Title searches can often unearth deed restrictions that are placed on a property. Also known as restrictive covenants, deed restrictions are one of the more interesting topics when it comes to real estate. They’re pre-adopted rules baked into the deed that the owner of the property must follow and adhere to. These restrictions are legally binding and can include:

  1. The payment of dues, homeowners’ association fees or the like.
  2. What color the dwelling can be.
  3. How the property can be landscaped.
  4. How the property can be used (for example, where visitors can park, fencing, decoration, garden beds, etc.)
  5. What types and size pets the owner can have.

For example, unknowing homeowners may assume that certain maintenance, such as street lighting, is handled through property taxes. They might also assume that they can adopt a large breed dog. They may also make considerable investments to the home, such as painting, only to be forced to revert to an original color or to a color from a pre-approved palette. If the homeowner requires a space to park a project car or an RV, for instance, these restrictions can be devastating. These owners may soon be surprised with a bill for dues a fine and/or a cease-and-desist order for not abiding by the deed restrictions placed on their property.

The same can be true for buyers looking to buy an empty plot. In this case, deed restrictions can include how big of a home can be built, how many garages or outbuildings can be erected (and their size,) or the ability to install a pool.

Of course, many deed restrictions are obvious, especially if the property at hand is in a planned community, such as an adult living development or community that might maintain a clubhouse, tennis courts and/or pools. They may also handle upkeep like landscaping and snow removal. These types of communities almost always have an HOA and their associated dues and are often seen (and positioned as) a benefit to living there. Indeed, deed restrictions are intended to increase and maintain property values in the area.

The issue comes when they are unexpected and prevent a buyer from using the property as they intended.

That is where a thorough title search comes in. Any deed restrictions will come to light during a title search, whether they are in place and enforced by an HOA, a municipality, etc. This will protect a buyer from purchasing a home that they won’t be able to use as intended or be responsible for costs they were unaware of.

Principle Abstract has years of experience performing comprehensive title searches for homebuyers. If there are deed restrictions attached to a property they will be uncovered and disclosed, ensuring our clients aren’t blindsided after their purchase.

Interested in purchasing a home? Give our office a call and a member of our team can assist you.