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Before you buy a home, consider the neighborhood HOA

After a period of searching, you’ve finally found the right home for your New Jersey family. It’s not easy to find the house that suits your needs and fits your budget, and the excitement of this process (and a competitive market) may compel you to move quickly. You may feel ready to go ahead and sign on the dotted line so you can move in as soon as possible.

Before you rush ahead, take time to consider a few things that maybe you didn’t see when you viewed the home or that did not come up during the inspection of the property. One of these things is how the neighborhood homeowners association could impact your use and enjoyment of your property. This is an important consideration, particularly what the HOA can and cannot regulate regarding your home.

What can your HOA do? 

Every neighborhood is different, and what your homeowners association regulates depends on the type of community into which you’re moving. For example, a neighborhood for people age 55 and up may have tighter restrictions regarding noise and the outside look of a home than a regular family-oriented neighborhood. This is why it is extremely important to review the terms of the HOA agreement before you move in.

It is likely that the HOA in your prospective neighborhood does have some say in what you do, particularly outside of your home, such as its physical appearance and what your yard looks like. Some of the things your HOA may regulate include the following: 

  • Whether you can own a pet and what types of pets it permits
  • What paint colors you can use on the outside of your home
  • Adding or changing the landscaping in your yard
  • Whether you can have a swing-set or a basketball hoop
  • Limits on noise in the neighborhood
  • Whether you can run a business out of your home

It is better to know ahead of time what to expect because this will help you avoid problems with the HOA. However, there are times when the HOA may overstep its bounds and infringe on your rights as a homeowner. If you do find yourself in a position where you are facing unfair scrutiny or fines, you may have grounds to take legal action against the HOA. An assessment of your case can reveal how to move forward and what you can do to protect your property rights.