Living in Sterling and Living in a Community with a HOA!

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Sterling, Virginia is a vast area in Loudoun County, and the first area that was majorly developed. Its boundaries touch the wealthiest areas of Fairfax County in Great Falls, to Tysons, Ashburn and all the way out towards Route 50. Most if not all of these developments have at a minimum an HOA, or homeowner’s association, which creates and enforces rules within their community and collects dues monthly, quarterly or annually.

I have had a lot of clients looking to move into an area and question whether or not they want to live under the umbrella of an HOA. It is important to understand that every HOA has their own rules and regulations.  Some HOA’s only provide snow removal, while others will provide much more.

Here are some positive reasons why living in an HOA makes sense:

  1. Maintains and pays for the upkeep of common area. They keep your community looking beautiful, which definitely helps your home’s value!
  2. HOA’s often have amenities which make a community a great, active place to live, such as tennis courts, pools, play grounds, running/walking trails, basketball courts and the like.
  3. When it snows, they are the ones who plow all those side streets not maintained by VDOT.
  4. Mediators of disputes that more often than not occur between neighbors.
  5. Host community activities! An HOA will hold events ranging from Easter Egg Hunts, Movie Nights to 10k races to help build community connectivity that is often hard to do in our everyday, fast paced lives.

Nonetheless, there are still some issues one can have living in an HOA:

  1. In order to help keep the value of your home at its best, there are times that you can feel as if the HOA is a little too involved in your life. Your grass should never grow above a certain length, the flowers have to be a certain color, no play equipment is permitted in your yard (rules vary per community).
  2. Dues! Money owed to the community for its upkeep is just one more expense. And if you’re one who does not use its amenities, it feels even more frustrating.
  3. An HOA charges you for covenant violations and can even place a lien on your home!
  4. Some HOAs can be poorly managed. Since it is an elected volunteer position, there are times that the board members cannot devote as much time as needed to make sure the community continues to progress. Or times, that the board may become a little too power hungry.

As an agent and a board member myself in Cascades, I believe the benefits of owning a home in an HOA community outweigh the negatives. It has something for everyone, first time home buyers, families, singles and seniors.  And trust me, even I have to remind myself of the positives from time to time, when I get notified that my front light is out and I’m in violation.

Nonetheless, one should look at all aspects of being part of an HOA community to see if it suits you and your lifestyle. If you are one who does not want anyone to tell them they cannot paint their shutters hot pink then maybe an HOA is not going to work for you!

It is important to note that with every offer on a house made within an HOA, you have a chance to rescind based on those documents. Every HOA has different covenants and different expenses! It is important to read over those documents and decide whether or not you feel the home is right for you!

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