My wife and I recently relocated to Florida, where the streets are lined with gated communities. Most are operated by homeowner’s associations that set rules and regulations, maintain the grounds, offer services — and charge a monthly fee. The number of associations in Florida is significantly greater than where we lived before, which led us to wonder: if you’re buying a home, is a community with a homeowner’s association worth the cost?
Here are the factors you should consider:
Homeowner’s associations typically cover services for the fee you pay. We are renting, but the owner of the home we live in pays $350 per month to be in the community. These fees cover the gate, a large pool, a workout facility, and various other services. Down the street, there’s a community that charges $1100 per month and offers high-class spa treatments to the homeowners. My mother-in-law pays a monthly fee in Minnesota, but her association only covers snow removal and lawn care, so the cost is much less.
Picking what amenities you’d like is important. You may find the spas and high-class dining to be luxurious, but if you don’t think you’ll use them often, you probably shouldn’t fork over the extra monthly payment. A mortgage payment carries equity, while an association payment counts as a living expense. It’s a monthly fee you pay for services, and it carries no tax advantages.
We’ve found that the gate at the front makes us feel very safe. Nicely maintained yards, garbage removal, and free use of a large pool are also amenities we will really enjoy.
Homeowner’s associations typically have rules that everyone in the community needs to follow. These can include pet restrictions, rules on leasing, and landscaping policies. It’s important that you read the association guidelines before buying or renting a unit.
During Christmas last year, my mother-in-law got a fine when some of the family parked on the street. This was a restriction she hadn’t known before, as it didn’t seem to lower the standard of living for the other members of the community.
Sense of Community
I immediately noticed the friendliness of everyone within our community. Most people stop to say hello and wave as they walk past. There’s even a channel on our TV dedicated to promoting events within the association, which include card games and dance classes. A homeowner’s association can help bring people together.
With a lot of retired people living in the community, an association is a perfect fit. It helps the members find people to meet and activities to attend throughout the week.
Is an HOA Right for You?
It comes down to whether the amenities are worth the monthly cost. Without the association, what would you pay for lawn services and a gym membership? Are you looking for a sense of community? If so, then maybe an HOA would be the right fit. But don’t forget that an association’s monthly fee can offset the equity involved with owning a home.
What is your experience with homeowner’s associations?