Life Isn’t Fair – But Funding Plans In A Reserve Study Should Be…

Fairness is a concept a reserve analyst must consider when developing a financial strategy for a community. It’s one of the basic concepts outlined in National Reserve Study Standards which was published by the well-respected Community Associations Institute in 1998 and is an extremely important consideration when providing the most tailored options(s) available to a community.  1. What is fairness? Fairness refers to adequately dispersing the reserve allocation expenses to the membership over time in an equal and stable fashion. This can be challenging as expenses occur irregularly and often seem to come due all at once in “Peak Years”; when several of the larger expense common areas meet the… Read More

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Approval With FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac – The 10% Rule

In recent years lending institutions have become much more restrictive in approving and/or insuring loans for common interest communities. The FHA approval list has fallen by about 50% over the past 4-5 years. This has been due to a variety of reasons including new more restrictive reserve allocation requirements, owner occupancy standards and extensive documentation requirements. Impact on Market Appeal It has been our experience than many projects have seen declining marketability as financing options have dried up for Buyers. With rising real estate markets across the country this typically means the units in these community are seeing increases at a lower rate than units in communities which are approved… Read More

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Ways to Pay for Common Area Replacement Expenses

In completing reserve studies for HOA and Condominium Communities we are always reminding Boards and Community Members that common area expenses will occur whether the necessary funds have been set aside or not. The expenses in our reserve study reports are real and to ignore them or just kick the expenses down the road are both fiscally irresponsible and not in the best interest of the community as a whole. While the expenses will occur communities typically have one of several options in how they are paid for and not all are created equally. 1. Regular Assessment Dues – This is by far the cheapest and fairest to the current and future… Read More

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Paying the Piper – Special Assessment Reality

You’re a member of an Association which has a $200,000 roof replacement, a $20,000 swimming pool resurface, a $35,000 recreation building remodel and numerous other common area expenses that are expected to be incurred in the next 10-20 years. You as a member utilize these common areas every day and happily live the life of a condominium owner. This has worked out great for you and your neighboring community members. Life is good and you truly believe that this is the way to live as by splitting the cost between everyone, you are all able to be provided the luxuries that would be much too costly on your own. Moving… Read More

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Comparing Reserve Account Levels

Boards are often interested in how their Association’s reserve account balance is compared to other common interest communities (Condominiums, PUD, and HOA) in the area. Since each community has a unique common area component inventory just comparing the reserve account balances is not sufficient to compare communities for reserve fund strength. However there is a measure of reserve level adequacy known as “Percent Funded” which is provided in the reserve study which can be a good measure to compare communities with respects to funding levels.   Percent Funded Measurement   Percent funded is the measure of how much a community actually has in its reserve account versus how much it… Read More

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Surefire Ways to Drive Your Association to Financial Ruin

Common interest communities are non-profit businesses and just like any business budgeting and financial planning are essential to the success and longevity of the business. What is everyday common sense with respects to businesses is often ignored for common interest communities. While this may seem like a harsh assessment of many Boards out there it is an unfortunate reality as is evident by the high number of special assessments and loans being taken out by Associations to cover expenses that are usually expected and have years or decades to properly fund for. The reasons for the lack of adequate funds can most often be attributed to the following scenarios.  … Read More

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Deck / Lanai Refurbishment, Replacement, Maintenance – A Common Budgeting Mistake

  Decks / Lanais systems are typically one of the larger project expenses a community will face. Budgeting for their short and long term care is not always as straightforward as it appears to be as the degree of deterioration of this component is heavily reliant on historical maintenance trends in the community. I will touch on one of the more common budgeting mistakes we see on a regular basis. Maintenance and proper care will actually save a community a significant amount of money in the long run; deciding who (and how) this component is maintained can have a significant impact on the budgeting recommendations in the reserve study as… Read More

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Condo’s Underfunded Reserve Creates Many Problems

C.R. from outside of Connecticut writes: Dear Mister Condo, I live in a condo building with 58 units. There are zero adornments except for a very nice meeting room. We have two elevators which travel eleven floors up and down. I am currently serving on the board. Our Reserve fund is at 18K which in my eyes is very low. We will need a major elevator repair in a few years and increasing insurance as well as a rooftop service plan. We have decided to increase HOA dues 15% = $3000. more each month or 20% increase equaling an extra $4000. per month. We want to propose this to our… Read More

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