HOA Crime of the Week: Painting the house blue

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities Blog

I grew up in suburban eastern Pennsylvania, in a Levittown-esque neighborhood of modest one-story homes. Back in those days, the 1950s-era homes were built with asbestos siding and our house was a drab gray for several years, while our family resided as tenants.

All of the houses had big picture windows in the living room, and a carport on one side. You could go into any one of the neighboring houses and see the exact same layout, or perhaps a mirror image. But no one ever heard of a homeowners association.

Over the years, each homeowner decorated, landscaped, and added onto these homes. It was an organic process based upon personal preference and lifestyle. When I was about eight years old, my parents purchased the home we had been renting, and one of the first personal touches we added was to paint the house blue.

It was the only house that shade of blue in the whole neighborhood. And it was ours. And no one complained.

Gone are those days, I suppose. The latest controversy in HOA-Land is that a Texas couple, Keely and Peter Dubrova, recently purchased a home and decided to paint it teal blue.

Couple targeted online after painting their home bright blue

KHOU.com (Houston, TX)

According to the homeowners, the HOA did approve the paint colors. But after the job was complete, a local real estate agent (that wishes to remain anonymous) decided to post a photo of the newly painted blue Victorian style house on social media.

Immediately, the nasty comments appeared, and even some direct threats to the homeowners. Now the HOA is backtracking, and telling the homeowners they must repaint the house.

Below is a copy of the original post – on a website bearing the HOA’s name – that started the Blue House controversy. I won’t include a link to the comments, because I don’t want to generate any more publicity. Some of them are nasty. But there are also a few supporters of the freedom to paint your house any color you like.

BLUE House in Pinehurst Subdivision (Reeaalllyy Blue)

A few days ago one of the home owners in my neighborhood decided they wanted to paint their house 2 different shades of vibrant teal. I’ve been told from a source that one of the owners is from Cali and wanted her house to look like the ones in San Francisco and that the ACIA approved the colors. I have attached a picture of the house.

All personal preferences and tastes for the colors aside, I want to do a survey and ask your opinion on how you think this might effect the home values of the houses in the area and the houses particularly close to it (any house that can see this bright blue abode from their own windows and yards or have to drive by it every day). For those of you who live in the subdivision, and especially any of you who live close to it, I’d really like for you to weigh in. Even those of you who don’t, please let me know what your thoughts are and how you would feel if you lived close to it.

If you were a buyer looking to purchase a house in the area, would you want to move into a house next door or across the street from this one and have to look at it everyday? Would you consider buying one close to it ONLY if the seller would accept a price substantially lower than market value? Would you need a “steal” or “deal” to purchase a house close by?

As a neighbor who passes this house every day, I find it to be an eyesore. At first I thought “this is a joke, right? Just for halloween? must be the primer color, the actual paint color has to be different…”

As a real estate agent, I think it is very likely that the color of this house will effect buyer’s willingness to move in to a house close to it. As for the ACIA, one of the benefits of owning a home in an HOA is that the value of your home is supposed to be protected from neighbors doing “upgrades” that might make their own home more difficult to sell in the future and therefore possibly damage the resale value of their home. So if the ACIA really did approve this, I think they made the wrong decision.

Again, this is not about personal preferences for the color. You may include that if you wish, but please give your opinion on how you think it will effect the values of surrounding homes too. If you live close by and feel that your property itself will be effected, please say so. I’d like to use responses of those who will be effected and bring them to the attention of the ACIA board if it is felt that this is indeed an issue by the community and neighbors.

As my 24-year-old son would say, this is a First World Problem.

Why in the world do some people obsess about the color of their neighbor’s house, and whether or not it “fits in” with the other houses in the neighborhood? What is it about non-conformity that stirs such angst and vitriol? Who has the time and inclination to hurl anonymous insults at one’s neighbor on social media?

Over a blue house.

And some fear-mongering over its threat to property values. Enough fear to put the Blue House issue on the board meeting agenda for October 26.

Let’s put the matter into perspective. One blue house will not have an adverse effect on property values. But the negative publicity for the HOA, and the way the neighbors treat one another on a public forum, will probably discourage buyers from purchasing a home in a neighborhood where they might not feel welcome.

Two neighbors were interviewed by KHOU, and at least one said she does not think the Dubrovas should be “punished” over their choice of paint color. Good for her.

Let’s hope most of the owners are willing to identify themselves, and agree to welcome their new neighbors, blue house and all.

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