Is It Time To Sell Your Condo and Buy a House without an HOA?

Why Some Condo Owners Decide to Sell and Buy a House Without an HOA

As a Michigan real estate broker, I often hear from condo owners who are considering selling their units and buying a house without an HOA. There are many reasons why someone might make this choice, but one of the most common is the frustration that comes with living in a condo association. Let’s have a look over some of the most frequent consumer complaints about condos and their associations which might prompt someone to sell a condo and buy a house without an HOA.

High HOA Fees

Another common complaint about condominiums is the high fees that come with being part of an HOA. HOA fees are typically used to cover expenses related to maintenance, repairs, landscaping, and other shared amenities. While these fees can vary widely depending on the size and location of the condo, they can often be quite high. In some cases, HOA fees can even rival or exceed the cost of a mortgage payment. This can be a significant financial burden for condo owners, particularly if they are already struggling to make ends meet.

Furthermore, HOA fees can increase over time, leaving condo owners with some financial uncertainty. These costs can make it difficult to budget for other expenses and make it hard to plan for the future. Selling your condo and buying a house without an HOA can give you more financial stability and predictability. You’ll be able to budget for your mortgage payment and other expenses without worrying about surprise increases in your monthly HOA fees, however, individual homeowners are still subject to market costs for things like skilled labor, trades, building materials, etc, which can likewise fluctuate.

a bag of cash representing the high HOA fees condo owners pay but individual homeowners do not

Special Assessments

Another factor that can make owning a condominium a frustrating experience is the possibility of special assessments. A special assessment is a fee that is charged to condo owners for unexpected repairs or improvements that are not covered by the regular HOA fees. These assessments can be significant and can sometimes cost thousands of dollars per unit. This can be particularly challenging for condo owners who may not have been anticipating these additional expenses.

Special assessments can be particularly frustrating because they are often unexpected and can be difficult to budget for. They can also create a sense of financial uncertainty, making it difficult to plan for the future. Furthermore, if a condo owner is unable to pay a special assessment, they may be at risk of losing their unit to foreclosure. This can be a significant blow to their financial stability and can make it difficult to purchase a new property in the future.

Lack of Control over Maintenance

Another common complaint about condos is the slow response time to maintenance requests. While many associations have on-site maintenance staff, it can take days or even weeks for them to address a maintenance issue in your unit. This can be particularly frustrating if the issue is causing damage to your property or impacting your quality of life. Selling your condo and buying a house without an HOA can give you more control over maintenance issues. You’ll be responsible for finding your own contractors and scheduling repairs, but you’ll also have the freedom to address maintenance issues on your own terms.

a maintenance ladder

Noisy Neighbors

Living in close proximity to other people can be a source of noise and disruption, especially if you have noisy neighbors. Condos can be particularly frustrating in this regard, with shared walls and floors that can amplify sound. If noise is a concern for you, selling your condo and buying a house without an HOA can give you more distance between you and your neighbors, and more control over your living environment. You’ll be able to create a quiet and peaceful home without having to worry about disturbing your neighbors or violating any HOA rules. And by owning private property, you can do more things to decrease sound transmission like constructing walls or berms.

a woman covering hear ears at her computer because of noisy condo neighbors

Limited Parking

Parking can be a headache for condo owners, with limited spaces and strict rules about where you can park. Some associations require residents to park in designated spots or garages, which can be far from your unit or difficult to access– nobody wants to buy a condo only to find during move in that the parking spot designated to your unit is 2 flights of stairs farther away than you’d pictured. Or that garage access requires the resident to go outside rather than out a door near the kitchen. Selling your condo and buying a house without an HOA can give you more parking options and more control over where you park. You’ll be able to park in your own driveway or on the street, without having to worry about violating any HOA rules or getting towed.

Restrictions on Pet Ownership

Some condo associations have strict rules regarding pet ownership, which can be a deal-breaker for pet owners. If you want the freedom to own as many pets as you like, a house without an HOA may be a better choice for you, although some limitations may be imposed by state & local ordinances or land use restrictions.

a woman holding a puppy who is probably thinking it's time to sell the condo and buy a home with a yard

Limited Outdoor Space

Many condos have limited outdoor spaces, with only a small balcony or patio to call your own. This can be frustrating for people who enjoy spending time outside or have pets that need room to play. While it is true that some buildings have rooftop patios which provide a cool outdoor atmosphere, and other associations have landscaping committees which do a great job of maintaining serene and peaceful exterior spaces, the tendency is that these condos and lofts will command a premium price. Selling your condo and buying a house without an HOA can give you more outdoor space and more control over how you use it. You’ll be able to create a backyard oasis or garden to your heart’s content, without having to worry about violating any HOA rules, and it is possible to create your own pocket park for less than the cost of buying a premium condo.

Inadequate Security

While some HOAs in larger buildings may have full-time doorpeople, or part-time night security and courtesy patrols, other condo associations may have inadequate security measures in place and this can be a concern for owners who prioritize safety and security. When you buy a house without an HOA, you are free to install your own security system without having to worry about HOA rules which may prohibit exterior changes. It is also common for homeowners to construct fencing around their properties and own dogs for the purpose of security. Some condo associations limit the size and type of dogs which a co-owner may have.

Slow Response to Maintenance Requests

When maintenance issues arise, condo associations may be slow to respond to requests for repairs. This can be frustrating for owners who are dealing with issues that impact their quality of life and a good manager should be prepared to make emergency repairs in the event something serious comes up like building sewer line backups and other issues which can impact the safety of residents.

Lack of Privacy

One of the most common complaints about living in a condo is the lack of privacy. With shared walls and close proximity to neighbors, it can be difficult to find a quiet and private space. Additionally, many condos have shared amenities such as pools and gyms, which can be a source of noise and disruption. If privacy is important to you, selling your condo and buying a house without an HOA could be a good option. With more space and distance between you and your neighbors, you’ll have more privacy and control over your living environment. Landscaping bushes, hedges or trees for the sake of privacy, and wood privacy fencing are among the many solutions homeowners may use to create a better sense of privacy for their space.

Rigid HOA Rules and By-Laws

HOAs are known for their strict rules and regulations, which can be a source of frustration for many condo owners. These rules can cover everything from parking lot usage to the color of your front door to the type of plants you’re allowed to have on your balcony. Associations often regulate or restrict condo-owners usage of space sharing services (AirBnB, VRBO, etc) and the ability to lease out a unit to tenants. If you’re someone who values individuality and the freedom to make your own choices, living in a condo with an inflexible HOA may not be for you. Selling your condo and buying a house without an HOA can give you the autonomy to customize your property’s interior and exterior to your liking, without having to worry about violating any rules or regulations.

And remember, for Ypsilanti condominiums such as the Cliffs, Harbour Cove and Wingate Park, we do our best to post association bylaws in our condo community guides for your easy reference.

Difficulties with Resale

Another frustration for condo owners can be the difficulty of reselling their property. Although as of the time of writing this, condominiums are a hot commodity in this market, condos may have a high turnover rate which can make more difficult to sell your unit for a profit. Additionally, buyers may be put off by high HOA fees and strict rules. Financing options tend to be more limited for condominiums than single-family homes. Owning a house without an HOA can give you more flexibility in terms of resale since there is no HOA review process without an HOA. You’ll be able to make more changes to your property as needed to increase its value, particularly on the unit’s exterior, with a regular house rather than a condominium.

Why Consider a House without an HOA?

If you’re considering selling your condo and buying a house without an HOA, it’s essential to understand the pros and cons of each option. While condos can offer many benefits, including a low-maintenance lifestyle and access to amenities like pools and fitness centers, they also come with their fair share of frustrations. By contrast, owning a house without an HOA can give you more control over your property and the freedom to make changes as you see fit. If you are a person who wants full autonomy over their property, owning a single-family residence is the way to go. A single-family home also means that you’re responsible for all the maintenance and repairs, however, condominium co-owners are also responsible for these items through their association fees (which can be increased or subject to special assessments).

Hiring a Qualified Real Estate Agent to Sell a Condo and Buy a House w/ no HOA

Ultimately, the decision to sell your condo and buy a house without an HOA will depend on your individual needs and preferences. It’s important to work with a qualified real estate agent who can help you navigate the process of buying and selling a property. A skilled agent can help you understand your options, negotiate your best possible terms, avoid transactional pitfalls, and ensure that your deal goes smoothly from start to finish. So if you’re considering making a change, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional who can help guide you through the process.

Some References for Selling or Buying a Condo

The State of Michigan’s online portal for condominium plat map search is online here