An HOA or a Home Owners Association is a legal entity created to help develop, manage and sell a collection of homes for the real estate developer. These HOAs have become a necessity in many situations as the fastest growing form of housing in the U.S. today is common interest developments, which means planned neighborhoods where common properties are shared and there is a consensus to maintain the aesthetics.

If you live in one of these developments the HOA will organize committees or rules which will help keep the shared property and facilities in the best working condition and appearance. They may even arrange for regular maintenance and oversee such activities. An HOA may also be responsible for enforcing local rules that may have been violated by homeowners. Such as subdivisions that have restrictions on hanging out laundry, certain landscaping requirements, abandoned automobiles in driveways, et cetera.

In addition to serving as sort of an ad hoc rules enforcement agency and pseudo property manager, HOAs are often charged with helping developers bring in more clients and show the open properties, so in effect they also act as realtors at times.

If you’re moving into an area with an HOA its important to determine what the reputation of your HOA is and how they work with residents. You don’t want to get into a situation where the HOA makes the living situation unbearable and on the other hand, you don’t want an HOA that doesn’t have your neighborhood’s best interests at heart.