Statistics from the first “Community Association Fact Book”

Many Americans live in community associations and a new book discusses the broad patterns:

A new body of research, the “Community Association Fact Book,” tallies the numbers of associations, housing units, residents and property values for the country and each state. It was published by the Community Association Research Foundation, the research arm of the trade group Community Associations Institute in Falls Church, Va…

According to the study, 24 percent of American homes are in an association. Nationally, the number of associations increased to 328,500 in 2013 from 10,000 in 1970, the first year the foundation began keeping track. During that time, the number of housing units grew to 26.3 million from 701,000, as did the number of unit inhabitants to 65.7 million from 2.1 million. They pay about $65 billion annually assessments.

As for state data, Illinois has 17,900 associations, the fourth-highest after Florida, California and Texas.

The states with the fewest associations, less than 1,000 each, are Alaska, Arkansas, Mississippi, North and South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming.

That’s roughly 20% of Americans living within an association that provides oversight. Of course, these associations are often intended to protect homeowners from their neighbors within the community and outside of it. At the same time, it can lead to new sorts of issues in how to govern these associations, such as collecting and spending money in an association and operating as a board. The Chicago Tribune carries a weekly column featuring questions about associations and it often seems fairly complicated with neighbors disagreeing in a formalized setting.

There has to be an interesting story behind the disparities in the number of associations between states. It may have to do with laws in particular states that make it easier or harder to form an association. But, it all may be influenced by other factors like an urban/rural split (the states with the least number of associations are more rural) and cultural patterns (what do people think about neighborhoods, how important is protecting property values, etc.).

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