Suburban Hillbillies

I wish there were an educational course or presentation for new homeowners to ennhance the understanding of the concept of property value. I would educate many about what makes a neighborhood nice or desirable. There might be a presentation, with overhead slides of property value “do’s and don’ts”. Perhaps a junket bus tour, with a guide’s narrative. Some need help to understand what a garbage disposal does and how to use it properly. How to use a dishwasher properly. Why cooking fat should not be poured down a drain. The generally accepted purposes of the each part of a suburban home: garage, patio, deck, front yard, back yard, driveway, mailbox, lawn.

Not everyone clearly understands what makes a nice neighborhood nice. Too many do not grasp the idea that a neighborhood can be made or destroyed by the actions of its residents. When we purchase a home, we buy a portion of a community. While we do have the right to control what goes on in and around our home, it is important that we remember that our home is also an integral part of the community, as a whole.

Good general rule of thumb: Look around. Whatever you are contemplating, if no one else does or has it, it’s very likely that it’s not the acceptable norm in your community.

Communities are too often devalued by the “I’ll do what I want ’cause it’s my house” attitude. It is interesting that the homeowners who object most or loudest to community covenants, bylaws or restrictions are the very ones from whom the community needs protection. I call them Suburban Hillbillies. They seem to have no awareness or regard for the community “identity”. They are the people who move into a home in a nice neighborhood and immediately begin to do things that are, at best, disruptive and, at worst, cause a significant drop in community property values.

This lack of understanding has no color, but often seems to be regional, ethnic or cultural in origin. Generally in American Suburbs, we do no eat in the bathroom, pee in the kitchen or simply throw garbage out the door. But surprisingly, depending on where they hale from, many do not understand any of this.

In a rural setting, it may not be unusual to make little or no distinction between the front and the back yards. There is only inside and outside. In Suburbia, however, perpetually visible clotheslines, swing sets, garbage cans and livestock at the front of a home (or from the street) can spell D-E-V-A-L-U-A-T-I-O-N for the entire neighborhood. There’s a difference between planting a garden and planting crops with a tractor (with rows with furrows to be seen from the street).

In many older inner-city buildings, there are few porches, balconies, patios or decks. Very often there are few trees outside of the local park. Having grown up in the inner city, I believe this is the origin of “stoop sitting”. The behavior seems cultural, but becomes misplaced in neighborhoods or apartment complexes that actually have patios and decks for the specific purpose of privately enjoying the outdoors.

It seems difficult for some to understand that their actions, in and around their home, directly affect the surrounding community. The concept of property value is one not always clearly understood.

The sale of a property can be directly impacted by such concerns as (to name only a few):

The homes nearby with burglar bars at every window

The homeowner who, on a beautifully wooded lot, reduces all the trees to stumps or paves over the grass (because he dislikes raking and mowing!)

The neighbors who paint over quietly elegant, stained, natural cedar siding with screaming, loud color palettes

Trash cans permanently stored on the front porch of the home across the street

Laundry conspicuously hung out to dry on a line or even over a fence or bannister

The neighbor who pulls up all the English Ivy “weeds” to plant corn and (real) cabbages in the front yard

The no-wheels-car stored in the front yard, propped up on cinderblocks

The home with several cars perpetually parked in the driveway or on the lawn

The home whose lawn is rarely mown or weeded.

The home with tents, canopies, picnic tables, swing sets erected at the front, street side of the property.

The home with a sofa on the front porch/ front lawn

There are a many concepts and behaviors that may cause no disruption in a rural or urban setting, but can be perceived as nuisances or eyesores in The Suburbs. In some instances, nuisance behaviors can become the subject of lawsuits.

I take personal offense with that element which infects our communities with spray painted graffiti and vandalism, created by those who obviously own nothing and have no understanding of the pride of ownership.

A community’s survival is directly affected by its residents’ understanding of their role in its success.

Many of us work very diligently to acquire and maintain a nice home in a great neighborhood. It isn’t right that someone else’s unawareness can cost each member of our community hundreds if not thousands of dollars in lowered property value.

Each of us knows at least one Suburban Hillbilly. Someone who just doesn’t seem to “get it”.Someone who, in exercising his ” because it’s my property!” right to be loud/ tacky/nasty is causing problems and costing the rest of us REAL MONEY.

Decode this message. Pass it on.

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