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Welcome to On the Commons!

Image On The Commons is a weekly radio show, dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding homeowner associations (HOAs) and condominiums.  It is broadcast live from WEBR, Fairfax, Virginia and available on this web site.

Join us as we explore the world of homeowner associations and condominiums, which are the fastest growing form of residential development in America today.  This housing concept includes homeowner associations, condominiums, cooperatives, and both attached and detached single-family homes.  Unfortunately this type of housing is not as utopian as its advocates would have us believe.  Living in a homeowner association means giving up a part of the American dream.  It means giving up Constitutional rights and control over one’s most valuable asset - one’s home.


 "Property in a thing consists not merely in its ownership and possession, but in the unrestricted right of use, enjoyment, and disposal. Anything which destroys any of the elements of property, to that extent, destroys the property itself. The substantial value of property lies in its use. If the right of use be denied, the value of the property is annihilated and ownership is rendered a barren right."  --- Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard B Sanders


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The Curent Show

On the Commons with 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.    Listen to Tyler Berding    

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On the Commons with 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.    . . . Listen to Professor Leon Robertson


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