A lot of CAI members furtively log onto this site just to see what we’re all talking about. I know, because I can track their IP addresses. With this in mind, today’s guest blogger, Deborah Goonan, has an astounding look at CAI’s recent and incredibly deceptive survey of homeowner happiness. Spread this one to every legislator!
guest blog by Deborah Goonan
According to Community Associations Institute, “The more than 65 million Americans who make their homes in condominiums and homeowners associations are overwhelmingly satisfied with their communities.”
The survey was done by Public Opinion Strategies for the Foundation for Community Association Research. The survey says almost two-thirds of community association residents rate their overall association experience as positive, while 26 percent are neutral on the question. Only 10 percent express some level of dissatisfaction.
Yes, we all know the spin on survey research funded by CAI, conducted by affiliates. What would be more interesting is if an impartial organization would conduct surveys of CIC residents, asking non-leading questions, and addressing more specific issues affecting residents in CICs.
This research does not even encompass basic demographic data on CIC residents such as age ranges, income ranges, geographic distribution, the number of years they have resided in a CIC, how mobile the residents are, education levels, etc. The survey asks mostly subjective questions, and allows more than one in four respondents to remain neutral on level of overall satisfaction! Less than 2 out of 3 respondents rated their CIC experience as positive. I would reject a hotel or restaurant rated at only 64% positive. And had I seen this survey before purchasing – not the news release but the survey summary – it would have steered me away from an HOA.
One can just as easily conclude from 2014 data that 36% of residents are either dissatisfied or neutral – neutral ratings can be construed as meaning that if a better option presents itself, the resident would move elsewhere. (A moot point in metro areas where very few non-CIC options exist). At least that is the way most market research is interpreted. Incidentally, comparing 2012 and 2014 data on supposed overall satisfaction, one notes that the positive rating dropped by nearly 9% (from 70%to 64%).
At the same time, respondents rating their overall CIC experience as negative increased by 25% ( from 8% to 10%). Neutrals increased by 15% (from 22% to 26%). If we combine neutrals with negatives, and compare to 2012, there has been a 20% increase (from 30% to 36%) in the number of residents who cannot rate their overall experience as positive.
By the way, if we are to conclude these percentages translate to the entire population of CIC residents, that means that 6.5 MILLION CIC residents are decidedly dissatisfied. (10% of 65 million). An additional 16.9 million CIC residents are sitting on the fence, or they have mixed feelings about their communities.
These are not small numbers. And the survey has not even touched on several important issues:
* How many residents own vs. rent?
* How many owners are underwater on a mortgage?
* How old is the community where they reside?
* How many residents live in the respondents community?
* What amenities do they have, and which of those do they use regularly?
* How many units does each respondent own? (Very relevant, and it would be interesting to correlate satisfaction with level of financial interest in a CIC)
* What factors led to the resident’s decision to buy or rent in their current community?
* If they could move elsewhere, would they?
* Did they purchase their home directly, or inherit it?
* Knowing what they now know, would they buy/rent in their same community, or would they choose a different community, perhaps not in a CIC?
* How about measuring the level of knowledge CIC residents have?
An educational organization, which CAI claims to be, might want to know: how many CIC residents have read their governing documents? (Or are even aware of their existence?)
* How many are familiar with their relevant statutes?
* Have residents ever attended a meeting, and if so how often?
* Do they vote in elections, or is the developer still in control?
* Do the residents even know whether their Board is Developer-appointed or Owner-controlled?
* Do they know the rules? Do they know how votes are allocated and how they are cast?
* Do they know what to do if they are having trouble paying assessments?
* Are they aware that the CIC can lien or foreclose their home?
* Do they know their legal rights in the event they get a violation notice, or if the Association fails to maintain or repair common areas per the CCRs?
Lots of questions. Not many answers.