For many people, one of the best ways to feel like they’re getting a fresh start is to purge their home of all the needless “stuff” that seems to just take up space. If you’ve wanted to get rid of things like your grandma’s old ugly ottoman, those clothes you haven’t worn in over a decade, or the toys your kids never play with, now is a great time to do it. And while you’re at it, why not make a little extra cash by selling your unused stuff at a garage sale?
Before you organize a big event on your driveway, make sure you know how garage sales are handled within your community. Check with your board and HOA governing documents to see if garage sales are even permitted in the first place on an individual basis. Some communities have black-and-white rules about whether garage sales are allowed or not within community boundaries. In some communities, while personal garage sales may not be allowed, community-wide garage sales that occur once or twice a year might be.
If your CC&Rs do allow for personal garage sales, make sure that it still complies with city regulations in your area pertaining to sales tax. If any of the following apply to your garage sale, by law you need to obtain a business tax registration certificate (a business license):
- The sale includes other items that were not originally received or purchased for use in your home (like merchandise for the sole purpose of selling for profit)
- You hold more than five sale events per calendar year
- Each sale spans more than two consecutive days
Should Your HOA Allow Garage Sales?
If you are a member of your HOA board, there’s a good chance that the issue of garage sales has been discussed at some point during your meetings. Some communities have CC&Rs allowing garage sales, but board members may think they are a bad idea and want to banish them. On the other hand, some communities may not allow garage sales according to CC&Rs, but residents are pushing to re-instate them. So, what’s the best solution?
Typically, the biggest concern about garage sales with board members is that they will negatively impact property values. Since the main responsibility of the board is to maintain property values in the community, they likely have good reason for their opinion. However, it’s important to note that garage sales are typically short-lived events and generally don’t have a permanent effect on the community. Some may argue that they’ve become an American tradition of sorts that also serve a purpose.
Before your board makes the decision to banish garage sales altogether, you may want to consider other alternatives while still allowing homeowners to participate in them, just with certain oversight, such as:
- Outlining specific days of the week or times that a sale can be held
- The number of sales permitted per resident each year
- Requiring operators to register or pay a fee
Another compromise many communities find is to agree to hold community-wide garage sale events rather than permitting personal garage sales. These events allow homeowners to get involved, but limit it to one or two weekends per year, which also helps keep a handle on traffic through the neighborhood and maintain the overall appearance. And as a bonus, they help foster a sense of community among neighbors, too.
When it comes down to it, HOA boards will have a lot of different opinions about garage sales and there’s no one set solution that’s right for each community. When making a decision about garage sales, make sure you take into account not just the appearance and value of the community, but also how your decision will affect the attitude and morale of the homeowners who live there. If you have any questions about how to handle a garage sale in your community, please contact us at Spectrum today! We are happy to help!