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Large-Scale Community Associations Remain Popular with Homeowners and Local Governments

7/19/2016  -  Falls Church, VA

New report by the Foundation for Community Association Research examines the trends of large-scale associations and their impact on local municipalities and land development.

Large-scale associations (LSAs) continue to provide extraordinary services—typically considered municipal duties such as recreation, stormwater management, roadway maintenance, and neighborhood security—to homeowners according to the Large-Scale Association Survey, a new report released today by the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR).

The Large-Scale Managers Committee of Community Associations Institute (CAI), in collaboration with the Foundation, conducted the nationwide study to broadly explore the community, governance, and business services provided by LSAs to their members and residents. The 150+ page report defines large-scale associations (LSAs), which typically have more than 1,000 lots or units and budgets of several million dollars, by five primary-use and lifestyle-theme categories—Age Restricted, Mixed-Use, Private Club, Residential, and Resort/Residential.  

Community associations—condominiums, cooperatives, and planned communities—now represent the greatest extension of housing ownership since the New Deal housing reforms and the GI Bill after WWII. As counties and local governments embrace the community association model for new housing, land developers are looking for creative ways to blend their real estate offerings with a variety of environmental backdrops and recreational amenities.

Across the country, land use restrictions are prevalent. According to the survey, 51.7 percent of residential LSAs report having land use restrictions on conservation areas, and 71.2 percent of private club communities impose restrictions to protect their wetlands and waterways.

Emergency services such as police, fire and rescue, and utilities (water/sewer) are the most critical local government services identified by residential (62 percent), age-restricted (66.7 percent), resort/residential (57.1 percent), and mixed-use (75 percent) LSAs.

Civic involvement ranks high within large-scale associations. Two-thirds (66 percent) of residential LSAs indicated that their residents participate in meetings with local government officials. A very large percentage of LSAs reported they have relationships with local government and public officials. Out of those that reported having a relationship, most qualified it as either favorable or very favorable. More than one-third (36 percent) of residential communities permit political signs in the community, and 60 percent of residential LSAs host forums on relevant issues. Nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of age-restricted LSAs have a polling place within the association.

Additional findings:

  • LSAs tend to maintain more miles of streets and paths/trails as compared to local governments or other organizations. Residential associations say they maintain an average of approximately 9.5 median miles compared to the 1.6 median miles maintained by local governments.
  • On average, architectural and design review are the most common sources of disputes in residential (48 percent), age-restricted (14 percent) and mixed-use (2 percent) LSAs.
  • Most LSAs report using email blasts and social media to connect to their residents and members. More than half (59.2 percent) of residential associations use Facebook, and 92.3 percent of private club communities send emails to members as a main source of messaging.  

"CAI's Large-Scale Managers Committee, in collaboration with the Foundation for Community Association Research, is proud to offer the Large-Scale Association Survey as a new tool to benefit managers, real estate developers, land planners, municipal governments, and private citizens seeking information on the amenities and services offered by large-scale associations," says T. Peter Kristian, CMCA, LSM, PCAM, chair of the Large-Scale Managers Committee and a CAI past president. "Since the late 1960s, the phenomena of community associations has become the standard for new housing in the United States, offering residents popular amenities such as golf, tennis, stables, parks, and gardens. The new survey helps identify and support the practical infrastructure needed to sustain these thriving communities," adds Kristian, general manager of Hilton Head Property Owners Association, Inc., in South Carolina.

Community Associations Institute commissioned MOSAK Advertising & Insights to collect and analyze data about the current scope, diversity, management and governance of large-scale associations in the United States. Data was collected via an online survey from October 2015 to December 2015. CAI sent the survey link via e-mail to roughly 400 community association managers across the country.


The Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR) was founded in 1975. FCAR is a 501(c)(3) organization that supports and conducts research and makes information available to those involved in association development, governance, and management. FCAR provides authoritative research and analysis on community association trends, issues, and operations. Our mission is to inspire successful and sustainable communities. We sponsor needs-driven research that informs and enlightens all community association stakeholders—community association residents, homeowner volunteer leaders, community managers, and other professional service providers, legislators, regulators, and the media. Our work is made possible by your tax-deductible contributions. Your support is essential to our research. Visit or e-mail

Community Associations Institute (CAI) is a national nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization founded in 1973 to foster competent, responsive community associations through research, training and education. CAI is an international membership organization dedicated to building better communities. With more than 34,000 members, CAI works in partnership with 60 chapters, including a chapter in South Africa, as well as with housing leaders in a number of other countries, including Australia, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. We work to identify and meet the evolving needs of the professionals and volunteers who serve associations by being a trusted forum for the collaborative exchange of knowledge and information and by helping our members learn, achieve, and excel. Our mission is to inspire professionalism, effective leadership and responsible citizenship—ideals reflected in associations that are preferred places to call home. Visit or call (888) 224-4321.

CAI's Large-Scale Managers (LSM) Committee represents onsite managers who work for a large-scale community, defined as a community providing municipal type services with a minimum of 1,000 units or minimum of 1,000 acres and a minimum of $2 million operating budget. The committee provides input on education curriculum, best practices, public policies related to management or operations of large-scale community associations, or identifying what is of value to the large-scale manager membership.

Phone: 703-970-9235