let’s get real wednesdays: before you sign on the dotted line

peeling the layers to buy a homewe know that a good portion of people choose a home based mainly on emotion. but, the many reasons for buying a home is like peeling layers of an onion. you have your price point, your location, how the home makes you feel, upgrades/maintenance needs, and square footage. these are just to name a few and they vary in importance to each person. regardless, there always seems to be one or two layers that are over-looked that can greatly affect if you actually would want to live there.

say you found a home that you love on a bigger sized lot. the home is perfect except it doesn’t have that garage you want. the price of the home gives you wiggle room to be able to afford building your own garage. you buy the house. you start pulling permits and come to find out you can’t build that garage due to setbacks andĀ covenantsĀ on the property. buyers, be warned. this has happened many times in the past and will certainly happen again.

what is a setback? a setback is a distance from the road, shore, waterway, or wetlands that you are restricted from building on [even sometimes fencing or pavement] by municipal ordinances and zoning. they are set in place for easy access to utility work, privacy for neighbors, fire safety, and even to protect environmental features.

what is a covenant? a covenant is a restriction put in place and enforced by the neighborhood or community board in which you live. covenants can vary vastly– ranging from no sheds, fences, garages, or other free-standing structures, what color your house can or can’t be, the color of your shutters, or even what type of window shapes you are permitted if you are renovating your home. covenants were put in place [have been around for a very long time!] to protect home values for everyone in the community. you would not want your neighbor’s home painted pink and blue striped the day you put your home up for sale. or have that neighbor with ton of lawn ornaments, children’s play sets, and junk cars sitting in the yard.

so, when you decide on a home, do some research and investigation before signing on the dotted line. if you wanted that garage make sure you can do it even with the property’s setback lines and neighborhood covenants. it will save you many future headaches and disappointments!

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