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Covenants & Restrictions are Different Up Here in the Mountains!

Covenants & Restrictions are Different Up Here in the Mountains!

I frequently have customers and clients that ask me to show them only “unrestricted land”.  When I ask them why they explain that they have lived in communities and neighborhoods that have very strict Covenants & Restrictions, and when they come up here to the North Georgia Mountains to look for property or a home they specifically do not want to continue living under the watchful eyes of nosy neighbors and/or HOA Property Managers.   The last house I lived in (located in South Florida) had 5,000 homes in 32 communities and there were over 200 pages of Covenants & Restrictions.  They even had their “Property Managers” driving around all day looking for violations to write up and potentially fine homeowners for non-compliance, and they had an “Architectural Review Committee” that had to review everything from home colors to fences and storage buildings before you could do anything at all to your property. So I definitely get the issue!  I never wanted to live in another community that had them either, until I moved up here to the North Georgia Mountains.

Most of the counties up here in the North Georgia Mountains have no zoning, so up here Covenants & Restrictions can actually be a good thing!  They are typically written with the intent to keep people from storing trash on their front porches, or having multiple inoperable cars up on blocks in the front yard, or making sure that no mobile or manufactured homes are allowed within the community, or that no one has chickens, pigs, or other farm animals running around the neighborhood.  Typically the developers that buy up a large tract of land and then subdivide it and create a subdivision are the ones that attach the Covenants & Restrictions to the land in the first place.  They typically do this to ensure that the community appearance stays as nice as possible so they can sell the homes for the highest possible price and they also try to write the Covenants & Restrictions so that they help maintain or even increase home values.  Some Covenants & Restrictions will also include an annual “Road Maintenance Fee” to make sure that every property owner in the community pays their fair share to keep the roads maintained.

Some communities, like the one I currently live in, have less than 4 pages of Covenants & Restrictions attached to the land, yet there is no Home Owners Association (HOA) or Property Owners Association (POA).  So even though I cannot have chickens or have junk cars in my yard, there are no annual fees, there are no HOA or POA fees or dues, and best of all, there is no Property Manager or Architectural Review Board! I would say about 25% of the listings that I see that have Covenants & Restrictions do not have HOA’s or POA’s, so my situation is not unique.

So before you totally eliminate looking for a property that is located on land with Covenants & Restrictions, I suggest you read them to see if they are things you consider to be beneficial.

If you decide you still want “unrestricted land” because perhaps you want a horse, or some goats, or a few chickens, etc., then when you do find a property that you are interested in I would suggest that you take the time to view the property on the aerial satellite maps on the local Property Appraisers website so you can click on the neighboring parcels and see what is located on them.  That way you can see if you are close to USFS land, or chicken houses, or a main highway, or a lake or river, etc.

To help you search for homes, cabins, or lots and land that are either “restricted” or “unrestricted” you can use my new Advanced Search tool by clicking here. The default is set to “Residential” in the top left corner, but you can use the “pull down” button to change that to “Lots & Land”.

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Steve Tucker

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