Do You Want To Live In A Subdivision With A Homeowners Association
This is a topic that comes up a lot and it is asked by home buyers who fall into two camps. One group of homebuyers are dead set against living in a community with a HOA or Homeowners Association. The other group of buyers are looking for a community that offers amenities such as a community pool, fitness center, playground and invariably these types of communities have a Homeowners Association and they charge HOA Fees. Depending on the size of the community and what amenities are offered and how strictly the HOA rules are determines the monthly or quarterly HOA Fees.
Learn What The HOA Rules & Regulations Are Before You Buy
HOA Fees can be charged monthly or quarterly or yearly depending on how they are set up. Professional Homeowners Association management companies are often hired to collect the HOA Dues and they act as the rules enforcer and communicator with the homeowners regarding any changes or notifications. Each subdivision has their own rules and regulations and what may be a rule in one neighborhood might not even be an issue in another. Overall Homeowners Association rules and regulations go completely unnoticed because the majority of people know what is required simply by being in the neighborhood, however what may seem perfectly fine to one person may be completely unacceptable to another and this is when homeowners often find out what they though they could do is not allowed. Regardless of whether your community has a homeowners association or restrictive covenants these are common rules and regulations…
- Livestock, dogs, cats, and bunnies are usually OK, check if you have a pony or pot bellied pig
- Fences, most neighborhoods have guidelines on type of material and height.
- Parking, some say you need to park in the garage, most say you can’t park in the street.
- Commercial Vehicles, some neighborhoods don’t allow certain commercial vehicles
- Outside Play Equipment, trampolines, swing sets, basketball nets…better check.
- Running a Business, computer sales or home office versus body shop in the garage
- Maintaining Your Yard, if you like to wait until the grass is up to your knees, you’re going to hear from the HOA.
- Retrieving the newspaper in your dressing gown… golf course community at the beach!
Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
These are just a few examples of the common types of restrictive covenants or HOA Rules you might encounter when looking for your new home in an established neighborhood. Regardless of how easy going you think the neighbors are or what people tell you about the HOA ” We never hear from them!” take the time to know what you are getting into before you purchase a home. Get your real estate agent to find the restrictive covenants and make sure they are the latest as they can change. On the Residential Property Disclosure you will find the contact information for the management company or Homeowners Association President so call or email them and request all the community guidelines, rules and regulations for the neighborhood. ” One mans meat is another mans poison!” I heard a story of one couple who patrol a neighborhood daily and report the slightest infraction to the HOA, this is in a gated luxury community where all the yards are manicured and the homes all meet a certain look and feel.
Conformity is a big part of many communities and that is very attractive to homebuyers where all the mailboxes are the same, the homes exterior finishes are similar and the exterior landscaping blends in together. While not exclusive to communities with these guidelines they do tend to keep their value and desirability when the residents maintain their homes willingly or not. If you do not comply with the HOA guidelines there can be serious repercussions including losing your home so don’t ignore what they have to say, they have the power to put a lien on your property.
there was a historical society which governed the color of homes in a town and they took issue with a homeowner who painted his house a color not on the approved list and so they forced him to change it. In retaliation he found the worst possible purple color that was on the list and painted his house that, it was the first thing you saw coming into town.
Decorating Your Home For The Holidays A Big Deal?
Couple of other things to keep in mind if you are thinking of buying a home in a subdivision or community with a Homeowners Association is if you like to decorate for the holidays or more importantly are you good at taking down the decorations. I like nothing better than to see the lengths people will go to to decorate for Christmas and even more so some of the Halloween productions for essentially one day can be mind blowing. Some neighborhoods restrict what you can do to your house for the holidays and many, while not restricting you, certainly insist that the decorations are down by a certain date and cannot go up before a certain date. Many HOA’s have rules regarding political signs, flags, exterior lighting the types of plants you can plant and sometimes the type of grass.
Chickens, Solar Panels and Clothes Lines…Nope
If you would someday like to install solar panels on you roof better make sure you’ll be allowed and keep in mind the association can change or add restrictions based on complaints or changing opinions. Like to dry your clothes outside on a laundry line most HOA’s have something to say about that. How about keeping chickens in your back yard something that is becoming increasingly popular and area towns have relaxed restrictions on keeping chickens with certain guidelines however the HOA rules regarding chickens would override the towns laws. Most neighborhoods even those with no HOA just restrictive covenants do not allow chickens. I have seen subdivision covenants that specifically allow a certain number of chickens and how they can be kept and in Raleigh there are guidelines for keeping chickens in the city.
Neighborhoods With No HOA Often Have Restrictive Covenants
A common misconception is that if there is no HOA Fees or Homeowners Association in a subdivision then homeowners are free to do what they like with their property in fact this is not the case as most subdivisions or neighborhoods have restrictive covenants. Restrictive Covenants are normally recorded with the Register of Deeds in the county where the developer is building the subdivision. They can be just a few pages long or many pages long more and more they are quite a number of pages in length. The developer puts these restrictive covenants in place to protect and preserve the nature of the subdivision and to maintain the original purpose and intention of the subdivision. A subdivision without a Homeowners Association will likely have some restrictive or protective covenants but not as restrictive as a neighborhood with HOA Fees. Some of the restrictions you might find in a subdivision like this would be…
- Permission to add a garage or workshop they may have an architecture review board which could also just be the developer.
- Illegal Activity or dangerous substances… so no making crack in the spare bedroom.
- Size and Type of Structures, typically the homes would have to be a minimum size and no mobile homes.
- Yard Maintenance, fences, pets
- Body Shops, hair salons, doctors office, fraternity house… all no.
Move Out To The Country
The other option for those who want to be free to do whatever they like on their land is to not buy in a subdivision but rather look for some acreage and while it may seem like a good solution it is not as easy as it seems. Just because you are out in the country or you have found land that is not in a subdivision you are still going to be under the jurisdiction of some governing body which will approve the construction of the property. If the land is in the county they would issue the permits and approve the septic. Is there power and water available and if not where will it come and how much will it cost are questions you’ll need to get answers to. What are the plans for the surrounding land if any, when you are out on your own you have no control or should I say not much control over what your neighbor does with their land. Any future highways, bypasses, power plants planned for in the area. An existing older home that could be renovated or completely replaced might be a better idea with the infrastructure in place.
For some more articles about the differences between buying a home in a neighborhood with a Homeowners Association check out these very valuable insights from real estate experts from around the country.
Homeowners Association (HOA’s) Good or Bad by Kyle Hiscock
Tips For Dealing With A Homeowners Association by Maximum Real Estate Exposure
If I can assist you with the home buying process or you would like more information about buying a home in a subdivision with a Homeowners Association or just restrictive covenants give me a call at (919) 601-2268 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org