Residents of Wallen Chase subdivision say they were approached Tuesday by their association president who handed them a letter telling them to remove their political yard signs. One of those residents, Jennifer Barnes, says the neighborhood had no problem with the signs four years ago, and she believes she is entitled to share her political opinion.
More than 80 percent of newly built homes belong to association communities, reports the Associated Press; 24.4 million homes, or 20 percent of all homes in America, are represented by HOAs, with concentrations higher in some states. You can try to look for an HOA whose culture, rules, and members appeal to you—but then again, if just one or two board members quit or are replaced, your HOA’s culture and rules might become completely different/personally unbearable to you.
And if you somehow end up on the board’s bad side by, say, planting an unauthorized flower, or flying your flag on the wrong type of pole, it’s likely that your HOA will fine you, lien you, and threaten you with foreclosure—just like Jim Lane’s HOA did.
1. “We Can’t Wait to Get Our Hands on Your Money — Or Even Your Home.”
A gardening violation. That’s what landed Jeffrey DeMarco in hot water with his Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., homeowners association a few years ago: He planted too many roses on his four-acre property. Peeved, the association fined him monthly and sat back as the bills mounted. Then it placed a lien on his property and threatened to foreclose, according to DeMarco.
He took the board to court, but lost on the grounds that he had violated the association’s architectural design rules. (In addition to planting roses, he also had regraded the site.) In the end, he got stuck with the association’s $70,000 legal bill and lost his home to the bank. “Mr. DeMarco came into the community and wanted to step outside the rules,” says Walt Ekard, the association manager. “That’s a detriment to everyone.”
Michael Clauer is a captain in the Army Reserve who commanded over 100 soldiers in Iraq. But while he was fighting for his country, a different kind of battle was brewing on the home front. Last September, Michael returned to Frisco, Texas, to find that his homeowners’ association had foreclosed on his $300,000 house—and sold it for $3,500. This story illustrates the type of legal quagmire that can get out of hand while soldiers are serving abroad and their families are dealing with the stress of their deployment. And fixing the mess isn’t easy.
Health insurance costs for families are up considerably: “Kaiser’s survey found that annual insurance premiums to cover people through their employers average $5,429 for single people and $15,073 for a family of four in 2011. Those rates rose 8 percent for single people and 9 percent for families. In 2010, premiums rose just 3 percent for families from the previous year.”
Median incomes: These have fallen 7.3% since Obama took office, which translates into an average of $4,000. Since the so-called recovery started, median incomes continued to fall, dropping $2,544, or 4.8%.
Annual insurance premiums for families increased 4%, on average, to $15,745, according to the survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. That was down from a 9% hike in 2011.
Tuesday’s presidential debate touched on some massive economic issues that are affecting all Americans. The immense increase in gas prices was a crucial part of the discussion, but have other everyday products seen a drastic increased in price over the same time period? According to Blaze research on data provided by the the Bureau of Labor Statistics* gas prices are not alone in skyrocketing over the last decade. Wait till you see chocolate chip cookies!
Who Won “Last Night’s” Debate?
As to Ladka’s question about who turned down the Benghazi security requests and why, Obama reportedly told him that “releasing the individual names of anyone in the State Department would really put them at risk,” Ladka says. [Emphasis mine.]