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Chances are you've driven past one of the well-maintained entrances to a community overseen by a Homeowners Association (HOA). Venture through the neighborhood and you'll find equally as neat landscaping decorating the rows of pristine homes. Welcome to an HOA community. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live within the borders of one of these? Both the pros and cons are worth your consideration if a move is in your future.

ON THE PLUS SIDE...

The beauty of living under an Association is visible, as you may have noticed at the entrance. HOAs assume the responsibility of lawn maintenance and landscaping for the entire neighborhood. If that isn't appealing enough for busy families, an added bonus is that exterior repairs are typically included in the package deal.

Several community-building amenities--clubhouses, public pools and sports courts, for example--are often provided to the residents. Convenience aside, these features increase property value. 
What's more is that enforced standards of living under an HOA ensure that noise complaints, neighborly disputes and streets crowded by parked cars are kept to a minimum.

WORDS TO THE WARY...

Within this beauty there is a beast. A common complaint when it comes to HOAs regards the monthly fees. Interested homeowners are advised to budget for fee increases, as the dues are likely to change over time. Keep in mind that residents pick up the tab for any neighborhood modifications as well as repairs to the aforementioned public amenities. Missing a payment or two could result in a lien being placed on your home or foreclosure altogether.

While you may own the house, the HOA requires approval for any additions and adjustments you plan to make to the structure of your home.  The same goes if you decide to rent or sell: Any potential resident must first be screened by the board, which also has the power to determine the rental price and move-in date.

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A little research will go a long way when deciding if living under an HOA is right for you. Gathering copies of an Association's rules and regulations will help determine what fits your lifestyle, while looking into the financial records and future budget will give you a clear view of what is and isn't within your financial limits. Could you make your house a home in an HOA community?

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