According to Community Associations Institute, as of 2006, there were 286,000 association-governed communities in the US that house 57 million residents. This is a staggering number given the fact that homeowners associations really only started about 40 years ago and now over 25% of the US population lives in some type of community association, whether that is a homeowners associations, condominium, cooperative, or other planned community.
More interesting is the continued growth of planned communities. Even though homeowners associations have come under criticism (some believe that they are unconstitutional) they continue to be the preferred type of development for home buyers as evidenced by their growth, and for obvious reasons.
If you’ve ever lived in or driven through a planned-unit development the difference is clear – the common grounds are well-kept, garbage cans are neatly tucked away in the garage, neighbors’ fences all match, and the entrance monuments welcome you home.
Whether your a fan of the cookie-cutter model or not makes no difference. The bottom line is that planned communities protect property values through the codes and covenants that dictate what you can and cannot do as a homeowner in a particular community. Like it or not, it protects the investment in your home.
But still, there’s something more to this planned community thing. And I believe its the “community” part.
By nature, we are social beings. We want to belong, we want a sense of place, and living in a community satisfies that need to a certain extent.
Overland Park, Kansas is a great example of this. The next time you’re in Overland Park, ask someone where they live, they probably won’t say Overland Park. It’s more likely that you’ll hear Nottingham Forest South, Lions Gate, or White Horse. These are all the names of the HOAs that they live in. It’s the name on the entrance monument that they read everyday driving home. And there’s a since of pride associated with living in these communities, as their should be – they’re all wonderful neighborhoods to live in.
But what makes them wonderful neighborhoods isn’t the value of their homes, it’s the Easter Egg Hunt, the Fall Bash, the Swim Team, the Bunko group, the Poker Club, and the Progressive Dinners. These social functions bring neighbors together and feed our need for social interaction.
Drum roll please, it’s time for the plug…
eNeighbors can help to facilitate these types of social groups and functions through our “Groups” feature, which allows you to organize and promote your groups online. Neighbors can join your group with the click of a button. Once they join they are automatically added to a mailing list, which makes it easy for you to get a hold of everyone in your group instantly.
It’s my hope that eNeighbors fosters this sense of community in every neighborhood that uses our services by bringing people closer together through the use of features such as eNeighbors Groups.