Home Owners Associations: The Good, the Bad and why you want one here in Idaho


In a community in northern California, neighbors are now required by their Home Owners Association to leave their garage doors open 8 hours a day. You have to be kidding me. This summer I left my garage door open one night after we got back late from boating at Lucky Peak. We pulled the boat in, got the gear out, put the kids to bed and then didn’t double check the garage. I had a near heart attack when I woke up in the morning to leave and saw my garage door open. I instantly thought of all the expensive recreational gear that could easily be grabbed. Good news, everything was exactly as we left it. Now imagine being those people in California. They have to wake up and leave their garage door open from 8am-4pm or get fined by he HOA. As the story has become a headline, thieves are taking notes. The HOA says one of the neighbors was renting out their garage space as an apartment, which is against the covenants of the neighborhood so…. this is the solution. Makes about as much sense to me as getting an adjustable mortgage because your eventually going to make that nine-figure income. 

Californians in particular are the first to ask me about the HOA in a certain neighborhood. They’ve been through it all…. you house has to be painted taupe, your dog has to be a golden doodle and your car has to be made in the US between 2006 and 2016. I have no idea if any of those are actually real rules. I hope not, but these folks are coming to Idaho terrified of HOAs. 

Home Owners Associations are common place here in the Boise metro area as well. I’m not saying they are perfect, but there is a reason for them. For most of us, the most expensive purchase of our life will be our home. HOAs are there to make sure your neighbor, who likes to collect old beater Fords which he is "going to restore”… eventually, can’t keep his hunk of junk in sight. They are there so Miss Dorothy can’t paint her house burnt orange while reminiscing about  the good ole’ days and even things as simple as pulling in your garage cans.  From the resale and investment side alone, you want an HOA to protect your investment. You want to be able to sell your home without  and from what I’ve seen in my experience, you want an active one in your neighborhood for your protection. 

In my experience, HOAs here in Idaho aren’t perfect, but from what I’ve seen, they aren’t unreasonable. Yes, they are going to make sure you don’t have your RV parked in your driveway for more than 24 hours and you are going to get a letter if you leave your Christmas lights up until Easter, but they are also making sure the entrance to your community looks nice and all those neighbor issues I previously mentioned, don’t happen.  Oh, and the cost? The neighborhoods with amenities like a community pool, aren’t paying more than $800/year and many are paying less.

Jeff Martel