Check the rules of a homeowners association before buying

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There are several factors consumers take into account when buying a home, including property features, proximity to their work and the surrounding community. The neighborhood they are moving into can play a large role on a new homeowner's experience, so it's important to research the particulars of each community thoroughly.
One of the first questions potential buyers should ask is whether the community is governed by a homeowners association. These associations are typically run by real estate developers in suburban areas who want to give neighborhoods a certain appearance to make homes easier to sell.
 
Determine the rules homeowners associations impose
 
Homeowners associations can provide a number of benefits for buyers, such as keeping a property management company on retainer to keep the community immaculate. In addition, rules can help owners avoid property disputes with neighbors. However, membership is typically a condition of purchase and buyers in these types of communities are usually not given the option to decline joining. In addition, homeowners associations can place certain restrictions on owners, regarding the appearance of their homes to the pets they may own and whether they can rent out their properties, according to MSN Real Estate.
 
For example, standard homeowners association rules allow them to govern the color of the house, the size of an owner's pets and how they can decorate their homes for the holidays, the news source reports. Each association is built differently, so the rules may vary.
 
Homeowners association disputes
 
Because new owners may be required to become members of a homeowners association if they purchase certain homes, it's important to fully understand the rules of the association and determine beforehand if they are reasonable. This is largely because homeowners have few other avenues for disputing restrictions once they have purchased the home. Violating the terms of a contract can result in fines and lawsuits for homeowners.
 
Homeowners associations can be beneficial for buyers who want structure and will enjoy the protections afforded by the association. In addition, most associations are flexible with owners and simply want to keep a neighborhood uniform and marketable, so that values will stay intact - which can benefit both the association and homeowners. However, associations are not for everyone, so buyers should make sure all the terms of a contract are reasonable before signing.