While in Almaty, Kazakhstan, I observed apartment-dwellers' eclectic modifications to their balconies. As these extended from otherwise homogeneous Soviet-period apartments, I noted how this eccentricity contributed to the distinctive character of Almaty's cityscape.
In the United States, condominium and home owners' associations regulate owners' modifications to their properties. Buyers will often pay more for properties subject to associations' administration because through these regulations, these associations maintain standards of stylistic unity, routine maintenance, and cleanliness. My husband and I recently purchased a condominium, and we were pleased to learn that our owners' association requires residents to remove window air conditioning units between the months of October and May. Our building is a 19th century brownstone, and the window units disrupt the unity of the building's facade.
That said, buyers may choose to purchase a property in an urban neighborhood or in a suburban community because of that place's idiosyncratic character. Young adults of the Millennial generation are poised to exert new influence on the housing market through their consumer tastes. Many of them were raised in developer-planned, suburban tract communities with zealous owners' associations, derisively called “cookie-cutter” communities. As Millennials' Boomer parents age, retire, and, in some instances, relocate to retirement communities or communities that are more walkable and offer more extensive amenities, the property tax base of “cookie-cutter” developments will decline if new buyers are not attracted to them.
Owners' associations have perfected the maintenance of standards, but they should also learn to cultivate eclecticism in such a manner that owners' modifications can be permitted to enliven the landscape without diminishing the aesthetic coherence. These associations have the authority, granted by owners, to create places – neighborhoods that are unique and that will be loved by their residents for their uniqueness as well as their aesthetic pleasantness, well-maintained character, and cleanliness.
What recommendations do you have for owners' associations? What could these associations do to entice you to buy?
Credits: Images by Sunny Menozzi. Data linked to sources.