Belonging To An HOA: Yay Or Nay?

Love them, hate them, or maybe you don’t even know what one is…let’s talk about Home Owner Associations (HOAs). If you’re looking to buy a home, chances are you’ll encounter a few homeowners associations. A homeowners association is a governing structure that oversees and manages a neighborhood or community, whether it’s made of single-family houses, condominiums, or townhomes. Homeowners will elect members to the HOA board, and board members establish and enforce bylaws, collect dues, oversee common areas and generally maintain a cohesive atmosphere.

According to “Homeowners’ associations in the United States manage 355,000 communities, with an average of 22 new associations forming every day”. Minnesota homeowners’ associations have a membership below the national average.

  • There are 7,725 homeowners’ associations in Minnesota.
  • Roughly 1.51 million people in Minnesota live in HOA communities.
  • Each HOA in Minnesota has an average 195 residents.
  • 26.7% of Minnesota’s population lives in HOA communities.
  • 37.1% of Minnesota homeowners are part of HOAs.
  • An estimated 593,649 homes in Minnesota are part of HOA communities.
  • Homeownership statewide is 71.9%.

The main reason for creating a homeowner association is to increase property values. Through maintaining communal areas and enforcing rules and regulations, property values can go up immensely over time. These keep the overall community looking nice and keep the home somewhat cohesive.

Most HOAs are formed by real estate developers that then turn them over to an association board when construction nears completion on the new development. One of the first orders of business, when an HOA is formed, is to establish covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) and bylaws.  A quick distinction:  In general, CC&Rs regulate what you can and cannot do as a homeowner, while bylaws regulate how the HOA and board of directors conduct business.

Homeowners have a say in how the HOA runs. As a member, you can vote for HOA board members who represent your values and priorities. If you’re really feeling motivated, you can run for the board yourself and work to change rules you disagree with. Being an active participant helps make your HOA work better for you.

Depending on what is included, HOA fees will vary for different associations. On average it is about $200-300 per month. Many associations particularly those for condos and townhomes will include some utilities, garbage, and shared amenities (pool, tennis court, etc). Others will only cover professional management.

Personally, I’m not a fan of an HOA…if I own my home, I don’t want to be told I can’t park my car in the driveway overnight, have 4 dogs, paint my house black (or pink or whatever color I want), or build a garden. BUT I understand why HOAs are necessary (for sure with townhomes and condos!) and even desired by some people. What do YOU think?

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