There are some benefits to belonging to an HOA (Home Owner’s Association) but often the benefits are overshadowed but the negative aspects of HOAs wielding too much control over homeowners. I live in Anthem, Arizona, one of the best planned master communities in the country and a wonderful place to live I might add, however with one of the strictest HOAs you will ever run across.
I have been received complaints from my HOA because my grass wasn’t green enough, for parking a car on my rockscape in front of our RV gate and even for parking a car on the street in front of our house. Neighbors have reported stories of being cited for not wrapping up their garden hoses properly, leaving garbage cans out when they are supposed to be in and even having as little as 5 teeny tiny weeds in their front yard yard. However this weekend was the epitome of an HOA going too far.
My wife decided to have her third garage sale in our six years of living up here (the last one was supposed to be the last – yeah right). To help market the sale, she placed ads on Craigslist as well as our own community forum, AnthemStuff.com.
Even with the ads, you need some signage to direct people in as this is a pretty large community. So we purchased some of those inexpensive but professional looking yellow garage sale signs available at the local Home Depot along with wooden stakes to drive them into the ground. No cheesy looking boxes with hand written lettering or duct-tapped poster board to poles or street signs. These are nice looking signs that are not only professional looking but actually do a great job of drawing people in.
The sale was planned for Friday and Saturday of last week. We got an early start at 6 am where I proceeded to place about 8 signs around our immediate area. I don’t think an hour passed before a customer asked us why we did not have any signs directing people in (they came by the Craigslist ad). I thought that they must be blind. These signs are yellow and stand out pretty well. How could they not see them? I jumped in the car to check it out and sure enough, about half of my signs were gone. At first I though it was kids walking to school or maybe competing sellers. I quickly replaced them and returned to the house.
Being diligent, I thought I’d check them a half hour later. More signs gone, including one of our friends real estate sandwich style signs that run about $50. She had placed another one further away from our location so I thought I’d rescue that one before it was stolen as well, however when I arrived, it was gone as well. Who would steal our signs in this manner? It can’t be kids. I wouldn’t think competing garage sellers would be that devious.
To make a long story short, I lost about 15 signs over the two days. Who stole them? Our lovely HOA! Apparently they don’t like them because they mess up the community. So rather than try to discover who is placing these signs and asking them to remove them, they simply steal them without giving you any notice.
We discovered it was the HOA because our Realtor friend called them and asked them point blank if they had taken them to which they replied that they had. I also discovered that this happens quite often to anyone who has garage sales in this community. Therefore if you live in this HOA or one similar to it, better make sure you have an abundance of cheap signs so you can replace them throughout the day.
If you ask me, it is going a bit overboard. Let’s face the facts: We as Americans buy too much stuff, stuff we eventually don’t want or need anymore and stuff we have to get rid of. Therefore garage sales will always be with us, no matter what type of community you live in.
What our HOA should do (if they were smart) would be to develop some standardized signs in which they could then rent or loan to sellers. This way, the HOA knows about it, they avoid tacky looking boxes and signs lying around all over the place and the community can function in a normal fashion. They have already standardized real estate signs such as “For Sale” or “Open Hose” signs. Why not garage sales as well?
One positive thing I did take away from this experience is that if you have any large boxes, pieces of plywood and the like that you want to get rid of, but they either won’t fit in the trash or you don’t feel like taking them to the dump, just write or paint “Yard Sale” on them and place them on the corner of one of your streets. The HOA is happy to dispose of them for you at no cost. 😉