On a regular basis I have people asking me to find them a home that is not in a homeowner’s association. I am going to tell you why I don’t think that is a good idea living in the Northwest Houston area. I have lived in three different states besides Texas; Kansas, Colorado and North Carolina. In all of those states I did not live in subdivisons that had HOA’s. It was not a big deal because all three of the areas that I lived in had zoning in affect.
The problem with not buying in a subdivision in the Houston area is that we do not have zoning in affect. Since we don’t have zoning it makes living in Norwthwest Harris County or Southeast Magnolia County’s a a free for all as far as homes are concerned. People can build whatever they want wherever they want it. That is why it is not uncommon to see cows in the middle of the city or suburbs. If you have ever visited the Johnson Space Center you will notice cows grazing. That is just part of the beauty of the Houston area; cows in the city.
I will never forget when I found out that the Houston area did not have zoning. We moved to the area in 1996 and I was taking the classes to get my real estate license. One of the instructors’s nonchalantly said “well you know we don’t have zoning in the Houston area”. I almost fell off my chair; I though every area was zoned. At the time I wasn’t sure if I wanted someone telling me what I could and couldn’t do. The longer I have lived here however the more I appreciate home owners associations for maintaining our property values. To give you an example a few years ago my husband worked with someone who bought out in the country in a non-restricted area. The guy loved it until the house next door was sold and the new owner decided to make it in to a salvage yard. When that junk yard opened up his property values went down the tube.
The good news is that there is just about something for everyone as far as homeowner’s associations go. There are associations with all kinds of restrictions such as in master planned communities and there are HOA’s that allow you to have mobile homes. You can find subdivisions all the way between the two extremes. Most country subdivisions will allow you to have horses. Typically it is 1 acre per horse but again that varies by subdivision.
The HOA’s fees also vary greatly. I have seen fees as low as $10 a year and as high as $1500. There are even a few subdivisions that have deed restrictions but no fees. Most of the suburb HOA’s have similar restrictions.
If there is something in particular you are interested in doing it is a good idea to look the deed restrictions over before you ever put an offer on a house. It is a fairly easy process to get the deed restrictions; usually you can get them from a local title company. It is important to decide what kind of restrictions you are looking for and find your home in a HOA that meets your needs.
- Common Ways of Holding Title
- Condominium and PUD Ownership
- Environmental Issues
- Lead Poisoning
- Living Trusts
- Mechanics Liens
- Underground Heating Oil Tanks
- Understanding Foreclosures