Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering living in a deed-restricted community, some of the most common restrictions, and how they can impact your homeownership.
What Are Common Deed Restrictions?
Deed restrictions are the kinds of limits put in place to help protect property values and make a community appeal to certain buyers.
While some problematic restrictions can impact your ability to finance a home in the area, most deed restrictions won’t have an impact on being able to buy a home, but they will change what you’re allowed to do once you own it.
Here are some examples of the most common deed restrictions you may have to deal with in a new home.
Fencing requirements are some of the most common deed restrictions. Some communities may require fencing, while others might prefer minimal or no fencing, depending on community goals.
It’s also common to restrict the kinds of materials used in fencing or require certain heights and styles to meet the aesthetic requirements of the community.
For instance, some communities might allow 6ft privacy fencing, but not 8ft fencing. Or you might be allowed to build a wooden fence but not allowed to install chain-link fencing.
Fencing colors and conditions can also be restricted.
2. Tree Removal
Trees are often considered an important part of the aesthetic development of a community and can even add to home value. With that in mind, some communities may not allow homeowners to chop down certain trees.
If a tree is starting to get in the way of power lines or roads, homeowners may be required to trim and re-shape the tree without removing it.
If a tree needs to be removed because it’s become a danger to the home or community, homeowners may be required to plant a replacement within a certain amount of time after the removal.
Removing trees also often comes with the requirement to remove any stumps left behind and to re-seed the surrounding lawn to improve the overall appearance of the lot.
Parking can be a contentious issue in deed-restricted communities, with many communities restricting the number of vehicles that can be parked outside of homes in the short term and the long term.
For instance, you might be allowed to park vehicles on the side of the sidewalk for 48 hours or less, but not longer. Or you might only be allowed to have two vehicles visible outside your home at any time, including vehicles in the driveway or vehicles that aren’t in use in your yard.
Some communities also require a fenced-in parking area, especially for any vehicles that aren’t in regular use, like trailers and RVs.
4. Paint Colors
Paint color is another common restriction. Many HOAs prefer to keep homes more muted and traditional colors. So, you might be allowed to paint your house a pastel green, but not emerald green, and so on.
Certain colors might be disallowed entirely. For instance, it’s common for variations on pink, purple, and magenta to be disallowed because those colors are usually more vibrant and eye-catching than other options.
These restrictions commonly apply to houses, fencing, and mailboxes.
5. Mailbox Restrictions
Getting a custom-painted mailbox is one popular and common way to make your home stand out and to add a little personality to your yard. Unfortunately, it’s also a common restriction in deed-restricted communities, especially after someone installs one for the first time.
Colors and designs may be restricted, or homeowners may not be allowed to customize or change their mailbox at all, depending on the restriction.
Exceptions may be made when a mailbox is damaged and needs to be replaced, but it will still have to meet all the requirements for a mailbox in the community.
6. Outbuildings And Property Improvements
Another common role for HOAs in deed-restricted communities is to limit the number of outbuildings allowed on any one property. This restriction is necessary because it prevents homeowners from crowding their property with sheds, tiny houses, and other structures that may impact the area’s appearance.
However, outbuildings can include garages, pergolas, gazebos, and even small garden sheds, which can be fairly limiting on large properties.
The Benefits Of A Deed Restricted Community
Of course, living in a deed-restricted community isn’t all downside, or no one would agree to it. Here are some of the most common advantages of living in these communities.
1. Prioritized Upkeep
Deed restricted communities typically have requirements for the upkeep of homes, which helps prevent one home from falling into disrepair and dragging the value of nearby properties down with it.
This can also guarantee that the community looks better from the outside since homeowners need to prioritize things like mowing the lawn or redoing peeling paint.
2. Community Amenities
A lot of deed-restricted communities also use HOA fees to pay for amenities like a local pool, a community center, or neighborhood yard sales.
These amenities can help you save costs and raise the value of nearby properties, which makes deed-restricted communities a safer investment.
3. Shared Expenses
In communities that are dependent on well water or have their own utilities (like their own plowing service or road maintenance crews), having an HOA can also help spread those costs out.
For instance, it’s often cheaper for a community to pay for water rights than for individual homeowners to do so.
Not all deed-restricted communities have these advantages, but the more remote your community is, the more likely you’ll have shared expenses covered by the community.
Risks And Drawbacks Of A Deed Restricted Community
In addition to the normal restrictions, there can be some other risks and drawbacks to living in these communities, despite their advantages.
Here are two of the most common drawbacks to living in a deed-restricted community.
1. Limited Home Customization Options
Most deed-restricted communities have some appearance requirements, making it harder to customize your home or make upgrades that appeal to your taste in homes.
Overall, that means that you don’t have as much customization freedom or might need to pay more for certain privileges than if you lived in an unrestricted community.
2. Fines And Fees For Failure To Comply With Regulations
If you choose not to listen to the restrictions, many deed-restricted communities also have the right to fine homeowners. That can make living in these communities expensive, even if the only reason you aren’t in compliance is because of scheduling or financial difficulties.
HOAs often don’t have much of a grace period for compliance, which can make budgeting for updates and changes to get back into compliance more difficult. In addition, fines for things like mowing late or not being on top of snow removal can also add up to the total cost of homeownership in these communities.