Winter 2015 Front Page – Community Associations by the Numbers
Community Associations by the Numbers
AMERICANS GRADE THEIR ASSOCIATIONS, BOARD MEMBERS AND COMMUNITY MANAGERS
WHY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS WORK. The number of community associations in the United States has increased from just 10,000 in 1970 to more than 328,000 today. That’s little surprise given the numerous factors that drive the continued growth of
association-governed communities. Here are a few of the reasons the community association concept works – for municipalities, the U.S. housing market and the millions of Americans who choose to make their homes in these communities.
BENEFITTING FROM COLLECTIVE MANAGEMENT. Independent, national surveys show Americans have largely accepted the collective management structure of associations. In traditional housing, rules and restrictions are adopted and administered by municipal governments. In associations, private governing boards composed of homeowners are elected by their neighbors to lead their associations.
PRIVATIZING PUBLIC FUNCTIONS. Because of the fiscal challenges faced by municipalities, many housing developments often are approved with the stipulation that associations will assume many responsibilities that traditionally fell to local and state governments. These obligations can include road maintenance, snow removal, trash pickup and stormwater management. This privatization of services allows municipalities to permit the continued development of needed housing without having to pay directly for that infrastructure through the tax base.
EXPANDING AFFORDABLE HOMEOWNERSHIP.
There has been a persistent effort to increase homeownership instruction and operating efficiencies inher-ent in association development and operations, affordability would be an even greater problem.
Community associations not only maintain home values but also reduce the need for government oversight. Put simply, community associations are an efficient means of providing essential services, assigning payment responsibility and being responsive to homeowner preferences and concerns.
PROVIDING AMENITIES AND OPTIONS.
Associations offer a diverse variety of services and amenities, from pools, golf courses and marinas to equestrian facilities, nature trails and fitness centers. Very few Americans can afford such benefits without the shared responsibility enabled by common interest communities. Community associations give people options, alternatives, facilities and resources most Americans could not otherwise enjoy.
BUILDING A SENSE OF COMMUNITY.
By their nature, community associations bring people together, strengthen neighborhood bonds and promote a sense of community and belonging – attributes that are often overlooked in a highly transient society. A large percentage of the more than 65 million Americans who make their homes in associations take advantage of association-sponsored activities like holiday events, social clubs, athletic and fitness activities, pool parties and more. These activities help residents get to know their neighbors, forge new, supportive friendships and build a stronger sense of community.
90% of residents say association board members “absolutely” or “for the most part” serve the best interests of their communities.
83% say they get along well with their immediate neighbors.
92% say they are on friendly terms with their association board.
83% of residents say their community managers provide value and support to residents and their associations.
88% of residents who had direct contact with their community manager say
it was a positive experience.
70% of residents say their association’s rules protect and enhance property values;
only 4% say the rules harm property values.
92% of residents say they are on friendly terms with their association board.
-complied by Foundation for Community Association Research
Best and Worst
23% Clean, attractive neighborhood
16% Safe neighborhood
15% Maintenance-free neighborhood
9% Property values
9% Quiet neighborhood
7% Responsible neighbors
Worst aspects of living in a community association:
18% Nothing bad about the association
17% Paying assessments
16% Restrictions on parking or landscaping
9% Dealing with neighbors
7% Dissatisfaction with the association board
GOVERNMENT REGULATION – More or Less?
When asked what level of government regulation they would prefer, 86% of respondents said they want less or no additional government control. This is a significant finding in light of the steady stream of state legislative proposals affecting common-interest communities but not surprising considering many pieces of legislation are proposed based on a constituent’s grievance with his or her community. We know issues arise between individual residents and their associations, but we’ve learned from independent national research that such disputes are relatively few in number and typically tangential to the actual operation and performance of community associations.
Still, some of these disagreements make their way into the media when disgruntled residents turn to news outlets to air their grievances, valid or not. In addition to unfairly tarnishing all associations, these anecdotal stories can lead to calls for legislation that would impose costs and burdens on community associations and their homeowners – the very homeowners who oppose further regulation.
2014 NATIONAL RESEARCH BY PUBLIC OPINION STRATEGIES
Reprinted with permission of Community Associations Institute.
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