The subject of homeowner fees for residents of residential airparks comes up often among residents and would be residents. It seems to be a perennial topic for the meetings of airpark homeowner associations.
Recently we attempted to gather additional information on this subject with a survey. We discovered a few things right away:
- Homeowner fees are controversial, not a particular surprising;
- Raising homeowner fees isn’t something that’s done very often;
- The fee assessed by the vast majority of homeowner associations is quite low.
Here are the actual results of the survey together with some of the comments we received. Unless a person included their name and airpark with their remarks, we are keeping any identities confidential.
Our survey started off by asking the number of lots on the airpark. No airparks with less than 10 homesites were represented in the results. Responses from airparks with 10-25 lots and 26-35 lots were 21 percent each. The group of airparks with 36-50 homesites was cited 18 percent and those ranging from 51 to 65 accounted for 12 percent of the survey answers. The larger airparks – those with 65 or more lots – provided slightly more than 27 percent of the responses.
We think this mix of airpark sizes and the spread of responses makes the results pretty meaningful.
Of course, airparks with vacant lots don’t mean much so we asked respondents to advise us how many of their lots had been sold. The smallest airparks showed just under 25 percent of their sites had been sold. Airparks in the 10-25 category had 10 percent of lots sold. The figures for the other categories are:
- 26-35 – 21.2 percent sold
- 36-50 – 15 percent sold
- 51-65 – 6 percent sold
- Over 65 – 24.2 percent of lots had been sold.
Once more we had to qualify the results. Lots sold but without any homes showed a low level of activity and thus wouldn’t require a lot of association fees so we asked how many homes had been built on the various airparks.
About 42 percent of the lots on the smallest airparks had homes built on them, the survey revealed. Homes had been erected on 15 percent of the lots in airparks with 10-25 sites and 9 percent on the airparks with 26-35 home lots.
When we get to airparks with 36-50 lots, 12 percent of the lots have homes but only 6 percent are built out on those airparks in the 51-65 bracket. The airparks with more than 65 homesites had homes on 15 percent of the lots, according to responders to the survey.
Finally, with those items somewhat clarified we could get down to the actual fee assessed by the various homeowner associations.
The most common fee for homeowner associations was under $100 per month. Exactly 75 percent of all respondents reported this was the assessment at their airpark. Next highest was the $100-$250 per month fee and that was listed at 18/75 percent of the airparks. Only slightly more than 3 percent said their monthly fee was between $251 – $400 a month and the same percentage listed a fee of $401-$500 per month. No association reported a homeowner fee of more than $500 per month.
More than 75 percent (77.4%) of the survey respondents said their association ahd adjusted homeowner fees in the last three years. The fee had last been raised more than 5 years ago at 19 percent of the airparks and the adjustments had been made 4-5 years ago at only 3 percent.
Survey respondents came from most states with Florida accounting for nearly 22 percent of the responses. Texas provided 12.5 percent of the survey answers with Alaska, Arizona, Illinois and South Carolina each supplying 6.25 percent of the answers.
The survey obviously doesn’t answer all the questions but it should provide some insight for those airparks wrestling with the fee question and offering some guidelines.
Here are some of the comments:
A responder from an airpark with more than 65 homesites indicated they have a fee of $180 per year for homeowners plus $55 for runway use. This response didn’t indicate whether all property owners – those with and those without planes – had to pay the total of $235 per month.
“Our fee is very minimal – $500 per year – to cover maintenance, grass cutting and a reserve for future repaving,” reported someone from a 26-35 lot airpark.
An airpark in South Carolina with more than 65 lots has a homeowners fee of under $100 a month.
A respondent in the upper Midwest with more than 65 homesite on the airpark said they have over 3,000 people in the association, assess under $100 per month and it includes golf course and lake maintenance fees.
A Texas respondent said their association’s fees of $100 per month are “too low to do proper maintenance and capital improvements. Some homeowners are resistant to any increases.” That airpark falls in the 26-35 class with 10-25 of the lots built on.
In Florida, an airpark with 51-65 lots has a $200 per year fee for homeowners. “An additional airport use fee is charged to all active aircraft owners using the runway. The fee is currently $500 per year.” The survey shows the fee was last adjusted in the previous three years.
A new Texas airpark – now in its second year – has 26-35 home lots with less than 10 homes finished although all the lots were sold within a year. The homeowner fee is $340 per year.
Disputes on fees and other things aren’t uncommon for residential airpark associations, just as they are common for other neighborhood associations. A Florida airpark with more than 65 lots, all sold and all with homes, has a fee of under $100 per month, according to the individual completing the survey. This individual says “the fee in 1997 was $25. It nearly tripled by 2006 mainly as a result of a determined clique who took over the board of directors and spent wildly and foolishly (and possibly illegally) resulting in serious debt obligations now being paid down by the present membership.”
The owner of Willow Valley Landing Strip in Mohave Valley, Arizona reported that “our small sub-division has a 2,585 foot landing strip. All flight-oriented members are invited to use the strip without charge; occasional users chip in to improve it. I own it and we make out pretty well without help to keep it operational.”