The older your house gets, the more likely it’ll need a refresh— but what if it’s located within a historic district or a homeowners association community? You might need permission to build that new porch or to even repaint your home’s exterior. Before you sign the dotted line, consider whether either living situation is right for you.

Historic Districts

You love your neighborhood, because it’s one of the most charming areas of town. Every time you drive up the block you feel a sense of nostalgia— for the home you grew up in or maybe the one your parents grew up in. Then you pull into your driveway and you notice those structural issues you want to fix. The problem is, you need approval from the preservation board.

The preservation of existing buildings (like your home) and the general character of your neighborhood is the board’s responsibility. You’ll likely have to submit a proposal for any major exterior work. This can be a lengthy and expensive process, as you might want to consult with architects and contractors first to ensure your well-meaning plans don’t get rejected. 

Homeowners Associations 

HOA membership is typically required for you to buy a home in the community, and that’s because the HOA is run by you and your neighbors. Included in memberships are yearly fees for community upkeep. Expensive? Yes, but consider this: HOAs exist because you and your neighbors want to build a community that preservation boards will someday maintain. 

Let’s revisit that drive home through your neighborhood. You pull into your driveway and now decide to put in a new fence. Your copy of the HOA’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) would be your first point of reference before removing the old fence and installing a new one. CC&Rs are documents you should review thoroughly— they outline all the conditions of your ownership, including rules about home improvement projects. 

Isn’t There An Easier Way?

Preservation and HOA boards are notoriously hard to deal with, but there’s a good reason why: they’re likely responsible for why you fell in love with your neighborhood and home in the first place. Living in polished and preserved communities comes with responsibility, so be sure to check with realtors and city officials to determine if that future home is in a historic district or HOA community. If you decide either living situation is a good fit, read as much literature (from the city and/or HOA board) as you can. Prepare yourself for what it means to live in that idyllic community.

No matter where you choose to live, Open Mortgage is always available to discuss your financing needs for home buying and/or improvement projects. We have agents ready and eager to walk you through every step of the process. Visit OpenMortgage.com for more information.

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