By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Check out a fascinating new “Honest” HOA survey by InsuranceQuotes.com. “Honest About HOAs,“ shows the love-hate relationship between owners and their HOAs.
But before analyzing the InsuranceQuotes survey, let’s take a look at the methodology used to collect responses.
“Honest” Survey methodology highlights
Methodology refers to how a person or organization conducts a survey and distributes it to potential respondents.
The term also refers to the characteristics of the “sample” of people in the general population who ultimately take the survey.
Here’s the methodology, as posted on InsuranceQuotes.com
We collected 649 responses from American homeowners using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Four-hundred and fifty-four people were never members of an HOA board, 106 stated they were members in the past, and 89 said they were currently on an HOA board. Seventy-one percent of respondents owned a house, 15 percent owned a town house, and 14 percent owned a condominium. Fifty-three percent of respondents identified as women, and 47 percent identified as men. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 82 with an average age of 37.9 and a standard deviation of 11.4. Data were not tested and is exploratory.
First of all, we see that the people who answered the survey are “homeowners using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.”
Mechanical Turk is an Amazon Marketplace that pays human MTurk “workers” to help businesses build or improve their websites by completing relatively simple, but time-consuming or repetitive tasks.
So we already know that the sample is limited to a very narrow portion of Amazon users who are paid to respond to website owner requests for assistance or information.
And we know that non-homeowners did not participate in the survey.
Next, we see that 195 of the 649 people who responded to the online survey are either current or past members of their HOA board of directors. That’s a full 30% of survey respondents.
So the survey sample cannot possibly be representative of all HOA residents, or even all homeowners.
It doesn’t take a scientist to know that very few homeowners attend HOA meetings regularly. Even fewer of them are willing and able to serve on their HOA boards.
Assuming an average of 5 board members for each of 342,000 communities, and 69 million residents (as estimated by CAI statistics), perhaps 2 – 3 % of homeowners are serving as board members at any given time.
So if 30% of the folks who responded to the InsuranceQuotes survey were, at one time, HOA board members, we can assume that the answers will be skewed.
Finally, the statement “Data were not tested and is exploratory” is an official disclaimer. It means that the results of this survey are not scientific, and the statistics are probably not very accurate or representative of HOA residents at large.
But they provide an interesting snapshot of 649 homeowner opinions and attitudes.
About the survey sponsor: InsuranceQuotes.com
InsuranceQuotes.com is an online service that connects insurance consumers with insurance agents. The company is based in Austin, Texas. The concept is quite simple. The website generates insurance sales leads for its agent members.
The leadership team appears to have no direct connection to the real estate industry, other than the obvious fact that many of its participating insurance agents sell insurance products to homeowners.
With all of this background information in mind, let’s look at Honest About HOAs.
Note: I’ve included just a few highlights. Follow the source links to view the entire survey report.
Highlights of InsuranceQuotes HOA Survey
Honest about HOAs (InsuranceQuotes.com)
Monday, September 10, 2018 12:56:00 PM
Homeowners associations (or HOAs) are supposed to exist to make our lives easier. Don’t want to mow your lawn or deal with noisy neighbors? Typically for a monthly fee, HOAs provide property maintenance and a code of rules meant to provide a uniform look and feel to a community. Sometimes, though, these codes can cause controversy and frustration, such as when an HOA fined a military veteran for displaying an American flag or told a family to take down their daughter’s playground.
Recent studies show Americans still believe homeownership is the key to the American Dream, but even more Americans say the American Dream is tied to freedom of choice in how they live. It can, therefore, feel personal when an HOA says your cherished lawn gnome or jam-packed flower bed is against the rules. But beyond the rules and regulations, how do homeowners really feel about their HOAs? We set out to gauge how much homeowners associations help or hinder neighborhood residents. Surveying over 600 people from various demographics, we asked about the value of HOA fees, the most annoying HOA policies, and the craziest stories from HOA meetings. Read on to see what we found.
Baby Boomers feel more love for their HOAs
One statistic that stands out is that a higher percentage of younger homeowners hate their HOAs: 32% of Gen Xers and 27% of Millennials, as compared to 17% of Baby Boomers.
By generation, 57% of Baby Boomers say they love their HOAs, compared to 31% of GenXers and 39% of Millennials.
Across generations, a full third (31-38%) of homeowners could take or leave their HOAs — they neither love them or hate them.
Notice that these statistics are quite inconsistent with CAI surveys.
According to the 2018 survey conducted by Foundation for Community Associations Research, affiliated with industry trade group CAI, 65% of homeowners are satisfied with their HOAs, 15% are dissatisfied, and 22% hold a neutral opinion.
HOA board members more likely to love HOAs
But this InsuranceQuotes survey provides an additional piece of information that is not provided by CAI.
Note that homeowners who have served on their community association’s board are almost twice as likely to love their HOAs: 57% of current or ex-board members vs. 30% of homeowners who have never served on their HOA board.
And since we’ve already concluded that the “exploratory” survey sample is skewed, with 30% of respondents reporting that they are current or former board members, it’s logical to conclude that overall “love” for HOAs is overstated in these survey results.
Younger generations more likely to avoid HOA meetings
Yikes! Among HOA board members, 36% attend meetings “sometimes” and another rarely or never 28% attend?
And 38-39% of Millennials and GenXers never attend HOA meetings, respectively. Only 15% of Millennials and 20% of GenXers report attending meetings “often” or “always.”
It appears that homeowner AND board member apathy is getting worse, not better, as younger buyers take the place of aging Baby Boomers.
At best, 58% of homeowners report that the primary reason they attend HOA meetings is to vote on important issues.
But keep in mind that HOA board members are more likely to attend meetings. And board members are overrepresented in the survey sample.
It’s fascinating that 33% of Baby Boomers that don’t attend meetings say that their opinion doesn’t change anything. But “only” 25% of Millennials think their opinion doesn’t count.
And while 27% of Baby Boomers say that HOA meetings don’t accomplish anything, only 17 – 19% of Millennials and GenXers agree that meetings are a waste of their time.
Seems like there’s a disconnect with the love/hate statistics by generation, doesn’t it?
Perhaps, since Baby Boomers are more likely to attend HOA meetings, they also witness more of the dysfunction. Or maybe older adults are simply gluttons for punishment.
HOA meetings get hostile
Well, none of this is surprising, is it?
Just look at the alarming reported frequency of arguments, chaos, and aggression at HOA meetings. And remember that 30% of the homeowners who answered this survey are current or former board members.
Clearly, HOA meetings are not run like meetings at City Hall. And they’re not comparable to professional business meetings either.
It’s no wonder 33% of non-board member homeowners say that their HOA fees are “not worth it!” (See first chart above)
So…What do you think?
How would all of these survey responses differ, if more homeowners at large were to respond to these questions?