Your Questions Answered
At Ashlar, I firmly b that an educated home buyer or seller is best equipped to make their own decisions. That’s why I take time out of my day each and every day to answer someone’s real estate question. And, when I think the answer can be useful to you as well, I share it here. So without further ado:
Simple reality is that it is more convenient for cities and counties to offload neighborhood and road maintenance to HOAs, and in more recent larger developments sewage and trash to CDDs.
The alternative is for the city/county to field and manage code enforcement and try to enact wide regulations for a diverse area. These are usually better fine tuned for individual neighborhoods as not everyone likes a lot of rules with well manicured lawns and identical house colors and not everyone likes the risk of living in an area with no rules, guideline or enforcement. With a variety of HOAs and no HOAs you can pick and choose what you want.
What a HOA is doing isn’t some mystery. That’s what the meetings and budgets are for, and maintenance costs are WAY up across the board so increasing HOA fees aren’t unusual to accommodate. Most people that complain about HOA also fail to recognize that maintaining roads, common areas, landscaping, gates, signage, streetlights, etc all costs money.
The difference is, you’re paying it as HOA fees instead of on your property taxes / millage rate which varies depending on where you live by county / city and the services you get for that.
There are a few HOAs that will do lawn maintenance but the HOAs increase accordingly, because again, that stuff costs money. Roofs I’ve yet to see outside of townhomes and condos, but those also have much higher fees than your average HOA because roofs are tremendously expensive. If you own a house, you should be budgeting about $100 / month for an eventual shingle $18k roof replacement with an average 15 year life. Condo flat roofs are not unusual to cost $100k – $250k, and they need the funds on hand to pay for that.
Communities are gated because that’s what people like and they are willing to pay for it. Plenty of older HOAs remove the gates and guard shacks if the residents vote to do so. And speaking of HOAs, I have seen places that vote to disband the HOA and it is not uncommon for things to start falling apart after 10-15 years. Paint peeling off, dirt yards.
I’ve even watched an HOA in a golf community vote to not support their golf course and lose $50,000 in home value over night lol.
So like most things, an HOA is only as good as its’ active members. So get active, or choose not to live in one.