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Read the HOA DocumentsWhat do you think about living in a neighborhood with an HOA, a homeowner’s association?  For many, living within an HOA means a nice, tidy community.  For others, it’s like signing up for Big Brother telling you way too much about what you can and cannot do.

HOAs in the San Jose area vary tremendously in what they can and cannot do, and also in the types of rules which are enforced.

In Silver Creek, in the Evergreen area of San Jose, you can look around and see a vast collection of stuccoed houses with tiled roofing.  So it would not surprise you if your roof needed to be tile there.

At Shadowbrook in the Almaden area of San Jose, houses are much older and were put up in about 1970, so you would expect more diversity, not so “cookie cutter”.  But take a look at the Shadowbrook architectural control policies and it appears that houses in that area must get approval before re-roofing.  A new wood shake roof will be automatically accepted (surprising, given the movement away from wood shake!).  A high end composition shingle roof will be allowed, but lower weight will not.  No mention of the metal roofs which are made to look like shingles, tiled roofs or any other types (foam, flat etc.). So your choices are limited by the HOA.  Is that good or bad?  That depends on what you want.

In some HOAs, you may not wash your car in the neighborhood at all. Want it clean? Take it to a car wash.  In some, you can only have your garage door open when moving your automobile in or out of the garage.  Many have rules about curtains that show on the front side of the home.

Do not assume that all HOAs are equally lax or stringent.  Be especially careful where pets are concerned!  Many tears are shed over this issue.  Buyers or tenants move in only to find out that their beloved pet is not welcome.

Boring as it may seem, the only way to know whether you will find any HOA regulations tolerable is to read them.  Buying or even leasing a home is a big decision and commitment.  Do not be rushed in making your decision about a condo, townhouse, duet home, house or any real estate at all with a Homeowner Association.   Get all of the information – all several hundred pages of it – and put the time in to read, read, read.  You’ll be glad you did.

Related reading

Why are those Silicon Valley HOA dues so high?

Does your HOA have enough in reserves?

Understand the Pros and Cons of Homeowners Associations in Silicon Valley

Buying a Silicon Valley condo? A few questions to ask!






  • Silicon Valley Realtor, selling homes in Los Gatos, Saratoga, San Jose, Silicon Valley, and nearby since 1993. Prolific blogger with a network of sites.