10 Deed Restrictions That Could Ruin Your Dream Home

Before you break ground on your dream home, find out what deed restrictions you might want to avoid. See more houses and real estate pictures.
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You can see it in your head now. There's the white picket fence, and a boat parked out front that you take to the lake on the weekends. You have beautiful picture windows looking out on a well-manicured lawn that seems to go on for miles. Later, you'll sit on your huge back porch, hidden from view by your privacy fence, and overlook your pool and the huge shed where you keep your gardening equipment. This is your dream home -- the one you've been waiting for your entire life.

But, not so fast. You might need to keep dreaming if you plan to build that home on land that is subject to any deed restrictions. A deed restriction (also known as a restrictive covenant), is a provision in a deed that limits what can be built on a property, or how that property can be used. Deed restrictions "run with the land," meaning they apply to all future owners of the property, not just the person who owns it when the restriction is adopted [source: McKenzie]. The origins of these restrictions can vary. Maybe the property is located in a neighborhood with an active homeowner's association that created the restrictions, or in a historic urban neighborhood where restrictions have been in place for years, or in a rural area where two neighboring farmers made a deal 100 years ago that is still in force.

Wherever they come from, the scope of what deed restrictions can control might shock you. And changing them can involve costly legal expenses and huge amounts of time and effort, if it's even possible. So before you break ground on that dream home, read on to find out about deed restrictions you might want to avoid.