Tuesday, April 08, 2003

On Homeowner's Associations...

My wife and I are looking at buying a house. The house that has been our favorite--at least until we discovered a bigger and brand new house at the same price---is located in Friendswood, Texas. As you may or may now know, homeowner's associations are big here in Texas and are provided for in the Texas Property Code. Even so, I haven't talked to anyone who thought a homeowner's association was a good deal.

The reasoning behind forming homeowner's associations is sound, but I believe their execution is fundamentally flawed. While they supposedly protect you're the value in your home from having someone erect a junk yard next door through neglect, ignorance, or poverty, everyone I have talked to has expressed a disdain at the Petty Police Forces they have become. One co-worker of mine got a letter from his homeowner's association because he left his garbage can on the curb for a few days. Someone tell me how that affects the financial values of the homes in the neighborhood, the only thing homeowner's associations are chartered to protect?

A little research on the web identified my future homeowner's association as the one which foreclosed on an 82 year old widow because she owed them about $800 in association fees, notwithstanding that the Texas State Constitution does not allow foreclosure on a home for that purpose. While the Texas legislature has taken notice and passed some laws to prevent this from happening again, it is a perfect illustration of how abusive these organizations---these supposedly non-profit organizations---have become. I believe legitimate questions must be raised about whether they are fulfilling their true purpose, whether they are instead another way lawyers are using to make money, or they are a tool for self-serving people to feed themselves the illusion of power. In any case, I am having second thoughts about buying that home. I just don't need that kind of hassle.