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What to know about an HOA

California residents who are thinking about buying a home should consider the presence of a homeowners association prior to closing on a property. For some, having an HOA is the only way that they would consider buying a home. However, others may balk at the thought of following an organization's rules. One positive of being part of a homeowners association is that common areas are maintained by someone else.

A second benefit is that a person knows what all the homes in the neighborhood will look like. For instance, a neighbor can't let the grass get unruly or keep a car on the front lawn. Of course, this generally means that owners have to get permission to add even a minor item to their home's exterior. Adding a play area for the kids or something similar may also require permission from the HOA.

Another potential downside to living in an HOA is that an individual will have to pay fees to help cover those costs. Fees vary from association to association, and it is important to keep in mind that it may limit the pool of buyers willing to make an offer when it comes time to sell the home. An association could also limit a person's ability to rent the home.

Those who live in an HOA must generally abide by its rules. If a party fails to abide by those rules, a process may be in place to mediate possible disputes between neighbors or between neighbors and the HOA itself. An attorney may also be helpful if owners have questions about their rights during a dispute. If necessary, an attorney could provide representation during an HOA dispute.

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