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Old 03-10-2008, 03:44 PM
Location: Memphis, TN
188 posts, read 489,463 times
Reputation: 95


After my trip to San Antonio last week to scout neighborhoods, I left very impressed by the neighborhood of Shavano Ridge. I loved the houses that we saw (albeit from the outside!) and the neighborhood looked nice. I decided to put it on the top of our list when we go for our "official" home search in May. Today I was doing my usual obsessive googling to see if I could find anything about the neighborhood and found a website started by a (former?) home owner in the neighborhood with a giant bone to pick with the HOA: http://www.usrw.org/ Granted this site was started in 2004, but the comments by the homeowners really made me think that this is NOT a neighborhood we'd enjoy living in: http://www.usrw.org/The%20Homeowners%20Speak%20Out.htm

It made me start thinking about how in the world I would have ever known this if I hadn't found it on the web. How do you REALLY know what you're getting yourself into when you buy a home? From my realtor? Or do you just ignore this nonsense as it might go on in any neighborhood?

Any thoughts and opinions are appreciated, as I know the wonderful ladies and gentlemen of this site are nothing if not full of great opinions!

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Old 03-10-2008, 03:59 PM
Location: San Antonio
1,893 posts, read 4,865,504 times
Reputation: 1471
Personally, I would not buy a home in a neighborhood that is run by an HOA. It seems like most of them are run by control freaks who don't know how to handle power. I don't need someone ringing my doorbell and telling me it's xx:xx o'clock and it's time for me to bring my trash cans in or I need to put my car in the garage or my grass is 1/4 inch higher than the spec's set forth by the HOA. That's not for me.
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:13 PM
4,268 posts, read 8,360,469 times
Reputation: 1785
I simply would not buy a home that came with an HOA. That was a priority for us, for a variety of reasons.
Yes, that means we risk cars parked on the street, lawns not cared for as well as one might like, etc. But that was an acceptable price for us to pay.

Now, we do have an historic society, but I feel ok with that as it's purpose is different than an HOA - that is to preserve the historic homes from becoming tear-downs. I'd been living in the 'hood for awhile as a renter, knew the society well and was comfortable with it.The society's rules are fairly lax, and meant to preserve the historic character of the home and not to make every house look the same.

We do have a neighborhood association as well, but it doesn't function like your typical suburban HOA. I suppose it can change as the residents change, but knowing the bulk of our neighbors and the reason people buy into this neighborhood and I'm not too concerned with it moving in an unfortunate direction. They don't always make decisions I agree with (like pushing out a thriving business), but in general, I'm ok with it. It doesn't weild as much power as an HOA, it functions more as a community gathering spot to exchange info and help other neighbors. Our dues are $10/year for the family, which goes towards supporting neighborhood events. If someone tried to suddenly change the rules and make it more like an HOA, there'd be a big fight. The people who choose to live in this 'hood in general are not of the suburban HOA sort.
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:26 PM
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Location: Ohio
16,816 posts, read 33,144,346 times
Reputation: 13590
I was the president of my HOA (not Shavano Ridge) for a while. I think the person who set up the site in OP's post would have been smarter to follow the advice of the posters above and live in a non-HOA neighborhood, rather than engaging in an online smear.

HOAs are all about protecting property values. I lived in a non-HOA neighborhood for a while where my neighbor across the street kept a ratty looking rowboat and a camper in his front yard for 11-1/2 months of the year. The neighbor was a jerk who wouldn't consider off-site storage. The neighbors of this guy had no legal recourse since there were no city ordinances to prohibit this eyesore. I don't think it did anything positive for my property value when potential buyers of my home looked across the street at my neighbor's weathered gear.

If you're willing to follow some simple rules that protect your property value, then you'll be fine with HOA living. If you're someone who chafes at being told what you can do on your property, you should look for neighborhoods that don't have an HOA.
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:27 PM
759 posts, read 3,385,763 times
Reputation: 590
LOL- I will ONLY buy a home with an HOA. I love them and they way they have kept my neighborhood looking nice and my property value up
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:35 PM
Location: Fort Worth/Dallas
11,878 posts, read 33,502,564 times
Reputation: 5566
I actually have no problem with them. Learn the rules before you move in and abide by them. I've had too many neighbors that have parked there cars up and down the street, in front of MY house and not their own and other things. I'll bring my garbage cans in after the trash is picked up and we don't park our cars in the driveway like everyone else seems to love to do. HOA? I'd consider it if it meant keeping the neighborhood a little nicer.
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:52 PM
Location: San Antonio
4,149 posts, read 9,310,429 times
Reputation: 3308
HOAs are VERY beneficial. They'll make sure that other homes in your neighborhood don't bring your property value down. As to your other questions, you can over-analyze things to death. I'd ask for your Realtor's guidance (if they're experienced) and go talk to neighbors. Lots of times there are people that have problems with HOAs, but they're the ones not following the rules. And often times the rules aren't that big a deal.

Also, if you're buying a home with an HOA, there's an HOA addendum that should be filled out with the real estate contract. This contract gives the seller a certain number of days to get you the CCRs (Covenants, Codes and Restrictions), and from there, you have seven days to read over them and make sure you agree to them. If there's something in there that you don't like, you have the ability to back out of your contract, as long as you're within your 7 days.
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Old 03-10-2008, 07:45 PM
4,268 posts, read 8,360,469 times
Reputation: 1785
What really turned me off from HOAs was hearing of some who didn't allow laundry lines. IMO, using a dryer is simply irresponsible and damaging, esp. in a climate like in we have here. They may be an eyesore for some, but I will live in a community that believes in protecting the environment. I love seeing laundry hanging out in my neighbors' yards. Makes me feel they share similar values. (That's just one of many things I don't like about HOAs in general.)

We do have to submit any exterior plans for modifying our home to the historical board, but I can live with that.
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Old 03-10-2008, 08:30 PM
Location: San Antonio
394 posts, read 1,375,945 times
Reputation: 248
Our current home in Louisville is located within the jurisdiction of an HOA and it has been a great experience for us. As others have stated, the HOA helps to keep property values up and this includes a few rules and regs that keep the area looking nice and neat. We have had NO problems with our HOA and when we went house shopping in S.A. we looked at several neighborhoods. Some of them were a downright turn-off to us because of the aforementioned (i.e. too many cars on the street and in the driveways, "junk" outside, etc., etc.). I remarked to my DH "what's with all the cars outside?"...now I don't mean just a few here and there, I mean everywhere! To me it looks junky and takes away from the curb appeal of the homes.

So, we ended up purchasing in an area that has and will have, as it's developed, an HOA. We appreciate the few rules and regs that HOAs impose for the good of everyone in the neighborhood. I would hate to think that I would have no recourse against someone who parked a boat or camper/RV in the driveway or yard the majority of months out of the year. Yes, there are sometimes differences of opinion in HOAs....so I suggest getting involved in the assoc., so one can have an opportunity to serve the community/neighborhood, but also to have a voice. Sometimes there are those who get on a "ego" trip, but I think that's the minority. As for the person who posted a blog about the HOA - there's always two sides to every story. I would suggest going to any neighborhood you're thinking about and driving around when folks will be outside. Stop and ask a few folks what they like best and or worst about living in the neighborhood. We did when we decided on where to live in S.A. and it helped to solidify our decision.

Of course, HOAs aren't the best for everyone and that's ok. Just be aware what you're getting in to and be willing to abide by the decision of the majority. When we sold our home KY, we provided the buyers with all the info regarding our HOA as well as the financial statement. That way they know going in what they will be dealing with.

We've had a great experience. Just my two cents.
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Old 03-10-2008, 08:52 PM
Location: San Antonio, TX
545 posts, read 2,086,948 times
Reputation: 210
I think that as long as HOAs are run by the people who live in the neighborhood, they're fine. It's when they're turned over to management companies that the problems start. If someone doesn't live in the neighborhood, they're not invested in the neighborhood, they're concerned about (in my opinion) how much money they can make from fines and the $$$ they charge for the documents when you sell your house.

We lived in Northwest Crossing before moving to our current house and never had any problems with our HOA until it was turned over to a management company (in the Stone Oak area) about 6 months before we moved. We got three violation notices within those 6 months after never having any the whole rest of the time we lived there, and we hadn't done anything differently. In fact, we got a notice that our garage door was "in need or repair" which I'm assuming meant it was in need of repair, but it was in perfect working order. When I called to get a clarification, all I got was voicemail, and my call was never returned.

When we moved, we were charged hundreds of dollars for transfer documents, which I thought was completely unreasonable. I'm very glad we don't live there anymore. Your mileage may vary, but if you're going to move into a place that's run by an HOA, make sure the management of it is local.
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