- HOAs are often at the center of brutal legal battles and unscrupulous application of neighborhood bylaws.
- A new website called the National HOA Database will collect data from HOA and condo association bylaws.
- The tool is set to launch in Florida and Maryland come January with plans for nationwide coverage.
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I’m not a huge fan of homeowners’ associations (HOAs).
They are weakly structured electoral bodies ripe for corruption. HOAs put people with no proven leadership skills in positions to lead, never questioning one’s ability to be objective, rational, or anything but a draconian hard-liner.
If a neighbor paints his house in a checkerboard pattern and wants a beet farm in his front lawn, so be it. I bet that person would be a heckuva lot of fun at the annual cul-de-sac barbecue. (And beets are good for you!)
Why homebuyers don’t dig deeper into the verbiage of their HOAs is beyond me.
This is why nationalhoadatabase.com caught my attention.
What does The National HOA Database offer?
Still in ramp-up stage and set to launch in Florida and Maryland come January, the online lookup tool will be exactly what the domain suggests: a person can enter the name of a neighborhood and be provided with all the details of any presiding HOA.
The search returns will include management information, contact numbers, bylaws and anything else pertinent to getting a clear picture of the association.
Although most of the time HOA information is easy to come by, there’s nothing wrong with making it easier. There’s also the ancillary benefit of having all the information in one place.
Agents can look up multiple neighborhoods for their buyers so they can review bylaws for homes in different communities.
We were told the data collection has been underway for years and is complete, so expect states to come online quickly in 2017.
Wrangling with dirty data
Granted, overall quality of search will depend on how up-to-date the HOAs themselves are with their information.
Poorly maintained and drastically antiquated websites are yet another problem common to HOAs, as most advocate for technology standards at (or below) a Windows 95 level. Maybe that’s part of their plan?
In an email to Inman, the Maryland-based company founder said that they’ve been working on a way to remedy that problem by meeting with lawmakers to make it mandatory for HOAs and condo associations to register in the database and keep their information updated.
Representatives of HOAs will be provided accounts to input and manage data.
The site will be membership-driven, but early adopters will be offered steep discounts.
I really like this idea because it’s aiming to shed light on organizations that often operate surreptitiously behind obscure privacy laws and a coarse sense of community cooperation.
I hope to see the website itself regularly share information on HOA disputes around the country, announce new updates to members — and, to the best extent it can, become a clearinghouse for all things HOA.
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.