HOAs Explained: What to Know Before You Buy

If you are shopping for an existing home or want to build a new home, you likely have heard of a homeowner’s association, commonly known as an “HOA.” According to the Foundation for Community Association Research, as of 2021, there were 358,000 HOAs in operation nationwide and 29 percent of Americans lived in a community with a homeowner’s association. This number will continue to rise as new neighborhoods are developed across the country.

So, What Is an HOA?

An HOA is defined as an organization designated to govern a private community, such as a neighborhood of single-family homes, townhouses or condominiums. While the specifics of how an HOA operates and what it controls vary widely from one association to another, they generally are focused on managing, overseeing and developing a respective community by upholding rules and regulations, and maintaining shared services and amenities. This is done under the direction of an elected board of volunteer directors who live within the neighborhood. Other HOAs are professionally managed by a property management company.

HOAs do not make a profit. Rather, they are funded by regular dues paid by community residents who build a new home or buy an existing home there. Because HOAs exercise considerable influence over residents’ decisions related to homeownership, including exterior paint colors, landscaping and even yard decorations, it’s imperative to research the specific regulations, restrictions, amenities and costs of any neighborhood HOA before you make a home purchase decision. This information can typically be found on a community’s website, or you can request details from your realtor.

About HOA Fees

One of the commonalities across all HOAs is charging community residents dues or fees to cover the cost of running the association. Fees are established by a board of directors based on a projection of the HOA’s annual budget. Because board members are also residents, they are obligated to pay the same fees and don’t profit from the money collected. These fees may be assessed monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually, and can range from $40 to more than $2,000, depending on community amenities, the number of residents and other variables. However, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2021, the average monthly HOA fee was $191.

An HOA board can vote to adjust fees any time the community’s needs change. It can also charge a one-time special assessment to cover emergencies or unexpected damage.

What HOA Fees Cover

HOA fees are crucial to keep a neighborhood HOA running smoothly. By sharing costs, community members enjoy properly maintained common areas and amenities that enhance lifestyle while also increasing property values.


Amenities provided by an HOA can range widely from basic upkeep of common areas to lavish clubhouses, pools and organized community events. Those that offer more amenities will charge considerably higher fees. Amenities may include:

  • Landscaping & maintenance, including weed & pest control
  • Maintenance of common areas including sidewalks, parks, trails & street lighting
  • Safety & security measures
  • Trash pickup
  • Parking
  • Clubhouses. fitness centers & pools
  • Community events

Administration of Rules & Regulations

In general, all HOAs govern rules and regulations within their respective community, which are commonly known as covenants, conditions and restrictions, or “CC&Rs”. This includes resolving conflicts since an HOA may need to step in to enforce CC&Rs and settle disputes between neighbors.

Keep in mind that HOAs cannot create rules that conflict with federal or state laws, or that are considered unenforceable. Here are some of the most common CC&Rs:

  • Landscaping restrictions, such as the number and type of trees and shrubs, weed control and maintaining grass at a certain height.
  • Aesthetic requirements to maintain visual uniformity among homes. This can include rules about exterior paint colors, street-facing window coverings and the type and height of fencing.
  • Parking and vehicle regulations related to where vehicles can be parked and for how long. There may also be restrictions on parking RVs and other oversized vehicles on the street or in a driveway.
  • Pet restrictions that place limits on pet quantity, size and/or breed. Many communities restrict the types of animals you can keep on a property.
  • Noise restrictions during certain hours.

The Pros & Cons of HOAs

Benefits of an HOA

There are numerous benefits to living in a community with a well-managed HOA that make it a more desirable place to live, such as:

  • A nicely maintained neighborhood. HOAs typically do an excellent job of maintaining common areas and shared amenities. For homebuyers attracted to a community that’s polished and displays a cohesive aesthetic, an HOA can be a game-changer.
  • Higher property values. Since an HOA holds residents accountable to architectural controls and deed restrictions, homes and common areas are consistently attractive. This, in turn, encourages property values to remain steady or even increase over time.
  • A sense of community. When a neighborhood looks good, it increases pride of ownership among community members. HOAs may also sponsor events that help residents to socialize and connect, such as cookouts, block parties, movie nights and volunteer efforts.
  • Conflict resolution. If a dispute arises between neighbors, an HOA acts as a neutral third party to resolve the disagreement and keep the peace.

Disadvantages of an HOA

HOAs are not without their detractors. Many people dislike what they perceive as heavy-handed rule enforcement and costly fees. Common complaints include:

  • Fees. Residents may feel that the mandatory fees assessed do not provide enough value, especially if their HOA focuses more on rule enforcement than amenities. If an HOA does provide community amenities, the cost of upkeep may outweigh their benefits for some people.
  • Overly restrictive rules. While some residents appreciate that HOA regulations keep community standards high, others dislike being told what to do with their own homes. Residents who want to display their individuality with unique paint colors or holiday decorations may be unhappy in such an environment.
  • Potential for poor management. HOAs are run by community volunteers who may not act professionally in every situation. This can result in mismanagement, misspending of funds and even abuse of power that results in a failure to maintain the community.
  • Risk of lien or foreclosure. Falling behind on HOA dues may result in stiff penalties for non-payment. These can range from warnings and fines all the way up to a lien being put on a house or even forced foreclosure.

Do You Want to Build a New Home in an HOA Community?

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to whether you should live in a community with an HOA; it’s simply a matter of budget and personal preference. Before you buy, be sure to check if the home is part of an HOA, research the CC&Rs and determine if the community is a good fit for your lifestyle.

If you want to build a new home in Cheyenne, Gateway has lots available in the most popular neighborhoods. For more information about these “new home developments near me” and available Gateway homes, call our team at (307) 632-8950 or contact us online. You can also follow us on your favorite social media platforms, including FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn. Let’s start building your future today!


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