Many decades ago in Tomball, Texas, I helped my uncle build a beautiful brick mailbox to match his brick house. A month later he called to tell me that the homeowners’ association told him that he would have to remove it and put a stick mailbox in its place to match all the other stick mailboxes in his rural subdivision. He was furious. I had no monkey in the circus but his experience did convince me that I would never live in a community that had an HOA.
I have plenty of HOA horror stories from my years in real estate….
Along with homeowners’ associations telling you what you can and cannot do to a property you own, sometimes the city gets involved, too, most of the time concerning zoning ordinances. No one wants to buy a beautiful home only to have a brothel built next door….
One of the different ways that the city can get involved is with historic properties. Here in San Diego County, if you buy a historic property and agree to keep it historic, you get a pretty good tax break. With real estate prices being so astronomical, a tax break on property taxes can be significant.
Recently, over in Coronado, the City of Coronado got upset at the owner of a historic property because she had replaced the old windows with modern dual-pane windows. The house currently looks like this:
Notice the windows. That white bar at the bottom of each window is the old, wooden window apron, usually indicating that the home had wooden windows at one point.
Now they are aluminum windows. The city is upset because the aluminum windows just don’t match the architecture of the home. Perhaps if she had installed white aluminum windows….
Actually, one can get aluminum windows that look like wood, but they are custom windows, so they are quite a bit more expensive than standard aluminum windows. The City has given her options but she’s still not happy because all of the options require her to remove these windows, which already have been installed and paid for….
Although the property tax breaks can be significant, I’m pretty much a modern guy when it comes to using things, so you’ll never find me buying something historic. If I have to use it rather than just admiring it, I own the latest and the greatest….