Have you ever wondered just who lives in a homeowners association? While the developers and special interests are marketing to almost everyone, when problems arise with an association (HOA) we often hear the statement, "HOAs are not for everyone, If you can't follow the rules, move out." So I wondered.
The 2010 Census doesn't collect any demographics. A search of the US Census websites reveal plenty of details about race, education, income, type of home, its structure, etc and even if its a condominium. But nothing about HOAs, the planned community subdivision as many states distinguish between residential communities in general and a condominium. And neither can any HOA demographics be found on state government websites simply because HOA data is not collected and correlated with overall state demographics. The only data seems to come from the national trade group promoting and supporting the HOA form of housing, Community Associations Institute (CAI).
In its 2007 survey on homeowner satisfaction, Zogby International, the research firm that conducted the telephone survey, provided a glimpse at just who lives in HOAs. While neither Zogby nor CAI continue to provide online access to the methodology and details of the survey, a copy is available on the Constitutional Local Government website. A comparison with the survey sample findings and the 2000 Census is shown in Table 1 and one cannot help notice the large differences in the percentages between the sample and the Census data. Could these differences be the result of an unrepresentative sampling of the HOA population, or is there indeed a distinct segmentation of the overall population?
The comparison suggests that the HOA population represents a distinct class or subset of American society: the senior, educated, white, well-off segment of America. If true, then the demo-graphics reflected in Table 1 should be of concern to the policy makers. And well it should since industry data reveals a surprising, to many, 19.6% of Americans live under a HOA regime. That's slightly higher than either the Black or Hispanic minority percentages.
As Table 2 shows, the growth in HOAs continues, but not as rapidly as earlier. While the graph in Table 2 does introduce a distortion due to the 2-year periods, the 10-year increases between 1990 - 2000 and 2000 - 2010 are about the same, roughly 4%. This increase is about half of the whopping 7.8% increase from 1980 - 1990. Even if there is a leveling-off, we can expect actual the number of people living in HOAs to increase as the US population continues to grow, and as more and more towns and cities mandate HOAs for new developments.