Haters Gonna Hate

Believe it or not, there are people around the web who hate HOAs.

Actually, it’s not too difficult to find them. A quick google search and you’ll be lucky to find someone who isn’t filled with vitriol.

There are so many people online saying the same things about HOAs. Are they right? Is there widespread corruption? Is it bad enough that HOAs need to be completely rethought, or even banned?

I Can Sympathize

Of course I don’t think HOAs should be banned, or I would find another line of work. But I can sympathize with the haters.

My guess is that almost all of these people have a true HOA horror story to tell. There are real problems with some HOAs. There are examples of fraud. There are some ridiculous rules out there (see 2nd question). And there are abuses.

The people who have lived through that stuff have a good excuse to be upset. The problem is that some of them project these terrible experiences onto HOAs in general.

Juicy HOA Horror Stories Attract Readers

The HOA haters often use news stories to support their argument. If you’ve followed HOAs in the news, you too might come away thinking that they are nothing but vehicles of corruption.

This isn’t the journalists’ fault. They follow the juicy stories because that’s what’s interesting. “Successfully Balanced Budget” and “HOA Board Doing a Great Job” don’t make for tantalizing stories.

So we can’t judge HOAs by the news any more than we can judge anything else by the news. Here’s what I mean:

For Example

This week, Google Alerts sent me 22 news articles about HOAs. Of these articles, 14 (64%) were negative. (8 were about surprising or absurd rules and actions, and 5 spoke of improper or illegal behavior, etc.)

Google Alerts also sent me 52 news articles about the words “neighbor” and “neighborhood”. Of these articles, 28 (54%) were negative. (17 articles were about crime or violence, and 11 were about neighbor disputes, etc.)

We might think that all neighborhoods are pretty violent places if we were to judge them just by the news.

Shake it Off

If we are to have well-informed opinions we must look at the entire picture.

The entire HOA picture is that, of the 65 million people who live in HOAs, 90% of them are satisfied or neutral. Of course that means that 6.5 million people have had a bad HOA experience. That’s a big number! And it indicates that HOAs need to do better. But it doesn’t mean that there’s widespread corruption or abuse. Far from it.

So the takeaways are that, in general, HOAs are good. Really good. On average they increase property values. All of them have issues, but so do non-HOA neighborhoods. And the HOA haters aren’t all wrong. We can sympathize with them and use their energy as impetus towards making HOAs even better.

Sterling Jenkins

Founder and CTO at GoGladly
Sterling has lived in HOAs and has managed them for a living. A self-described nerd, Sterling finds books about HTML5 and games like Settlers of Catan unreasonably exciting. His nerdiness extends to his love of camping, fishing, and hiking in Utah's breathtaking Rocky Mountains. He especially likes enjoying the outdoors with his beautiful and supportive wife and 4 awesome kids.

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