by Paula Docherty
A homeowners association offers one of the best opportunities for Americans to own their own homes. They are for the 21st century what land grants were in the 19th century and what the New Deal and GI Bill were in the 20th century.Below are a few examples of why HOA living is a good thing.
Collective Management Protects Value
Americans have accepted, for the most part, the collective management structure of a homeowners association. HOA covenants, conditions and restrictions, better known as CC&Rs, are no longer a new concept to most of us; renters are used to lease agreements with restrictions; single-family, detached-home owners are used to zoning ordinances and building codes. The difference is that in traditional, single-family housing, restrictions are administered by public bodies rather than by private Boards. Most Americans have accepted private governance because they understand it protects and enhances the value of their homes.
Privatizing Public Service Allows Growth
Wherever a new community is built, local infrastructures are stretched. School populations, snow removal, storm water management, road maintenance, utilities, traffic, everything increases leaving the local jurisdiction unable to support new community development. Yet housing is sorely needed. Therefore, local jurisdictions often require a community homeowners association to assume many responsibilities that traditionally belonged to local and state government.
This privatization of public services has allowed local jurisdiction to continue developing needed housing without increasing local taxes. Instead, the developer must build the infrastructure and create an association to maintain if after it is developed.
HOA Living Makes Owning a Home Affordable
Almost from their inception in the 1960s, condominiums have provided housing for low-to-moderate income Americans. In fact, in some areas, builders are required to include a certain percentage of affordable homes in new developments.
Also, creating an HOA living environment by converting rental apartments has made home ownership possible for millions of Americans partly because 21st century families tend to be smaller, the number of single-parent homes has increased, and more retirees are staying in their homes after retirement.
A Community Homeowners Association Minimizes Social Costs
HOA living also minimizes social costs. Because they have mandatory HOA covenants that require certain obligations from homeowners and the association, a homeowners association ensures that all who benefit pay their share and everyone is equally responsible. A homeowners association also has sufficient enforcement authority. Local government is seldom, if ever, needed to resolve assessment disputes. Many associations use alternative dispute resolution because it is a faster and cheaper way to solve problems.
A Community Homeowners Association Makes the Market Efficient
HOA living – especially condominiums – has greatly reduced urban sprawl. Because of their collective management and protective HOA covenants, they are precisely what the Housing Act of 1949 intended when it called for "decent home(s) and suitable living environments." HOA living, as an alternative to a traditional single-family home, is a shining example of free-market efficiency.
The factors that make a community homeowners association a great place to live are easily ignored or misunderstood. Critics prefer to look at a few sensational issues instead of the whole picture. But for many, HOA living is efficient and enjoyable.