All posts by terrybar

Tyler Berding

Regular listeners to the show know that I have never bought into the notion that HOAs protect and even enhance property values.  When you look at all the moving parts in a house controlled by a homeowners association, in no way can I see how that could be the truth.  Professor Robertson, who was on the last show, did the research and found that HOAs not only do not protect and enhance values as claimed, but actually diminish the values.  Now that made a lot more sense to me.  But then I got an email from my friend Tyler Berding, an attorney in California, wanting clarification on what properties Professor Roberts based his study on. We are guessing they are single family homes, comparing similar sized homes with roughly the same square feet and amenities (number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and other amenities, construction and location, one in an HOA and the other Free as a bird and not in an HOA.  But then Tyler reminded me of one of the big pitfalls in this entire HOA discussion and that is language.  We don’t use terms that are common to everyone.  Some people and places refer to them as common interest developments, others call them property owners associations, and yet others refer to them as condominiums, cooperatives, attached and detached housing and the list goes on and on.  I am beginning to think we have a modern Tower of Babel.  

Tyler Berding joins us On The Commons Tyler is a founding partner in the California based law firm of Berding and Weil.  Tyler and his fellow attorneys specialize in Common Interest development  law.  We talk about language and the differences in the different forms and styles of these dwelling units and then dive into construction.  Like I said, there are so many moving parts to a house in a homeowner association.  We don’t often dig in deep enough when discussing the issues in HOA/common interest developments/ condominiums, etc, etc. I still can’t see how a house in an HOA can possibly protect and enhance the value, regardless of what you call it. in fact given all the parts it makes more sense that HOAs strip the owner of so much more.  But regardless, I always enjoy talking to Tyler and learn so much from him.  Tune in, I hope you enjoy the show as much as I did.

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Professor Leon Robertson

For the past several decades, states have required that housing consumers, buying into a mandatory membership housing association, be provided what is commonly called a “disclosure package.”  Some states provide a list of what the package must contain.  Much of the information is accurate but confusing and makes little sense. Even some attorneys have a hard time trying to decipher some sections.  Realtors and some settlement attorneys shrug off any questions as “you agree to pay so much a month to get trash and snow removed,” where applicable.  No bells go off.  “HOAs protect property values” has become such a common notion that buyers do not dig any further and accept it on face value.  Intuitively that statement makes no sense whatsoever but, absent proof to the contrary, people still believe it.

Leon Robertson joins us On the Commons this week.  Professor Robertson, a retired Yale University professor, discovered HOAs like the rest of us, by buying into one and finding out that it was nothing like he expected.  Being a professor and very thorough, he started researching HOAs, land records, tracked sales, and wrote a paper titled Correlation of Homeowner Associations and Inferior Property Value Appreciation.  After he crunched the numbers and analyzed the research projects, the result was that far from increasing and enhancing property values, HOAs diminished property values.  Perhaps, in fairness and honesty, housing consumers should be given a copy of Professor Robertson’s paper before signing on the dotted line.

Based on his experience, Professor Robertson wrote a book called The HOA Murders – A Novel of Suspense.  I have it on my kindle and can’t wait to dive into it.  Don’t miss the show with Professor Robertson,  

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Mike Gingrich

“Are you crazy?  If people knew what they were buying, they’d never buy a house in an HOA”.  That was the answer I got from a member of the HOA industry when I asked why housing consumers were not told the truth about what buying a house in an HOA entailed.  No more real words were ever spoken.  The road to an HOA or condo controlled dwelling is, by necessity, paved with lies.  So it is back to the good old “Caveat emptor,” or buyer beware philosophy.  That’s all well and good, but until relatively recently, information that is necessary for the consumer or homeowner to be able to ask the right questions or make an educated decision has been scarce. There is a lot of information for associations, and for the people who feed at he HOA trough but precious little for the person who will be funding the contents of that trough. You, the HOA homeowner.

Michael Gingrich joins us On The Commons this week.  Mike has a background in psychology and learned all about HOAs like most of us, up close and personal, he lived in one.  There is something about having to deal with all the problems and issues that are a part of almost every HOA that compels you to do your homework.  Mike was no exception.  In the process of doing his research and meeting others who found themselves in pretty much the same boat, Mike and his colleagues put together a pretty comprehensive web site called HOAs Harm .  Mike talks about the website and explains why they put it together.   You’ll want to check out the website and tune in to the show to get more information. You won’t want to miss it.

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Jan Bergemann

Jan Bergemann
Jan Bergemann

The story goes that any homeowner in a mandatory membership homeowners’ association who is behind in their dues is inherently bad, they don’t want to pay their fair share and deserve to be kicked out. That’s the story the HOA industry lobbyists tell state legislators when lobbying for increased power for the HOA and the industry.  They paint a picture of these horrible freeloaders who think nothing of living off their neighbors. “It’s NOT FAIR” they cry. If there was even a grain of truth to any of that, it would be reason enough to pull the plug on a housing concept doomed to fail but instead the people caught in the trap are called every name under the sun and demonized.  

The story goes that any homeowner in a mandatory membership homeowners’ association who is behind in their dues is inherently bad, they don’t want to pay their fair share and deserve to be kicked out. That’s the story the HOA industry lobbyists tell state legislators when lobbying for increased power for the HOA and the industry.  They paint a picture of these horrible freeloaders who think nothing of living off their neighbors. “It’s NOT FAIR” they cry. If there was even a grain of truth to any of that, it would be reason enough to pull the plug on a housing concept doomed to fail but instead the people caught in the trap are called every name under the sun and demonized.  

But let’s take a look at the Florida family who live in Nottingham Harbor in Jackson Florida to get a real picture of what really goes on in HOA land.  

Chris and Robin Rolling bought a house in Nottingham Harbor to live and raise their seven children.  Robin as a petty officer in the navy and her husband Chris, like so many people recently lost his job and his income.  Robin was the family’s sole financial supporter for a time.  The predictable happened, with less income they had to decide on what is more important, feeding their 7 children or feeding the coffers of the over bloated HOA legal team.  They made the same choice all of us would have made under the same circumstances and they fell behind in their HOA dues by $800.  They proposed a payment plan which was rejected by the association so that the debt with penalties, interest and HOA ATTORNEY FEES soared to $5, 800.  That is a $5000 increase!nThere were still 7 kids that needed to be fed but now the “community” decided to bury them even deeper.

Jan Bergemann Joins us On The Commons.  Jan is the founder and president of the Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice  a grassroots homeowner friendly group that seems to do as much good as CAI manages to do harm.  CCFJ heard about the Rollings and decided to prevent the foreclosure of their home. We’ll talk to Jan and find out just how CCFJ managed to help the Rollings and keep the family of 9 in their home.   The HOA got their back dues plus a whole lot more.  I ask myself exactly who are the freeloaders in this story.  Tune in and I am confident you will reach the same conclusion I did.

Listen to Jan Bergemann

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Nila Ridings

Nila Ridings

For decades there has been a concerted effort nationwide by homeowners, and some legislators, to ensure proper and adequate disclosures of exactly what owning an HOA controlled home entails. One of the biggest pitfalls, as I see it, is that the message is missing the target by a wide margin.  While a place to live is a necessity, we all need shelter and a safe place to live, raise our families and nourish our soles, buying a house is an emotional purchase.  Once a potential buyer has approved the curbside appeal of a house and goes through the front door, they either hate the paint color in the entry, (an easy fix) and turn tail and head right back out, or they start to visualize themselves having breakfast at the kitchen bar, reading a book by the fireplace, enjoying the views from the living room windows and they start to fall in love with their vision of what living in this house would be like.  Informing them that there is an HOA that will “protect them from red doors in their neighborhood will not force them to remove their rose colored glasses.  The sale pitch is emotional so asking them to dig a little deeper is not going to be terribly productive.  How do we find a common language?

Nila Ridings joins us On The Commons.  Nila, an advocate for protecting housing consumers from falling into the HOA trap shares with us her personal nightmare.  In fact Nila was warned by her dad who was a builder, NOT to buy a house that is subject to a mandatory membership HOA.  But then she fell in love with a house.  It had so many lovely features, lots of promises and pots of dreams so just how bad could it be?  She dumped her lifesavings and her inheritance that she got from her father into buying her dream house.  And then she found out just how bad it not only can be, but is.   Tune in and hear Nila’s story and how, despite her unwillingness to pass on her nightmare to anyone else, another buyer, despite being warned, is in the hot seat of her HOA. 

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Carolyn George

Carolyn George

As Americans we like to think of ourselves as being a  free people, able to come and go as we please, live how and where we like, spend time with our friends and neighbors, watch the TV shows and movies that interest us and read the books we want to read.  But things they are a changing.  And if you are a regular listener of our show, On The Commons  and reader of this web page you would be guessing now that I would be talking about the choices and liberties that have been taken from us in regards to our homes, our color choices, the plants in our gardens, the birdbaths and the bird feeders on our private grounds, and all the other little details that make our homes uniquely ours.  And you would be right.  But it is getting worse.  What if I were to tell you that “they” (whoever “THEY” are) are also after your intellectual and possibly even recreational growth?  Nah, that can’t be possible, can it?

Caroline George joins us On The commons.  Many of my listeners will remember Caroline’s past visits as many people have taken the time to comment on her shows.  You may also remember that Caroline wrote a book titled, The Dark Side of Law, a law treatise on judging.  It is a huge and a hugely heavy book that we have talked about on the show. 

Through her thousands of interviews and reviews of actual court cases she brings the process of going to court down to an easier to understand level and demystifies much of what goes on behind the scenes.  

The book WAS available on Amazon, that’s right, WAS, past tense.  It seems that Amazon decided to BAN the book so you can no longer buy it or read it or get any help from it. Why is Amazon deciding what you can and cannot read?  Who else is involved in making some of your basic and personal decisions for you?  What other books have been banned?  Who is making these decisions and what gives them the right to do so?  Tune in.

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Frank Short

One of the most despicable and abusive practices that has become an acceptable part of the American culture recently is that of fining by residential associations.  Why is the HOA industry so enamored with the power to fine?  Is it really designed to FORCE people to act, live and behave according to some aesthetic plan concocted by the architects of controlled living? Whatever the real reason, it is a punitive measure that strips a person of his or her assets.  A few dollars can soon mushroom to tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars, resulting in the loss of someone’s home.   Proponents of this offensive practice wonder how else one can force compliance by a neighbor.  But is that really what they are concerned about or do they have ulterior motives?  Who benefits?
 
Joining us On The Commons this week is Frank Short.  Frank is an old friend of the show, a personal friend and a lawyer.  And, as only Frank can, he takes us on a historical trip through court cases that have examined fines.  We hear about the issues, the arguments and what the courts at various levels and in different states have ruled.  He packs an hour with a comprehensive and chronological look at fines, the courts and the legislatures.  You will not want to miss it.
 
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Bill Davis

The true value of anything is what a buyer is willing to pay and what a seller is willing to accept in exchange for that item.  If demand is high on something, and supply is low, the value tends to go up.  On the other hand if there is a glut on the market of an item, the value goes down because it is said to be a buyers market.  That’s pretty much the way it works when it comes to determining value. And that includes housing.  So I am a little perplexed by the claim that a house that is subject to a mandatory membership housing association increases the value of the property.  It makes no sense and flies in the face of the traditional understanding of how values are arrived at and understood. It is especially perplexing given that so many housing consumers specifically request non HOA housing but are told they do not exist. “There is nothing on the market.” On the off chance that a non HOA house becomes available it is advertised as “Non HOA” and that’s a valuable marketing tool. It sets it apart from other houses on the market. It is true that non HOA housing is rare, often old and sometimes require a complete overhaul and update, making them expensive.  But they are still highly sought after.

Bill Davis joins me On The Commons.  Bill, a frequent guest, friend and attorney lives in Texas and is one of only a few attorneys who represents homeowners against their HOAs. He is well versed and experienced on what routinely goes on .  Bill and I talk about property values, what needs to be included when calculating the monetary value as well as other values and costs that we seldom think about.  One thing we both agree on is that housing consumers need to have all the facts and all the information they can get in order to make an educated decision on what they are buying, or not buying.  It is also important to know what questions to ask.  Join us as we dive into all the ins and outs of determining the true value of that jewel with the beautiful view that you just fell in love with.  

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Sam Pilli

That there are problems in HOAs is a given, ask anyone, even some of the most ardent of HOA proponents will agree, there really and truly are problems. OK, so what next? Maybe starting at the begging. What if you were to ask 100 people what the problems are, experience has shown that you will get 200 very different answers. The reason is that everyone sees it from their personal perspective and their personal problem. This is an incredibly complex problem with so many moving parts to it that ” fixing” it has to start with a list of exactly what needs to be fixed, and that in and of itself will be a long list. But you have to start somewhere and the best starting point is discussing the issues openly, freely, honestly and fearlessly. Without that you’ll never get out of the starting gate.

Samuel Pilli joins us On The Commons. Sam and his colleagues have developed a website called Zonzon which allows homeowners in HOAs, condos, coops and other closed groups to communicate freely with each other. Sam believes this is the answer to all that ails HOAs. We will talk about his secure communication idea, discuss some of the other mitigating factors involved and find out how Zonzon might play a role in evening out the playing field.

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Wes Rocki

Dr. Wes Rocki

The last few decades have seen some radical changes in the way we live, starting with our  personal rights and our traditional rights as homeowners. Along with HOA mandates homeowners lost their dominion over their most private and personal asset.  This new way of life has been beaten into us and the resulting health issues have been well recognized and documented.  Living under the microscope and the fear of being singled out for some ridiculous offense has increased the daily stress.  As if that was not bad enough, along comes the Covid 19 pandemic.  In addition to the usual traditional stresses that are part and parcel of our lives, we now have to live with a deadly virus.  The fear on contracting this virus added to all the unknown aspects associated with it has taken a toll on us.  Is there something we can do to mitigate the potential damage and protect ourselves and our families from yet another potential enemy?

Dr.WES ROCKI joins us ON THE COMMONS 

Dr Rocki has focused more on how we, as humans, can help to heal ourselves rather than relying on a host of medicines.  He is a great believer in self healing and how to manage our own health and well being.  In a very timely and fascinating interview Dr. Rocki walks us through the process of taking control of our lives, our environment and our health.  At a time when it seems we are being hit from all sides, he presents us with some common sense solutions to an otherwise contradictory and confusing barrage of misinformation.  You’ll want to tune in to this one.

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