I sold a house last year for a couple I have known for almost 25 years….the wife called me and said “Do you think you can sell our house? I am afraid if we don’t move my husband will have a heart attack. He hates our HOA”.
I sold the house….and wondered if he was just being an “old fuddy duddy” or actually had good reason to hate them. They’d lived in that neighborhood for 25 years. Seemed like a long time to hate an HOA.
We’ve owned 13 houses….6 in neighborhoods with HOA’s. Until then, all my experiences with HOA’s had been pleasant. A few times I had received notices that weren’t correct. Twice we received notices that we weren’t allowed to park our car overnight in front of the house on the street…..both times I took pictures of the neighbor’s car…and then emailed the board with the time stamped photo and explained that we didn’t own that car. Another time I received a letter telling me I needed to keep my “children from playing on the street as it was dangerous and neighbors were worried that they might hit those pretty blonde girls with their cars while driving”. I went to the next meeting and explained that those beautiful blonde girls were not my children. My one and only daughter is a brunette with hair so dark it would be impossible to think she was a blonde. Yes…I knew the blonde kids….they often visited my child and would sit on our front porch and sip sodas. But please send your letters to the right Mom. So three times I had gotten letters….all three were mistakes. Honest mistakes….assuming the car in front of my house was mine and assuming those beautiful girls must have belonged to me. But other homeowners had gotten letters because they did park their cars illegally (against HOA rules) and got their cars towed and the MOM’s with the beautiful girls made sure their girls remembered they needed to watch before crossing the street a little more often.
HOA’s are not going away. If you live in San Antonio inside city limits and your house is younger than 20 years old…you will probably live in one. Before closing on the sale of your home you will get the rules and regulations of your HOA. Please read these. They should tell you if you can park a boat in the driveway, park a car on the street overnight, park cars in the driveway and may even go as far as telling you how many potted plants can be on your porch or in your yard.
Another important part of your HOA documents you should receive will be the financials. They will include how much money the board has saved for maintenance on the amenities in the neighborhood, how much you will pay monthly, quarterly or yearly, how much the HOA spends a year and how much they collect a year. These items are important. If the HOA spends more money a year then they take in you will probably see an increase in dues. Some neighborhoods, in financial hard times, get rid of amenities which may decrease the value of your own home. So make sure the HOA has enough money to pay their bills and has a reserve account to cover maintenance.
HOA board members are people that live in the neighborhood and are typically voted into their board positions by their neighbors.
HOA board members have the thankless job of making sure the management company is collecting dues, maintaining the common areas, approving bids for work that needs to be done to keep up common areas, making sure you are following the rules and protecting your home values. Board members should serve their fellow members while protecting and enhancing the assets of the community.
So why did my friend’s move? That’s for a future blog….but nothing he did and nothing you can do will protect you if you follow the above rules and end up in an HOA with board members that forget what their main job is…to serve you and protect and enhance your community.
The good news….board members can’t stay forever and will get replaced. The bad news….until they are replaced, you may feel like my friends and want to throw up your hands and scream, “get me out of here”!