Sentimental Journey Around Southmoor Gardens

guest blog by Nila Ridings
I was near the area so on a whim I decided to carve out a few minutes from a very busy day and see…see what my old neighborhood looks like today.  My very first house was one of the smaller ones with it’s big trees, a red brick ranch with zoysia grass, and hand-picked by my dad.  He called it my “starter” home.
 
Together, we remodeled the kitchen and I worked every weekend on one project after another after Dad died.  I had an arsenal of tools and endless energy.  My neighbor lady told me her husband always said I was the hardest working woman he’d ever seen. According to her, he would see me pull up in my little sports car, jump out in my high heels and suit with my briefcase in hand, and race inside.  15 minutes later I’d reappear in my overalls with my aluminum ladder (another gift from Dad) and up I’d go to clean the gutters. Back down to mow the lawn and grab the extension cord so I could trim the shrubs. Occasionally needing a bandage for a cut or scrape and once the ladder dipped and caught the ground while I was carrying it and smacked me in the eye.  I wore a really deep purple, red, and black eye for several days after that.  I was always busy, but I never knew somebody was observing my routine until Mrs. Neighbor told me. Today, I don’t recall her name.
 
pinkhouseWhat I do recall was Dad making sure I did not buy a house with an HOA.  After this HOA nightmare I have been living, I observed my old neighborhood with a peaked and open-minded interest.  I had totally forgotten about the pink house!  It was pink before I moved there in 1984.  No two houses look the same.  Many had American flags flying today…and always did.  Some with swimming pools and others with porch swings.  Some ranches, some two stories, and one that has totally gone away.  Possibly earlier today?  I don’t know, but the bulldozers were still there and the earth looked freshly dug but the house was gone from the corner lot.
 
Today’s visit confirmed one thing for sure; that this HOA-Free neighborhood did not lose its value.  I sold for double what I paid and today that house is worth double that amount.  The people that bought it still own it.  The city records say the average price in Southmoor Gardens is $188K but there are houses valued at $500K.  Imagine that! Houses holding that kind of value with basketball goals, American flags flying, various house colors…even a pink one…fences of different styles, every color in the crayon box for front doors, paver bricks and concrete driveways and even one with gravel.  Swing sets, gazebos, and wrap around porches.  Nothing looked “junky” but it all looked lived in.  Every single house seemed to sing “Home Sweet Home” in Kansas as I passed by.
 
Do those 700 residents realize they are living in a piece of paradise?  Do they realize how all the HOA and CAI snobs scream about the surefire guarantee of a pink house destroying the property values in the neighborhood? Well, it’s impossible to argue with happy neighbors and increased property values, isn’t it?
 
Southmoor Gardens I miss you now more than ever!
 
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About

Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

1 thought on “Sentimental Journey Around Southmoor Gardens

  1. Dave Russell

    Hindsight is 20/20 and Dad was absolutely right “NO HOA!” While I do understand having some-sort of minder for condominium complexes, I will never understand the need for an HOA in a neighborhood with detached homes.

    Most city’s have a code compliance department to help maintain property values. If you do receive a violation from a city, usually you have a fair shot at addressing the issue before receiving fines and threatening letters.

    To all those younger folks out there, take Nila’s fathers advice “NO HOA!”

    Reply

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