This was the feedback from an agent who showed one of my listings this week:
Stephanie, we ended up not looking at this home. Buyers don't want to be in a neighborhood with HOA where they have to pay the fee and are so restricted.
Surprising? Not really. Lately I'm hearing the same thing from the buyers I'm working with.
Whether they've had a firsthand negative experience with a neighborhood HOA (Home Owner's Association) or they've heard horror stories at work and from friends, HOAs are fast becoming the least desirable "feature" for today's home buyers. What once seemed like a good idea to prevent "eye sores" from cropping up in the neighborhood has become a pestering bureaucracy that keeps people from enjoying home ownership.
HOAs have a tendency to transform would-be neighbor-friends into tattle tellers. Rules are enforced by someone the organization designates to ride through the neighborhood looking for infractions (who wants that job?), or neighbors report each other for breaking the rules. Doesn't sound very friendly, does it?
Because of the way the system works, some home owners say there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to who gets fined. Houses full of tenants might get overlooked as the grass grows out of control and the garbage can sits for days on the side of the road, while owner-occupied properties receive letter after letter that demand they power wash their home, remove a parked car from the street, or change the color of their window coverings.
Maybe the HOAs target owner-occupants because they think they have a better chance of collecting the fines they send out? It's possible, but if an HOA fines a home owner for an infraction and the fine is not paid, the HOA can - and often does - place a lien on the property, which means the owner can't sell the property without paying the fine. The HOA knows they may not get their money today, but they'll get it eventually.
The original purpose of HOAs was to preserve property values; however if what I'm hearing continues the way it's going, I'm predicting they will start to have the opposite affect. Which do you prefer? HOA or no?