Governing Communities by Auction

27 Pages Posted: 5 May 2014 Last revised: 24 Jun 2014

See all articles by Abraham Bell

Abraham Bell

Bar Ilan University - Faculty of Law; University of San Diego School of Law

Gideon Parchomovsky

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law; University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Date Written: Winter 2014


Common interest communities have become the property form of choice for many Americans. As of 2010, sixty-two million Americans lived in common interest communities. Residents benefit from sharing the cost of common amenities – pools, lawns, gazebos – and from rules that ensure compliance with community expectations. But decisionmaking in common interest communities raises serious concerns about minority abuse and manipulation, a problem well known to all property law students. Decisions about which amenities will be provided and which rules will be enacted are typically made through some combination of delegation and voting. Delegates often act for their own benefit, and, for a variety of reasons, voting fails to capture the preferences of the community.

This Article suggests a better way. Building upon the pioneering work of Vickrey, Clarke, and Groves, we propose a novel auction system that captures the intensity of resident preferences while preserving the honesty of declared preferences. The use of auction theory induces truthful revelation of preferences by participants and reflects the intensity of preference for any given policy outcome. As a result, our system allows communities to make better decisions and makes common interest communities more responsive to the needs of residents.

Keywords: common interest communities, collective choice, auction theory, property management

JEL Classification: D70, D44, K11

Suggested Citation

Bell, Abraham and Parchomovsky, Gideon, Governing Communities by Auction (Winter 2014). University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 81, P. 1, 2014, U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 14-20, San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 14-160, Available at SSRN:

Abraham Bell (Contact Author)

Bar Ilan University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Faculty of Law
Ramat Gan, 52900


University of San Diego School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States

Gideon Parchomovsky

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus, IL 91905

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-1603 (Phone)

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