Sunday, November 14, 2010

Home Owner's Associations

I was sitting in a coffee shop the other day, and started talking to the guy sitting in the seat next to me. He was a nice guy, worked for a local auto repair shop as the manager and through the course of the conversation, we realized that we lived in the same neighborhood.

He announced he was planning on leaving the neighborhood as soon as he could sell his home - told me he was so frustrated with the neighborhood association that it made him want to move into an area without an HOA.

Now, I did not tell him what I did - that I work for a property management company that handles HOAs.... (although ironically, not the one in our neighborhood). But I did ask him a few questions, because I was curious. Personally, I have never felt the HOA was particularly heavy-handed or unfair, and professionally I know that all HOAs are made up of the residents of a neighborhood, and all rules, policies, meetings and events that an HOA oversees can be changed with a vote--a vote of the neighbors!

So I asked him if he had ever been to an HOA meeting... NO. I asked him if he ever volunteered for a committee...NO. I asked him what specifically he did not like, and he told me it was the policy on what you could and could not build on the property. Specifically, he wanted to put a 2-story out-building/second garage on his back yard.

And I smiled. I live in his neighborhood and I would not want someone to build a second garage in their yard! Our properties average a quarter acre at best, and the amount of space that would take up would be huge. It would, in fact be an eye-sore, may even bring the property values around that house down.

We might all love extra space for our tools and our cars. We might all love to have a "guest bedroom" built. But in this particular case, it was not appropriate for the neighborhood and the covenants for our HOA were actually protecting us from everyone building over-sized sheds, or extra buildings on a small property.

This gentlemen and I won't agree, and he also won't join the architectural review committee either and volunteer his time to make a change he is interested in, or take the initiative to find out why his dream of a second garage is something that just doesn't fit into the neighborhood standards.

I am sure that he would not like it if his next-door neighbor painted their home barbie-pink and decided to put a moat in either!

HOAs are a good thing. But they are not for everyone. If you are a free spirit who likes to have full control over your property, and doesn't feel that you should be concerned with the "bigger picture" of how that affects the neighbors around you, there are plenty of homes and properties available. If you want the security and camaraderie, amenities and continuity that a neighborhood offers, than an HOA may be for you.

And remember... if you can and if you care, get involved! HOAs do not run on their own.

Kuester Property Manager
Charlotte, NC

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