Functional Obsolescence – What is it and should we consider it in a Reserve Study?

Functional Obsolescence:is a reduction in the usefulness or desirability of an object because of an outdated design feature, usually one that cannot be easily changed. The term is commonly used in real estate, but has a wide application. Common interest communities, country clubs and private membership clubs of all sorts have common areas which are shared and utilized by the dues paying members and their guests. These common areas typically include recreation buildings, workout rooms, swimming pools, BBQ, areas all of which deteriorate with time and use. With respects to replacement reserve studies we are concerned with the adequate funding for these common areas over a long period of time… 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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Cost Estimates & Being too Optimistic in Reserve Studies

In reviewing prior reserve studies we often find that the cost figures of components are often too optimistic for adequate funding of the reserve account. Sometimes this is a reserve study professional who has changed these figures at the request of the Board but more often we have seen these figures being changed during update years when Board members update a study themselves, often utilizing costs figures taken from Internet searches which typically only provide partial cost data and are rarely accurate for multi-family and commercial construction. This can severely impact the short and long term funding objectives and place the community in a poor funding position with high risk… 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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Communication is good…Solid Information Is Critical

In my journeys through the community association world I go to a lot of conferences, seminars, board meetings and read hundreds of articles about how to best manage and govern a community association.  It has almost become a cliché that communication is the most important aspect in managing an association.  While I don’t disagree I also believe that information and facts are just as important and it is a commodity that is sorely lacking. Every day I am astounded about how little information boards of directors and management companies have regarding the status of their associations, specifically rosters of owners with proper addresses phone numbers & contact information, aging of… Read More

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Help Your Community And Help Your Neighbors By Reporting Delinquent Owners to Credit Bureaus.

A recent study conducted sponsored by a major credit repair firm and conducted by Harris Poll asked specific questions related to what people understand about credit scoring, how they are arrived at, and the information that is taken into consideration to determine them. The study revealed some surprising information.  Eventhough credit scores affect Americans in many important ways including the price they pay for credit and insurance many people are mis-informed about the entire process.  This is shocking as your credit score can not only affect your ability to get credit but also impact on your ability to obtain employment. By not understanding how credit scores are formulated consumers could… Read More

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HOA & Condo Association Collections: How to Collect Unpaid Fees

Note: This article can relate to all community associations but some parts are Florida specific. As part of a community association, it’s common to encounter those one or two owners (or more) who don’t pay their community association fees. Unfortunately, the repercussion of those owners who don’t pay affects those who do. Reliable paying members of an association could face increased fees, special assessments or reduced spending on community maintenance and amenities. Usually in this situation the community association has to enforce the community association’s policy to establish consequences for continued non-payment and for that matter chronic late payments. The Consequences Of Delinquencies To Community Associations Non-payment of community association… Read More

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