Love them or hate them, homeowners associations are a fact of life in many communities. Understanding their roles and expectations can go a long way toward improving a neighborhood’s quality of life.
According to realtor Martha Miller, prospective buyers who are considering moving to a neighborhood with an HOA should research the specific requirements of the association before making a decision.
“They should ask questions like ‘what do they do?’ and ‘how much do you pay?’,” Miller said.
Preston Hollow has three namesake HOAs (East, North and South), as well as at least a half a dozen more that stake some claim to the area. The single-family neighborhoods in Highland Park and University Park do not have homeowners’ associations. However, practically every condominium development in the Park Cities area has its own association, no matter how small. Nearby neighborhoods like Lane Park, Caruth Hills, and Windsor Park also boast their own HOAs.
According to Juli Black, VP of marketing and communications for the Preston Hollow East Home Owners Association, her organization’s primary goals are to provide enhanced security and foster a greater sense of community.
“We are here to be a voice for them with anything they need,” Black said.
Residents should speak up and participate in the HOA. According to Black, HOAs struggle to help their communities if they don’t know what residents need or want.
Preston Hollow East utilizes off-duty Dallas police officers to help protect the neighborhood and share the latest crime information. Not all HOAs provide this level of security. However, Black said it’s a service her community has come to expect.
Preston Hollow East also organizes neighborhood-wide events such as National Night Out, a community building event promoted by law enforcement as a way to bring neighbors and police together. It has even set up member discounts with local businesses.
Unlike some associations, Preston Hollow East is a volunteer organization. Black encourages all residents to join.
“The more people who join, the more resources we have for things like security and other services,” Black said.
Jim Hitt, executive manager of the Glen Lakes Homeowners Association, says residents should expect their HOA to help maintain the common areas of the community, such as landscaping and park areas. His association employs an on-site staff that can quickly address damaged common area structures or safety concerns.
“Residents should be looking at the maintenance and condition of the areas that their association is responsible for,” Hitt said.
In many neighborhoods, HOA membership is a prerequisite to move to the area. According to Miller, some people enjoy the services they provide, while others immediately regret subjecting themselves to what they consider to be cumbersome bylaws. She reiterated that learning all the facts before making a decision is crucial. Hitt concurs with this advice.
“The best thing residents can do is be familiar with governing documents as they relate to what you can do on your lot,” Hitt said.