Should I purchase a home in a master-planned community?

When shopping for a home, it can be hard to find a property in a desirable neighborhood that boasts attractive surrounding residences, plentiful green space, nearby parks, and other popular amenities as well as an overall reputation for quality, safety, and home appreciation.

But purchasing within a master-planned community can likely check all of those boxes and more.

“A master-planned community is a large-scale development that is planned, designed, and built with the goal of creating a cohesive and well-functioning neighborhood,” explains Shri Ganeshram, CEO of “These communities typically include a mix of residential, commercial, and recreational areas as well as amenities like parks, schools, and community centers. They are often built with a specific theme or aesthetic in mind and are designed to be walkable and bike-friendly.”

A master-planned community often includes commercial and recreational areas in addition to residential. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Martin Orefice, CEO of Rent to Own Labs, notes that you should expect a uniformity of style and architectural design within a master-planned community, often both inside and out.

“They often incorporate strict building requirements to ensure the entire development is aesthetically pleasing and adheres to a set of predetermined design guidelines,” he says.

But that doesn’t mean that residences for sale within the community all look alike. The development can offer a variety of homes, including single-family houses, townhouses, or condo units, as well as options for apartments and rental properties.

“Homes within master-planned communities can range from starter homes to luxury properties, depending on the overall development plan,” says Boris Dorfman, LBC Capital Income Fund founder, fund manager, and investor. “Often, there will be a variety of styles available with different price points so that buyers can find something suitable for their budget and lifestyle needs.”

But while these developments can offer preferred features like a community swimming pool, golf course, playgrounds, public school, restaurants, and retail stores, there is a trade-off involved.

“The pros of purchasing a home within a master-planned community include access to these amenities and community resources as well as a sense of community and belonging. But you will likely pay a higher home price as well as homeowners association fees. And you will need to abide by strict HOA rules and regulations,” cautions Ganeshram.

Keep in mind that, depending on the HOA rules, homeowners may find themselves being restricted from things like installing satellite TV dishes or painting their home in a bright color, “which could be seen as an annoyance by some buyers looking for more freedom when it comes to owning property,” Dorfman adds.

For these and other reasons, it’s important to consider matters carefully before committing to a home purchase within a master-planned community.

“You can be sure you’re getting a home with solid property value as well as a neighborhood with a certain character, which isn’t always a guarantee within new developments. But you will pay for these features and have limited ability to customize your home and make it your own,” Orefice explains. “If you can find a home within such a community with a look, feel, and culture that makes you feel at home, go for it. But if you are someone who likes to have more control over their own property or someone who won’t be spending much time in the neighborhood, it may not be a good fit.”

A master-planned community often includes commercial and recreational areas in addition to residential. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Be sure to look closely at all HOA rules and restrictions and to walk and explore the community thoroughly. Ask about potential HOA fee increases in the future, too.

“Be aware that the community may restrict the sale of your home or your ability to rent it out if you ever decide to move,” Ganeshram says. “There’s also the chance that the community may deteriorate over time, taking the value of your home and other homes within the community with it.”

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.