Ideas to enhance your condominium/HOA’s reserve fund

Roughly 26.6 $billion was collected for reserve funds from U.S. affiliation members in 2021, reviews the Basis for Group Affiliation Analysis. That cash was used for the restore, alternative, and enhancement of frequent property comparable to roofs, streets, swimming pool elevators, and different energy-saving options. It seems like quite a bit, however reserve funds require extra financial savings than folks might understand.


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The significance of reserve funds

Condos and HOAs should put aside sufficient cash every year in order that they’ll exchange sure elements or make giant repairs with out having to levy particular assessments or borrow cash from a lender.

Firms/associations ought to intention to have a 70% funded reserve, though the nearer the neighborhood can get to 100%, the higher.  

Many states have enacted laws for neighborhood affiliation reserves and working funds to guard house owners from monetary issues and hardship. However after the Surfside condominium collapse, Florida and a handful of different states are mandating extra necessities.

For instance, Florida condos over 3 tales tall might want to have a Structural Integrity Reserve Research carried out by the tip of 2024. Further research have to be carried out each 10 years, and associations can not refuse to fund, or knowingly underfund the reserves for gadgets required to be included within the Research.

The brand new laws may assist stop one other large catastrophe from occurring, however it could additionally create monetary pressure on communities which might be already battling funds. Beneath are some methods that condominium and HOA communities might use to strengthen their reserve funds. 


Begin with a reserve examine

Reserve research are formal research carried out by an engineer or different skilled. They’re carried out with the objective of figuring out how a lot cash a condominium/HOA wants in its reserve fund.

The examine supplies alternative price projections based mostly on a 20 to 30-year trajectory. This provides the neighborhood loads of time to plan for long-term bills.

As a finest follow, a reserve examine ought to be accomplished each 3 to five years. That’s as a result of materials and labor prices change virtually yearly, and with current inflation costs, the prices for companies or items might have elevated by 30%, 40%, or extra.  The reserve examine will keep in mind estimated annual inflation and curiosity earnings, however older research received’t have accounted for the drastic 2022 worth will increase.

Calculating long-term prices requires ongoing monetary monitoring and common inspections. Sure, reserve research do price cash, and may vary wherever from $1,000 to 10,000. However communities that commonly spend money on reserve research set themselves up for future monetary success.  

Lastly, reserve research from certified consultants will present house owners with a quantitative clarification as to why the company/affiliation wants to lift charges or dues. Whereas nobody is blissful about greater charges, it’s a lot simpler for an proprietor to contribute $20 extra each month than contribute $2000 for a one-time particular evaluation.


Use the findings from the reserve examine

It sounds apparent, however boards and property managers should make sure that they really apply the findings from the reserve examine. That usually means adjusting short-term and long-term budgets.


Be clear with house owners

Homeowners are those funding the reserve, they usually have a proper to know the place their cash goes. As such, the board and administration ought to at all times be clear with the house owners relating to the standing of the reserve fund. Whether or not it’s underfunded or adequately funded, members ought to have a transparent understanding of the neighborhood’s monetary well being and what funds are getting used for. Ignorance isn’t bliss on the subject of reserve funds. 


Put together to make adjustments typically

Condos and HOAs will discover that they should make incremental changes to the funds. That is okay. Monetary plans can and do change as exterior components and surprising incidents influence communities. Simply ensure the adjustments are being accounted for early on, and the reserve fund doesn’t get too low.


By no means take cash out for day-to-day bills

Reserve funds are used to cowl bills that don’t happen commonly. A neighborhood’s governing paperwork ought to specify when reserve funds could also be used. Cash from the reserve is often spent on:

  • Building of a brand new asset
  • Changing a roof, elevator, or different main elements
  • Portray frequent areas
  • Repairing streets or fences
  • Surprising pool repairs
  • Different main development or restore initiatives

Reserve funds shouldn’t be used for normal working prices, like paying employees, until extraordinary circumstances permit for it. For instance, if there’s a hurricane and a majority of householders are unable to pay assessments, then communities could possibly faucet into these funds for short-term monetary aid. 


Prioritize infrastructure over aesthetics

Health club renovations and clubhouse upgrades are extra common than an HVAC restore, however the latter is extra essential to the general well-being of the neighborhood. Infrastructure initiatives take priority over esthetic upgrades, even when house owners aren’t enthusiastic about these varieties of initiatives.


Don’t be afraid to ask for assist 

Budgeting for 1,000,000 greenback reserve fund or roof restore 10 years down the highway isn’t one thing that comes straightforward to most individuals. Board members mustn’t hesitate to ask their property administration firm or an expert for help. The stakes are too excessive to try to determine issues out as you go. Rent somebody who will help the board, and the neighborhood, succeed.   


Paying for prices when there are inadequate reserve funds

There could also be a time when a condominium or HOA has simply paid for a significant alternative, and one other pricey restore is required unexpectedly. If there isn’t sufficient within the reserve fund, then the condominium/HOA might want to have a look at different choices.


 Elevate assessments

Communities can elevate month-to-month charges – however there could also be limits on how a lot a condominium/HOA can elevate charges every calendar yr. For instance, an HOA might not be capable of improve assessments by greater than 5% in a single calendar yr with out first internet hosting a vote and gaining approval from house owners. 


 Particular assessments

A particular evaluation is an unplanned fee or levy that the board imposes on house owners when surprising shortfalls or surprising expenditures happen within the funds. There are very particular guidelines pertaining to the method of issuing a particular evaluation, and boards should guarantee they observe every step.

Whereas there are occasions when a particular evaluation can’t be prevented, house owners won’t ever be blissful about it. Some particular assessments can price house owners hundreds of {dollars} on high of the charges they already pay. 



Condos and HOAs might take out loans and pay the cash again. Homeowners find yourself repaying these loans, and rates of interest could also be very excessive relying on the mortgage. Nonetheless, communities might think about sustaining a line of credit score with a low rate of interest. Not solely would this give them simpler entry to money, however it could take much less money and time for house owners to repay the debt.



A wholesome reserve fund is a essential part of a easy working condominium or HOA. The quantity a neighborhood requires in its reserve will rely on the event’s measurement, age and assortment of amenities and gear. Communities are inspired to conduct a reserve examine each 3 to five years in order that the reserve funds displays the neighborhood’s present monetary state of affairs.

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