Approximately 65 million Americans (or 1 in every 5) live in homeowner associations, including condominiums and planned communities in the United States. The number of homeowner association communities in the United States has risen from approximately 10,000 communities in 1970 to 342,000 communities in 2016. In a recent study, Arizona ranked tenth in the country in number of community associations, and had approximately 9,500 community associations, or 1.9 million residents living within community associations.
Given the trend in growth of the number of people living in community associations across the country, and the lack of positive press regarding community associations, I think it is important to highlight the value of community associations and to consider all of the reasons why living in a homeowner association can be a positive experience.
- As a homeowner within a community association, you will likely have access to a number of facilities, including, but not limited to, pools and spas, fitness centers, golf, and tennis or pickleball courts. This allows you to utilize facilities within your own neighborhood without the need of transporting to an off-site fitness center or club. In 2016, it was estimated that approximately $88 billion was collected in assessments from homeowners across the country, which help maintain amenities like pools and fitness facilities.
- The homeowners association through its various vendors will likely maintain all of the areas that the association owns and may even maintain limited common elements, or elements that specific homeowners have exclusive use of, like patios and driveways. Further, if you live in a condominium, you will likely have little to no exterior maintenance responsibilities at all.
- There are elected directors who have a fiduciary duty to make decisions that will be in the best interests of the community and to enforce a set of conditions, covenants and restrictions regarding the uses of the property. The enforcement of conditions, covenants and restrictions helps ensure that properties will not go into disrepair and therefore there will hopefully be an overall preservation of home value within the community. In 2016, a study estimated that elected directors and committee members spent approximately 80,000,000 hours for services within the communities.
- The elected directors have a duty to enforce the restrictions uniformly and therefore there should be a sense of consistency and uniformity throughout the community. A consistent and uniform community usually looks more aesthetically pleasing. In 2016, the value of homes within community associations was valued at $5.545 trillion.
- The community association usually fosters a sense of community and will likely provide you with social events to attend, such as potlucks, bingo, and pool events.
- The elected directors and a community manager (if the Association has one) will be watching out for the best interests of the community and therefore there may be a higher sense of safety and security. Some association communities may be gated or have camera surveillance to help increase the safety of its residents.
- You have the opportunity to run for the Board of Directors and give back to your community. Being a Board member allows you to positive impact the community that you live in. It also allows you to be a part of a non-profit corporation (if your association is incorporated) and to govern the corporation in a way that is consistent with the Nonprofit Corporation Act and other state and federal laws. In 2016, a study estimated that the value of time provided by board and committee members was $1.93 billion.
- The community association will allow you to be connected to a group of people who have expertise and advice on different topics. For instance, neighbors could share a spreadsheet of preferred handymen, painters and landscapers that he/she has had a good experience with or would recommend. There are also apps like Nextdoor, which allow for a private online network for your neighborhood.
 Community Associations Institute, https://www.caionline.org/AboutCommunityAssociations/Pages/default.aspx (February 26, 2018).  Community Associations Institute, https://www.caionline.org/AboutCommunityAssociations/Pages/StatisticalInformation.aspx (February 26, 2018).  Community Associations Institute, https://www.caionline.org/AboutCommunityAssociations/Statistical%20Information/2016StatsReviewFBWeb.pdf (February 26, 2018).  Id.  Id.  Id.  Id.