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screenshot-2016-10-03-07-32-23Nearly a quarter of Americans live in communities governed by some type of homeowners’ associations (HOA), according to a 2013 report from the Foundation for Community Association Research. Most of these homeowners (70 percent, according to the report) believe that their association’s rules protect and enhance their property value. But you may not realize that seemingly small things—like planting a tree in your front yard, or painting your house—can lead to violations if you don’t get proper approvals.

Critics can see community associations as nanny states thanks to the negative media attention that can erupt over trivial things like landscaping, but the data shows that 90 percent of Americans are satisfied with their associations. Even still, not understanding the intricacies and fees related to an HOA can lead to unfortunate surprises, so when a buyer walks away from the closing table, they should know what they are walking into.

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