This morning, a coworker came up to me to tell me about her neverending saga with her condo board. Long story short, she lives in a large condo complex, and her building is one of the last buildings in the back of the property. The plus side to this is added privacy. The negative side is that for some reason, that part of the complex gets ignored – they have the worst yard, the ugliest bushes, etc. This isn’t the first time she’s had issues with them either.
So today’s post is about home buying and something that people don’t always look out for – neighborhood associations. When you buy a condo, you’re typically aware that there’s a condo board and a condo fee. But don’t forget that those things can happen in other types of homes as well. And there are good and bad things to neighborhood associations.
The first step is to find out if your property is part of an association and if there are any required fees. If so, what do those fees cover?
Next, find out the rules. What can and can’t you do to your home as part of the association rules? Frequently, there are certain maintenance standards and major changes to the house must be approved. Some associations have restrictions on holiday decorations, colors you can paint your house, etc.
Then you have to decide how you feel about the rules. So your association says you have to get approval before you paint the door to your house. That’s annoying. But it also means you probably won’t have a neighbor with a neon green house and a bright purple door. And maybe you can only have white Christmas lights on your house. Knowing how much you love colored lights, that’s a bummer. But it also means you won’t have Clark Griswold living next door, creating light pollution and crazy traffic every December.
Personally, I chose to live in a neighborhood with no such association. I do, however, live in a city small enough to have various codes. My house must be well maintained. I need to get permission to put up a fence or cut down a tree (and I probably won’t get permission for the tree). But I can paint my front door whatever color I want and if I want my house to look like Clark Griswold’s, I can. But that means my neighbors can do whatever they want as well. It’s a risk, but one I decided to take.
You just have to decide what is right for you.