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native_texan
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎03-31-2012
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What is the deal with HOA's

I am moving to the hill country/southwest Austin area soon and have noticed that most of the homes seem to be in HOA's.  Where I live now in Northern Virginia most single family homes are not in HOA's.  The ones that are usually have restrictive convenants like limits on the color you can paint your house and the types of vehicles you can park in front of your house (wouldn't want a hard working plumber parking his van in front of his house).  I also noticed some of the HOA fees are less than $25.  Clearly the HOA's there are not the same as here.  Can someone shed some light on this please.

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PeterJ
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎12-31-2010
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Re: What is the deal with HOA's

HOA neighborhoods are the norm here in SW Austin.   Ours is reasonable inwe are only expected to maintain the front yard nicely.     But enforcements vary greatly among the HOAs in the Austin metro.    The neighbors usually have a good opinion on what to expect.   

 

The houses look a bit sterile will the repetitive red-brick or limestone facades.   It does help with resale values though.    And some neighborhoods have wonderful amenities (parks, tennis courts, pools, play areas, hiking trails) whereas others have hardly any.

 

i've always wondered how it is to live in those eclectic Central Austin neighborhoods (think Tarrytown) or eccentric South or East Austin.   Many of those areas don't SEEM to have HOAs but are doing just fine.

 

Now if only HOAs would make the neighborhoods more vibrant :smileyhappy:

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PeterJ
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎12-31-2010
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Re: What is the deal with HOA's

Color restrictions, yes.   Need to get approval first.

 

Parking restrictions.    This varies quite a bit.   Our is easy, with almost everyone parking in the driveways and by the road out front (which itself is narrower than normal to begin with).   No issues with most work trucks either.    

 

My neighbor restores classic cars in his spare time and does ok.    However if someone worked on multiple cars every day and parked on the grass, that would not go well with the HOA.

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native_texan
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎03-31-2012
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Re: What is the deal with HOA's

After researching homes for a couple of months I can answer my own question.  Maybe someone else will find it helpful.  It seems that most of the homes for sale in the Hayes County area, where I am looking, are in HOA's.  Some have light restrictions but some have fairly draconian rules.  Here are a few examples:

At least two HOA's have rules against "annoyances and nuisances."  That sounds reasonable except for the part that says the HOA has sole discretion on what is considered an annoyance or nuisance.   So, literally, anything they find annoying is against the rules.

One requires you to get your “for sale” or “for rent” sign approved, and there were no guidelines or standards, which could lead to the board making arbitrary decisions.

One prohibited any sign being posted, and no exceptions were listed so that would include posting a political sign, no trespassing sign, or one of those cute pet signs like, “Chihuahua Crossing.”

One actually limited the number of pets OF ANY KIND you could have, inside or out, to two.  So, if you have an indoor cat and two hamsters, one has to go.

Others required approval for fences, mailboxes, and out buildings and many had restrictions on the type and size of house you can build on empty land.

My advice is read the covenants before you buy any property, and read them carefully.  Don’t take someone’s word about what the covenants say or how they are enforced.  A rule may not be enforced today but a new board next year may see things differently.  Don’t ever believe that everyone is reasonable or that common sense will prevail.  If the rule says “No Signs,” with no elaboration, that means any sign would be a violation.  And don’t think that they cannot enforce silly, unreasonable rules.  When you buy into an HOA you sign a contract agreeing to current and future rules, and the courts generally uphold them.

I have heard many people say that HOA’s help maintain property values.  I don’t believe it.  I certainly don’t mind rules that make everyone good neighbors, but don’t tell me what kind of mailbox I can have or what color it has to be.  Most people I know feel the same way.  Limit the number of people who would consider buying a property and you limit demand which lowers the value.

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attorenycraft
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎07-01-2012
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Re: What is the deal with HOA's

There is a state law in Texas that prohibits the HOA from stopping political signs within a certain (I think 60) days of an election.

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mortgageman
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎07-28-2012
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Re: What is the deal with HOA's

It appears that you did a great job answering your own question. HOA's have definite pluses and minuses. It's an individual choice of weighing what's most important to you. We currently live in a MUD that also has a HOA, but it's pretty lax on enforcements. We have lived in HOA areas that were strict and it can be a real nuisance! Good luck!