Sunday, March 31, 2013

Are folks really being forced to buy homes inside associations?

Many folks in various association groups on Social Media complain about the concept of shared ownership community governance and lament the fact that they cannot purchase homes (particularly in Florida) anywhere else other than inside a mandatory community association.

I ran through my list of friends and colleagues and found them about evenly split between those who live in a mandatory association and those who do not. There are choices for housing all over the state that do not come with a mandatory association but typically that means you will be buying an older home and refurbishing it.

My friends who bought inside community associations typically list the following reasons for doing so:

  • Recreational amenities they couldn't afford on their own (ie: tennis court, swimming pool, etc.)
  • Security they couldn't afford on their own.
  • Shared vision about how the community should look and enforcement of same.
  • Lower maintenance responsibilities (particularly true when the association has the responsibility to paint, pave, pressure clean, landscape, etc.)
  • Prime location (beach, golf course, etc.)
  • Wanted new construction
  • Purchase inside a community association was happenstance
My friends who bought outside a community association typically listed the following reasons for doing so:

  • Previous negative experience in an association
  • Location (wanted an historical area, a remodel, acreage for horses, etc.)
  • Purchase outside a community association was happenstance.
Whether or not there are fewer housing units being constructed outside a planned development scheme these days requires some extensive research. Still one question does not beg research or a philosophical debate: what do developers build?

 The answer is that developers will build what they can sell. If fewer and fewer people bought in communities with mandatory associations, over time fewer of these communities would be built. It is the simple law of supply and demand.

What has surprised me recently is some areas where the owners have not only formed voluntary associations but would now like to take it a step further and encumber the lots with private restrictions forming a mandatory association. Why would these folks who have lived in their homes for some time unfettered by association restrictions and politics decide to go that route? When asked, the resounding answer was overall disgust with the lack of municipal responsiveness when problems do arise.

The sad reality may be that there is unhappiness and disappointment both inside and outside mandatory association communities with the target of that unhappiness and disappointment either being an elected board of your neighbors or your elected local officials.

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