The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

11 July 2007

While I contemplate a paint job

Homeowners Association: brilliant invention or instrument of torture? Joel at the Oklahoma City Real Estate Blog has looked at them from both sides now:

To some there is no greater violation then to be micro-managed in the affairs of one's own castle. To others there is no greater transgression then to have one's greatest possession degraded by another's poor behavior. These feelings about one's home are at their root emotional and personal.

Which presumably explains why they've ended up in a blog. Not being a member of an HOA, I really can't say much: we have a Neighborhood Association around here, but it's not in a position to micromanage things for the residents. And there isn't a whole lot of "poor behavior" around here, either; most of what there is can be traced to nonresidents skulking about, or to a small segment of apartment dwellers (we have a fair number of apartments, but few actual thugs) on the edge of the neighborhood.

Whatever your perspective, consider this a call for dialogue. (I have readers who sell real estate, and I'd particularly like to hear from them.)

Posted at 6:10 PM to Almost Yogurt

HOAs do tend to draw out the little Hitlers too often. Many are afflicted by some petty tyrant on a bully-pulpit, molding a neighborhood in their demented image. I can think of three in Edmond (N OKC suburb, for those not local) like this, but I won't name names publicly because little Hitlers like to sue.

On the other hand, for a neighborhood teetering on the edge of being a slum or ghetto (original sense), a strong HOA will keep it from becoming the blight of the city.

Cinderella Estates in SE OKC is one that has fought back from being a rental slum to becoming a thriving neighborhood. Occasionally a ghost of the past rears its ugly head with a shooting, but owner-occupancy is at 50% (up from 15% in 1998) and crime at a ten-year low there due to a relatively-new neighborhood HOA that is clamping down on those who would rob and kill their neighbors.

On the other hand, North Oaks addition in Midwest City dissolved it HOA back in 1989. The neighborhood is at 15% owner-occupancy (down from 60% in 1989), and while the crime-rate is kept somewhat in check by the police station being less than a mile away, it is still the highest crime neighborhood in Midwest City. Property values have DECREASED 15% since 1989 (compared with INCREASING 174% for Midwest City as a whole).

From what I've seen, the strongest and most successful HOAs are those with 3-5 strong personalities and two of them with their hands at each others throats at all times. The tyrants are too busy fighting each other to destroy the HOA and the other strong personalities lead the rest of the membership down the best path.

Posted by: Dan B at 8:25 PM on 11 July 2007

I recently stated this on my blog, I would rather live across the street from a mini junk yard than have some snoopy neighbor complaining that a car was parked in front of my house after hours, or that I don't have the right curtains. I can't deal with those types of people, therefore I will probably always live in a neighborhood with chain link fences--some people even have them in the front yard, can you imagine?

I guess in some of these newer places, people are not allowed to have a car parked in their drive way, it must be in the garage, only curtains with white backing is allowed, and many other types of things, including having your neighbors disapprove in the color of paint you choose for your home. I guess that is just not my style.

Posted by: Heather at 1:54 AM on 12 July 2007

When I was a kid almost everyone in my neighborhood (lower- to middle-middle-class) had a chain-link fence. No one thought anything of it. I even wished that we had our front yard fenced, because that way we wouldn't have to tie the dog up when we put him out in the yard, but my father wasn't interested in the expense or messing up our Barbados cherry hedges. I suppose chain-link fences aren't pretty, but they are practical.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 5:08 AM on 12 July 2007

Live in a neighborhood with a HOA. They are'nt tyrants but the yearly dues have increased from $180 to $283 in about 15 years. Still, we have a pool, tennis courts, greenbelt, prettified entrances, security patrol, and fun things for the kids/families to do.

They do a fair job of keeping the lowlife landlords cutting their yards.

I enjoy it.

Posted by: Dwayne "the canoe guy" at 8:08 AM on 12 July 2007

I haven't experienced an actual HOA, but after having lived in a mobile home park years ago and put up with both too-aggressive management, and not-aggressive-enough management (sometimes at the same time -- priorities, people!), I can see why people love to hate HOAs.

The managers at that MHP were hired and getting paid to manage and they still couldn't do it right. Where the people in charge are amateurs, and essentially self-selected at that...

Posted by: McGehee at 8:21 AM on 12 July 2007

I mean, seriously. While the manager was wandering around handing out warnings over lawns that needed mowing, we had sheriff's deputies coming in at night on such a regular basis that we were starting to know them by their first names.

Posted by: McGehee at 8:23 AM on 12 July 2007

I resemble these remarks, I am the vice president for our HOA and have been for the last 3 years. I am not worried about your fence, your color scheme, blinds curtains or other such design decisions. Please keep your yard mowed at least as often as I do, don't let the house fall apart around you, keep the vehicles presentable that are in view and keep the trash picked up. If you have a problem speak up and we will see if it can be resolved. Be nice to neighbors and keep it peaceful. Is that too much to ask?

Posted by: anomdragon at 5:03 PM on 15 July 2007