Homeowners who're looking to remodel their homes could be in for a nasty surprise due to so-called deed restrictions, Realtor.com is reporting. Such restrictions can limit the number of features in a property, including the amount of bedrooms, the height of the building, the kinds of vehicles that can be parked in the driveway, type of fencing, number of trees that can be removed, and even the color and style of construction materials that are used.
Real estate agents should take it upon themselves to make their clients aware of any deed restrictions attached to a particular property before they buy it. These are often called "restrictive covenants", and can affect any property - not only those that are part of a homeowners association.
“Deed restrictions turn up during title searches and a careful reading of the current deed,” the Realtor.com article notes. Anyone who buys the property must abide by the restrictions, even if they were put in place on the land a century ago. Deed restrictions are known for being difficult to change and often take a judicial ruling to invalidate them.
“When building a new home, or even doing an addition to your current home, it’s vital that you check your deed for any building restrictions,” says Bill Golden, a real estate professional in Atlanta.
Zachary D. Schorr, a Los Angeles real estate attorney, told realtor.com® that he’s seen deed restrictions run the gamut, such as those that required exterior paint colors to match colors found in nature to those that restricted rental properties.
“With the rise of VRBO and Airbnb, we are even seeing restrictions on nightly rentals and the minimum rental period for a house,” Schorr says.