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Here's why it's important to read rules before buying a home

One of the great things about living in a Florida community with a homeowners association is you can feel confident nothing crazy will happen that will impact your property values.

The neighbors across the street can't paint the house purple with orange and black trim. The house next door can't be turned into a rental property where 12 college guys who throw rowdy parties live.

The rules are great. Until they affect you and something that you want to do that isn't allowed.

When you are looking to buy into a community with a homeowners association, you'll want to look at the community CC&Rs -- Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions – closely before closing the deal, or even making an offer. You might find, for example, by reading the community CC&Rs that it bans pickup trucks for personal use, even today's luxury models.

When you are reading the CC&Rs, you'll want to apply them to your personal lifestyle and situation. Think about your prized pickup truck.

The best covenants and rules should apply to common problems. Instead of banning pickup trucks because the people who wrote the document thought they were unsightly, the best CC&Rs instead institute rules that instead consider things such as a truck's size and purpose.

A ban on all vehicles over a certain size is fair if they won't fit in garages and overnight street parking isn't allowed. Or if a homeowners association doesn't want work trucks in the neighborhood, it could ban trucks primarily used for business or require them to have a cover on the truck bed.

Your home is the largest investment you'll probably ever made, and you want the experience of living in your house to be enjoyable and not riddled with conflict with the homeowners association. That's why reading the CC&Rs is so important. If you encounter gray areas in the document that you just aren't sure about, a consultation with an attorney skilled in real estate law could clear up any confusion.

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