You've checked the listings, scoured the local neighborhoods and have finally found the perfect subject for your next project. A cute little suburban home in an older style, perhaps a little run down but nothing you can't handle. You can afford the price, have talked to the agent managing the sale, and on your walk-through, you already have a pretty good idea of how you can make the place attractive and welcoming for the next family who wants to live in this neighborhood. Even the inspection came up clean; the foundation, structure, pipes, and wiring are all in perfectly good condition. There's just one final concern to worry about - The Home Owner's Association, fondly referred to as the HOA.
The Notorious HOA Renovation Restrictions
Home owner's associations are run by a council of owner-residents and their primary purpose is to protect the property values of the neighborhood. Besides ensuring that community areas are nicely tended, snow is plowed in the winter, and garbage day happens on schedule, they also write a lot of regulations for what you can and cannot do with a home. These rules vary from HOA to HOA and can range from reasonable to terribly intrusive. It's important to be aware of these regulations so you don't break them either with your flipping lifestyle choices (pets, night time noise, etc) or how you change the appearance of the house. They've even been known to tell you to hide your vehicle if it's 'not classy enough'.
Don't Let the HOA Cramp Your Style
The best way to avoid citations and having to undo some of your best work is to know the rules ahead of time and make your plans based on them. Usually, the most important thing to an HOA is external appearance or 'curb appeal' so that other homes still look nice. They usually regulate things like exterior color, materials, architectural and decor style, and how you can landscape the lawn.
Common HOA Rules Cover
Getting Inspired Instead of Cramped
Some of the best creative work you'll ever do is 'with a prompt'. If you're renovating the outside as well as the interior, rather than letting an HOA dash your dreams of drastic renovation, read up on the rules and let the limitations guide your artist's eye. If you have to work in a certain range of colors, choose the combination that combines to make the home look it's best while minimizing the changes you need to make. If you're landscaping, find the most elegant way to build the flower beds, arbors, and tree seats that conform to regulations.
As for interior renovations, for the most part, HOA's don't care what you do to the inside of a home as long as it's not visible from the outside, but make sure to check the rules just in case. The primary exception tends to be fireplaces, as these make an appearance on the outside.
The Flipping Lifestyle and Your Temporary HOA
The final concern when flipping a house that resides within the bounds of an HOA is their limitations on lifestyle. Many associations have limitations that keep owners from entering a perpetual state of renovation that drives their neighbors nuts with sawing and hammering all hours of the day and night. For these reasons, there are probably a few limitations on how and when you can work to be cognizant of. For instance, if you like working at night, you may have to limit your noise-making activities. You may also be required to submit your renovation plans before beginning and gain approval, so be prepared for minor delays on your start date.
Don't let the HOA's regulations cramp your style or limit the creativity you use when flipping a home from a dud into a beautiful new abode. Chances are that your future buyers will appreciate having an attractive house that fits in well with all the other houses on the block, so let that be your guide, not your limitation. As a final word of HOA advice, remember that your best bargaining chip is the fact that you are actively raising the local property value by renovating a home that wouldn't sell without your help. By working together, you and the HOA can achieve both your goals: getting paid for your hard work and increasing the average home quality on the block.
For more helpful tips on how to get inspired for a new project and stay within the local guidelines, contact us today!