Home Owners Associations...Un-American?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by puma1552, Dec 4, 2011.

  1. puma1552 macrumors 601

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    #1
    Now that I've got a good job, the wife and I are starting to look heavily for a house. But it seems that in our area, the only single family houses that are less than 10-15 years old come with HOA fees. I can understand these for townhomes or condos where all exterior maintenance/lawncare is provided, etc., but for single family homes the overwhelming number of HOAs is staggering.

    There are lots of new construction single family home developments, the kind where you choose a floor plan from a set number of choices/prices/models, then have a little bit of option picking like countertops, colors, etc. These without exception all are saddled with HOAs. My friend just built a new house in one of these. Great house, great neighborhood, but he's stuck paying an HOA fee on top of his mortgage payment, to the tune of about $200 a month which is ridiculous.

    Getting out of the new developments, even many/most houses that are 10-15 years old have HOAs attached to them. It's quite disheartening. I can find nice home after nice home after nice home, and before I even scroll down to look I know they have HOA fees, and they almost always do.

    Perhaps it's just me, but these seem like the anti-Christ of American; here's an association which can dictate what you can and cannot do on your own property that you purchased, and if you don't comply, they can actually put a lien against YOUR property that YOU bought. Maybe it's just me, but considering the old adage about the American dream being to own your own property where nobody can tell you what to do as that's your and only your corner of the world, it seems pretty ass-backwards to work hard for a property just to actually pay someone in your neighborhood an annual/monthly for the privilege of telling you what you can and cannot do on it, such as how many vehicles you can have, or what colors your house can't be, or where to put your garbage cans on non-garbage days.

    Of course the idea here is that by having an HOA, nobody's property goes to hell and the houses stay nice, which I can understand. But at the same time, if you are actually living in a neighborhood with houses that are that nice, does an HOA even serve a purpose, presuming that people that live in houses that nice aren't trashy enough to need to be told how to maintain their property to begin with? I mean if I can afford to live in a neighborhood like that, I'm pretty sure I and 95% of the people there can manage to take basic care of our property without someone else telling us what to do, with legal authority over our property that they put exactly $0 into owning. I asked my friend what he gets for his $200 a month, and he really wasn't sure. He certainly isn't getting his lawn mowed, driveway snow blowed, or house painted...but he is getting regulated.

    I'm befuddled by these HOAs in single family home neighborhoods. You literally pay someone in your neighborhood to regulate what you do on your own property. My friend's HOA prohibits him from working on vehicles on his property. How dare you open the hood of your car to detail the engine bay on your car in your driveway at your home! Would they really put a lien on my house if they saw me outside with a buffer on a nice spring day, or if I was outside washing my car once a week?

    It seems like HOAs are greatly increasing in number compared to 15 years ago, which in my area weren't too common then. It seems now that the only way to avoid them is to either build a million dollar full custom home, or buy a really old house somewhere that was built before these things ever popped up.

    To me, HOAs just seem extremely un-American.

    Thoughts?

    EDIT: A brief list of pros and cons according to Dave Ramsey: https://www.daveramsey.com/newslett...r-august2010?ectid=elprenl_0810_final1_online

    Most of his pros actually seem like cons, like being required to keep your garage door shut. Honestly? **** that.
     
  2. Peace macrumors Core

    Peace

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  3. iStudentUK macrumors 65816

    iStudentUK

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    #3
    What does "un-American" even mean? I often hear this phrase but it seems meaningless...
     
  4. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #4
    It depends. Where my parents live they have an HOA. The dues are like $400 a year which is not that bad.

    The dues pay for upkeep of the pool. Upkeep and maintenance of the medians and the neighborhood parks. That is the short list.

    As for the rules it really not that bad. They do keep people in line. Things like Keep your yard mowed and maintained. Houses are painted neutral colors.
    All basketball goals visible from the street must be in ground. No storing campers, or boats in drive way.
    No keeping things like storage pod in drive way.
    Cars in drive way must be driven (aka no cars on blocks that are never driven)

    For the most part they keep things in line.

    The battles people run into is when they want to do upgrades on said House and the rules there are much striker.

    Also for most things you can get a wavier or at the very least a temp wavier. For example I know some people have been able to get Campers waved for like a month as the inside of the house was having some major work done on it.
    The storage pods for the same reason. They will grant you a longer stay if you give a good reason.
    They do have a 3rd part that comes around and does drive by inspections. The most common letter people get is MOW YOUR YARD during the summer mind during the summer the grass can grow at a rate that you need to mow like 2 times a week.
     
  5. wordoflife macrumors 604

    wordoflife

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    #5
    We have HOA fees and they're pretty expensive - close to $300 a month. They do a lot of things such as lawn work, a gym, pools, playground, etc.

    They are a pain in the ass though. Fees go up unnecessarily from time to time, they do a lousy job at a few things, they'll fine you for stupid stuff (weeds, dirty roof, parking the wrong way, leaving your trash can out).

    Oh well.


    Yeah I haven't even heard this before. What?
     
  6. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #6
    I do not mind the intent of HOA's as it keeps the neighborhood at a standard that helps with property values
     
  7. glocke12 macrumors 6502a

    glocke12

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    #7
    I lived in a townhome community for a few years that had a HOA. I also have seen communities that did not have a HOA.

    I they have their place, especially in those communities where there is a relatively high housing density. The thing I like about them is that they kind of force people to maintain the exterior of their home, and prevent them from doing things that would be considered an eyesore by most people.

    That said, they definitely have many negative aspects to them that I don't care for and I hope to never go back to dealing with one again.

    I'd keep looking, maybe even settle on a well kept older house outside of a community that does not have a HOA.
     
  8. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    #8
    This should probably go PRSI.

    I'm, personally, not so keen on HOAs.
     
  9. puma1552, Dec 4, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2011

    puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

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    #9
    Basically iStudent, Americans have always (until the most recent financial meltdown, anyway) had this infatuation with the American dream, that traditionally being buying a house with a white picket fence and having 2.5 kids, a dog, and two cars in the driveway.

    So in essence owning your own property, with the idea being that it's yours and you worked for it and nobody can tell you what to do on it, while having someone who doesn't pay the bills tell you what you can and cannot do on your own property you worked hard for kind of flies in the face of the traditional dream of owning your own property.

    To reiterate, I can understand these for condos/lofts/townhomes, where they take care of the exterior maintenance/lawn care 100%. But for single family homes, I really see it as just another entity to suck money out of your pocket for little/no return. For me they are even more so unattractive when you start adding up how much you've put in their pocket over X years.

    It's mindboggling really, to pay someone to give them the legal authority to tell you what you can't do on your property. A couple hundred a month is a nice chunk of change, that's the better part of a car payment on a cheap car.
     
  10. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #10
    You might think differently if you didn't have an HOA, and watched as your property value, that you saved to buy, diminish when a slob moves in next door.
     
  11. wpotere Guest

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    Oct 7, 2010
    #11

    The downside is this...

    The up side is that it forces people to maintain their property in the same manner as everyone else. We had a guy that had an old beat up car on blocks that he moved out of his garage into the front. His claim was that he was going to fix it up but the car sat there for weeks without him touching it. Eventually the HOA forced him to move it back in as he blew off our requests to move it.

    HOA's do have a use.
     
  12. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

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    #12
    I may have agreed with you on this 5 years ago, but you simply cannot look at homes as investments anymore. Plain and simple, you have to look at a house as a place to live long-term, nothing more. My sister just got her property tax assessment for the year, and the county-assessed value is down yet another $25,000 from last year. Third year in a row that it has sunk. I don't know that you can really concern yourself with property values anymore, unfortunately.

    At least for my wife and I, with the way upward mobility has been lost, so too has the upward mobility trend with housing been lost, where you would start with a cheap starter home, build equity, and trade up 2-3 times in your life. For us at least, we are just looking at a house as a place to live, and not expecting/hoping to have it increase in value. Thus we want to get a house that we are perfectly content with initially, that we can grow into and live in for a long, long time.

    Usually cities have ordinances to keep the worst offenses at bay, AFAIK.
     
  13. plumosa macrumors regular

    plumosa

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    #13
    the problem is that for most of these issues, complaining to the city council will have the same result, minus the monthly fee.

    If they aren't doing something tangible for you like mowing your lawn or maintaining your property in some way, then its a complete waste of money.
     
  14. wpotere Guest

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    #14
    Sadly they don't and won't do anything about it.
     
  15. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #15
    worse offenders yes but city ordinances are generally pretty relaxed.

    Take for example yard. City ordances tends to be around 1 foot max height of grade. HOA is going to say keep it under 3-4 in.

    City ordnance normally do not have any rules about keeping your property edge. Nor about dealing with bushes on your car.
    City ordnance tend not to address things like Campers or boats in drive ways.
    Car on blocks generally allowed.
     
  16. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

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    #16
    Curious, what's your recourse against the HOA if they aren't pulling their weight or doing a lousy job?

    Also, if you move into a neighborhood pre-HOA time, and then some high-pants wearing soccer mom decides she wants to start one in your neighborhood, how does that work? Can you opt out and not be included? I can't imagine they could force you to join if you were there before the HOA was started?
     
  17. sk1wbw Suspended

    sk1wbw

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    #17
    Yes, HOA communities should be banned and outlawed and all of them shot. Since when does another person who does NOT own your property and are NOT the leinholder or mortgage company get to tell you what you can and can not do?

    You pay THEM, not vice versa. In my opinion, that makes YOU THEIR boss. I will never live where an HOA is. Ever. I hate those organizations.
     
  18. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #18
    You know, I pay the police's salary too but that won't enable me to prevent them from arresting me
     
  19. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #19
    When you sign an agreement to allow them to so do.

    Don't sign. It's simple.
     
  20. fireshot91 macrumors 601

    fireshot91

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    #20
    Well, we do that with government. They get paid from taxpayer money, and...we made em that way to tell us what to do. :confused:


    I'm not at all for HOAs. We pay about $1500 a year for ours (I think, not quite sure).


    We get pool maintenance, roadwork repairs, pay for the community-hall thingy we have, pays for snow shoveling for the roads (not driveways, but rather the street). Drainage. Stuff like that.

    I just know this cuz the fees went up this year and only yesterday I was looking at the plan for the budgeting. They have ~$100,000 in a petty cash fund for our community pool, basically. That's in addition to pool repairs (About $400,000 budgeted), pool operations (no idea how much, don't remember).
     
  21. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

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    Curious, as far as road repairs, snow plowing the streets, maintaining the local parks...why aren't these things being done by the city? Unless these are private parks in gated, secluded communities immune to local taxes, etc., why wouldn't the city be taking care of these public works issues?
     
  22. sk1wbw, Dec 4, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 4, 2011

    sk1wbw Suspended

    sk1wbw

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    #22
    That's TAX money.
     
  23. fireshot91 macrumors 601

    fireshot91

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    #23
    The city/county/whatever pays for main streets. Neighborhood streets, etc, are left up to the community.


    Additionally, there's trash removal, and recycling pickup that goes under HOA also.
     
  24. likemyorbs macrumors 68000

    likemyorbs

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    #24
    HOA's suck balls. We used to live in a townhouse community and they wouldn't even allow us to have pets. The women who worked in the office were the snobbiest, most self righteous bitches i've ever met in my life. As soon as we moved out of there into a normal house it was like a renewed sense of freedom. Yeah, i have to shovel my own driveway now, but it's worth it.
     
  25. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #25
    So let me get this straight. You pay HOA fees to do the things that your property tax is supposed to paying for (Median maintenance, etc according to posts above) and now your neighbours get to tell you what you can and can not do on your property. Why do you Americans put up with this stuff?

    I may pay slightly more taxes (and that's debatable), but at least I'm not paying another $200 or more per month as a "fee"..... and my taxes go to pay for this kind of stuff. And I can tell my neighbours to keep their noses to themselves.....
     

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