To Spark Some Financial Brainstorming

I just finished taping a TV interview in Denver on the future of Homeowners Associations. The host generally agreed with me that a financial tidal wave is coming that will slam into the nation’s housing market. It will begin with a collapse of the U.S. mortgage industry and HOAs will be the first to be decimated. With the unprecedented amount of federal debt, the ending of quantitative easing, Japan’s weak-kneed attempt to begin its own form of quantitative easing, Russia vowing to outlaw circulation of the U.S. dollar, China’s weakening international trade, a U.S. stock market trading (weakly) at all-time highs, threats of war in Ukraine, Iran, Syria, North Korea, the US/Mexico border, former Communist leaders predicting a return to leadership in East Germany. All the signals for world-wide financial disruption are there.

Outside the TV studio the host asked me a question I had trouble answering: “OK, if you believe all this is coming, where do you put your money?”

Whew! Talk about a million dollar question.

Some experts are advising stashing savings into commodities like silver, copper, any basic manufacturing materials. Others advise using your spare money to pay down mortgages to help you hold out for the long run. Still others say to get ready for hard times you need 9 months of food and water stored in the basement.

I’m not an economist, not even a great investor, and I’m certainly not a survivalist. But if HOAs are the first to be hit in the coming tsunami, why would a homeowner want to pay off a mortgage in an HOA house? With the massive potential for a troubled HOA to bully marginal homeowners with extra fines, fees, liens, legal fees and collection costs isn’t a paid-off HOA home a prime target for greedy (or desperate) board members and managers? Isn’t a supposedly ritzy HOA neighborhood a prime target for questionable slip ‘n’ fall lawsuits where each owner has to fork up money to pay off judgments and legal expenses?

Add to the mix the Nevada court decision (and pending replication elsewhere) the fact that a super-priority lien (the HOA’s petty fine for unmowed grass) can extinguish the first deed of trust (your mortgage) and you’ve got the formula for neighborhood nitroglycerin. It’s unstable at best.

We’re learning more each day about the risks of owning HOA property. Abusive boards, management companies and complicit law firms have brought all this seeming lack of stability about. So, what is the smart investment in troubled times?


I’m all ears.


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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

8 thoughts on “To Spark Some Financial Brainstorming

  1. Nila Ridings

    I think the best investment is a pick-up truck with a hitch and a travel trailer.

    Shelter- Got it
    House payment No, if you pay cash for the trailer
    Mobile- Yes
    Bad Neighbors- Hook the trailer to the hitch and pull out
    HOA- NO WAY!
    Off grid- Have it both ways
    Weather- Go where it suits you
    Jobs- Relocation, no problem

    And last but not least, paint the front door any color you like!

      1. tom dee

        You forgot another nice thing which is you can display the flag you might have fought under in your youth without someone who probably did not never did.

        1. Nila Ridings

          That’s right, Tom Dee!

          And trust me the flag is going to be a big one! I did not personally serve in the military but my father did. He didn’t fight for the flag in WWII for me to be beaten up by a bunch of ignorant bullies in an HOA. He taught me what’s worth fighting for and when to walk away.

  2. Cynthia

    I sent out an email about this earlier today and will post what I said here. Thank you so much Ward, for writing a blog about this outrage and assisting in getting the truth on the reality of the HOA abuses and violence out to the public. These are not isolated incidents, no matter what anyone leads the public to believe. The HOA abuse, criminality and intentional victimization of innocent homeowners is much to common. Thanks, again Ward for your skill and expertise.

    Here is the email I sent out earlier today:

    “It is about time the HOA videos, revealing the abusive and dangerous meetings are being made public. Please recall, too, this is supposed to be a “retirement community.” Abusive HOA boards, their attorneys and others related in their abuses are a syndicates of “domestic terrorists,” inflicting and entrapping innocent homeowners in the worst form of domestic violence (The New Domestic Violence (2003)) imaginable.

    This same, or similar HOA homeowner abuse has been going of for over a decade, and longer in some locales, like Monroe County, PA, and most all of the HOA homeowner abuses and crimes against innocent homeowners are much worse than depicted in this video. The abusive HOA boards and their accomplices target, farm, comb, selectively discriminate and selectively “enforce” to create and drive up legal fees, fraudulently drag innocent homeowners through kangaroo courts and witch hunts to steal homes. Their is no lie, or criminality beneath these thieves, thugs and bullies. Wake up America and most importantly, wake up those in the courts and this includes the judges! More members of the main stream media need to report the truths and facts about the HOA abuses, no matter the locale, or who the perpetrators are. Thanks to News 10 for their accurate investigating and reporting on this ordeal.

    This is a short video and well worth your time.

  3. melody

    Funny you said that because smart minds must think alike. I am thinking of buying a piece of ground and putting a mobile on it and NOT IN AN HOA. I will still have a place to live. But what will all these ignorant homeowners and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae do when everything hits rock bottom? I will no longer have to be the watch dog over the finances, books and records.

  4. Deborah Goonan

    When a home was viewed primarily as a place to LIVE vs. an investment, it was actually a more stable source of equity. Now real estate investors actively seek out undervalued property for acqusition and conversion. Some owners are winners, others are losers.


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