By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Last week IAC posted a 2-minute,10-question HOA survey, what was also e-mailed to subscribers and shared on social media.
So far, the results are fascinating, and somewhat surprising.
Here’s a brief summary to date.
HOA fees and value
IAC asked readers how their HOA assessments have changed in the past 5 years. Not surprisingly, 80% say that their HOA fees went up, at least a little. More than one-third (37%) say their fees went up a lot.
Despite all that money being forked over to HOAs, the vast majority of homeowners — 77% — don’t think the hard-earned dollars in HOA fees provides a good value.
Reserves and special assessments
Most IAC readers prefer to plan for major repair and replacement of common elements and areas — 71% agree that their HOA should fully fund reserves.
Another 22% are undecided about reserve funding, but only 7% disagree with full funding.
Those results are consistent with IAC reader opinions about special assessments. A full 72% would prefer to avoid them. Only 12% think their HOA should pay for major repairs with special assessments.
Competitive bidding and transparency
The IAC reader survey reflects two very common HOA complaints:
- HOAs rarely share detailed financial information with members, and
- vendor contracts get awarded without the HOA shopping for more than one bid.
So it’s not surprising that 94% of readers think their HOA should get at least three bids on contracts. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of homeowners say they strongly agree with a 3-bid policy.
A whopping 92% of homeowners who answered the survey say their HOA is not transparent. Only 2% live in communities with HOA boards that openly share information with members.
Should state laws ban HOA fines?
To listen to the HOA industry trade group, you’d think that most homeowners expect their HOA to fine their neighbors into compliance with covenants, restrictions, and rules.
But 69% of IAC readers would rather forbid HOAs from fining homeowners. Only 18% don’t think state law should ban the practice. Another 13% are undecided on the issue.
HOA satisfaction — three ways
To compare HOA satisfaction results with those touted by trade group, Community Associations Institute (CAI), I decided to ask my readers if they are satisfied with their HOAs.
But, instead of asking a vague question about “overall community association experience,” I ask readers three distinctly different questions to reflect the many layers of community life.
So the survey asks about homeowner satisfaction with the HOA board vs. HOA management service. Additionally, readers are asked about their overall community living experience, excluding their feelings about board leadership and management.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
HOA board governance and leadership: 91% tell IAC that they’re dissatisfied with their HOA board, and, furthermore, most of them are very dissatisfied.
HOA management: 16% of IAC readers say their HOA doesn’t have a professional manager. But, 69% of homeowners in professionally managed HOAs are dissatisfied. A tiny percentage (4%) are happy with their HOA management services.
Overall living experience: Nearly half of survey respondents (49%) are not satisfied with any aspect of their HOA-governed common interest communities.
However, about one-third (30%) still like community living. The remainder, (22%) hold a neutral opinion of their experience.
Although this exploratory reader survey remains open for responses, several clear trends are emerging.
The vast majority of homeowners are decidedly unhappy about the way their communities are governed and managed. About half of homeowners don’t like anything about their communities.
However, in spite of their negative opinion of HOA leadership, a little less than one-third of homeowners still express satisfaction with other aspects of their home or community.
So these survey results seem to suggest minority of optimistic American homeowners, who still believe that their HOA is worth fixing.
Looking at the results of previous IAC polls, nearly 4 in 10 readers would prefer to abolish HOAs altogether.
See the results of IAC HOA, condo, & co-op satisfaction, fees & fines
View charts by clicking on the link below.
Thanks to all who participated in the survey. Don’t forget to share the survey link with other homeowners. And if you haven’t taken the survey yet, weigh in with your opinion. ♦
IAC survey link: wp.me/p54QKD-9dt