I had a client couple who looked at a home for sale in a covenant controlled neighborhood. One of the reasons they were drawn to the area was the nicely-kempt lawns and well maintained home that lined the streets. “Everyone really seems to care about their yards around here,” one of them commented. It dawned on me that they didn’t fully understand what a convenant-controlled neighborhood – commonly known as a Home Owners Association (HOA) – meant to the homeowners. Everyone in the development HAD to keep their homes and yards in good order or risk being fined by the governing association. It’s part of the stipulation upon closing when buying a house within that area.
It’s commonly and correctly assumed townhomes and condos are part of a neighborhood association, but single family home developments can also fall within the structure. In fact, about half of the homes my clients buy are within a HOA. By agreeing to live in the neighborhood, you agree to follow the set regulations. This may include:
• A predetermined external paint color palette
• Restrictions on boats, campers, RV’s, and perhaps even certain size vehicles from being parked or stored on your property. A friend of mine cannot park her pickup truck in her driveway; she has to rent space from a local RV storage company along with the pop-up camper it tows.
• Yard maintenance
• Storage of garden and yard tools
• Appearance of plantings and landscaping. While you love brightly colored pots and lawn ornaments, your covenant may not.
• Size of dogs, which may include height and/or weight
• Age of the home’s occupants. As America ages, 55+ communities are becoming more prevalent.
• Whether or not you can increase the footprint, height, or even the style of your home with remodeling projects
Some occupants appreciate HOA guidelines and rules; some find it too restrictive. The bottom line is that if you live there, you must obey.
As a prospective buyer you should carefully read through all of the covenants associated with the neighborhood. As your Realtor, I will make sure you have access to all of the pertinent documents and time to review them so you know exactly what you’re getting into. This highlights another reason to use me as your Realtor. I will help you understand what you need to know not only about the home you’re about to purchase, but also the neighborhood in general. As in the case of my clients, they could’ve entered into an uninformed decision – but were ultimately thrilled about – when buying a home in this type of community. Call me and I’ll show you the right home in the right neighborhood that suits your comfort level of conformity.