Market research suggests HOA living, amenities are unpopular

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) has just released additional market research information on home buyer preferences for neighborhood types and availability of amenities. The September 2015 study also compares buyer preferences by generation.

The following news release suggests, once again, that the majority of homebuyers tend not to prefer many of the most common community features marketed by Community Associations Institute (CAI) as selling points for homeowners’ and condominium associations.

Check out the article here:

Boomers prefer Suburbs and Cul de Sacs

Let’s take a look at some excerpts of key NAHB survey results:

For home buyers in the Boomer generation, the most desired of these features is a “typically suburban” community (defined as consisting of all single-family detached homes) rated desirable or essential by 70 percent of Boomer respondents. After that comes a group of three community features rated essential or desirable by 61 to 64 percent of Boomers: being near retail space, a park area and walking/jogging trails.

At the other end of the scale, tennis courts, high density (defined as smaller lots and attached/ or multifamily buildings), other mixed use (homes near office or other commercial buildings, to distinguish it from homes near retail space like grocery or drug stores), a golf course, baseball or soccer fields, and daycare center are relatively unpopular, each being rated essential or desirable by fewer than one-fifth of Boomers.

And the results are similar across generations of home buyers, as clearly illustrated below: (Source: 2015 Survey of Home buyer Preferences, NAHB)


Isn’t it common sense? Of course, younger generations with children at home value playgrounds, and older generations don’t want to spend a great deal of time mowing their own lawn or shoveling their own snow.

The NAHB survey does not specifically ask homebuyers about their preferences either for or against HOAs – i.e. – the words “homeowners association” are not explicitly mentioned in the survey. However, virtually all new construction built with high density, mixed use, or community recreational amenities automatically includes — usually requires — the establishment of a mandatory HOA, according to local building codes and land use plans.

Now, if you read CAI’s industry hype about the benefits of living in HOAs (which they call “community associations”), you would think that homebuyers are clamoring for planned communities and multifamily lifestyles, surrounded by elaborate amenities. But the market research seems to indicate that most buyers and homeowners place little value on living in a planned community.

Let’s consider the features that homebuyers do desire in their neighborhoods – “typically suburban, park area, near retail space, walking/jogging trails, a lake, a swimming pool, and exercise room.” Common sense once again: suburban locations preferred by most homebuyers already tend to have commercial and public land uses that provide those most desired neighborhood preferences. The communities tend to already have fitness centers and Public parks, for example.

(As for Boomers and Seniors wanting Outdoor Maintenance Service , there’s no need for an HOA to take charge, when the individual owner can simply hire the help directly, at a similar or lower cost than HOA assessments. )

Yet, despite the lack of demand for Association Governed Residential Communities,  there is a huge disconnect between what homebuyers want, and what local building and land use plans allow for new construction and redevelopment projects.

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

See page 2 of the SOC report, and note that, of homes built for sale in 2014, 73% were built in HOAs in the U.S.

Broken down by region of the country, the figures are as follows:

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

So, how do these figures compare to the mere 20% (or less) that actually want what government policy is approving and what the HOA industry is promoting?

NAHB’s research confirms what housing consumer advocates have been saying for the past 2 or more decades: there is an oversupply of homes burdened by a mandatory HOA, and a shortage of homes without the imposition of this onerous requirement.




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