The pros and cons debate of living in a housing development with a homeowner’s association
(HOA) has been going on for decades. Ever since the first master-planned communities started
appearing in the 1960s, home buyers in San Antonio and Austin have had to decide if the
advantages of a HOA outweighed some of the disadvantages. As with most aspects of home
buying, the final answer is that it’s a personal preference, but there are some important
considerations that should be discussed before buying a property with a HOA. Prospective
buyers will be provided a document of CC & Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) which
outline the specifics and they should be carefully reviewed.
There are many benefits to owning a home in San Antonio or Austin with a HOA. The same
restrictions and rules that you might find limiting also limits your neighbors. Perhaps you can’t
tell the difference between one beige house color and the approved beige house color, but
that same rule prevents your neighbor from painting their house purple.
- Community Appearance and Standards
All aspects of the community will be monitored by the HOA. Not only house colors, but
also landscaping, tree height and other design elements must be approved by the HOA
review board. Often the community will include neighborhood parks and greenbelts
which are maintained by the HOA as well as other amenities like swimming pools, sports
courts and exercise facilities.
- Lower Maintenance Costs
Depending on the HOA, the front yard landscaping and other maintenance tasks will be handled by the HOA. These can include services such as trash, street cleaning, water and some even offer cable and internet.
- Association Management
The HOA management control varies from one association to another, but all provide
some level of authority over the community. Disputes between neighbors which might
otherwise land in court are often revolved by a review board with the authority to make
- Higher Home Values
San Antonio and Austin Home values are often higher in housing developments with an
HOA than those without. The HOA will have policies in place to prevent a property or an
area to become neglected or unattractive. This keeps the neighborhood looking better
than those without and attracts home buyers.
Of course this level of management can also seem oppressive at times. Depending on the rules
and regulations, residents in some San Antonio and Austin neighborhoods might find their
personal tastes restricted on their own property.
- Design Restrictions
First and foremost, the HOA will have restrictions on how the exterior of a home and the
lot appear. The goal is to create a sense of unity and harmony in the neighborhood
appearance. This could include something as simple as the approved house colors or as
detailed as the ability to fly a flag in the front yard.
- Parking and Street Use
Many HOA rules will include restrictions on how parking is addressed. Not only the use
of parking decals can be controlled, but often a San Antonio or Austin homeowner will
be restricted from leaving their garage door open or parking a car in the driveway. RVs
are also typically restricted.
- HOA Fees
HOA fees add cost to homeownership. Depending on the amenities offered and the
financial health of the HOA, San Antonio and Austin homeowners pay for the activities
of the HOA through monthly fees. Additionally, if the finances of a HOA are mismanaged, the owners can be assessed extra fees/costs to adjust or make large repairs. While members of the HOA are also owners and subject to the same costs, if they can’t make payments required, the HOA as a whole will have to pay.
The presence of a HOA can make a big difference in your enjoyment of a property – both
positive and negative. Before buying a home with a HOA, it’s important to review the CC & Rs
to ensure you are willing and able to abide by the rules, investigate the financial records and
observe the effect of the HOA on the specific San Antonio or Austin neighborhood. Then you
can determine the value to you and your family. If you are unsure if a neighborhood has a
HOA, your real estate agent can help you determine this and guide you by explaining the pros
and cons of that particular HOA.