A new study by the Community Associations Institute found that homeowners associations, co-ops, and condominium communities represent a huge chunk of the American population—and, despite the negative buzz that sometimes swirls around these communities, most people are happy living in one.
If you’re reading this, there’s a 1 in 5 chance that you’re a member of at least one association—even if you’re not an association exec and you just stumbled onto this page through an errant Google search.
According to new research from the Community Associations Institute (CAI), 20 percent of Americans can count themselves as members of a homeowners association (HOA), condominium community, or co-op. That means 66.7 million U.S. citizens are part of an organization that represents their property.
It wasn’t always this way: In 1970, just 10,000 community associations, representing 2.1 million residents, existed. In the 45 years since, the number has ballooned to 333,600 groups, with much of that growth taking place since 2000. (CAI itself represents a significant portion of this market, with 33,000 member organizations.)
And while HOAs get some bad press—they’re often portrayed in local news stories as stifling homeowners’ freedom to place flags on their properties, install artificial turf, or put up lemonade stands, among other things—CAI notes that most people are happy with their homeowners associations. A 2014 study found that 90 percent of people represented by community associations had a positive or neutral opinion of them, versus just 10 percent who did not find the HOA experience positive.
“Not all associations operate as well as they should, and we’re never happy when we see a community in the news for the wrong reasons, but at least we know struggling communities are the exception to the rule,” CAI chief executive Thomas Skiba, CAE, said in a comment on the study.
Among the states with the largest numbers of community associations are California, Florida, and Texas. Combined, they account for about a third of the country’s community groups.
“Community associations are an increasingly vital segment of the U.S. housing market—and are increasingly desired by smart homebuyers,” Skiba said earlier this month. “Not only do they provide options, alternatives, facilities, and amenities that most Americans could not otherwise enjoy, they protect property values by preserving the nature and character of the communities.”
The full results of the study are available on the CAI website [PDF].