February 20, 2020

You've just found the home of your dreams. It's exactly what you've been looking for plus the neighborhood is picture perfect. Is all that lovely manicuring the result of a Homeowners Association?

Planned communities are increasing in popularity. You can be assured of proper maintenance. You may also be protected against loud noises, what many may consider unsightly views and those minor annoyances such as a lawnmower at 6am on Saturday. But a planned community may not be for everyone.

So, what is a 'Homeowners Association' and how does it work? It works much like a small city with the members (residents) paying a fee and electing a board who will oversee things. Meetings are held regularly, at which members can bring up issues, suggestions or ideas. And board members will hire or assign persons for the care and keeping of common and shared spaces.

As a resident, you will be required to meet certain standards and restrictions. Sometimes the rules only cover basics such as keeping your yard neat, the grass cut, trash removed and the general upkeep that comes with home ownership. Others times they may be more specific so as to designate what color you paint your house, how many cars you may own, whether or not you can have a flag or wind chimes and what type of fence you may install.

You may be required to get permission for structural changes or adding things such as a children's play set or back yard lawn shed. You'll also need to check neighborhood guidelines before working on the car in the driveway while leaving the garage door open or hanging laundry outdoors.

Most associations offer recreational spaces such as a pool and tennis courts which add enormous value to the homes. And with everyone understanding the rules, the neighborhood always maintains a neat, trim appearance.

Decide if this is a lifestyle in which you and your family will be comfortable. Read the documents, paying close attention to any restrictions..Don't forget to add in the association dues when figuring out your budget.

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