Consumers don’t want HOAs according to market survey

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


A few months ago, I wrote an article Research reveals home buyers seek non-HOA communities, providing research findings from different sources that indicate a low demand for HOAs.

Since that time, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has published a more recent survey summary, that leads to the same conclusions.

Here’s a link to the summary, conducted by NAHB.

Housing Preferences Across Generations

While the survey did not ask buyers to rate their preferences specifically to Association Governed Residential Communities (homeowners’ and condo associations), once again, 2016 survey results show clearly that buyers prefer to avoid community features that go hand in hand with mandated Association living.

First of all, the vast majority of buyers (65%) do not want multifamily housing. That eliminates condominiums and townhouses that almost always come with mandatory membership in either an HOA or COA. What’s particularly interesting is that younger generations – the ones the real estate market is trying to lure into the home buying market – are even less inclined to buy a condo or townhouse than seniors.

Excerpts from the survey summary:

The majority of buyers (65%) would like to buy a single-family detached home. A majority of buyers in all generations have the same preference: Millennials (68%), Gen X (72%), Boomers (63%), and Seniors (55%).

Of 19 community features home buyers were asked about, a typical suburban neighborhood with only single-family detached homes was the most wanted, rated essential/desirable by 72%. Over 50% would be positively influenced by the presence of a park area, being near retail space, walking/jogging trials, and a lake.

Note that only about half of buyers are looking for a park, lake, or walking/jogging trails.

Also, all of these are community features that do not require the existence of an HOA. For example, in the small town where I currently live, I live just steps away from a public walking and biking trail that extends for 8 miles over a former railroad line. It’s a popular recreation feature that is open to the general public, and I didn’t have to buy into a mandatory HOA to enjoy it.


Now to look at what Home Buyers do NOT want, according to the same NAHB survey.

NAHB’s Most Unwanted List once again includes several community features that go hand in hand with the existence of an HOA or condo living: elevator, pet washing station, golf course community, and high density community.


The Most Unwanted list sorted by age group of buyers clearly shows that first-time and move-up homebuyers do not want to live in condos or planned HOA communities (that’s what high density single family home communities are). In other words, the trend is that, the younger the home buying group, the less likely it is that they will want to buy into an Association Governed Residential Community!

Excerpt from report:

A high density community (smaller lots and/or multifamily/attached buildings) also appears in the top 10 most unwanted lists for Millennials, Gen X’ers, and Baby Boomers. Seniors are more likely to reject baseball or soccer fields instead.


So what’s puzzling to me is why so many local governments are pushing for more construction of condos, town houses, and “affordable” housing to accommodate millennial home buyers.

And why are developers still building planned communities with houses on small lots? Is it because the local governments are still mandating HOAs and under utilized green spaces that homeowners ultimately must insure and maintain?


It is still almost impossible to find new construction without density and a mandatory HOA.

According to the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC):

59% percent of new single family homes were built in communities with mandatory HOAs in 2014, compared to 46% of homes in 2009. That represents a 28% increase in construction of HOA homes in just 5 years. However, those figures include construction of homes for rent.

Looking strictly at homes for sale, 73% were built in HOAs in the US. Broken down by region of the country, the figures are as follows:

46% Northeast
55% Midwest
80% South
73% West

Non-HOA, non-condo housing choices are particularly limited in the South and West regions of the US, where the majority of new construction is taking place.

At the same time, because most new construction for the past several decades has been burdened with a mandatory Owners’ Association of some kind, it is increasingly difficult in tight housing markets to find any home without one – even one that is 15  to 30 years old and in need of costly updating.

When will our local city and county planners wake up and stop approving and/or requiring Association Governed Residential Communities, and when will home builders give the market what it wants?



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