Arizonans have spent the last three years digging out of a deep recession, and from what we’re seeing in the residential communities we manage, the worst may not be over.

Expert data backs up this observation. A huge portion of the state’s homeowners are underwater on their mortgages. The good news is that Arizona’s rate of negative equity has actually dropped since last year. The bad news: the drop is attributed to more homeowners losing their houses to foreclosure.

By now, most everyone has heard the familiar advice about what cash-strapped individuals should do when they find themselves in over their heads with home mortgage payments or credit card bills. They’re encouraged to talk to the lender or credit card companies and try to work out a payment plan, right?

But, most people don’t realize this counsel also holds true for HOAs and community management companies. In most cases, HOAs are eager to work out payment options with homeowners, operating under the belief that some money coming in is better than no money at all.

HOAs are non-profit corporations that use income from homeowners’ dues to pay for everything from common area upkeep and clubhouse operations to private streets and street lighting, depending on the community and the terms laid out in its governing documents. The theory is that if everyone pays their designated share, the community is able to operate at a level that not only preserves appearances, but maintains property values as well.

Since the recession hit, HOA membership fees seem to fall last on the list of bills to pay when homeowners are scrimping to pay mortgages and other necessities. Assessment delinquency rates that once hovered around five percent during the real estate boom years have shot up to 15 percent to 20 percent. Like most businesses, HOAs are not structured to bear year after year of declining income.

If you are facing foreclosure on your home, or are struggling financially, here are two simple things you can do. First, understand that as a member of an HOA, you are still responsible for paying your assessment fees, even if you move out of the home. You are obligated to make payments until the transfer of the home’s title.

Second, pick up the phone and call your HOA or community management company. Ask for help. Most HOAs and management companies have been empowered by their associations’ boards of directors to work out payment plans that can suit everybody.

The Great Recession has touched us all in some way — whether personally or by affecting someone we know. If you give us a chance to help, we all win.

We aren’t here to judge. We’re all on the same team.

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About AAM

AAM’s system of community support has provided more personal attention and expert care per customer dollar than any other homeowners’ association management team for over 20 years. Better workload ratios and the longevity of AAM managers ensure each community will be managed by an industry leader who will treat it as their own. Homeowners can expect all AAM professionals to be able to answer the same 193 community management-related questions and to attend HOA meetings in person. A 24/7 emergency pager is just one example of AAM’s daily dedication to developing lasting client relationships and delivering peace of mind. For more information, visit