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Associations, Boards and Managers Earn High Marks

5/6/2016  -  Falls Church, VA

Americans who live in homeowners associations and condominiums remain overwhelmingly satisfied with their communities, their homeowner leaders and professional managers, according to a national survey conducted in March by Zogby Analytics for the Foundation for Community Association Research.

"No matter who or when you ask, the answer always comes back basically the same," says CAI Chief Executive Officer Thomas Skiba, CAE. "A large majority of Americans who live in community associations are happy and satisfied in their communities. This is a testament to how much the community association model has evolved in recent years. The concept has grown up, become well established and become an increasingly successful form of community governance and an essential component of the U.S. housing market. Not surprisingly, it represents a growing portion of our housing stock."

Almost 70 million Americans live in close to 340,000 common-interest communities, from city-sized, master-planned communities and multi-building condominium complexes to urban cooperatives and small homeowners associations built into small tracks of open suburban spaces.

Pollsters have asked the same fundamental question as part of six surveys of randomly selected association residents in the U.S., beginning in 2005: On a scale of one to five, with one being very bad and five being very good, how would you rate your experience living in a community association? 

The answers have been strikingly consistent. In the March survey, almost 9 in 10 respondents are either satisfied (4 or 5) or neutral (3) on the question. Sixty-five percent say they are "very" or "somewhat" satisfied, with 22 percent neutral and just 13 percent expressing dissatisfaction.

The findings from the six surveys rarely vary more than the expected standard margin of error for national, demographically representative surveys. Community association residents are equally clear with respect to other questions:

  • They say their association board members serve the best interests of their communities and that they are on friendly terms with these elected homeowner leaders.
  • They say their community managers provide valuable support to residents and their associations.
  • They overwhelmingly support community association rules designed to preserve the nature and appearance of the community and protect property values.
  • By a two-to-one margin, they believe they pay about the right amount—some even say too little—in association assessments, versus paying too much. Assessments cover services, utilities and amenities provided to residents by the association. 
  • They want to see less, or at least not more, government oversight and control of community associations.

Findings from the six surveys can be accessed at http://www.caionline.org/validation.

"These surveys are not conducted to prove a point. We know that most community associations function very well, thanks to the skills dedication of homeowner leaders, community managers and others who provide professional services to associations. We also know that all communities do not operate as well as they should," says Skiba. "We're never happy when we see a community in the news for the wrong reasons, but it's reassuring to know we know struggling communities are the exception to the rule. We will continue to work with our members and other stakeholders to help Americans build and sustain better communities."

The keys to successful associations, Skiba notes, are open communication between residents and association leaders, a commitment to transparency in governance, dedicated volunteers and adherence to best practices for association governance and management. Many time-tested best practices are delineated in From Good to Great, a free, downloadable document that includes CAI's initiative, Rights and Responsibilities for Better Communities. Visit www.caionline.org/good2great.

With more than 34,000 members dedicated to building better communities, CAI works in partnership with 60 chapters to provide information, education and resources to community associations and the professionals who support them. CAI's mission is to inspire professionalism, effective leadership and responsible citizenship—ideals reflected in communities that are preferred places to call home. Visit www.caionline.org or call (888) 224-4321. 

The Foundation for Community Association Research provides authoritative research and analysis on community association trends, issues and operations. Its mission is to inspire successful and sustainable communities. Visit www.cairf.org.


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