If you’re shopping for a home in Orange County, there’s a good chance you find yourself in an area with a Homeowner’s Association (HOA).
Essentially, an HOA is the governing body for a local residential area – whether that includes one building or 100. The HOA will be responsible for making and enforcing rules on everything from exterior paint colors to what you can keep on your front lawn.
An HOA helps protect the feel of a community and is designed to make life pleasant for all residents.
But – your local HOA isn’t free. To keep it up and running, residents contribute fees that typically range between $200 and $400 a month, and this cost is often mandatory if you want to live in a specific area. This money goes towards improving your community with things like:
- Outdoor shared spaces
- Playgrounds and recreation areas
- Street signs
- Trash receptacles
There are plenty of additional perks to living within an HOA community, primarily that you’ll get to know your neighbors and the people around you. With public input into changes and guidelines and common areas that are meant to be enjoyed by everyone, you’ll find you live in a tighter community where you know who is around you. An HOA can help take care of eyesores that pop up without you needing to confront a neighbor, and homes in HOA communities tend to hold their value.
But as you may imagine, the downsides of a regulated, close-knit community can mean sacrificing individuality, such as painting your house a particular color. Some areas may even restrict the use of holiday decorations, and others may require you to receive permission before renting out your home. Architectural plans and designs may need to be approved by your HOA before you can proceed.
Before you decide on an HOA, ask questions about the management style and practices, whether decisions are made with the community or by a third party, and think about whether the additional cost will increase your happiness with your home.
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