guest blog by Beanie Adolph
Incredible! How can something so destructive of family life and of the American system of governance continue to dominate American housing? MARKETING! Chant the lie over and over: HOAs protect property values. THEY DON’T! Promise Utopia but hide the reality. Deny every plea for full disclosure – for openness. In 2004, two realtors were discussing on an industry blog how to ensure a buyer knew “what he was getting into” and concluded “…if ALL the potential pitfalls are enumerated, no one in his right mind would purchase.”
Most buyers saw the opportunity of owning the home of their dreams at a manageable price with the added inducements of “amenities” previously available only to members of country clubs. There was, then, and still is the lie that HOAs protect property values. There was not and still is not any disclosure that:
- The quoted cost does not include the extra costs, e.g. increase in assessments and all types of fees.
- The Reuler-Hailey paper* states “… some HOA managers contract with HOA boards at below-market rates with the expectation of making up the difference from individual owners. How? With a myriad of specific purpose fees, such as resale certificate fees, document fees, collection fees, inspection fees, and violation enforcement fees.”
- Most new developments are HOA developments and buyers really do not have a choice.
- Buying into an HOA is far worse than co-signing a note with strangers. A note has a fixed amount, defined terms, and can be paid off. In an HOA there is a lien that can never be paid off. The homeowner is a guarantor for all debts incurred by the HOA, and his house is security for their spending sprees.
- The reality is that amenities are not “freebies” but burdens that constantly deteriorate, and are the responsibility of the homeowner.
- HOAs are private quasi-governments that regulate and control the behavior of citizens without the same due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.
- The HOA system places rules and regulations above the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all Americans.
- Once an HOA is established the governing documents ensure its continuance forever.
- The HOA Industry constantly lobbies state legislators to increase their power – their control. Their bills usually have homeowner-friendly names but not homeowner-friendly results. Lobby Watch, June 1, 2011, revealed funds raised for PACs, the distribution to the legislators, and how they voted.
Why do homeowners endure this?
Two of the most powerful motivations are fear and greed. Homeowners, legislators, and politicians bought the concept that HOAs protect property values. No facts were ever given to support the statement, but prospects of pink houses, cars up on cinder blocks, and unacceptable neighbors were the threatened alternative. In one TV debate the CAI attorney must have thought one car on cinder blocks was not scary enough. He described a non-HOA community adjacent to his where one house had “6 or 7 cars up on cinder blocks, grass overgrown, trailers out.” When the goal is to instill fear the argument has no limit.
It is a fact that property values are determined by the economy and affect homes in and out of HOAs. According to an exhaustive study of Harris County homes, homes not in HOAs fared better. Fear was and still is a major factor. But in HOAs the fear of being targeted with fines, fees, and foreclosure keeps most defenseless owners silent.
* Statutory Evolution of Condominiums and Property Owners Associations in Texas, by Sharon Reuler and Roy. D. Hailey, September 2002. Mortgage Lending Institute, U.T. School of Law