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◄  Back to Search Results  |  March 27, 2024

Navigating the World of an HOA

home owners association picture

Homeowners Associations, or HOAs, are common in many neighborhoods and condominiums here in Hawaii. They’re set up to take care of the shared areas and amenities within a residential community. While some may view them as a bit of a hassle, others appreciate the benefits that come with living in an HOA-regulated community.

"Living in Hawaii presents unique challenges when weighing the options of a home within an HOA versus outside of one,” explains Cathy Camp, Central Pacific Bank’s EVP of Real Estate. “Many homes and condos come with HOA and maintenance fees, which can strain monthly budgets. Yet, venturing outside of HOAs poses the risk of lacking community guidelines.”

In this article, we’ll delve into:

  • What exactly is an HOA?
  • What are the pros and cons associated with living in an HOA-regulated community?
  • Is living in a place with an HOA the right move for you?

What is a Homeowners Association, or HOA?

An HOA is basically a governing body, run by boards made up of and elected by residents living in a community or condominium.

The HOA enforces specific rules and regulations for properties within its area of responsibility to protect and enhance property values, including guidelines for landscaping, and limitations on exterior house colors.

Pros of Living in an HOA-regulated Community

One of the main reasons people choose to live in an HOA-regulated community is for the amenities offered. By paying dues to the association, residents get to enjoy these amenities without having to maintain them themselves.

Amenities vary by property, but they can include:

  • Barbecue areas
  • Concierge services
  • Fitness centers
  • Landscaping
  • Parking structures
  • Playgrounds
  • Security
  • Simple maintenance of exterior and shared spaces
  • Swimming pools
  • Tennis courts

Cons of Living in an HOA-regulated Community

Amenities come costs that homeowners must bear.

  • Monthly or Annual Dues: The most significant expense associated with an HOA is the monthly or annual dues. These dues vary depending on the amenities and services provided but can range from a couple hundred dollars to thousands per month.
  • Special Assessments: For unforeseen expenses such as major repairs or upgrades within the community, such as for fire safety system installation or elevator and pool repairs, homeowners will be expected to contribute toward these potential additional costs if the HOA does not have the financial reserves to cover the expenses.

On top of financial costs, living in an HOA also means living under certain restrictions and guidelines set by the association. Some may find these rules too restrictive and feel that they take away from the freedom of owning a home.

Rules vary by property, but may impact:

  • Home appearances such as exterior paint color
  • Landscaping style
  • Number of day or overnight visitors
  • Parking
  • Pet type and size
  • Quiet hours
  • Use of facilities

Purchasing a Home Without an HOA

As an alternative, some may opt for purchasing a home without an HOA. This allows for more freedom and control over one's property without having to adhere to strict guidelines set by the association. Additionally, without monthly dues, homeowners have more flexibility in allocating their funds towards other expenses or investments.

Is living in a place with an HOA the right move for you?

When considering whether to live in a home within an HOA or outside of one, financial sense should be top priority. According to Camp, “Ultimately, finding the right fit means navigating these considerations with a keen eye on personal finances and lifestyle preferences."

Navigating the world of an HOA can be both rewarding and challenging. While there are definite benefits, there are also costs involved, both financially and in terms of personal freedom. It's crucial for potential homeowners to carefully weigh their options before making a decision on whether an HOA-regulated community is the right fit for them.

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