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Aesthetics As An Economic Issue

Summary

CAI opposes any and all attempts at the federal, state and local levels to enact laws or regulations that ignore or negate the economic importance of aesthetic controls.

Policy

The overall appearance of any common interest community has an economic impact on property values. When communities look old, poorly maintained or without a unified scheme in architecture, color or landscaping, property values of individual owners’ properties as well as the whole community suffer. When aesthetics of any one development look clean, well maintained, properly proportioned and part of an overall design or compatible color scheme, owner expectations are met and property values are sustained and improved. In fact, independent studies have shown that real estate values generally appreciate in a common interest community when compared with properties not located within such a community.

In order to maintain an attractive and valuable “curbside appeal,” common interest communities must control aesthetic interests of the development. Aesthetic control extends to the design and maintenance of all improvements existing on the footprint of the development, including, but not limited to: siding, fences, landscaping, lighting and even buildings housing units as well as lots, where applicable, all of which are visible throughout the community.

Governing documents obligate the association to “maintain” the property. Sometimes governing documents also expressly provide aesthetic controls within the declaration, restricting fence styles or paint color choices. Where governing documents are generalized or even silent on aesthetics, many communities craft policy resolutions to address details and procedures relating to architecture, landscaping and other aesthetic interests. When communities fail to construct or consistently enforce aesthetic policy, the result is usually property that lacks visual coherence due to poorly contemplated and executed aesthetic schemes. The results can be devastating for owner lifestyle and property value.

RECOMMENDATION

CAI strongly supports community-crafted aesthetic controls, in accordance with governing documents or supplemental thereto, and opposes any and all attempts by federal, state and local government to interfere, ignore or negate the contractual obligation between associations and its members permitting and requiring the association to maintain aesthetics that meet lifestyle expectations of the collective ownership, match a standard of cleanliness and maintenance and are part of a larger, unified aesthetic scheme. Architectural or design review committees should include professionals or seek advice from CAI business partners on a regular basis.

Policy History

Adopted by the Board of Trustees, October 25, 1997
Amended by the Government and Public Affairs Committee on March 25, 2011
Adopted by the Board of Trustees, May 4, 2011

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