Academic journal article Journal of Real Estate Literature

Neighborhood Racial Composition, Public Goods Provision, and Homeowners Associations: Bridging the Literatures and Future Directions for Research

Academic journal article Journal of Real Estate Literature

Neighborhood Racial Composition, Public Goods Provision, and Homeowners Associations: Bridging the Literatures and Future Directions for Research

Article excerpt

Much of real estate research is multidisciplinary and findings are of interest not only to academics across several fields of study, but also of interest to real estate professionals and practitioners. Three important literatures in urban and real estate research fall into the categories of neighborhood racial composition, public goods provision, and homeowners associations (HOAs). On their own, numerous studies within these literatures elucidate findings of interest to academics and real estate professionals. Of the three areas for analysis, neighborhood racial composition contains the most extensive and hotly debated literatures. Decades of research focuses on white flight, segregation, and integration of counties, cities, and neighborhoods. Much of this literature stems from the sociology and economics disciplines, and divergent findings continue to drive this ever-growing topic.

Public goods provision is also a topic with numerous studies at all levels of analysis (international, national, state, local, and neighborhood). Most heavily concentrated in the economics, political science, and urban studies disciplines, these goods (swimming pools, parks, golf courses, street lighting, etc.) have trouble being provided in the private sector, yet are demanded by the public. As such, public goods are an important service provided by government, especially at the local level, and there are indications that the quantity and quality of services varies even across a single city. Studies in public goods provision tend to focus on these aspects and the costs of providing them, especially the ability of neighborhood governments like HOAs to provide these goods.

A small but significant and burgeoning literature centers on the growth of homeowners associations (HOAs). An emerging trend in new housing developments is the growth of private government subdivisions in exurban areas of metropolitan areas. Over 20 years ago, Barton and Silverman (1994) deemed the growth a "quiet revolution." Today, this housing revolution is in full swing in urban and suburban areas, with over 323,000 residential community associations (homeowners, neighborhood, condominium associations, etc.) in the United States (Cheung and Meltzer, 2014). Much of the research on HOAs and gated communities1 centers on their governing and demographic characteristics, along with whether or not they promote community utility and the improvement of property values.

The overlap of each of these three literatures (neighborhood racial composition, public goods provision, and HOAs) also has implications for academics and real estate practitioners and provides ample opportunities for further research. A critical juncture exists with the neighborhood racial composition and HOA literatures. Typically seen as exclusionary and racially homogenous, HOAs tend to command negative normative analyses in the sociology, urban studies, and public administration disciplines. Research in these disciplines tends to find that HOAs are racially homogenous and appear to exclude minorities, but gains have been made recently in integration.

An intersection exists between the neighborhood racial composition and public goods provision literatures, albeit a small but growing intersection. Most research on racial composition and the provision of public goods deals with national and state-level analyses of how government public goods vary according to racial and ethnic divisions stemming from in-group preferences and out-group aversions. Recent attention at the urban and neighborhood levels concentrates specifically on white versus non-white access to these goods and whether or not the quantity and quality differs along with whether or not certain public goods lead to racial segregation.

The HOA and public goods provision literatures also have an important intersection. HOAs can often be viewed as the most micro-level form of governance in an urban setting. They have formal rules of organization and often provide public goods or amenities normally provided by local governments. …

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