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Old 02-20-2012, 07:38 PM
Location: Cypress, TX
863 posts, read 2,432,178 times
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Originally Posted by nakalamicnews View Post
What is the actual purpose of the HOA?
A major expense of our HOA is landscaping and irrigation of the common areas. Someone has to pay for the mowing, weed control, water, mulch, seasonal flowers, etc.. Our neighborhood also has playgrounds to maintain. And pools with lifeguards on duty. A fitness center with equipment to maintain. The HOA charges a yearly assessment to pay for all of this.
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:18 PM
2,751 posts, read 3,176,857 times
Reputation: 2944
Originally Posted by nakalamicnews View Post
Looking at homes in Katy and Cypress via internet (we're in Illinois). We have never lived in an area with a HOA.

What is the actual purpose of the HOA?
1. To shift liability from the developer and local government to a corporation where constitutional limitations on government do not apply.
2. As a money generating device for HOA attorneys and HOA management companies - both of which extort money from homeowners by threatening them with foreclosure lest they pay whatever these vendors demand.
3. As a throne for the psychologically-challenged individuals who are irresistibly drawn to having their own dictatorship any banana republic would envy.

In the Houston area you will also need to watch out for "civic associations" which are often not particularly civil to say the least.

Who governs the HOA, a Board of Directors that live in that subdivision? Do these people drive around looking to fine homeowners?
Theoretically a board of directors controls the HOA corporation. There is no requirement for the board to live in the subdivision. Many HOAs are controlled by a developer for decades.

Often although a "board" is supposed to be "in control", gullible or unscrupulous boards allow the management companies and HOA attorneys to wreak havoc on the individual members of the subdivision.

The self proclaimed "professionals" are often found when subdivisions are left in shambles with little record of where money went. See, e.g.,
DA looks into Channelview complaints - Houston Chronicle

Broke homeowners association halts trash service in Aldine Village neighborhood | abc13.com

How about having an attorney try to demand $25,000 from you for a $300 debt? They try to get such outrageous sums by threatening HOA homeowners with foreclosure. Although the homeowner in this story won, most homeowners don't have the resources to challenge and can't risk losing the home - what legitimate "business" would treat its customers this way? None. This conduct is because the HOA is NOT there for your benefit but rather is controlled for the benefit of the vendors. See:
Homeowner won fight over HOA foreclosure - San Antonio Express-News

Are there some subdivisions that don't have HOAs.... is that generally a good thing to NOT have a HOA?
Non-HOA property will be mostly older homes. You can find homes built in the 80s and earlier that are not burdened by HOAs. If you are looking for a newer home without an HOA, it will typically be a home built in an older subdivision or a home that is in a small subdivision or that is not in a subdivision.

No HOA means no liens and no perpetual assessments. Your home will not be the security for debt that an HOA board racks up.
HOAs represent: assessments forever and perpetual liens that can never be paid off.

HOAs represent an opportunity for the HOA vendors to extract all sorts of fees from you that you never contracted for and for little or no services rendered. Watch out for "transfer fees", "resale certificate fees", "architectural committee fees", "community enhancement fees", "covenant compliance inspection fees", the list is limited only by the imagination of the HOA management companies and boards. Many of these places insist that they have the power to privately "fine" you - no court ruling, just a demand that you pay a "fine" for alleged infractions.

As a point of clarification, "non-HOA" property does not necessarily mean that there are no deed restrictions. If the property you purchase has deed restrictions then every owner bound by the same deed restrictions has the ability to enforce them.

Here is a decent backgrounder on HOA-burdened properties:
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