New survey reveals how homeowners feel about HOAs

Roughly a third of homeowners, either in houses or condos, are in a homeowners association, and a recent survey finds most like it — even though the fees can be a source of frustration.

A LendingTree survey found 57% of HOA members said it has made their lives easier. Exterior maintenance, landscaping and security top the list, as well as sports and leisure amenities.

HOAs do enforce rules, which is generally a good thing. But they are also notorious for being fussy about adhering to those rules.

“An HOA telling someone who hasn’t cut their grass in three months that it is probably time to pull the lawn mower out is probably well within its right to do so,” said Jacob Channel, chief economist at Lending Tree. “But on the flip side, there are some HOAs where it can be sort of, ‘Oh, your grass is a quarter of an inch too high. Trim it now or face our wrath.'”

For the good and the bad, Channel said homebuyers should carefully research HOA rules and regulations before buying.

Channel said HOAs certainly aren’t for everyone.

“If you’re the kind of person who really values conformity and security and things being sort of prim and proper they way they are, an HOA may be for you,” he said. “But if you’re the kind of person who, I don’t know, wants to build a gymnasium in their backyard, then you might want to reconsider it.”

HOA fees can add up. LendingTree’s survey found dues average $291 a month, or about $3,500 a year.

According to the survey, 45% of HOA members say their HOA dues have increased in the past year. Even so, 63% said they felt their HOA fees were fairly priced for the benefits they receive.

Unhappiness with the cost of an HOA could be due to violations of membership rules. The survey found 23% of members unhappy with the cost they pay say they’ve been given a violation notice.

HOAs help maintain home value, and strict rules can lead to a lot of nice curb appeal, Channel said. When potential buyers tour a home, the usually also take the condition of the neighborhood into consideration.

LendingTree’s full survey results of HOA members, and its methodology, is posted online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up