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Are Covenants and an HOA Really Restrictive?

Real Estate Agent with Cedaredge Land Company

The simple answer is yes, but read on for more information. Those restrictions might be what keeps your neighbor from using pallets as fencing, or from having several non running vehicles in the front yard.

I recently had a discussion about covenants and HOAs with some out of state buyers. They didn't want a neighborhood with covenants or an HOA. I get that. Some people don't want to be told what they can do with their property. 

Are Covenants and an HOA Really Restrictive?In my rural area of Colorado you can have covenants, but no HOA, and an HOA, but no covenants. Often times the covenants, or HOA, are in place for some very simple reasons that will actually benefit the homeowners. Two common reasons are irrigation water and/or road maintenance. 

Even neighborhoods in the middle of a town can have an HOA, or covenants, solely to handle how the irrigation water is distributed. These neighborhoods supply irrigation water the residents can use during the summer months. The yearly fee is less than what you would pay if you were using water from a domestic water company to keep your lawn and garden growing and green.

Road maintenance covenants are generally for our more rural areas where the county doesn't maintain the road. 

Water and road maintenance are things that benefit all of the homeowners in a neighborhood. They are a great reason to have an HOA, or covenants, in place. Once most buyers realize this, they begin to lose their hesitation about seeing houses in these neighborhoods. 

There aren't many neighborhoods in the Cedaredge, Delta and Montrose areas that don't at least have some covenants in place. Another term for covenants is CCRs. This stands for covenants, conditions and restrictions. This is also a term you might see being used when a neighborhood has restrictions. 

The covenants can be as short as one sentence or they can be pages and pages long. It all depends on the developer's vision for the neighborhood. One common restriction in my area is...no manufactured houses. If that is the only restriction in place, do you really not want to live in that neighborhood because it has covenants?  

Now we do have some newer developments (although not too many) that do have very restrictive covenants. When you have that type of situation, you need to review the CCRs carefully and decide if these are rules you can live with...and if not then that wouldn't be the neighborhood for you. 

There are also deed restrictions that can limit what you can do. You can read more about deed restrictions here. 

My buyers have decided that having some covenants, or an HOA, in place might not be a bad idea...as long as they aren't too restrictive. They have changed their negative way of thinking  and have decided to take each situation on a case by case basis. 

If you are thinking of buying, or selling, a house in the Delta, Cedaredge or Montrose area...let me help guide you through the process. Call me for more local and real estate information. I look forward to hearing from you. 


Comments (24)

James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR

Morning Debbie.

My dad would disagree with you as he said, "it's my land I'll do what the hell I please on it."  Now he is gone and I can see the value in them. We currently live in a neighborhood that doesn't have any, our next move will be in one that does

Feb 06, 2018 01:30 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is very good information to share with prospective home buyers.

One of our large local communities prohibits the parking of trucks. This is a problem for many that have to find a public street out of the community for parking their vehicle.

Feb 06, 2018 04:45 AM
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

This is great information, Debbie.  And, all to often very misunderstood and not appreciated.

Feb 06, 2018 05:00 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

I have never felt restricted by HOA rules, but I know that often in HOA's people get on the board with an agenda and it really ruins a good thing.

Feb 06, 2018 05:15 AM
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

I love the post. I hope home buyers will read it and learn from it.

Feb 06, 2018 05:16 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Great post, Debbie. So many opinions about HOA's out there and they are not all grounded in reality or experience. Personally, I would never live in a community with CCR's and an HOA, as I firmly believe these keep my property values up. But I know there will be those who would disagree.

Feb 06, 2018 05:39 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Carol Williams my first suggestion this week for your Second Chance Saturday post. Now that sounds like I'll have more, but not promising anything just yet! 

Feb 06, 2018 05:40 AM
Debbie Laity

Nina Hollander ...you left this comment here by mistake. I want to make sure you get credit for your contest entry, so I hope you saw this and also left a comment for Carol. 

Feb 06, 2018 08:24 AM
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

Great blog Debbie Laity , i have many buyers looking for the lifestyle an HOA gives, but they are unaware what restrictions there is. I love to have this talk before we go see them. 

Feb 06, 2018 05:45 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Debbie Laity - Many folks think that they are all the same or don't realize there are deed restrictions and/or CCRs. I always make sure we check all three areas.

Feb 06, 2018 05:47 AM
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Debbie, excellent post and you provide information that is understandable to buyers. I live in an HOA and so glad I do. I've seen areas that do not have HOA or CCRs and can be sad situation for home owners, as some people leave everything in their front yard :)

Feb 06, 2018 07:30 AM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Debbie really good information on coventants and HOA's in your area! It's a confusing subject for many but laying it all for them as you did will certainly help them understand how they work.

Feb 06, 2018 01:05 PM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Debbie and I am so glad to see you back in the rain.  Great information on this blog.  

Feb 06, 2018 05:28 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

Over the years I have read a number of Covenants and Condtions, as well as other HOA documents.  They can be all over the map as to restrictions, and liberties.  One thing that is very important for homebuyers to check, is for any litigation or lawsuits against the HOA.

Feb 06, 2018 06:47 PM
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
NC Real Estate Transition & Relocation 919-602-848

Debbie, C&R can be a good thing as long as they're not abused. 

Feb 08, 2018 06:07 AM
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

The answer is a BIG maybe....sometimes they make great sense....and others...well...

Feb 15, 2018 02:55 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Debbie

You have done a really good job of informing buyers about convenants and HOAs in your area, and the pros and cons. It really does depend on what they are.


Feb 17, 2018 05:40 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

There have been so many discussions about this lately - must be that time of year that our clients are curious about HOAs! Wonderful post and explanation of covenants and HOAs, Debbie! 

Feb 18, 2018 11:15 AM
Jon Quist
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

HOA's can get carried away, with neighborhood trash can or 'parking nazis' roaming around. But if you don't any stripped cars up on blocks in the yard, or a fence built out of old pallets, you would benefit from an HOA!

Mar 07, 2018 06:53 AM
Sharon Miller
RE/MAX Platinum - Crane Hill, AL


This is a very informative article, explaining the difference's between deed restrictions and HOA Covenants. A fine point, but nevertheless, important.

Here are a couple of points I'd like to interject on the subject of restrictions/CCR's. The first point being, because a development has HOA Covenants or CCR's......doesn't mean they are/will be enforced. Typically, if one or more convenants are not uniformly enforced, it's doubtful from a legal standpoint, the balance of the convenants can be made to be enforced. Those who have lived in a restricted subdivision, know from experience, that HOA Covenants/CCR's are often times ignored simply because of a lack of enforcement. Enforcement can be the "Achilles heal" for many HOA communities. A vast majority of today's restricted subdivision community members, preceive that an "honor system" is in place, whereby "everybody else", is legally bound to abide by a complex number of rules and regulations.

As with everything else which is regulated, there is no hard and fast rule regarding the level of enforcement with regard to HOA Covenants or CCR's. Anyone who is contemplating the purhase of property in an HOA or restrictive subdivsion controlled development, needs to do diligence as it relates to what's "on the books" with regard to convenants/restrictions. What is critical here, assessing the level of enforcement/compliance within the community. If obvious examples of non-compliance exist (examples: vehicles parked in the street, motorhomes parked in the driveway or sideyard) you can assume there is little to no enforcement regarding restrictive covenants. This should inititate a concern on the part of any potential buyer.....what will the resale potential be if I purchase in this subdivision/community.

Here is a case in point......a home, costing in excess of half a million dollars, was build in a lakeside community by a doctor who ignored the subdivision's Architechural Control Committee setback restrictions and Federal flood elevation designation. The structure was partially situated inside a federally mandated flood plain, while at the same time, the home's placement on the lot, violated the front and side yard setbacks. Once the home was completed, the doctor, who planned to secure a mortgage to purchase his home, was denied financing because he couldn't produce a documented setback variance issued by the Architectural Control Committee or a LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment) from FEMA. Because he couldn't procure Title Insurance due to the above issues, his lender denied him financing. The house sat vacant for almost two years after completion and was finally put up for sale by those holding the construction loan debt. 

This is an extreme example whereby someone chose to ignore the restrictions, covenants, as well as those entities having juristiction over what can and cannot be allowed. 

The lesson we all should learn from Debbie's post......don't accept anything at "face value" without investigating the situation first!

Mar 07, 2018 08:12 AM
Marney Kirk
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Towson, MD
Towson, Maryland Real Estate

Debbie, this is a great post. In Maryland, many homes have covenants, even with no HOA. Some really need to be updated, too...some weird things can be found in some very old covenants around here!

Mar 07, 2018 12:12 PM