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Research Papers & Surveys

/ Owner - August 8, 2012

Research Papers regarding condominium and homeowner associations, community associations, common interest communities, planned communities, etc.

The rise and effects of homeowners associations

In the U.S., nearly 60% of recently built single-family houses, and 80% of houses in new subdivisions, are part of a homeowners association (HOA). We construct the first near-national map of HOAs using publicly recorded mortgage records for single-family homes. We use these data to document the growth and characteristics of HOAs as well as to examine their relationship with housing prices. We find that houses in HOAs have prices that are on average at least 4%, or $13,500, greater than observably similar houses outside of HOAs. The HOA premium correlates with the stringency of local land use regulation, local government spending on public goods, and measures of social attitudes toward race. The data also paint a detailed picture of the people living in HOA neighborhoods, who are on average more affluent and racially segregated than those living in other nearby neighborhoods.

Read the report (PDF)……………………………

Report of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations Protecting the Interests of Homeowners: An Overview of Concerns Related to Homeowners Associations

Most residential developments today are planned to meet community standards, including providing amenities such as clubhouses and other gathering places that belong to everyone who resides in them. These common areas require everyone’s help to maintain. This is typically done through homeowners associations (HOAs), which usually have authority to enforce covenants agreed to by homebuyers. A number of issues and concerns related to properties governed by HOAs have surfaced in recent years, from incomplete infrastructure to overzealous regulation. Responding to some of these concerns, the House of Representatives of the 107th General Assembly passed a resolution asking the Commission to study HOA rules and regulations and their responsibility to insure their obligations. The House Local Government Subcommittee of the 108th General Assembly asked the Commission to study a bill that would have required owners to disclose to buyers whether developments are complete or when they will be completed. Because the issues overlap, the Commission also chose to study a third bill related to regulations and fines.

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New Perspectives on Planned Unit Developments

Planned unit developments, also called planned communities, are a major development type. Originally cluster housing projects with common open space, they can be planned today as infill in downtown areas or as a major master-planned community. They require discretionary review, are often dominant in the zoning process, and present a challenge to the zoning system. A threshold question is how municipalities should zone for planned unit developments, and this Article discusses conditional use, base zone, and rezoning alternatives.

This Article next discusses the zoning review process for these developments, which must operate fairly and produce acceptable decisions. Alternatives that can avoid or supplement discretionary review are considered next, and this Article concludes with a discussion of affordable housing as a social responsibility.

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The Philosopher and the Developer: Pluralist Moral Theory and the Law of Condominium

This paper analyzes the evolving law of condominium from the perspective of the moral philosophy of property, focusing in particular on neo-Aristotelian value or pluralist ethics. By combining aspects of traditional property law, corporate law, and municipal politics, condominium provides a flexible tool forownership and private land use planning. Condominium, however, also poses novel and unique challenges toboth legal doctrine and the very meaning of private property. After describing and comparing the pluralist approach to moral philosophy of property and the approach of its main rivals—deontology and utilitarianism—the paper describes how condominium is understood by each approach and analyzes in detail current legislation and court decisions regarding condominium in light of these approaches.The paper concludes that courts and legislatures have been alternating between deontological approaches and pluralist approaches to condominium, with a general trend in recent developments away from the deontological approaches and towards pluralist approaches. The thesis tentatively suggests that on the whole,pluralist approaches lead to more just and equitable results in condominium, and suggests further avenues for study.

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History of Federal Involvement in Community Associations for 2016

Community associations are a significant part of U.S. Housing, see the Community Association Fact Book 2016.  Despite their apparent newness, community associations –condominiums, cooperatives and planned communities –have a long history in the U.S. Some of that history is covered in the aforementioned Fact Book 2016.  The actual development of associations whether by enabling statute or conventional real estate transaction –this occurs at the state level. This Part Three, however, presents additional association history by including dates and information about significant publications and events as well as important organizations involved in the development of U.S. real estate including associations. The cites and dates below therefore are meant to provide a general context in which associations have been developed with the primary focus on federal involvement.       Read the publication (PDF)…………


How Today’s Urban Planning Can Divide a City and Disenfranchise Voters: The Case of Alexandria, Virginia

This is an analysis of the unforeseen consequences of the City of Alexandria, Virginia privatizing many services that it has traditionally provided to its homeowners. Alexandria was first settled in the mid-1700s and over the years has been home to the likes of George Washington, Robert E. Lee, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors. Today, after three major annexations of land in 1915, 1930, and 1952, Alexandria now occupies 15.6 square miles directly across the Potomac River from the District of Columbia and is home to an estimated 142,000 people, making it one of the more densely populated cities in the United States.1 On a functional basis, however, Alexandria today is two separate “cities” of relatively equal physical size and population that differ markedly in community structure and political influence. In one of these “cities,” the average homeowner pays their taxes and receives all their services from City Hall. In the other “city,” the average homeowner pays their taxes, but receives only some of their services from City Hall.    Read the article………….

The Six-month “Limited Priority Lien” For Association Fees Under the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act

In the modern common interest community (the most common forms of which are the condominium, the planned community, and the cooperative), each unit/parcel is subject to an assessment for its proportionate share of the common expenses needed to operate the owners’ association (the “association”) and to maintain, repair, replace, and insure the community’s common elements and amenities. Assessments constitute the primary source of revenue for the community, and the ability to collect assessments is crucial to the association’s ability to provide the maintenance and services expected by community residents. If some owners do not pay their proportionate share of common expenses, the association will be forced to shift the burden of delinquent assessments to the remaining unit owners through increased assessments or reduced services and maintenance, potentially threatening property values within the community.   Read PDF


Public Communities, Private Rules

As the American population grows, communities are seeking creative property tools to control individual land uses and create defined community aesthetics, or distinctive “built environments.” In the past, private covenants were the primary mechanism to address this sort of need. Public communities, however, have begun to implement covenant-type “private” rules through zoning overlays, which place unusually detailed restrictions on individual property uses and, in so doing, have created new forms of “rule-bound” communities. This Article will argue that all types of rule-bound communities are uniquely important because they respond to resident consumers’ heightened demand for a community aesthetic. It will also highlight their problems, however.  Read More……


The Benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Common Interest Development Disputes

Feuding with one’s neighbor is an American tradition. Robert Frost aptly expressed this sentiment in his famous line, “Good fences make good neighbours.”  People take their living situation seriously, and they become irritated when their neighbors interfere with their rights or invade their privacy. Small disputes can often fester into hatred and strife. Moreover, once the relationship between neighbors has soured, it can be difficult or impossible to repair. These problems worsen when neighbors live close to one another. In common interest developments, such as condominiums (“condos”) and cooperatives (“co-ops”), neighbors share walls, elevators, lawns, and common areas. These close quarters make the potential for discord between neighbors more likely among them than among owners of single family homes who do not share these common areas.  Read More……PDF


Community Associations at Middle Age: A New Bankruptcy Law and Other Proposals (Robert Nelson, 2010)

As community associations move into middle age, however, new issues are demanding attention. Developers (in the writing of the founding documents) and policy makers now need to address more fully the question of the appropriate lifetime of a community association and how the middle and, potentially ending, stages might be handled. Should some failing community associations now go out of business altogether? How might this be accomplished? Should other community associations with major operating problems be reorganized? And, again, what is the best mechanism for accomplishing this? Read More……

The Rise of Sublocal Governance (Robert H. Nelson, 2009)

It would have been difficult to imagine as recently as 2007 that the workings of local housing markets would hold the key to the macroeconomic future of the nation. Yet, as we learned in 2008, problems with subprime mortgages, and in U.S. housing markets more generally, precipitated a major economic crisis with implications not only for the United States but all the world. The previous lack of scholarly interest in housing markets reflects a wider lack of interest in local government, land markets, and other local affairs. It is, arguably, America‘s most important, least-studied area of major public policy concern.  Read More……


Common Interest Communities: Evolution and Reinvention (Wayne S. Hyatt, 2008)

As the community association evolves, it confronts the challenges of “privatopia” and privatization.  The first concept is a perjorative term and is applied to community associations in support of the argument that they have become private utopias of privilege and exclusive restrictiveness.  In other words, community associations are alleged to be anti-community.  There are and have been justifications for that argument.  Privatization reflects a growing trend: local government imposing responsibility for public services and facilities upon the private sector.  Taken together, privatopia and privatization help frame the need for evolution and reinvention.  Read More……

Common Interest Communities: Standards of Review and Review of Standards (Paula Franzese, 2000)

This article addresses the propriety of common interest community (CIC) restrictions and governing board decisions rendered with increased frequency in this golden age of “privatization.”6 What are the standards to be applied by these private governing bodies? What is the appropriate standard of judicial review of their rules and determinations? The stakes are high, mindful that the last half of the twentieth century saw the proliferation of common interest communities in unprecedented numbers.  Read More……


Preparing Community Associations for the Twenty-First Century: Anticipating the Legal Problems and Possible Solutions  (Patrick J. Rohan, 1999)

This Symposium affords me the unique opportunity to step back from day-to-day involvement and to draw attention to some areas of the law that are in need of correction or clarification if private community associations are to prosper and be free of hidden pitfalls. Among the major conclusions set forth herein are the following:  Read More……


Privatizing the Neighborhood: A Proposal to Replace Zoning With Private Collective Property Rights to Existing Neighborhoods (Robert H. Nelson, 1999)

Two researchers recently announced a “quiet revolution in the structure of community organization, local government, land-use control, and neighbor relations” in the United States.  They were referring to the spread of homeowners’ associations, condominium ownership of property.  In describing these forms of ownership, different commentators have used terms such as “residential community association”, “common interest community”, “residential private government”, “gated community” and others.  Read More……


The Constitution and Private Government: Toward the Recognition of Constitutional Rights in Private Residential Communities Fifty Years After Marsh v. Alabama  (Steven Siegel, 1998)

This Article considers the application of the Supreme Court’s state-action theory to residential commmunity associations (RCAs), a form of housing and community governance that has experienced extraordinary growth in recent years. Fewer than 500 RCAs were in existence in the United States before 1960. In the early 1990s, it was estimated that 32 million Americans lived in 150,000 RCAs. A continuing boom in RCA construction has led to predictions that twenty-five to thirty percent of Americans will be living in RCAs by early in the next century. Steven Siegel argues that this trend, although largely unnoticed, carries significant implications for the structure of our government, the delivery of traditional public services, and the availability of constitutional protections.  Read More……


Private Communities or Public Governments: “The State Will Make the Call” (Harvey Rishikov, 1996)

One of the most prominent issues in economic as well as political and legal discussion today is “privatization,” a term used generally to describe efforts to transform traditional governmental functions into privately owned and operated businesses. 3 While this debate has taken place under increasing scrutiny, another type of privatization, one occurring within the nation’s residential communities, has been less studied. This has transpired even though it has been causing dramatic changes in our society for nearly thirty years. This transformation has helped to modify the character of our communities, alter the dynamics of our political system, and challenge legal constitutional analyses at both the federal and state levels.  Read More……


Residential Community Associations: Private Governments in the Intergovernmental System? (1989)

This policy report is one in a series of publications from a Commission project on “Rethinking Local Self-Government in a Federal System.” Already published are The Organization of Local Public Economies (1987), and Metropolitan Organization: The St. Louis Case (1988). A report on Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, will be published in the near future. Traditionally, the intergovernmental system has been thought to include the national government, state governments, and local governments of all kinds. This report suggests that the concept of intergovernmental relations should be adapted to contemporary developments so as to take account of territorial community associations that display many, if not all, of the characteristics of traditional local government.  Read More……


Homeowner Satisfaction Survey

Maintenance-free, safety, and cleanliness are top features that make community associations a popular choice and lifestyle for millions of Americans. According to results from the 2022 Homeowner Satisfaction Survey, the overwhelming majority (89%) of homeowners and condominium association residents rate their overall experience of living in a community association as “very good” or “good” (67%), or neutral (22%).

The new report, conducted by the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR) for Community Associations Institute (CAI), is a biennial, nationwide survey administered by independent researcher Zogby Analytics, and provides a better understanding of how 74 million Americans describe their experience living in common-interest communities— from city-sized, master-planned communities and multibuilding condominium complexes to urban cooperatives and small homeowners associations built into tracks of open suburban spaces.

View past homeowner surveys.

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