Pros and Cons of Florida HOA Communities

According to the Community Associations Institute, there are more than 347,000 planned communities in the United States with more than 73.5 million Americans living in one and Florida tops the list with more association communities than any other state. Governed by Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes, the legislation sets the framework for how homeowners’ associations (or HOAs) must operate.

From a buyer’s standpoint – especially one relocating to Florida from another state where homeowners’ associations aren’t the norm – understanding the rules and regulations of the association before buying your new home is critical to happiness after the purchase.

Like most things in life, there are both pros and cons to homeowners’ associations and some of those are:

PROs

  • Community living in often, but not always, gated neighborhoods.
  • Shared expenses for operating a wide range of amenities that may include pools, spas, sports courts, fitness centers, golf courses, playgrounds, etc.
  • Community activities often orchestrated by a lifestyle director can include games, sports, food and beverage, music, arts and crafts, etc.
  • A set of rules ensuring a certain look and feel of the neighborhood (can also be a con).
  • Reduced rates on services like lawn maintenance (not all associations provide this).

CONs

  • Fees – whether monthly or quarterly, all community associations have fees associated with them. The more services and more amenities that are provided, the higher the fees are typically.
  • Restrictions prohibiting certain activities on your property from everything to type of vehicles that may be parked and where to what you can plant in your yard and the paint color of your house.
  • Risk of lien or foreclosure – if you don’t pay fines assessed by the HOA for breaking the rules or non-compliance, the HOA may force the sale of your home to collect what’s owed to them.

As a real estate broker in Venice, Florida, who currently serves as Board President of a 455-home Homeowners’ Association, I cannot stress enough the importance of reading and familiarizing yourself with the Governing Documents (commonly referred to as the CCRs) of the community you plan to buy in. Under Florida law, a buyer has up to three days after entering into a purchase contract to review the governing documents and if they find anything in them unsatisfactory, they can cancel the contract within that 3-day window. Rather than buy into something you won’t be happy with, my advice is read the documents and know what is and isn’t allowed before you buy.