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Common Interest Property Owners Association (CIPOA)

Communications, archives, directories and Special Interest Groups

Why form a national association?

As Common Interest Development (CID) researchers we have been looking to develop a sustainable mechanism for polling and surveying individual common interest owners nationally, and maintaining a connection with those owners for the life of their CI property ownership. We have previously focused generally on the industry growth patterns, and the impact on how municipalities consider CIDs in their plans for community growth, approval processes, shared infrastructure and real estate tax implications, etc. With CIPOA we want to dig into why assessments have been increasing so rapidly (inflation adjusted) and how to reverse this trend. Additionally, we want owners to weigh in on existing and proposed CID legislation. We hypothesize that CI legislation is in part responsible for these increases, and that the impact is greater on owners in smaller associations, over those in larger communities, that are specifically targeted by the legislation. We think current common interest laws should be amended to exempt certain communities, And to explore why the vision of the early adapters of this home building type, did not survive, being replaced with a governance dominated management style. CIDs will dominate homebuilding for the foreseeable future, we want to measure the impact, challenges and solutions in the industry and create a model for development and management that stabilizes assessments while maximizing market appeal.

For the CIPOA, the clearest results and most useful conclusions will come from serving these member owners for the life of their investment; whether it’s one month or literally a life time. CIPOA will be able to archive the historical changes in individual associations, from initial subdivision approval to ownership chain of title. Information that current owners need and invaluable to prospective owners. The CIPOA will assemble a profile of the community over time, where members can browse the community profiles or find other associations that share key characteristics.

More than a networking tool

The CIPOA is basically a social networking tool, with similar features as most such apps, except it is restricted to property owners, who all share deed restrictions and, of course, pay dues. This network searches for commonality amongst the members. Common interest owners additionally share the responsibility of compliance with state and local statutes, that are related to certain transactions. Real Estate in particular. For example, each CIPOA member receives a secure archive for each owned property, access will be passed on to succeeding owners. This is in addition to the community profile and data archive that the owners also maintain.

The original vision is gone

In 1970, CIDs were a niche new construction real estate market, where the objective was to provide more affordable housing in urban areas. It was a boon for first time buyers providing an entry to the RE market. And an affordable first step for real estate investors. Now, common interest subdivisions represent 80% of new housing units. And it seems that the objective of affordability has been lost along the way.

The original idea; that a group of owners pool their money to maintain something they have in common, and reduce the per owner costs over the cost of individual maintenance, was the foundation of CIDs. However, inflation adjusted assessments have nearly doubled in many regions of the country. We want to find out why, and identify the communities that have bucked this trend and share those findings. These higher assessments have also impacted buyer interest in certain communities, with higher assessments.

In 2014 we launched the development of a national study of the industry. The idea was to interact with as many owners as possible, with the objective of identifying a way to connect with these owners and follow there experience as CI owners, until they sell.

After a couple of years we came upon several SEO techniques to attract owners and were able to interact with as many as 50,000 visitors per month with about 40% being owners, 30% first time buyers and retiring seniors and the rest were CI professionals and real estate professionals. We developed several applications for these visitors, but as a free service, these benefits could not be maintained. The CIPOA, a not for profit association is the answer.

Pre CIPOA owner survey

  • Privacy -meaning no advertising-
  • Focus on social interactions within the community, over governance
  • Number one wanted feature was resident profiles (as long as it is restricted to the community )
  • Were willing to participate in surveys and polls
  • Thought a community profile would help with their identity as a community
  • Number one complaint was assessment increases
  • All of the buyers we interacted with wanted to see a profile of the community, not just an individual home
  • Were willing to contribute to the maintenance (most acceptable contribution was $1 per month)

An entity like this needs a source of revenue and without the advertising option, subscriptions, contributions or donations is the only way to make it sustainable. Although, our objective of $1 per month, is now $1.25 per month, primarily due to payment processing fees.

The objective of the CIPOA is to connect property owners and encourage them to group themselves and collaborate, locally or nationwide. The mission of CIPOA is to promote common interest living and affordability. In addition to social interactions, the impetus for forming this association is to provide owner input on state and local regulations, before enactment. Not all HOAs are the same and these differences should be considered, while crafting new laws. There are 10s of thousands of HOAs with 50 units or less, but laws seem to be directed at entities like Sun City or other master associations with thousands of homes. Each new law creates a new administrative task, and consequently increases assessments. However, CIPOA is years away from proactively providing this sort of advocacy, so we are designed to start by connecting community members locally and encouraging general interactions, regardless of the subject.

CIPOA is a private membership organization. It needs revenue to develop and maintain the member benefit platforms and community archive, however, selling advertising is off the table and selling member contact data will never be used. This means the revenue to support this association needs to come from the membership. In order to minimize the association dues, CIPOA, will provide a vetting and publishing fee to professionals who would like to brand themselves and publish articles, related to common interest developments. These detailed profiles are for individual professionals who work directly with owners(HOpros) or boards (CIDpros), not for the companies they work for.

Industry Overview

There are about 27 million common interest properties in the US, with estimates of nearly 70 million residents. These owners are grouped into approximately 350k associations. Besides having to pay assessments to operate these communities, these owners form a very significant consumer market segment. And just like all properties owners in the general market, common interest owners share the responsibilities of property ownership, no difference, except by design, certain aspects of maintenance and oversite are scaled. But otherwise the CI owners are exactly the same? Yes, except the CI owners are already connected with each other via the HOA and were built at the same time, using the same components, with the same useful life. Consequently, HOAhomepage was designed to allow these owners to extend this scaling tool to areas of personal responsibility.

HOAhomepage is an interactive member directed collaboration that identifies common issues or needs via the data archived by the members. For example members in a community can form a group to negotiate the replacement of HVAC equipment approaching the end of it’s projected life. This sort of approach is practiced all the time across the country, it makes sense. HOAhomepage helps maximize this purchasing power. Besides managing the process and participants, HOAhomepage can extend the participation to communities of the same age or share the same builder. Common service needs like re-financing your home, insurance or security can be treated in the same way. Owners compare notes and recommendations and group if can save them money on some aspect of the process, like appraisals or inspections. Board members could form a Master Security Association, grouping multiple HOAs to coordinate security protocols or disaster planning and response. Again, this is not new, HOAhomepage just encourages it.

For over 20 years HOAhomepage has studied trends in the industry. Besides following industry growth patterns, we looked for companies offering scaled solutions for the Common Interest Development industry. We’ve been impressed with many unique services that clearly help communities operate more efficiently, or streamline maintenance tasks. Successful localized ideas that need to be added to HOAhomepage, and scaled nationally. We found several owner interactions (like 1031 exchanges) we are working on scaling. The property exchange is our first transaction based member service and 1031 exchanges will be featured. Our Non-resident owner platform offers access to the exchange, as well as portfolio management tools to automatically archive HOA communications and documents, rental management communications, market data, tenant data, maintenance contracts etc. Set calendars and alerts by each common interest property, and automatically publish rental availability.

We found no shortage of options for Board members to achieve their community goals, as well. From self managed communities to mega association, there are professionals and solutions available.

Inflation is going to force most HOAs to increase assessments due to market pressures or contracts tied to the CPI. We are currently authoring an article on managing assessment increases. For a board, they can just increase the assessments and be done with it. But it may be worth the effort to look at ways to decrease costs, instead. Buyers are placing a lot of weight on assessments and how much they are willing to pay for a home.

For example, if your goal were to reduce assessments by some percentage, or prevent a dues increase, the options are out there, with professional help at all levels. HOAhomepage identifies these professionals. With inflation impacting most products and services, Boards may have to look at alternatives to simply raising assessments. HOAhomepage helps board members create a plan and develop an owner consensus.