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What is a Community Association’s strongest hedge against inflation? A strong reserve fund! As of the end of April, 2021, increases in the pricing of lumber[1], asphalt binder[2], and other materials have risen well into the double digits when compared to the previous year. Costs for the “Big 9” projects (painting, roofing, asphalt, siding, windows, decks, plumbing, elevators, HVAC) are simply wild and unpredictable right now.

If your association is less than 50% funded, and any of these major projects are due within the next few years, get moving, now. Armed with a well-conceived scope of work, specifications, bid documents, and some time, you’ll stand a good chance of achieving the best value for project $$$ spent.

Strong reserves can hedge against significant price swings, and the extra costs of emergency work, Special Assessments, deferred maintenance, bank loans. Don’t be tempted to cut corners – I can confidently say after thirty plus years of experience, your best value is to hire a reputable consulting firm to oversee the process, and the work for these major projects.

Reserves are all too often thought of as for some distant “rainy day” event. Reserves are for the ongoing, measurable deterioration in your community, and should be thought of as real as any other bill of the association. Past the cautionary notes, there is good news if you are a part of a well-run, and well-funded community association. With Reserves Percent Funded of 70% or more, you have a 1% or less probability of a Special Assessment[3]. For these communities, the news gets even better. Our studies show that on average, resale prices are  ~12% higher than similar properties in their market area with weak reserves.

Think about that.

If you start with a median Seattle area condo unit value of $500,000 and to strongly fund reserves and building maintenance, have been paying ~$150 a month more in assessments over the last seven years than your weakly funded neighbors, you will have paid somewhere around $12,600 more, to realize a sales price $60,000 higher. That’s a nice return. Communities that understand this, and are proactive, vs. reactive, are: easier to live in, easier to manage, and as it turns out, likely a better investment! End Of Article

[1] Chicago Mercantile Exchange lumber futures
[2] WSDOT Asphalt Binder Reference Cost
[3] Association Reserves, Inc. database

By Association Reserves Washington, LLC

By Association Reserves Washington, LLC

Chapter Happenings Sponsor, May 2021

Written by Jim Talaga, RS

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