The Evolution of Homeowner Associations

  If you live in a home or a condo that is part of an HOA, you might wonder how they ever became so powerful and seemingly all pervasive. As you may know from experience, when you live in a developed community you are required to abide by the rules, or you could be on the receiving end of repercussions from fines and penalties to property liens. While some believe Homeowners Associations are tyrants, others love that they help keep property values high and their communities clean.

Events That Prompted the Need for HOA’s

When you connect the dots, the history of HOA’s can date back all the way to the nineteenth century. In the late 1800’s, the economic structure of the nation shifted from primarily agricultural to innovative industrial. As more and more industrial jobs became available in the city, our citizens began moving into town to be closer to their work. When the 1900’s brought the invention of the automobile, workers were now able to move back outside the hustle and bustle of city life. This created a greater demand for suburban areas where people really wanted to live.

For over 100 years, the American Dream has been mostly about home ownership. To keep up with the growing demand for a “home of your own” in the 1960’s, our nation took on a number of different development projects toward making this dream come true for many Americans. With less government open lands available around the nation and the rising costs of construction, more and more people drove the need for developer-planned communities to be built in suburban and metropolitan areas.

The First HOA’s are Conceptualized 

Whether you love HOA’s or dislike them profusely, you can thank William Levitt for the concept, born from the vision of providing attractive homes on a budget for veterans.  It was the country’s first concept of a modern planned community, and the first Levittown was built in 1947 on Long Island. When veterans bought these homes, they were required to agree to very strict terms that prohibited many actions. While those terms did not constitute a formal HOA, they set the tone for the future, with more and more developments recognizing the need for bylaws and restrictions that were formally written into every contract.

In the late 1960’s, industrial workers throughout the nation started to buy residential homes in planned communities that were created to give people the opportunity to live a more rural lifestyle. As these communities cropped up, the developers also realized the need for laws to be enforced to keep these new communities nice and safe. Local governments also began to require the developments to create and maintain their own streets, utilities and common landscaping.

HOAs remain very popular today because they maintain amenities and keep the common areas in a community clean and presentable. There are often more amenities offered, property values are generally higher, and community pride is more evident in a development managed by an HOA. All these factors have naturally given the HOA a very powerful position, sparking much debate and additional governmental regulation.




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