep up with.

    by Linda — February 9, 2015

  32. Dave, our community was built by US Homes/Lennar. Early on we had residents represented on the BOD along with Lennar while they were still building. Once the community was built out they left and we took over full control of the 7 member BOD. All we had left for about 5 more years was a debt to Lennar but they were gone.

    by LJ — February 10, 2015

  33. “You get what you deserve” applies to all representative governing bodies – from HOA’s through city, county, state,and federal governments. Too many effected voters act as if their government is a foreign body, comprised of aliens from Mars. Not so: As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is we.”

    by OldNassau — February 10, 2015

  34. Dave, we live in a Del Webb community that is about 75% built out. Pulte is projecting 2.5 – 3 years for complete buildout. We are in a transition process so that the homeowners will be ready to take over when the time comes.

    by Kathy — February 10, 2015

  35. Thanks LJ and Kathy, I always wondered. I did notice that a built out/sold out community in MD basically lost the Del Webb name/identity after a while. (Carrol Vista). LJ, what di you mean by “all we had left for about 5 more yeas was a debt to Lennar, but they were gone”. Did they leave you hanging in some way? Thanks all again for responses.

    by Dave — February 12, 2015

  36. Sorry ’bout all the typos, I’ll blame the iPad hunt and peck style of keyboard ????

    by Dave — February 12, 2015

  37. […] further reading: Home Owners Associations: Friend or Foe? Part 1: Meet the New Boss, Your HOA Part 2: What You Need to Know About Homeowners Associations? […]

    by » 10 Things Your Active Adult Community Won’t Tell You - Topretirements — March 10, 2015

  38. Does anyone know if the active adult retirement communties owned by Del Webb or Robson or any other developers have rules that two unrelated persons cannot buy or live in a home in their community? I was shocked to see that this was a possibility when reading reviews on a Del Webb website. My boyfriend and I have been looking at a number of communities and I guess they just assumed we were an old married couple because the topic never came up even though I thought we had worked our unmarried status into the conversations enough times that it should have come up. Do we need to just ask outright, “Can we live here if we continue to decide not to marry?”

    by Bonnie — April 3, 2015

  39. […] ||[]).push({}); For further reading 10 Things Your Active Community Won’t Tell You Home Owners Association: Friend or Foe The Most Popular Active Adult Communities for […]

    by » How to Find the Right Active Community for Your Retirement – A Checklist - Topretirements — July 4, 2015

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