Chances are anyone from families in suburban neighborhoods to empty nester condo owners have similar boards and councils that manage their villages and villas.
The Community Associations Institute trade group for what's commonly known as HOAs (homeowners associations) notes that 69 million Americans live in 342,000 common-interest communities. They're typically enclaves that are large enough for a neighborhood organization or similar board to determine community disputes, vote on improvements and collect dues to oversee subdivisions and multifamily buildings.
Falls Church, Virginia-based CAI says the figures stem from the 2016 National and State Statistical Review for Community Association Data. The group this spring rolled out its biennial survey results showing "for the seventh time in 13 years, Americans living in HOAs and condominiums say they’re satisfied in their communities."
Community associations count homeowners' boards, condos and housing cooperatives. They "remain preferred places to call home for millions of Americans," according to the 2018 Homeowner Satisfaction Survey conducted by Zogby Analytics for the Foundation for Community Association Research.
The survey shows that 62 percent of people responding say their association’s rules "protect and enhance their property values" while 28 percent find a neutral impact. Most of the respondents say "neighbors elected to the governing board 'absolutely' or 'for the most part' serve the best interests of their communities," according to the institute.
Among other findings:
- Nearly 73 percent of residents said community managers provide "value and support" to residents and associations.
- Most common monthly assessments are in the $100–$300 per month range, although 17 percent are more than $500 a month.
- Two-thirds of surveyed property holders have attended community association board meetings, with the majority going to four a year.
- More than 60 percent of respondents believe that associations should insist that all homeowners pay their assessments, institute says.
"Community associations remain an essential component of the U.S. housing market, and — once again —a large majority of Americans who live in community associations report that they are happy and satisfied in their communities," says Thomas Skiba, the institute's chief executive. "The most recent survey validates that the majority of homeowners believe their boards are serving their community, that their fees fall within a reasonable range, and that being a part of their community association enhances and protects their property values," he says.
The report came out shortly before U.S. Senators Tim Scott, R-South Carolina and Robert Menendez D-New Jersey were joined by 52 fellow senators to urge the Housing and Urban Development secretary to comply with updated condo rules designed for a more streamline and less burdensome approval on Federal Housing Administration-backed condo projects.
“FHA has a duty to serve homeowners and homebuyers in all markets across the country, particularly first-time and minority borrowers," says Dawn M. Bauman, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the Community Associations Institute. "Current data shows FHA is failing to meet this standard in the condo market. Senators Scott and Menendez are right to lead the call for change," she says.
The nearly 40,000 member institute —formed in 1973 — calls itself an industry information provider involved with community association management, governance, education and advocacy. Go to www.caionline.org.
According to an article by Michele Lerner on Realtor.com, "Homeowners association rules can be what attracts someone to a new home ... or what drives them away. But if you're on the fence about whether you want to live in an area with an HOA and abide by the rules, it's worth investigating the particular neighborhood and finding out more."
She says many homeowners prefer to live in a homeowners' association for several reasons, including:
- Community appearance: "Homes within an HOA must meet the standards set by the association or face a fine, so you're less likely to see unkempt lawns, peeling paint or a garishly painted house," she says.
- Low maintenance: Depending on the HOA, services such as trash and snow removal and lawn care are handled by the association, leaving less work for the homeowner.
- Recreational amenities: Many neighborhoods offer attractions such as a community center, walking trails, sports courts and playing fields reserved for residents, if not a swimming pool or tennis courts.
- Association management: If you have a problem with your neighbor's dog barking, loud parties or a dispute over a tree, you can ask the management to handle the issue, Lerner says.