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Deed Restrictions
Old 02-19-2010, 08:46 PM   #1
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Deed Restrictions

A lot of you have mentioned buying in deed restricted communities and I saw this article this morning and thought it was typical of some of outlandish rules of these communities . Before you buy in one read the guidelines very carefully !
LWR woman fined $1,600 for yard - Top Stories - BradentonHerald.com
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:23 PM   #2
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We have a homeowner's association for our bedroom community of about 14,000 homes. The community HOA's responsibilities are on a scale so big that it became more cost-effective to buy their own nursery for maintaining the landscaping of the common areas. Single-family homes all pay $33/month. Condos & townhomes pay the HOA fee for the community as well as their own HOA fees for their development-- some of the lowest prices on the island and one of the best values.

Mobile inspectors are on the payroll. They drive around the neighborhood noting whose carport is filled with junk, whose yard is overgrown, whose cars are parked on the street, whose houses need painting or whose driveways are stained, who has unauthorized portable basketball backboards visible from the street, and who has house-mounted backboards. They're on perpetual patrol. They get to every neighborhood, every street, every year or two.

Then the inspectors take their notes back to HOA Galactic HQ and research their files of the houses they've cruised, address by address, for evidence of an association permit for things like the house-mounted backboard. If there's no permit on file then a warning letter is sent, along with a conveniently-provided copy of the procedure for requesting an after-the-fact permit (along with its penalty fees). They'll also tell you if your curb planting looks weedy.

This seems quite authoritarian if you're thinking of a community association as something warm & fuzzy to do with communities or associations. But they're not. The best analogy is "insurance company". You're paying them a monthly premium to make sure that someone enforces some sort of appearance standards so that your property maintains some sort of value among the rest of the neighborhood. These bureaucrats aren't our friends-- they're roving claims adjusters.

Some insurance companies are better than others, but everyone knows the rules before they sign the closing documents. No sympathy for those who are antagonized by tattletales pointing out rules violations zealous protection of property values.

In general, insurance companies are a PITA. They're unpopular and unappreciated. You don't need insurance companies-- that is, until your neighbor tries to build a two-story concrete monstrosity, decorated in the baroque style and painted bright tropical pink, against your view and with "abstract metal sculptures" filling the front yard.

Our rental property in another HOA neighborhood that's only slightly less unpopular than our residence's HOA. They have far fewer services and only a couple of part-time staff for which we pay $10/month. Judging from the value of our rental home to those of an adjacent "free" community, that insurance appears to be approximately a $150K claim (25%) on our property values. Works for us.

But I agree that some HOAs have a pretty shallow gene pool from which to draw their board members.
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Old 02-20-2010, 06:35 AM   #3
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I must be rare. I read the covenants before buying the house. Later some people complained about them and when I asked, inevitably none of the complainers had read them first.

I have no sympathy.
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Old 02-20-2010, 07:41 AM   #4
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I would never buy a house that has a home owners association. I don't need any more layers of taxation or government.

No basketball backboards permitted? Oh you are in violation, here is how you apply for an after the fact exception and the fines! Ha

Don't care about the backboards, just the revenue.

Pay a fee to have people drive by my house and fine me for minor things. I think not.
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Old 02-20-2010, 08:49 AM   #5
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Yes, you have to go in with your eyes open and decide if it's for you. It might be!

We're actually buying into this development because of the severe deed restrictions. We really like the "vision" of this area and wouldn't have bought a home otherwise. The developer essentially controls the HOA in terms of how the area looks and will do so until the entire area is developed. They have their "25 year plan" and we've been watching for several years and really like what they are doing. Landscaping for front yard already planned out? Fine! Housing designs and colors already picked? Fine! HOA does all the yard maintenance - great!

There aren't many housing developments that are super RV friendly or even rarer is a development that seeks to integrate various levels of RV and retirement usage homes/RV lots. For us that was the key issues - super RV friendly and accommodative and really nice native orientation "wildscape" and "green friendliness" to the landscaping. Of course location also had much to do with it, but the developer has also greatly expanded the local attractions.

Just one wild example that otherwise I doubt many individual home owners would want to pay for - all the grass here is watered underground - no sprayers, no streams of water in the air. Soaker hoses are put down before the lawn is sodded. Included in the house price.

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Old 02-20-2010, 09:09 AM   #6
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I would never buy a house that has a home owners association. I don't need any more layers of taxation or government.
Here is a neighborhood with no HOA:

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Old 02-20-2010, 10:11 AM   #7
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Seems everything is where it is easily accessible if/when needed. Bet they did not need HOA approval for building the handicap access or for placing the satellite dish.

DW and strongly I agreed before buying our current house -NO @$%*^ HOA. All of the previous houses were long ways outside of any HOA developments. Neither of us has any tolerance for the "rules that must be obeyed".

Each to their own.
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Old 02-20-2010, 10:46 AM   #8
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I suppose it depends on how you perceive the HOA. Where we are they maintain the streets and arrange for snow plowing, which was done to our satisfaction, much better and faster than the state did on public roads.

We don't have a guy down the street growing trees in his 10-foot jon boat in the front yard as we did in a previous area. And the guy who thinks two-foot tall grass in the front yard is fine can go live elsewhere. Here the HOA will cut it for him and then send the bill, which if he doesn't pay will be a lien on his house.

All of this is spelled out in the contract. It is only a surprise if one didn't bother to read it before making what for most people is the most expensive purchase they will ever make.

Granted I can't paint my house any color I want, nor make any additions I want, or even change the color of the roof without first getting approval from an HOA committee. But here's the point: I knew about that and agreed to it before buying the house. I did so because I believe that maintaining minimum standards of appearance and maintenance will help preserve the value of my investment in the house.

Clearly others disagree with that sentiment and they of course will seek housing elsewhere.
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Old 02-20-2010, 11:18 AM   #9
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I detest HOA. In our case, we show dogs and have a couple of cats and most HOA subdivisions have severe pet restrictions. I lived in one (pre-dogs) where even 3 indoor cats (or goldfish for that matter) would have violated restrictions. And I didn't so much mind the landscaping requirements in the front yard but having to get a permit before planting a new flower in the backyard flowerbed seemed a bit....excessive.

In our current home there is a HOA but this is in an acreage community so there are no pet restrictions and other restrictions are mild. Yet, even here there are people who live here who want to use what restrictions exist and the HOA as a club over everyone else.

In the new house we are buying there is no HOA and no existing restrictions (there were some 30 years ago but they expired 10 years ago).

The neighborhood is very nice, well maintained but with a variety of appearances. I am not that worried about someone having a broken down mobile home or whatever given the type of neighborhood and that all lots have existing homes on them. Unlikely someone with that type of home would have the money or motivation to buy one of the existing homes.

However, I guess I have to say that my tolerance for difference is probably greater than that of most people who like HOA. I am willing to put up with the relatively small potential for something negative than I am to put up with a HOA with lots of rules. Before finding the house we are closing on next month I did look at some areas without a HOA that did have poor maintenance, etc and rejected them. But there are plenty areas without a HOA particularly homes with acreage where there really wasn't a concern.

In my case, not only did I ask about restrictions before even looking at the house I put in the contract that we could cancel the contract if the property was not unrestricted and then I carefully checked that the old restrictions were expired.
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Old 02-20-2010, 11:25 AM   #10
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Here is a neighborhood with no HOA:

He's got his burning barrels, maybe a rabbit hutch or two, plenty room to shoot and minimal upkeep. No need to keep privacy shades drawn.

What's not to like?

Ha
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Old 02-20-2010, 11:27 AM   #11
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His barrels need to be the same color as his house....
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Old 02-20-2010, 12:08 PM   #12
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His barrels need to be the same color as his house....
Aw, come on, a splash of purply pink on the mobile and he's good to go. Nova?

Fluffy, my cat, has been busted for being caught in the common hallway. Photo taken by dog walker hiding in neighbors apt. Shouldn't she ask permission before taking a (badly composed) photo of someone's pet?
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Old 02-20-2010, 02:57 PM   #13
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In laws have a HOA. Their son backed over the brick mail box. The HOA was on them the next day with a letter offering to fine them. They were already making arrangement for a brick layer to replace it.

They wanted to extend the patio in the back of the house. They submitted the forms to the HOA describing what they proposed doing. Rejected because they didn't fill out the "color" blank on the form. Concrete color you idiots!

They approved it when it was re submitted clarifying that their concrete was to be the color of concrete.

I could not stand it. I would not put up with it for a minute.

Oh yes you can't park in the street there either. Having a family get together? Tough.


Some retirement communities go so far as to prohibit young people from living in the house you paid for.

People that like the HOAs are people who worry about what other people are doing with their own property too much. I don't want them to have a say what I do with mine!
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Old 02-20-2010, 03:01 PM   #14
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People that like the HOAs are people who worry about what other people are doing with their own property too much.
Painting with a brush ten feet wide...
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Old 02-20-2010, 03:20 PM   #15
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I have a farm, chickens and a St Bernard. Nearest house is 500 feet away form mine. If I ever get so I can't or don't want to look after this place I might look at a location with an HOA but for now not a chance.
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Old 02-20-2010, 03:22 PM   #16
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If you live in a nice neighborhood without HOAs AND GOOD NEIGHBORS, they are a nuisance. But I guarantee you that if you have neighbors that start inviting half the town over to hang out in the yard, drink beer and play loud music from their car stereos that rattles your windows on a fairly regular basis, you'd realize that they do have their uses.
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Old 02-20-2010, 03:39 PM   #17
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Wow , thanks for all the replies . I lived in a HOA development for six years and except for a few chuckles about the rules it never bothered me . We actually had a pet weight restriction . We also had endless discussions about bird feeders and two of the neighbors got into a fight about the noise from the neighbors pool . I liked the neighborhood and did not get involved in the governing . That's where the fun & power is . REWahoo is right. There are too many not deed restricted places that look like crap especially in some of our southern states . My neighborhood now is not deed restricted but it's on the water so most of the houses have been rebuilt or have been in the family for generations and will be rebuilt or torn down at some point . I really do not mind HOA rules as long as they are not over the top .
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:14 PM   #18
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I looked at the rules before I moved to my current home and still keep an eye on proposed modifications since. Having lived and worked in the country's largest city with no zoning laws, I've seen the results when HOA's are weak and ineffective.

Where I live now has a lot of folks who are recent immigrants from the developing world. What is normal for us in the matters of acceptable pets, decorations, modifications, etc., are alien to them. Some friends talk about their new neighbors who moved here from somewhere deep in China. The guy says he knows when it's time to have a friendly visit with his neighbors (before a call to the HOA) when his wife screams "Oh my God! Come see what they've done now!" Like the time he had to explain what a swimming pool was for and why the huge goldfish were dying in the neighbors' giant Koi pond. "You wouldn't believe how bad all of those dead fish stank.We're living next door to the Beverly Guanxi Hillbillies and their cee-ment pond!"

I'm not always pleased with my HOA and generally think they are just a PITA, but I have to admit that they do a decent job in keeping the community on something close to an even keel when it comes to the kind of things that affect my property values.
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:24 PM   #19
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I looked at the rules before I moved to my current home and still keep an eye on proposed modifications since. Having lived and worked in the country's largest city with no zoning laws, I've seen the results when HOA's are weak and ineffective.
Yep. In Houston, with no zoning laws, pretty much any decent neighborhood needs to have an HOA with a fair amount of deed restrictions. If it wants to remain a nice, quiet and safe neighborhood, anyway.

When we lived in Houston, my wife was on the HOA board for a while. Our HOA was actually somewhat weak, and that was by design and intent. Then again, it was a largely upper middle class development, and for the most part they didn't *need* a strong HOA since the vast majority of residents were "low maintenance" about keeping their homes respectably groomed, painted and quiet. Probably 95% of them did that on their own because they valued the quality of the neighborhood and for keeping up their property values.

At one point the association wanted to clarify some deed restrictions. Some of them were obsolete and needed to be deleted, and others needed to be updated to reflect the 35 years of progress and technology that had past since the original deed restrictions were passed. (There were also some areas where the restrictions were going to be *loosened*.)

Well, some folks (the usual strong anti-authority types) got up in arms almost before they read any of it, and started a smear campaign on the board. They started up web sites, looked for any dirt they could find on any member of the board, tried to turn every board action into a scandal, tried to make their lives hell as long as the deed restriction updates were in play.

For what? To torment people who accepted a position which (as events would prove wise for those who declined to serve) did little more than make you a target for getting slimed and for having your integrity questioned? In a position that paid exactly *zero* and where, unlike Congress, the HOA board had to live under the exact same "laws" they proposed as everyone else. (And keep in mind that it required a 2/3 approval of all the homeowners, not just board approval. So in reality, the work of 9 people meant almost nothing if 2/3 of over 900 homeowners didn't agree with it.)

So sometimes HOAs are a pain in the you-know-what. But in reality, some of the knee-jerk, anti-authority "activists" are three times the PITA that a reasonable HOA could ever aspire to be.
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:43 PM   #20
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I'd never live under an HOA either. I can't put up a political sign or a solar panel?!? No solar screens on the front of the house? Please. Petty tyrants are not for me.

Nothing wrong with my property value. Sometimes, I wish it would drop so the taxes would drop.
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