Fred Fischer and Jill Schweitzer

Over the years we have been led to believe that people actually want HOA controlled housing.   We have been told HOAs protect property values and provide housing consumers with access to amenities reserved for the rich and famous.  Homeowners actually believed that their homes were worth more because there was a pool or a tennis court or a basketball hoop within walking distance.   So without question, they accepted all the inherent risks, restrictions and extra costs associated with homeowner associations and jumped into homeownership with both feet.  Over time American homeowners acquiesced and accepted all the negative nonsense that was part and parcel of this type of housing, believing it was inevitable.  And gradually, because of municipal association mandates, housing consumers found they had no options. All that was available was tacky little boxes, made of cardboard, wrapped in plastic, stacked one on top of the other, and that became the “norm”.  

Fred Fischer and Jill Schweitzer join us On The Commons this week.  Fred has been digging through archives and researching local municipal zoning ordinances and discovered that there is more than one way to handle open spaces and amenities. Actually, he says you can maintain them publicly or privately, the former through special municipal districts funded by the residents who will benefit by the amenities through a special fee collected through mortgage companies, much like insurance and property taxes and the latter in the form of an HOA with HOA fees and dues.  However the “private” way of maintaining common areas comes with a whole host of additional risks and unlimited liabilities that are in fine print.  

Jill is a Realtor who would like to be able to provide her clients with a choice.  As she tells me, no one has ever asked her to find them a house in an HOA, in fact many of my clients specifically request non HOA housing.  So when Jill and Fred teamed up, combined their knowledge, skills and resources what they came up with was their aha moment.  Together they put together a report, still in draft form, to educate and lobby for choices in housing.  As they say,  there is a better way of doing this while giving housing consumers a choice.  Join us as we talk about the options and the many not so little white lies that have made their way into the legislatures across the country.  


2 thoughts on “Fred Fischer and Jill Schweitzer”

  1. > “Over the years we have been led to believe that people actually want HOA controlled housing.”

    University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds once wrote about something he called a “preference cascade”:

    The result was a situation in which a lot of people’s behavior didn’t really match their beliefs, but merely their beliefs about what was considered acceptable. Such situations are unstable, since a variety of shocks can cause people to realize the difference and to suddenly feel comfortable about closing the gap.
    This illustrates, in a mild way, the reason why totalitarian regimes collapse so suddenly. (Click here for a more complex analysis of this and related issues). Such regimes have little legitimacy, but they spend a lot of effort making sure that citizens don’t realize the extent to which their fellow-citizens dislike the regime. If the secret police and the censors are doing their job, 99% of the populace can hate the regime and be ready to revolt against it – but no revolt will occur because no one realizes that everyone else feels the same way.

    This works until something breaks the spell, and the discontented realize that their feelings are widely shared, at which point the collapse of the regime may seem very sudden to outside observers – or even to the citizens themselves. Claims after the fact that many people who seemed like loyal apparatchiks really loathed the regime are often self-serving, of course. But they’re also often true: Even if one loathes the regime, few people have the force of will to stage one-man revolutions, and when preferences are sufficiently falsified, each dissident may feel that he or she is the only one, or at least part of a minority too small to make any difference.

    “Patriotism and Preferences” March 13, 2002

  2. “preference cascade”

    Or maybe not.

    Your listeners are probably familiar with this week’s story of Ella Shultz, the 6-year old girl with cancer whose playhouse was prohibited by the Stonegate H.O.A. corporation in Raymore — a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri.

    If you read the reader comments on various web sites reporting this story, it’s shocking and depressing how many of them are supportive of the H.O.A. corporation and blame Ella’s parents for “not abiding by the rules they agreed to”. And there is widespread ignorance of what an H.O.A. corporation actually is (e.g., “it’s an organization created of, by, and for the home owners”). Some of the comments at Fox News . com are especially horrifying.

    What’s happening is utter insanity, and we accept it as normal.

    In the Fark thread about the Ella Shultz story, Some Coke Drinking Guy predicted that “Once the majority of people wake up and realize that they don’t want to live under the pity dictatorship of post menopausal Nazis the bubble value of HOA ‘protected’ homes is going to burst harder than a gallon of prune juice through an incontinent depends wearer”, to which PunGent replied “Going strong 50 years now, through a couple of bubbles. Don’t hold your breath”. walkerhound observed that “Americans like telling other people what to do but they hate being told what to do. It’s part of our culture”, which explains why people support the H.O.A. regime.

    As you’ve observed many times in the past, home owners expect the power of H.O.A. corporations to be used against their neighbors, but not be turned against themselves.

    While I’d like to think that a “preference cascade” is coming, the past five years, and the reactions to the Ella Shultz story, give me doubt. I spent the 2010, 2012, and 2014 election cycles speaking to my elected representatives, and those that wanted their jobs. None of them — both Democrats and Republicans — were interested in this issue. Our politicians are perfectly content to ignore an incredibly large constituency (see chart at ).

    The wave of H.O.A. legislation that Evan McKenzie was predicting 10 years ago has not materialized. Oh, there have been symbolic laws passed, but no meaningful or substantial reforms. And I don’t see any on the horizon.

    I think that PunGent is right. We’ve been through several housing bubbles, including the past decade, and the H.O.A. lobby is as politically powerful as it ever has been. Even if H.O.A. corporations are a financial disaster and unsustainable business model, our legislatures defer to them as though they are Too Big To Fail. And Tom Skiba’s henchmen-predators have perfected the art of picking off individual home owners, one by one, so as to not cause a reaction that would turn the herd into a pack. Meanwhile, whatever passes for an H.O.A. reform movement continues to run around in circles, flailing its arms about, with its head stuck up its arse. We’re like people running south on a northbound train, celebrating every step we take as “progress”.

    Anyway, I’ve got to go hashtag something on Twitter, post a motivational picture on F*c*book, and write a comment on another blog — because if I do that enough times, things are going to change. /s

    PS — Yesterday, Milwaukee became the 25th state to pass “right to work” legislation, which prohibits involuntary membership in a labor union as a condition of employment. Not one single politician has ever proposed legislation that would prohibit involuntary membership in an H.O.A. union as a condition of home ownership.

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