What is a planned unit development (PUD)?

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What is a PUD in real estate?

Buying a PUD is a lot like buying a condo: you own your home, but share ownership of the common areas of the development with your neighbors. Unlike a condo, however, you can buy homes of different types, including townhouses and single-family homes.

PUDs do not have to follow traditional zoning standards. Neighborhoods in a PUD may contain single-family homes, condos, townhouses, stores, restaurants, and public assets such as community centers and swimming pools, all grouped together. Some homes may be zoned to sit close to roadsides, while others may be required to sit several yards back. Often one set of blocks in a PUD will contain residences that look completely different from those in another set.

PUDs also often offer amenities that are hard to find in other developments, ranging from high-end fitness centers to luxury shops and pools. The goal is to create a kind of miniature city for the inhabitants. They can bank, exercise, dine out, and in many cases even go to school without leaving PUD.

When you buy property in a PUD, you must also become a member of a homeowners association. This association is responsible for the operation and maintenance of public spaces at PUD, including swimming pools, community centers, meeting rooms, playgrounds and recreation areas. The syndicate of co-owners is also responsible for maintaining the entrances and green spaces of the PUD.

Homeowners’ associations are typically governed by an elected board, whose members vote on landscaping contracts, maintenance schedules, and requirements for newly built housing. You will pay a subscription to this association each month. Association rules can also govern how you maintain your own home, possibly limiting the type of plants you can grow, the color you can paint your property, and even the height of the grass in your front yard.

Characteristics of a PUD development

Although all PUDs are different, they all contain certain characteristics:

  • PUDs offer different types of homes that sell for different prices. In some PUDs, this may mean larger and smaller single-family homes. In others, it might mean a broader mix of housing types, including townhouses, condos, townhouses, and single-family homes.
  • These developments often have their own shopping districts, bars, entertainment centers and restaurants. Community residents can usually walk to these amenities. The goal is to create a type of self-contained community in which residents could eventually meet all of their shopping, dining, and entertainment needs without leaving PUD.
  • Many PUDs may even contain office buildings, cultural centers and schools. Again, this helps create a self-contained community where residents can learn, work and live without leaving the development.
  • Common areas are often a selling point of PUD. Many of these developments contain playgrounds, swimming pools, gymnasiums, community centers and meeting rooms. Residents might need to swipe a keycard to access some of these community areas. The syndicate of co-owners of the PUD generally ensures the operation and maintenance of these common areas.
  • Extensive landscaping is another key feature of most PUDs. The neighborhoods that make up a PUD are often surrounded by wooded areas, ponds, flower gardens, or manicured lawns. Again, homeowners associations are responsible for maintaining these landscaped areas, a job that includes hiring landscaping companies and reviewing and renewing contracts with those companies.
  • Security is another draw for many who buy PUDs. Some PUDs are gated communities, requiring residents to show ID or swipe a card when entering the development. Others maintain their own private security. PUD residents pay for these services through their homeowners association dues.
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