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Americans Are Warming to Co-ops, Condos, and HOAs

New York City

Communal Living
Aug. 9, 2019

In the U.S., where the single-family home has long been regarded as the ultimate dream, more than a quarter of the population now lives in a community association – a housing cooperative, condominium, or homeowners association –  according to a new study published by the Foundation for Community Association Research

Based on data collected in 2018, the report found that Florida continues to lead the nation with 48,250 associations, which are home to 9.5 million residents. California is the country’s second largest state with 48,150 associations, followed by Texas (20,050), Illinois (18,700), North Carolina (14,000), and New York (13,875). 

Additional results show the value of homes in community associations is nearly $6.28 trillion, and roughly $96 billion in assessments is collected annually from homeowners to fund essential maintenance. The report lists top reasons for the growth of community associations: 

The value of collective management. Americans largely have accepted the collective management structure of community association living, in which boards are composed of democratically elected homeowners who voluntarily serve their communities. The research shows there are 2.5 million community association board and committee members in the U.S. 

Privatizing public functions. With many local municipalities facing fiscal challenges, communities, particularly HOAs, often are developed with the stipulation that the builder create an association that will assume many responsibilities that traditionally belonged to local and state government, such as road maintenance, snow and trash removal, and stormwater management. According to the study, homeowners contributed $27.3 billion to association reserve funds for the repair, replacement, and enhancement of common property, including elevators, swimming pools, and streets. 

Expanding affordable housing. There has been a consistent effort to increase the percentage of homeowners in the U.S., and since the 1960s, condominiums have tended to serve as lower-cost entry housing, especially for first-time homebuyers. Condominium communities account for about 40 percent of the reported total of community associations. In New York City, most of today’s buyers prefer condominiums because they offer ownership of real property as well as privacy – without forcing unit-owners to submit to the sizable powers of a co-op board.

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