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Old 06-08-2010, 03:39 PM
 
Location: Austin
562 posts, read 902,058 times
Reputation: 185

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Some love them, some hate them, and many just tolerate them (due to liking the property for other reasons).

What I am curious about, is how having restrictions which go beyond the city and county zoning restrictions, effect property values.

I know of multiple cases where people have decided to NOT purchase a property due to such restrictions.

I know of Zero cases where someone has decided to NOT purchase a property because it did NOT have additional restrictions (beyond the city and country zoning restrictions).

But perhaps my experience is limited, and does not reflect the majority of potential home buyers.

So I am curious,
How would the following influence your purchase decsison?
Positive?
Negative?
Neutral?

I have shown my own responses in Indigo below.

1) Rules require that all changes must be approved by a small architectural committee. They have the final say, no exceptions.

Very Negative, this has so far prevented me from purchasing a specific home.
(That home has since dropped in price, and has not sold).


2) Rules require that neighbors be notified of all changes, and any neighbor (within the subdivision) has a right to call a vote (within 2 weeks). If someone calls a vote, they must then make an argument, and state why the change would have a negative effect.
Then If over 50% of the subdivision (or HOA or area the rule covers) think the change will negatively effect the neighborhood, the change is not approved. Otherwise it is approved.

Not as negative as (1).
I might even see this as positive if also combined with (3) below.
This could work as an alternative to (1), that gives the control to a majority rather than a small committee. This also requires more effort by neighbors to prevent something.
I believe this would still prevent people from doing outlandish things that really do detract from the neighborhood.


3) All disapprovals (with either 1 or 2 above) must come with an alternative recomendation which meets the same standards (as what is being proposed) for
- durability (stand up to fire, hail, and other realistic hazards for the area)
- energy efficiency (based on expected conditions in the area)
- "green" factor to include both energy efficiency and recycle-ability
- ongoing cost factor (to include cost of insurance and energy).
- Does not cost more than 10% more than the design being proposed

If we must have (1), this is needed.
Even with (2) instead of (1), this one adds value.
Therefore I see this as positive.


4) Houses and property must be kept in good repair. If a neighbor considers a property to NOT be in good repair, they can ask for a vote of the subdivision, to determine if the owner should be required to fix the repair issues.
Positive.
I see how this will keep property values up, and the control belongs to the majority of the owners in the sub-division, not a small committee.
I would even be content with rules that allow the neighbors to pool their own resources to do the needed repairs, and then place a lien against the property to recover the cost.
HOWEVER, if it were an individual or small committee making the decision, I would consider it less positive.


5) Restrictions indicating how close to the property line one can build; and how high one can build, and what percent of a property the building can take up (City and country zoning codes usually cover this).
Positive

6) A specific rule that states that all homes must be painted a pastel color (list of colors is specified)
neutral if Pink is on the list, negative if it is not.

7) roofs must be a composite shingle style roof.

very negative.

8) roofs must be of a neutral color (brown, white, black, and shades combining these colors).

neutral

9) Carports and patio covers must consist of the same material as the roof.
slightly negative, but not enough to prevent me from buying a property.

10) Restrictions on siding material limited to composite wood, wood, masonary, concrete composite.
slightly negative, but not enough to prevent me from buying a property. They invent new materials all the time.

11) all fences must consist of only wood or stone material

negative, but not enough to prevent me from buying a property.
My ideal fence would be metal (for durability) but then be camouflaged with bushes planted on both sides.


12) Bushes may not be taller than 5'
negative, but I would be ok with a rule that said they could not protrude beyond my property.

13) No garbage cans visible (exception being trash day for some limited time, possibly starting the night before trash day).
neutral

14) Lawn must be no longer than X inches (where X is reasonable).
slightly negative, but if X is large enough could be positive.

15) No vehicles parked on the street.
positive, but not having this would not stop me from buying the property

16) No vehicles that do not run, on the property, unless inside the garage.
neutral, maybe even positive

17) If neighbors think that the stuff (junk, trash or otherwise) looks bad enough that it effects their ability to enjoy their property, they can ask a neighbor to remove it.
Neighbor must then either remove the "junk" within 48 hours, or ask for a neighborhood vote on the issue.

Positive.

18) No noise, that can be heard beyond the boundary of your own property, after 10pm and before 6AM.

Very Positive.

19) If any neighbor is bothered by your noise, and asks you to lower the volume so that they can not hear your noise, you are required to lower the volume so that it does not bother the neighbor.
(Exception for temporary noise related to maintenance/repair tasks).

Very Positive, this rule might lead me to tolerate other rules I might not otherwise tolerate.

Maybe others can add to the list.
If you are buying a property;
What rules would decrease your interest in the property?
What rules would increase your interest in the property?

 
Old 06-08-2010, 04:47 PM
 
487 posts, read 797,935 times
Reputation: 743
This isn't really about restrictions, so my apologies if it seems like I'm hijacking the thread; that is not my intent. But the things that I like about our HOA (and that were big positives in our decision to buy) are that they care for the common grounds (mowing, tree care, fence repair, beautiful flowerbeds at the entrance to our neighborhood, etc.). They also keep the playground and pool (which we couldn't have afforded on our own) in great shape, and have monthly neighborhood parties, parades, bookswaps, flowerswaps, food donation drives, etc. that consist of great food, entertainment, and camaraderie.

Now none of those things are rules or restrictions, of course, but having spoken to the people in the neighborhood before we bought, and having seen the way the grounds and pool were kept up, those were definitely reasons that factored in to buying where we did. And I believe that they all add positive emotional, and probably financial, value to our house.
 
Old 06-08-2010, 07:55 PM
 
1,894 posts, read 3,748,505 times
Reputation: 516
I'll hijack it even more.

The restrictions part empowers people who have nothing better to do than to spy on you. I have approval from my ARC for a patio cover I have built. It looks awesome and very professional everyone that sees it tells me so. But more than once I have have elderly neighbors stop their car walk up to my back fence peek through the slats and spy on us for like 10 minutes. then they come to the front of our house and stop to write stuff down. Talk about an invasion of privacy.
 
Old 06-08-2010, 08:27 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
153 posts, read 316,994 times
Reputation: 55
So far I'm indifferent to our HOA restrictions. We live in a relatively new neighborhood and nobody has done anything funky yet and I'm not aware that there have been any problems or violations. Some of the construction-related restrictions probably do help (for better or worse) to give the neighborhood a very uniform look and feel.

However, one of our HOA restrictions seems excessive, that is, vehicles need to be parked in the garage at night and cannot be left in the driveway. I wonder what folks with three cars will do that have a two-car garage, or those who prefer to use their garage for storage instead of parking.

I suppose how well a HOA represents the interest of home owners probably depends on who controls it. At the current stage of our neighborhood, the developer has control of the HOA, until a certain number of lots are developed.

To hijack the thread further, can someone explain how HOAs evolve as neighborhoods mature? When are the developers typically (practically) not in charge anymore, and is this usually a good change? Is it usually controlled by a few people and the rest just follows their suggestions?
 
Old 06-08-2010, 08:38 PM
 
1,391 posts, read 1,482,838 times
Reputation: 1284
Look at your restrictive covenants and the bylaws. The restrictive covenants usually give the developer unilateral power to amend the restrictive covenants during the period of declarant control. There is no limit on how long this period can be.

Even if there is some term that is set, the term is illusory since the developer has the unilaterally power to change the term. For example, if the bylaws provide a threshold such as 75% - the developer can amend them to say 100% or even "never". Even if a threshold is left intact, the developers will often create a "vote multiplier" such that they get X votes for every lot whereas everyone else gets 1 vote per lot and X will be much larger than 1. By this mechanism the developer can retain control for a long time. Throughout this term the developer will also control the HOA board. The HOA corp will be operated to protect the interests of its board members - not the homeowners.

The restrictive covenants for newer subdivisions are frequently not actually written by the developer but rather by HOA attorneys who are looking for ways to create disputes and otherwise make a buck off of the involuntary members while catering to the overall objectives of the developer. There are law firms in town that are well known for implementing attorney fee provisions, non-judicial foreclosure powers, "transfer fees" when you sell your property, etc. in the restrictive covenants - all to the detriment of the owners.

If you identify the subdivision, perhaps there is additional information that can be shared about your subdivision and items you can be put on notice of.
 
Old 06-08-2010, 10:19 PM
 
Location: Austin
562 posts, read 902,058 times
Reputation: 185
The set of rules/restrictions that I read, for a subsection I might still buy a house in, allows the rules to be changed, if 60% of the residents agree.
However for now, the approvals are left up to a committee of 3.
The developer is no longer in the picture, the lots have all been developed.

If I do buy, I might consider trying to invoke change.
However IF I did, I would want the end result to give power to the majority of the owners, as opposed to a small committee.
I would want the majority of the owners to still have the power to prevent things that really do detract from people being able to enjoy their own property; while not restricting people from making changes that improve such things as durability, on going costs, and environmental responsibility.

I was really just looking to see what kinds of rules people think really do make a property more attractive and which ones make a property less attractive.
 
Old 06-08-2010, 10:54 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
153 posts, read 316,994 times
Reputation: 55
IC delight, our HOA's restrictive covenants and bylaws do specify a vote multiplier as you mentioned. I didn't consider the fact that the developer can change the rules at will, but I think what keeps them in check is that the interests of the home owners and developer seem to be largely aligned - mostly to keep the subdivision nice and presentable, and property values high. Of course they could jack the HOA fees up sky high or add impossible to meet rules, but since they are still searching for prospective buyers, I believe they have to keep fees and CC&Rs reasonable. I'm almost more interested what usually happens to a HOA when the developer releases control.
 
Old 06-08-2010, 11:46 PM
 
Location: Southwest Austin
5,000 posts, read 9,897,444 times
Reputation: 3492
HOA restrictions add value to homes and the neighborhoods in which the homes are located by providing a legal and logistical mechanism through which the common will of the majority of home owners can be carried out and enforced. For most home owners, that means simply that they want an easy way to respond to those who would impose their lack of common sense and good taste on others and to force those violators into compliance without personally having to do anything other than make an anonymous complaint.

Like any governance tool, an HOA can be dangerous in the wrong hands. It only takes, literally, one person on a power trip. That doesn't make the concept a bad idea, just the implementation of it. And yes, there is no shortage of horror stories of home owners recounting perceived abuses and injustices.

But eliminating the fringe outliers and crybabies, a true poll of any large neighborhood such as Circle C, Steiner, Tera Vista, Shady Hollow, etc would reveal the the large majority of homeowners have had no interaction at all with the HOA, or have had limited positive interaction.

I've managed rental homes in Austin for 20 years and thus have been exposed to the enforcement of many different HOAs as tenants, being human, generate violation letters that require corrective action. Most are reasonable. Some are very unfriendly and militaristic.

If you'd like to see a firsthand example of HOA vs. No HOA, drive 78749 through Villages of Western Oaks and observe what you see, then drive up Becket past Dick Nichols Park and turn into Beckett Meadows and see if you notice any difference and the appearance of the neighborhoods. It's not glaring, for the most part, but it is noticeable that BM is less well maintained.

Steve
 
Old 06-09-2010, 12:10 AM
 
Location: Pflugerville
2,213 posts, read 2,517,160 times
Reputation: 2175
Well, Like I have said in another thread; I am not a huge fan of HOAs, but I do see their usefulness. I am not a huge fan of taxes, but I do see the benefit of paying them, to draw a parallel. Let me answer the OP's questions though. Keep in mind though, they all stem from my #1 rule about my neighbors, which is: Their property values determine the fair market value for my house when I go to sale. They generate the comparables. Therefore, their actions effect me, and I feel like I have a right to complain about them.


1) Rules require that all changes must be approved by a small architectural committee. They have the final say, no exceptions.

I can see the benefit of this rule. While it would be irritating if the HOA gave me a hard time about something as simple as a covered porch, I simply don't think that city zoning laws are stringent enough to keep people from drastically lowering the value of their property by building a water park out of recycled cars in their backyards. Really all the city cares about is that the addition is structurally sound. The city doesn't protect me when it comes to additions lowering property values. That's where I expect an HOA to step in.

2) Rules require that neighbors be notified of all changes, and any neighbor (within the subdivision) has a right to call a vote (within 2 weeks). If someone calls a vote, they must then make an argument, and state why the change would have a negative effect.
Then If over 50% of the subdivision (or HOA or area the rule covers) think the change will negatively effect the neighborhood, the change is not approved. Otherwise it is approved.

My opinion is the same as number 1. If you move into a community with an HOA, you understand and agree to (by buying the property) that your neighbors are going to have some control over your home. If you find that unreasonable, you can always avoid buying the house. I can see how that would be irksome to people, but I find it reasonable.

3) All disapprovals (with either 1 or 2 above) must come with an alternative recomendation which meets the same standards (as what is being proposed) for
- durability (stand up to fire, hail, and other realistic hazards for the area)
- energy efficiency (based on expected conditions in the area)
- "green" factor to include both energy efficiency and recycle-ability
- ongoing cost factor (to include cost of insurance and energy).
- Does not cost more than 10% more than the design being proposed

I don't really have an opinion. When stuff gets detailed like this, my eyes glaze over. I feel that city building codes take care of most of this anway.


4) Houses and property must be kept in good repair. If a neighbor considers a property to NOT be in good repair, they can ask for a vote of the subdivision, to determine if the owner should be required to fix the repair issues.

Same answer as I put for number 1.

5) Restrictions indicating how close to the property line one can build; and how high one can build, and what percent of a property the building can take up (City and country zoning codes usually cover this).

I feel pretty sure this is covered by the city/county. However, I don't mind an HOA having even more stringent rules if it benefits the community. Really, in most HOA cookie cutter communities, the original builders have already pressed houses as close to the property line as they legally can. There really is not much room for growth.


6) A specific rule that states that all homes must be painted a pastel color (list of colors is specified)

This one sort of chaps me. I don't think the color of a house detracts from it's value. As such, it doesn't meet my main standard as listed above, therefore I am not for it.

7) roofs must be a composite shingle style roof.

Same answer as #6.

8) roofs must be of a neutral color (brown, white, black, and shades combining these colors).

Same as number 6.

9) Carports and patio covers must consist of the same material as the roof.

Same as number 6.

10) Restrictions on siding material limited to composite wood, wood, masonary, concrete composite.

This I agree with. Anyone can drive through a KB neighborhood that is more than 5 years old and look at the siding. It looks like it has been sand blasted. This majorly detracts from the value of a house. It is extemely noticable.

11) all fences must consist of only wood or stone material

I can understand wanting fences to be uniform. I can also understand now wanting metal fences, mostly because people would just string up chicken wire. I think the rule should be "YOUR fence needs to be of uniform material" I say this b/c my neighbors dog has totally eaten thru their metal fence (yes, pvc wrapped metal) and instead of fixing it, they have just put some plastic trellis up to cover the hole. I could only imagine what a potential buyer thinks.


12) Bushes may not be taller than 5'

I agree that the main thing is the bush stays on your property.

13) No garbage cans visible (exception being trash day for some limited time, possibly starting the night before trash day).

I am okay with this because otherwise people would leave their garbage cans on the curb 24/7, impeding the flow of traffic on the sidewalk. Also, I lived in a neighborhood with no rules on trash, and a person who lived down the street CONSTANTLY had her garbage cans rolling up and down the road. Many people hit them with their car and drove over their lids on a daily basis.

14) Lawn must be no longer than X inches (where X is reasonable).

I can't answer on lawns. I am prejudice. I hate lawns. It is the single biggest issue I have with my HOA.

15) No vehicles parked on the street.

Oh gosh, wasn't this the huge thread from a few months back that had posters accusing other posters of being nazis? If you want to park on the street, don't impede the flow of traffic. If two cars cannot pass each other because you are parked in the street, then you are impeding the flow of traffic.

16) No vehicles that do not run, on the property, unless inside the garage.

I think there is a city ordinance on this. I agree though.


17) If neighbors think that the stuff (junk, trash or otherwise) looks bad enough that it effects their ability to enjoy their property, they can ask a neighbor to remove it.
Neighbor must then either remove the "junk" within 48 hours, or ask for a neighborhood vote on the issue.

Getting into dangerous territory here. I think there should be a recourse thru the HOA if your neighbor is unreasonably lowering property values. But this could be so easily abused, that I would require VERY stringent rules about it.


18) No noise, that can be heard beyond the boundary of your own property, after 10pm and before 6AM.

All for it.


19) If any neighbor is bothered by your noise, and asks you to lower the volume so that they can not hear your noise, you are required to lower the volume so that it does not bother the neighbor.
(Exception for temporary noise related to maintenance/repair tasks).

Don't agree. If your neighbor is violating reasonable noise ordinances, and you can't talk to them about it man to man, then the cops should address it, not the HOA.


These are just my opinions. I know HOA haters will be out in full force tonight, so I won't say anything else, but this:

We all have a choice where we live. If you hate HOAs with all your might, if you find them intrusive, then don't move into one. It really is that simple. If you love a house enough that you just MUST have it, then you have to put up with an HOA. Just like if you love a woman enough you just MUST have her, the you have to put up with her mother.
 
Old 06-09-2010, 08:27 AM
 
1,391 posts, read 1,482,838 times
Reputation: 1284
To the OP: my earlier comment was in response to an inquiry about developer transition, not the "rules" you specifically set forth, however....

There seems to be some misperceptions here. One can have restrictive covenants without having an HOA corp. They are not one and the same.

There is also a myth that one has a choice where you live. Try to identify many non-HOA housing subdivisions built in the last 20 years. Certainly, there is a very large number of homeowners that has no choice but to live in HOA-burdened housing.

There is also a continuing misperception that HOA corporations are miniature democracies. They are not. They have none of the protections for individual rights. So what if 50% of the neighbors don't like something. Majority rule might be fine for setting pool hours for the HOA corp's pool, but majority rule is not a democracy and it is not appropriate for your home. Indeed, if majority rule were the law there would still be racially restrictive covenants and other explicitly discriminatory restrictions and many other abhorrent practices. In other arenas, would you consider it acceptable if a majority of the homeowners demanded that all homeowners drive a particular brand of vehicle, require contribution to a particular political lobbying group, prohibited you from posting political signs at election time, etc., and threatened you with the loss of your home if you did not comply?

If anything, the list of restrictions and the comments already posted illustrate the inherent disputes that develop over the propriety and interpretation of the restrictions. If there were no HOA corp, the disputes would tend to simply be differences of opinion. Natural barriers to litigation include the cost of litigation and the uncertainty of the outcome. However, the board members of an HOA corp bear no personal responsibility for financing litigation and are driven as much to harm fellow residents as they are to win. If they can cost a homeowner $20,000 and up, then their egos are satiated even if their HOA corp loses. The management companies profit from accusations of violations. The HOA attorney is likewise more concerned about provoking and maintaining the dispute for profit.

Indeed based upon the standard operating practices of the management company now handling Villages at Western Oaks, one can predict the exodus of homeowners, the onset of litigation, and just how unpleasant your own home can become to live in. Alliance is known for the priority of payment scam, trying to usurp board powers with a board friendly to the management company, directing all vendors to management company affiliates, secrecy of records, advising with respect to rules to deny voting rights, "proxy" voting, and a host of systems designed to ensure profit for Alliance by accusations of "violations" (e.g., their Architectural Committee software). Board members are easily conned into exposing residents' wallets to the management company via the management contract and "fining policies" generated by Alliance. Alliance typically works in conjunction with an aligned HOA attorney. Ask homeowners in Wildflower (Pflugerville), La Ventana (Driftwood), Arroyo Ranch (Kyle), Estates of Loma Vista (Austin), or West Cave Estates (Austin) to get an idea of Alliance's business practices. No one but the board members enjoy living in an authoritarian regime.

There is no empirical evidence that HOA corporations improve property values - at least not for the owners. Indeed, when you add in the cost of perpetual liens, the legal morass, ever increasing assessments, the idiots that that can rationalize anything under the pretext of "property values", and the fact that your home serves as security for whatever liabilities the HOA corp board chooses to incur, HOA-burdened property represents a liability rather than an asset.
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