Tag Archives: restrictions

Benefits of Living in a HOA Community

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Millions of homeowners now live in communities governed by homeowner associations or HOAs.  In fact, it is estimated that one in six Americans live in a HOA community.  That statistic is probably higher in Orange County as so many of our beautiful subdivisions are HOA communities.

Buyers are often wary of purchasing properties that require HOA fees.  Many view HOA fees as another expensive monthly cost and find HOA rules and regulations to be too restrictive.  But, there are many benefits of living in a well-governed HOA as the intent of HOAs is to protect the value of the homes in the area.  While every buyer should weigh the cost of the fees and determine what amenities and services are included, here are some common benefits to being in an HOA community.

Property Value Protection

A HOA provides greater certainty that the community will remain visually appealing over time, by imposing and enforcing rules on architecture, landscaping, fences, signs, parking, usage of public spaces, and more.  The rules are designed to create parameters for aesthetic uniformity so that no house is an eyesore to the neighborhood.  In addition, the HOA is responsible for the physical maintenance of common areas.  While residents often find HOA rules to architectural enhancements to be thorns in the remodeling or construction process, they are put into place to protect the collective interest of the residents.

Recreational Amenities

One of the most attractive benefits to HOA fees are the amenities provided.  Many communities in Orange County offer gated access and around-the-clock security presence to provide added safety for the residents.  Others offer pools, clubhouses for rent, parks, gyms, basketball courts, tennis courts, community events and even private beaches!  Obviously, the more amenities offered, the higher the fees may be.

Property Updates

The HOA sets aside a reserve account for future capital improvements or repairs from unexpected damages.  The reserve account provides assurance that the properties will remain in good shape and may save homeowners money in the long run.  Many people recognize the benefit of owning a home but being able to share in some of the management responsibilities

Community Environment

When a community has an HOA, the residents of that neighborhood have agreed to a set of “good neighbor” rules fostering a greater sense of community.  Many HOAs also provide community events and socials to increase community bonding and communication among the residents.  While this benefit is difficult to quantify, it is highly desired especially by young families, and that desirability can be a factor in property values.

As a prospective buyer looking for a property, decide early in the process if the HOA lifestyle is a fit for you.  If so, do some research and determine how much you are willing to pay per month on HOA fees.  Also, research what amenities are provided in each subdivision to help you narrow your property search.  A seasoned real estate agent knowledgeable in the areas of your interest should be able to provide you with the information you need at the onset of your home search.

Buy or Build?

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I hear it from buyers all the time, “For that price, I should just build my own dream house!” Maybe you should. But building a house comes with its own set of woes that may not be suitable for your current situation. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of building a house.

Pros

  • The number one reason for building a house is so that you get exactly what you want from a house: floorplan, number of bedrooms, architectural style and design… right down to each and every last finish.
  • Because the house is new, it will have met all the latest building and safety codes so as an owner, you can be less concerned about the foundation, pipes, wiring, etc. Plus, you will get brand new appliances and not be so concerned with having to make repairs to an older home.
  • In certain markets and scenarios, building a house can be cost effective but it requires the owner to be fastidious with the budgeting and accounting.

Cons

  • There are a number of additional costs that need to be factored in, i.e. the carrying cost of the land during the construction, the construction loan, rent for the current abode, and more.
  • Very few construction projects are completed within the proposed timeline. Plus, there are issues that come up that are beyond your control, such as delays in city inspections or permitting. When the project is delayed, it costs you money and, most likely, stress.
  • Can you wait 18 months or 2 years for your dream house? Will your needs and wants have changed in that timeframe?
  • Chances are, you work and have a family. Building a house is an enormous strain on your time. Do you have the time or the patience to select all the finishes? Even if you hire a designer to help with those decisions, the designer will still need to meet with you to obtain your approval. What if you and your spouse don’t agree on fixtures and details? Can your family bear the anxiety and stress that comes with managing a construction project?

Now, buying a house is a relative cake walk to building especially if you’ve put together a good team of people to help with the purchase, i.e. your Realtor, your mortgage broker, lender, etc. The issue is that you are stuck selecting in current inventory and generally, every house has flaws that you can’t quite reconcile. And truth be told, a pre-existing house will never be 100% your taste or vision, so you are likely to embark on a construction project of some type even if you buy. Then there’s the frequent issue of not being able to remodel to your liking because of HOA regulations and restrictions or dilemmas presented by the home’s original structural engineering. All these scenarios are likely when it comes to buying an existing house.

So should you buy or build? It just depends on… you.