Chickens, fresh eggs, an organic vegetable garden, and healthy living are some of the reasons why so many retirees are moving to the Sequim area. Here are some tips about chickens. If you want to be able to have chickens on your property, the first step is to check the covenants, also known as CC&Rs (Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions).
Chickens and Covenants
CC&Rs are the governing rules for a property. Not all properties have CC&Rs, but most do, and certainly all properties in a subdivision do. The typical covenants will restrict certain activities on your property. For example, the CC&Rs may say “no commercial livestock,” or “no commercial breeding of animals,” or “no poultry,” which prohibits all chickens. And there are some covenants which prohibit only roosters.
Here’s the challenge if you’re looking for a property that allows chickens. The MLS listings do not offer an option to listing agents to identify which properties allow chickens, which means there is no way to search this in the MLS. The only way to find out if a property could have chickens is to read the CC&Rs, and that’s a recorded document that buyers do not usually get their hands on until they have a pending transaction and their title company finds the CC&Rs and produces them for everyone to read. Listing agents will not typically know if the CC&Rs allow or prohibit chickens. Listing agents do not usually have a copy of the CC&Rs, let alone have read them. If the property is in a city, there will be zoning restrictions on farm animals.
Here’s a tip. If having chickens is a priority, you will need to avoid city properties, subdivision lots, and get further out of town. Even then a short plat will typically have CC&Rs and may prohibit chickens. It will be important to have a buyer’s agent who can help you filter through properties, but do not just send your buyer’s agent a list of listings and ask him or her to tell you which ones allow chickens. There’s no way to know without ordering CC&Rs from the title company for each property and then reading all of them. That could take a while, and unless you know for sure that a certain property is one of your top three, you could be sending your buyer’s agent on a wild goose chase. Pun intended.
It is possible to find some CC&Rs online, but that requires some know how on real estate research online and how to use document numbers and the local auditor’s database. Even then, it can take hours to pull together CC&Rs on various properties. I’ve helped several buyers find their ideal home where they could have their dream of raising chickens, but it was not easy.
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