Homeowners in the Little Rock area who are looking for a long-term return on their investment should look for neighborhoods with a neighborhood or homeowner’s association, according to a study by a University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor.
Dr. Michael Craw, associate professor of public administration, published an article that explored the correlation between the presence of a neighborhood or homeowner’s association and an increase in property values within those neighborhoods.
“One of the big questions I have been pursuing the past few years is understanding why some neighborhoods remain stable over time and why some shift, resulting in declining property values and decreased populations,” Craw said.
Craw was recently awarded the William E. Mosher and Frederick C. Mosher Award for his article, “Institutional Analysis of Neighborhood Collective Action.” The Mosher and Mosher Award is presented to the authors of the best Public Administration Review article by an academic during the year.
During the study, Craw examined data from the Pulaski County Assessor’s Office that covered approximately 50,000 single-family home sales in Little Rock from 2000 to 2016. The study controlled for individual characteristics of the home, including lot size, income level of neighborhood residents, ethnicity, and other factors.
Craw found that the presence of a neighborhood and/or homeowner’s association has a positive effect on the stability of a neighborhood.
“If you have a neighborhood association, there is a mechanism by which you can address changes happening in the neighborhood that might be undesirable,” Craw said. “Organizations that are active help to make neighborhoods more resilient to things like crime and blight that make property values go down. They can oppose new buildings that impose hardship on the neighborhood.”
University District, which includes neighborhoods surrounding the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, serves as an example of a group of neighborhood associations that are making a positive impact on the community.
Barrett Allen, director of University District, said the district is involved in several projects to improve quality of life for the residents of University District. These initiatives involve rehabbing and building new affordable homes, building sidewalks, starting neighborhood associations, and improving homes occupied by elderly and disadvantaged homeowners through the Special Needs Assistance Program. As part of a healthy living initiative, University District holds wellness fairs, farmers markets, cooking classes, and a community garden.
Residents who live in neighborhoods with a neighborhood or homeowner’s association are more likely to stay in their homes and try to improve the neighborhood, rather than move away.
“There is a value that comes with having a neighborhood association,” Craw said. “This study shows that the things we do to make neighborhoods better actually have an effect. It informs the city, since higher property values mean higher property taxes and better services for the city.”
Victor Turner, director of Little Rock’s Housing and Neighborhood Programs Department, said that the City of Little Rock uses Craw’s research to encourage neighborhood associations in the city to stay active. Little Rock will also use the data in the future planning of a Sister Neighborhood Program in which thriving neighborhoods lend support to neighborhoods that are struggling.