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Homeowner Association Managed Communities Enjoying Increased Growth and Popularity and Attention

4/19/2002  -  Alexandria, VA

Association-managed communities are a hot topic. Nearly one out of every six Americans now lives in an association-managed community. In the largest metropolitan areas, more than 50 percent of new home sales are in communities managed by residential condominium, cooperative and homeowner associations. With an estimated 8,000 to 11,000 additional community associations formed each year, it's no surprise that association-managed communities have received increasing attention—both positive and negative—from the media and the public.


Community associations are the focus of the Community Associations Institute (CAI), a national, nonprofit 501c(6) association created in 1973 to educate and represent America's residential condominium, cooperative and homeowner associations and related professionals and service providers.

According to CAI Chief Executive Officer, Barbara Byrd Keenan, "We are truly dedicated to fostering vibrant, responsive, competent community associations that promote harmony, community and responsible leadership. That's why it's particularly frustrating not only to us, but to the entire community association industry, when an isolated situation here and there tends to get inordinate attention, while the more than 230,000 well-run associations, and the more than 47 million satisfied homeowners who live in them, aren't considered as newsworthy."

Studies* show that community association members are very satisfied with the association in which they live. Community associations offer a host of amenities—a large percentage offer swimming pools, parks, recreational facilities, and other community services and features. In addition to being satisfied with these amenities, 85% of homeowners believe that property values in their community are rising, an important factor in uncertain economic times.

"Community associations work well because the residents and their leadership agree to basic rules, rules that ensure that everyone can live in a harmonious, safe, and well-run community where homes maintain their value," says Keenan. "One of our most important objectives, however, is to ensure that those same rules not become overzealous or inflexible."

To accomplish that objective, CAI oversees a variety of educational and informational efforts, including:

  • Providing training and official certifications for various types of association management experts, including the Association Management SpecialistTM (AMSTM), Professional Community Association Manager® (PCAM®), Reserve Specialist™ (RSTM) and others. Trained and certified professionals are an important part of ensuring safe, successful and well-run communities.
  • Producing and distributing innovative guides such as "Be Reasonable! How Community Associations Can Enforce Rules Without Antagonizing Residents, Going to Court or Starting World War III," and "Community First! Emerging Visions Reshaping America's Condominium and Homeowner Associations," which guide associations in reasonable, common sense—not overzealous—rule-making and management.
  • Developing "Best Practices" reports, which help associations identify the highest standard of practice for "Governance, Resident Involvement and Conflict Resolution," "Community Harmony/Spirit/Involvement" and other important management topics.
  • Distributing books such as the groundbreaking "Decision Making in Communities: Why Groups of Smart People Sometimes Make Bad Decisions," which helps make for better associations by examining the unseen forces that affect groups of people in community associations and the decisions they make.
  • Launching public initiatives like Operation Old Glory, which helped associations quickly recraft their older rules and regulations to allow for flying of American flags in the wake of the September 11th attacks.
  • Documenting the important role that communities take on during periods of crisis. For example, in the wake of September 11th, many communities went through both despair and renewal, and came together in affirming ways. Just a few of these "True Stories" are featured in an excerpt from CAI's award-winning magazine, "Common Ground," at CAI's Web site.

Says Keenan: "Community associations offer many tremendous benefits to residents, and it's our mission to make sure that communities are well-run, welcoming, with smart and reasonable rules that make sense."

(* The National Survey of Community Association Homeowner Satisfaction conducted by The Gallup Organization in 1999; see for more details)

Phone: 703-970-9235