House Hunting: The prologue

I have a great house. I like my neighbors. I love the parks and ponds and ducks and fish. The schools are the best in the area.  But I have an HOA.  For those of you that don’t live in a state where members of the state government own legal entities that confiscate property for minor infractions and sell it at auction to their friends…well, that must be nice.

I, on the other hand, live in Texas.  Texas homeowners who live in HOAs have lost virtually all of their property rights in the last decade.  (HOA=Home Owner’s Association).  HOAs are mandatory in most new developments, and fees range from $250 a year in lesser neighborhoods to thousands per year in gated communities.

See, the thing is, with a Texas HOA, is that they can auction off your property with almost no notice if they claim you owe them money, even if they can’t prove that they ever told you that you owed the money, and you’ve never been served with papers saying that they’re taking your house.  It’s all kinds of wrong.  Witness the case linked above, where an officer serving in Iraq had his $300,000 house stolen and sold out from under him by his HOA because he missed his $800 HOA fee while fighting for his country.

Anyway, my HOA hates me. We get letters about stupid stuff all the time.  The playset doesn’t match the house. The trampoline is visible because we were mandated to have a wrought iron fence instead of a privacy fence. We can’t park our cars in our garage because we have to hide the garbage cans in there, instead of beside the house like everyone else…because we don’t have a privacy fence. My all time favorite: We had too many dog toys in the back yard.  Yes, my dog had too many toys. And we had to remove my son’s $2000 cedar swing-set, playhouse and slide because cedar doesn’t match my brick and his slide was yellow. Keep in mind that all our neighbors with privacy fences have playsets and garden sheds, but because we’re by the pond, we can’t have a privacy fence, so my kid is not allowed to play in his yard. Yeah, they really are that insane.

I’ve never been good with authority, so I’ve set out on a quest for a new house, not in an HOA. I’m going to document the journey…the good, the bad and the frankly absurd that I’m finding in the DFW Metroplex house hunt.

To set the stage: Here are the parameters I’m using to search:

  • Good schools (willing to go into high tax districts to get this)
  • 2000 sq feet or bigger
  • Mature trees
  • 3+ bedrooms
  • Enough yard space for 2 large dogs

Optional but preferred

  • Pool
  • One story
  • Acreage

You wouldn’t think this would be too difficult…but oh, it is.  It really, really is.  HOAs are the Texas version of vampire squid wrapping their tentacles around all the best properties.

And so the quest begins.

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