Your association board is planning for the big project on the horizon, and is currently reviewing how to finance it. For several reasons, you don’t believe you’ll have enough funds in the association’s operating budget or reserves to cover the project’s entire bill. What should you do? Split the project up over several years, levy a special assessment, or maybe get a loan?
The purpose of the reserve fund is to plan for future repairs and replacements in the association. But what about components that you can’t see and aren’t listed in the reserve study? For example, plumbing supply lines that aren’t included in the reserve study and will end up costing somewhere in the ballpark of $50,000 to repair or replace.
More often than not, sitting down to review your HOA reserve study can be about as easy to understand and enjoyable as sitting down to review the U.S. Tax Code. Just reviewing your reserve study is not enough. As an HOA board member, you’re responsible for using that study to plan for, allocate, adjust, and collect reserve funds accordingly.
Here are some ideas to help you interpret your association's reserve study, and put it to good use so that your HOA can pay for what your community needs to keep it in good repair, easy on the wallet, and lovely to live in...today and in the future.
There's always work to be done, especially in a homeowners association. It’s crucial that an HOA Board plan for general, ongoing maintenance and upkeep. This is important in order to keep the Association a safe place to live and keep it an appealing place to live. Members don’t want to live in a run-down neighborhood and potential buyers won’t give an Association a second look if it’s unkempt, dirty or in disrepair.
How does the reserve fund in your homeowners association look? If your fellow HOA board members tend to look the other way, not want to deal with the reserves, or simply refuse to fund them, you’re not alone. Many Associations across the country aren’t saving enough in their reserves to make major repairs which can cause a multitude of problems. The community can fall into disrepair, you may be faced with having to enforce a special assessment on homeowners, or eventually losing control of the entire Association.
Reserve funds are not an extra expense. They are part of the ongoing expenses of the homeowners association which occur at various points in time. The plan provided by your reserve fund specialist will help you in this process. It's much more preferable that homeowners associations have a plan to set the funds aside now, on a year-by-year basis. By doing this, the Association can spread out the collection of assessments for these expenses more evenly over the coming years.
There are other important reasons that Association monies should be put into reserves every month:
As an HOA board member you probably know what a reserve study is and the importance of doing one. Equally important is that having the proper reserves in place will ensure that the long term assets in the Association (roads, roofs, pool, landscape, etc.) will be properly cared for and maintained.
Each and every homeowner’s association should have a reserve fund as part of its budget to plan and prepare for future repairs and maintenance, as well as unanticipated expenses and needs. HOA board members are responsible to make sure a reserve plan is in place for the Association, or at least ask the question about how the Board is planning for the reserves. If the Board is ignoring the reserves altogether, then it needs to actively seek out assistance to make this happen.
So, your homeowners association is contemplating doing a reserve fund study. Perhaps you are a new HOA and need to establish and start funding the reserves; or, you are an older HOA that has had a reserve for years, but it is time to update it. How many years should your HOA reserve study cover?
Well, it depends. HOA communities vary in size, age and the number and dollar value of the capital assets they own. They choose different maintenance strategies for short-lived and longer-lived capital assets. Let’s explore some of these issues.
As a homeowner or renter in a homeowners association, you know the importance of setting aside a little bit of money each month in case of an emergency. After all, you never know when you might have to replace an appliance or take your car to the mechanic. In order to effectively do this you’ve probably analyzed your budget and determined an amount that you can comfortably set aside each month so it’s there when you really need it.