Finding conversion between two distant stories with one major point:

Lesson #1: Read the HOA docs and any neighborhood covenants and restrictions before you buy a home.

Lesson #2: An awful lot could be solved and avoided if people would just talk to each other.

Lesson #3: Homeowners’ Associations can be overly restrictive; if you don’t like it either don’t buy there or buy and get involved to change the rules.

From a Charlottesville-area neighborhood’s covenants and restrictions: (emphasis mine)

Article VII, Section 4. Signs. Except as may be required by legal authority or proceedings, no sign shall be erected or maintained on any Property by anyone including, but not limited to, an owner, a tenant, a realtor, a contractor, or a subcontractor, until the proposed sign, size, color, content, number of signs, and location of sign shall have been approved in writing by the Company. Refusal or approval of size, color, content, number of signs, or location of sign(s) may be based by the Company upon any ground, including purely aesthetic considerations, which in the sole and uncontrolled discretion of the Company seems sufficient. The Company further reserves the right to promulgate and amend from time to time uniform sign regulations which shall establish standard design criteria for signs, including but not limited to, real estate sales signs, erected upon any Property in (this neighborhood) . Company reserves the right to prohibit various classes of signs.

The Company and its agent shall have the right, whenever there shall have been placed or constructed on any Property in (this neighborhood) any sign which is in violation of these restrictions, to enter immediately upon such Property where such violation exists and summarily remove the same at the expense of the Property Owner.

A family in Louisiana is being sued by their HOA for not taking down a sign honoring their son’s service in our military:

The Gardens of Southgate filed the suit this month against Timothy and Jodi Burr, a Bossier City couple who have lived within the subdivision since 2006. The Burrs placed a large multi-colored banner with a picture of their 20-year-old son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Corey Burr, and the phrase “Our son defends our freedom” in January after Corey Burr was deployed to Afghanistan.

Note that Virginia Code grants the Purchaser three days to review HOA disclosures and terminate the Contract for any reason whatsoevercarte blanche to cancel.

A. Subject to the provisions of subsection A of § 55-509.10, a person selling a lot shall disclose in the contract that (i) the lot is located within a development that is subject to the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act (§ 55-508 et seq.); (ii) the Act requires the seller to obtain from the property owners’ association an association disclosure packet and provide it to the purchaser; (iii) the purchaser may cancel the contract within three days after receiving the association disclosure packet or being notified that the association disclosure packet will not be available; (iv) if the purchaser has received the association disclosure packet, the purchaser has a right to request an update of such disclosure packet in accordance with subsection H of § 55-509.6 or subsection C of § 55-509.7, as appropriate; and (v) the right to receive the association disclosure packet and the right to cancel the contract are waived conclusively if not exercised before settlement.

Lesson #2 from the above-mentioned story: an awful lot could be solved and avoided if people would just talk to each other.

The Burrs responded initially by requesting a meeting with the association to discuss the issue. Burr said they never got a response about when it could take place. And instead, she received a visit from a HOA representative who wanted to discuss the violation and again request the sign be removed.

I have a feeling that next year’s presidential election (it sure does feel like it’s this year, doesn’t it?) is going to lead to a lot of political signs in neighborhoods and that there may be some conflicts – in this particular neighborhood and elsewhere.

Originally posted at RealCentralVA, Charlottesville’s real estate blog.