Should You Consider a Home That isn't in a Homeowner's Association?

Homeowner's Associations sometimes get bad reputation. Have you ever had to pay a fine for something trivial? Did you leave the garage door open? Let the wind blow your empty garbage can down the street? If you answered yes, you may not be a fan of HOAs. Some HOAs are lenient. Others will fine you the minute they spot a dead leaf in the landscaping.

The goal of most HOAs is to preserve and maintain property values. If you live in a well-run HOA, most of your neighbors will maintain their homes. You are less likely to have neighbors with a collection of non-working cars in front of their house. If you live in an HOA, it will be easier to deal with not-so-great neighbors.

If you live in an HOA, it's easy to call them about a neighbor with over-grown landscaping or other issues. Of course, the neighbors can also call the HOA if you don't keep things up to par. 

Not having an HOA brings a certain amount of freedom. No rules telling you what colors you can paint your home. No one to say you can't leave the garage door open while you work on the front lawn. No one to say you can't let the teen-agers park their broken-down car on the street, for as long as they like.

Why Should You Buy a Home That Isn't in an HOA?

Do you own an RV? Finding a Homeowner's Association that allows RV Parking is challenging. In the Las Vegas area, the challenge is compounded by homes that have small lots. Buyers who need space for RV parking can find some communities with both the space and the flexibility to allow RV parking. Many of the HOAs that allow RV parking will place restrictions on it. Some require that the RV be behind a gate and concealed from view. This can be done with landscaping or may require the homeowner to build a separate RV garage. 

Do you drive a commercial vehicle that you park at your home? HOAs may have rules prohibiting vehicles with signs from parking overnight. If the commercial vehicle doesn't fit in the garage, you could have a problem. Some HOAs don't want commercial vehicles entering on certain days. Some guard-gated communities will not allow commercial vehicles on Sundays. If you own a plumbing company, you won't be able to go in and out with your van on those days. If you do, you could be fined.

Have boats, ATVs or other toys? This is like RV parking. Many communities don't allow them. The ones that do will have rules about where and when they can be parked. You may have to rent a storage space for boats and toys that aren't allowed in the community.

Do you have large or exotic pets or even, livestock? Some HOAs place limits on the size and quantity of dogs you can own. Others may have noise rules that can be an issue if you have a Macaw or other feathered friend that squawks. 

There are many horse lovers in Las Vegas. There are areas, even close to the Strip, where homeowners can have a horse. Most of the zoning limits the homeowner to 3 livestock animals on a half-acre.

Do you work at home? Home based businesses are allowed in some but not all HOAs. If you telecommute and don't have a lot of co-workers coming and going, you may have no problems with the HOA. If you set up a manufacturing facility in your garage or back yard, you probably should avoid buying a home in an HOA. The mechanic who works on cars at home should also avoid HOAs.

If you buy a home without an HOA, how do you deal with bad neighbors? Most cities have zoning rules that give some protection to residential areas. If you have a neighbor who is running a business out of their home, you should verify that it's permitted under your local zoning laws.

Things You Should Know if You Buy a Home That Isn't in a Homeowner's Association

Owning a home that isn't governed by a Homeowner's Association can provide a great sense of freedom. You can paint it pink, fly a flag, run a business out of it or park that big Diesel Pusher next to it. Not having a Homeowner's Association works best if you can get along with your neighbors. Remember, all the freedoms you enjoy are freedoms they will want to enjoy. Be prepared to look the other way if they paint their home a color that's somewhat hideous to you.

If you opt to buy a home that isn't in a Homeowner's Association, take a close look at the surrounding homes. Are they being well maintained? How much is the neighbor's house worth? Remember their home values will influence your home's value. What you want to see is that the other homes are of similar or greater value to your home. If the neighbors have a home that has equity, they will be more likely to maintain their home to preserve their equity.

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