Why I Live in a Community with an Association
We had finally found the home of our dreams. We walked into the model home (after walking into 93 other model homes!) and my husband and I sighed and said, "We could live here". The house sold us, but what about this whole Community Association thing? We had no experience with association living. I had only heard vague rumors about everyone being forced to paint their houses at the same time and not being allowed to replace the exterior lighting fixtures with a different design. Why would anyone want to live in a place like that, I thought?
This was before our new neighbor decided to paint his house the same colors as Minnie Mouse's house in Disney's Magic Kingdom. It's not that I really minded the various shades of pink and purple. They were fine - in the Magic Kingdom. But, I didn't buy a house in the Magic Kingdom. I bought a house on a nice quiet tree-lined street. A nice quiet street that was mercifully free of garden gnomes. Lesson learned - things change.
After our initial inquiry into the real costs of the home (fully loaded vs. reasonable living), our sales representative handed us the Association's Governing Documents. Opening it to page 24, he showed us what he considered "the really important part." Article VII - Restrictions on Use. There it was - - the very thing I dreaded. Here's where Big Brother would stomp down an angry foot! We read it. It wasn't at all what I expected. It all boiled down to keeping your community looking nice. That's what I wanted! I could learn to live with the part where my neighbors and I couldn't keep bees. Really, I could! I could live without doing body work on my motorized vehicle in the driveway. (I could live without that for a LONG time.) So, what was this whole Community Association thing about, anyway?
When you buy a home in a Community Association, you buy the rules and regulations as well. The rules and regulations are in place to protect your property values. (If we had sold our house after Minnie Mouse redecorated, I'm willing to bet we wouldn't have received the same offers!)
What you need to ask yourself when buying your home is, "Can I live with the rules and regulations?" If you can't, if this isn't your lifestyle, don't buy. You may have found your dream house, but if you insist on maintaining a gnome preserve in your front yard and against the rules, you will not be happy. And neither will your neighbors!
A community association gives you the resources to help you when your neighbor sets up a baseball field in his backyard complete with grandstand and klieg lights that turn the dead of night into a bright sunlit day streaming in through your bedroom windows. You are now part of a community that can come together and just say no to Minnie's Country House. You are no longer alone in protecting your property values. You may have to sacrifice having a shed, but you gain so much in a community association! You gain a community!
For more information see An Introduction to Community Association Living, Community Associations Institute.
Suzanne O'Gorman, Association Times, October 2006