Should You Buy a Home in an HOA Neighborhood?

In your search for your new home, chances are that you’ve run across property listings in communities that have a Homeowners’ Association (HOA). If you’ve never lived in a neighborhood with an HOA, you may be wondering if it is worth paying the extra fee each month or year to live in a place that has one.

man deciding whether to purchase a house in an HOA neighborhood

HOA Basics

An HOA is the governing body of a community that manages the aesthetics and maintenance of a neighborhood. HOAs can vary in their authority and membership requirements, but most will have the authority to enforce the bylaws and protective covenants of the community and will require all homeowners to be a member of the association.

An HOA’s main purpose is to improve the value of the property it manages, and in the process, improve the standard of living for current residents. In exchange for giving up some of their independence, homeowners are entitled to community services that may include lawn care, amenity maintenance, and neighborhood security.

Pros of an HOA

adults playing tennis for snowbird tennis on seabrook island clay courts

With an HOA, the association provides services you would normally have to do yourself. For example, the HOA will mediate conflicts between neighbors, keep roads clear, and pay for security personnel and/or a gate system.

The HOA also manages all common areas like pools, tennis courts, sidewalks, bike lanes, and the clubhouse. Members get access to these amenities through their monthly/yearly HOA dues.

Finally, the HOA helps maintain the cohesive nature of the community to help improve the value of the property. For example, an HOA may restrict the number of cars that can be parked on the street in front of a house or it may limit what colors residents can use to repaint their homes.

Cons of an HOA

One of the more obvious cons of an HOA is the fee to be a member. With that said, potential homeowners should weigh the benefits that they will receive against the price that they pay. Because larger communities can achieve economies of scale, you may end up paying less to an HOA than it would cost for you to implement their services on your own.

Having an HOA does mean that your individual rights as a homeowner are limited for the good of the community. An HOA stipulation like banning the use of neon house paint is probably something you would comply with anyway, but read into the community’s bylaws and be certain that you’re comfortable with what you’re agreeing to.

Finally, with rules often comes red tape. Depending on how efficient your HOA is, it may take some time for home improvement requests to be approved or denied. Try to talk to current residents to get a feel for how their HOA operates.

Is an HOA Neighborhood Right for You?

aerial view of the seabrook island beach club and pool

HOAs are highly individualized entities. One community’s HOA may have a poor response time and ultra-restrictive codes, while another’s could be running efficiently and offer flexibility to its members.

Unless you’re staunchly against the entire idea of having an HOA, it’s difficult to say whether or not you should buy into a neighborhood that has one. Investigating the individual HOAs — the amenities they offer and their correspondence with residents — is the best way to determine if that community would work for your family.

Seabrook Island Rules and Regulations

Seabrook does have an HOA, which we call the Seabrook Island Property Owners Association (SIPOA). SIPOA’s regulations apply to all property owners, visitors to our neighborhood, and contractors. All of our governing documents can be accessed here.

For more information on Seabrook’s regulations or to learn more about available properties, feel free to reach out to one of our real estate agents.