The New Economy
The sharing economy has taken the world by storm over the last decade:
- Airbnb, founded with an air mattress and a living room just nine short years ago, now boasts more rooms than Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Wyndham and Hyatt combined
- WeWork, which provides shared office space, now sports a $20 billion valuation, dominating all preexisting REIT’s providing commercial office space
- Neighbor is eliminating the need for the $40 billion self-storage industry by allowing homeowners to rent out unused space in their garage or basement
- Uber took only five and a half years to surpass the value of General Motors, Ford and Honda. Uber’s most recent funding round gave it a storied valuation of almost $70 billion
With each passing year, it’s becoming crystal clear that the sharing economy is here to stay. It’s the new way of doing business. This reality leaves many HOA’s asking themselves: how do we adapt to these new trends?
The Original Sharing Economy
Faced with these new trends, it’s helpful for HOA’s to take a step back and remember their roots. In the early 1960’s, residential housing was moving to the suburbs. With the larger spaces came more variability in home/yard design and size. Newly built freeways offered greater geographic flexibility to homebuyers anxious to find their personal piece of paradise.
Prospective homeowners quickly realized that their own idea of paradise was often different from their neighbors’. They began searching to live in communities that shared common values of property design and safety. Thus, the modern HOA was born. Homeowners could now share in the costs of maintaining attractive common areas and community safety. HOA’s formed a marketplace, in a sense, collecting dues from members on one side and providing stability, consistency, and services on the other.
HOA’s were, in fact, the original sharing economy. Not only do they share everything from neighborhood BBQ’s to neighborhood parks, but they share a sense of community and belonging. And like any good sharing economy, they are spreading like wildfire, just like Airbnb, WeWork, Neighbor, and Uber are growing today. More than 60 million Americans now participate in an HOA.
HOA’s Promote Responsible Sharing
Viewing HOA’s as the ancestor of all sharing economies is a useful perspective for HOA managers. Rather than resisting an inevitable trend, HOA managers can see themselves as the leaders that residents look to in order to find ways to responsibly use the sharing economy. Successful HOA’s form partnerships with new sharing economy companies in order to provide great benefits to HOA members that fit hand-in-glove with the environment the HOA was commissioned to create.
Using the Sharing Economy to Your Advantage
This kind of synergistic partnership often ends up not only benefiting the HOA members but the Association itself. Services like Neighbor, allow homeowners to make $1,000–$20,000 per year by renting out unused space in a garage or basement for storage. The homeowner completely controls accessibility (which occurs non-invasively only once every 3–4 months). This provides homeowners with just the right amount of income each month to offset and pay their monthly HOA fees, all done in a way that is virtually unnoticeable to the community. Combined with a program like GoGladly to collect payments, HOA’s can rest easy knowing that members will always have the means to pay dues and a system that automatically collects those dues.
This allows HOA’s to focus on what matters most: preserving the shared community values that their members want and need.