WSJ: Community associations hit by delinquent borrowers
"Here's another consequence of the troubled housing market: Some homeowners associations are running low on cash.
"The association at Monaco Place, a community of single-family homes and condominiums in Denver, is short $250,000 of its $9.3 million annual operating budget. It can't pay for needed roof and siding repairs to homes. Potholes in the streets haven't been filled in order to save money to keep electricity running in common areas, says Dee Tyler, CEO of Colorado Association Services, which manages the association. Monaco Place was already suffering from a high rate of foreclosures before the credit crunch hit. In the past three years, about a third of its 193 units have been foreclosed on.
"Like Monaco Place, a growing number of homeowner and condominium associations across the country are raising their fees or putting the brakes on clubhouse improvements, new landscaping and other shared neighborhood amenities. The kitty is so low for some that essential services, such as building maintenance, electricity, trash removal and repairs have been cut.
"As community residents lose their homes to foreclosure and new home building has slowed considerably, many of the roughly 300,000 neighborhood associations in the U.S. are grappling with shrunken budgets. One estimate puts the delinquency rate on dues at less than 5% in many markets -- higher than normal, though still not enough to threaten basic services, says John Carona, president of Associa, a Dallas-based company that represents 7,000 community associations in 26 states. Normally, the delinquency rate is about 2%, he says.
"Elsewhere, the rate is much higher. At Spanos Park East in Stockton, Calif., owners of about 25% of the development's 1,500 single-family homes have been delinquent in paying their quarterly dues, according to Adrianne Bretao, a manager at M&C Associations Management Services, which helps to manage the community association. As a result, the association has put off expanding a patio area in the clubhouse and swimming pool this year, says Denise Laven, the association's president."
Personally, my family lives in a South Florida community with a neighborhood association. We haven't been hit with a sharp rise in dues. But plenty of homes are owned by recent purchasers and out-of-area speculators, and foreclosures are starting to crop up (the house across the street is in pre-foreclosure, with a nice browning lawn to boot!). So it could happen down the road.