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What’s Olympics Got to Do With It (Construction That Is)?

What’s Olympics Got to Do With It (Construction That Is)?

[ Blog/News ]

What’s Olympics Got to Do With It (Construction That Is)?

If you’re as Olympic-addicted as we are here at Charter Construction, then you were glued to the tv and news stations waiting for the next world record breaker or the neck and neck race for gold or the headline-grabbing Simone Biles’ and her decision not to compete. 

Ms. Biles gets much of the glory and news as the recognized “best gymnast” in the sport’s history, and rightfully so. This year, though, she made further headlines by standing up for herself, making the difficult decision not to compete, and stay safe. Ms. Biles’s self-reflectiveness indeed opened space for other talents to be recognized. And then, in walked Suni Lee, grabbing headlines and her country’s attention.   

The entire nation cheered for Ms. Lee as she took the gold in the 2020 gymnastics all-around. It was nothing short of spectacular with a classic American story about hard work and a community that supported her dreams. 

Ms. Lee’s performance got us thinking about the parallels of gymnastics, or really that of an Olympian, to construction work. The time and talent it took to become such an athlete is incredible. But there’s much more behind it than meets the eye. 

Going down a possible checklist of those things an Olympian must do to get to excellence, many of the same attributes that an Olympian, such as Suni Lee, possess are very similar to the business of construction: desire, passion, focus, training, pain, injury, early mornings, courage, fear, joy, team, honesty, and the list can go on and on and on.
Hard Work & Passion
Construction is hard work. It’s physical and can take a toll on the body. But those who do it love it and have a passion for the work. Seeing the fruits of their labor is satisfying whether on the job site or managing the project.
Training
Lots of training goes into construction. Many of our employees are second and even third-generation construction workers; they may have gone to construction management or even architecture school and/or multiple years as an apprentice through a trade school. But it doesn’t stop there – all employees perform continuing education throughout the life of their career.
Mornings
Early mornings! That’s all we need to say about that.
Safety
Safety is a thing, and it takes the focus of the entire team. A person can dedicate their life to the safety of others on the construction site, and training and education are continuous.
Fear & Courage
If you work on enormous multi-story buildings, courage and fear are real – and not for the faint of heart.
Honesty
Honesty is the best policy. Charter talks a lot about ‘Doing it Right, the First Time’ and ‘Whatever it takes’. All well-respected construction firms like to build things that last and want to be your “go-to” for all your construction needs. That means skill, honesty, and excellent communication. As stated previously, the list goes on, but we think you get the point.

We’d love to hear from you and know what attributes you see that run parallel to that of an Olympian in your line of work. Not all of us can be Olympians, but we can admire those who are and live our lives and do our work to the same levels.  

Here’s to you and a huge congratulations to all US Olympians at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Charter Construction - Two workers rappelling of the side of a building during the construction process
Charter Construction - A worker resting mid rappel on the side of a building during the construction process
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By Charter Construction

2021 Diamond Chapter Sponsor

Written By Keith Imper

980 S Harney St, Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 382-1900 | chartercon.com

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Investing & Protecting Your HOA Reserve Funds: The Right Way To Do It

Investing & Protecting Your HOA Reserve Funds: The Right Way To Do It

[ Blog/News ]

Investing & Protecting Your HOA Reserve Funds: The Right Way To Do It

How you handle your HOA reserve funds really makes a difference in the successful running of your association. Managing HOA reserve funds is  important for the longevity and future investments of your association.

As a member of the board, it is your responsibility to stay on top of your reserve fund making sure it is regulated well and in the community’s best interests.

Understand When to Use Your Reserves

Is it a reoccurring expense?  Is it a capital improvement? A reserve fund is savings set aside for common area maintenance, repairs, replacements and unexpected repairs not covered by insurance.

HOA Reserve Fund Laws

Can an HOA invest money?  It depends on what your state laws are and your governing documents.  Some states have restrictions on which investments HOAs are permitted to take advantage of.  Always exercise prudent fiscal management when investing.

Your Investment Policy in the Bylaws

Check your governing documents, as they may include a policy on investments regarding your reserves. Every homeowners association should have an investment policy laid out in the governing documents.

It is very important to consider the following in order of its priority:

  • Safety above all else
  • Liquidity is a must
  • Consider yield last
Investing HOA Reserve Funds

HOA reserve funds don’t have to sit idly by.

Columbia Bank offers the Demand Deposit Marketplace (DDM), a sweep account that will provide FDIC Insurance up to $25 million in deposits. Funds over a target balance are swept out daily to the DDM account where funds will be invested amongst various FDIC insured financial institutions in $250,000 increments.

You will receive a monthly statement listing the names of the financial institutions and the dollar amount that is invested with each institution. This program will satisfy the HOA investment guidelines and provide you the safety, convenience and availability to your funds as you need them.

By Columbia Bank

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Columbia Bank works with management companies, associations and their Boards to develop appropriate lending and treasury management solutions.

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Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 5: PREPAID EXPENSES

Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 5: PREPAID EXPENSES

[ Blog/News ]

Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 5: PREPAID EXPENSES

We introduced you to accounts payable & accrued expenses as part of a balance sheet in our last blog, which was the second in our Reading Financial Statements Series©. In this and following blogs we will explore typical association balance sheet prepaid expenses in more detail. 

Another part of a financial statement deals with prepaid expenses. A prepaid expense is an expense an association has paid in advance. It is an asset of the association. The most common prepaid expense is an association’s annual insurance premium.

What Causes A Prepaid Expense To Occur?

Generally, prepaid expenses are recorded when an association has paid for something but has not yet received the benefit of the expenditure.

EXAMPLE: Prepaid Insurance

Let’s assume your association has a calendar year end (December 31). Your association’s insurance policy period runs from August 1 of the current year (CY) to July 31 of the next year (NY).  If your association pays the annual insurance premium of $12,000 in full on July 1, CY, how much will be recorded as an expense and a prepaid expense?

Since the annual premium is $12,000 and there are twelve months in the policy year, the expense for each month is $1,000 ($12,000 divided by 12 months). The expense for the current year will be for the period August 1 to December 31: five months. Five months at $1,000 per month equals $5,000 to be expensed in the current year.

What about the other $7,000 of our $12,000 premium?  We paid it all in the current year so why can’t we expense it all in the current year? The premiums paid this year that benefit the next year, through the end of the policy period on July 31, will be expensed next year. For this year, we need to account for the $7,000 that benefits next year as prepaid insurance expense and present the account as an asset on the balance sheet.

We ask the next question a lot because it is so important:

What Is Your Accounting Basis?
  • Cash Basis: Revenues recorded when cash is received, expenses recorded when paid.
  • Accrual Basis: Revenue recorded when earned/billed, expenses recorded when incurred.

Under the cash basis of accounting, the full $12,000 insurance premium would be recorded as an expense when the premium is paid. Using the accrual basis of accounting, the insurance premium is expensed in the current year ($5,000) and in the next year ($7,000) per the analysis above.

Full Accounting and Knowledge

We believe the full accrual basis of accounting provides associations and readers of financial statements with a more complete and accurate representation.

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Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 4: ACCOUNTS PAYABLE & ACCRUED EXPENSES

Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 4: ACCOUNTS PAYABLE & ACCRUED EXPENSES

[ Blog/News ]

Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 4: ACCOUNTS PAYABLE & ACCRUED EXPENSES

We introduced you to receivables as part of a balance sheet in our last blog, which was the second in our Reading Financial Statements Series©. In this and following blogs we will explore more typical association balance sheet accounts payable and accrued expenses in more detail. 

Now we come to the part of a financial statement that deals with accounts payable and accrued expenses. A payable is something the association owes to another entity or person. It is a liability of the association.

What Causes A Payable To Occur?

Generally, accounts payables are recorded when an association has received goods or services, and the related vendor invoice, but has not yet paid the invoice.

What Is Your Accounting Basis?

In other articles and blogs, we have referred to the basis of accounting. This is very important for readers of financials to understand.

To recap:

  • Cash Basis: Revenues recorded when cash is received, expenses recorded when paid.
  • Accrual Basis: Revenue recorded when earned/billed, expenses recorded when incurred.

By definition, when using the cash basis of accounting, an association will not record a vendor expense until an invoice is paid.  What happens if a contract landscape invoice is submitted to the association for payment, but the invoice is not paid until the next month?

The association will not record landscape expenses in the current month under the cash basis of accounting. If an association uses the accrual basis of accounting, the landscape vendor invoice will be recorded as a payable, with a corresponding charge to landscape expense in the current month.  The expense is recorded together with the liability to pay for the expense.

Are Accrued Expenses Different From Accounts Payable?

Yes, technically accrued expenses are different, however the financial statement presentation is similar.  Typical accruals are recorded for expenses like utilities. Perhaps the utility company bills the association every two months.  At the end of month one, even though an invoice had not been received, the association should accrue one month of utility expense so that the financial statements present a reasonable estimate of the expense for the current month. If the association waited until it received the invoice for two months, it would be recording two months of expense in one month and zero expense in one month under the cash basis.

Full Accounting & Knowledge

We believe the full accrual basis of accounting provides associations and readers of financial statements with a more complete and accurate representation.

By Newman CPA

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Standards, Best Practices, and Public Policy Following Surfside Condo Collapse

Standards, Best Practices, and Public Policy Following Surfside Condo Collapse

[ Blog/News ]

Standards, Best Practices, and Public Policy Following Surfside Condo Collapse

The past two weeks have been devastating after witnessing the partial collapse of the Champlain Tower South condominium in Surfside, Fla., learning of the lives that perished, and seeing the tragedy’s impact on survivors and those in the immediate community. An investigation into the cause of the condo collapse is ongoing; standards of practice and legal requirements related to ensuring maintenance and structural integrity of condominiums understandably are coming under scrutiny.

While community associations have been in existence for more than a century, the rise in condominium developments began in the 1970s and has remained steady ever since. Condominiums are home to millions of people in the U.S., and government officials at the local, state, and federal levels have started pondering what changes need to occur to prevent a similar building collapse from happening again.

CAI’s Government and Public Affairs Committee recently convened a special meeting with guests who offer a broad range of expertise to discuss current best practices, standards, and public policies related to condominium structural requirements. This working group will help CAI establish guidance and model language for CAI’s state legislative action committees as well as considerations for state legislators. Below are the overarching themes of the discussion:

Building Inspections & Maintenance:

Several counties in Florida have inspection obligations that require a structural and electrical engineer or architect to conduct a building inspection and certify the safety of the building. New York City and other localities have similar requirements. CAI is studying these requirements to help develop standards for condominiums and other high-rise residential buildings.

Reserve Study Planning:

Reserve studies for condominium associations are currently required in nine states: California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington state. Washington statutorily encourages associations to have a reserve study performed every three years unless doing so would impose an unreasonable hardship. Florida statute does not require a reserve study but requires a reserve schedule for repair and replacement of major components.

The Foundation for Community Association Research has a Best Practices Report on reserve studies and reserves management that was updated in 2020. CAI is reviewing reserve funding best practices and requirements to determine if changes are needed.

Funding For Maintenance, Repair, & Replacement of Major Components:

Condominium associations are required to have reserve funding for maintenance, repair, and replacement of major components in 11 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, and Oregon. CAI will be exploring tax benefits to incentivize association reserve funding as well as for special assessments and loans used to fund component maintenance, repair, and replacement.

Insurance:

CAI is reviewing best practices and standards for adequate insurance coverage for condominiums and individual units.

CAI is uniquely positioned to lead the conversation on these standards, best practices, and policy changes to benefit our more than 42,000 members, the 73.5 million Americans living in community associations, and the millions more living in community associations around the world.

We will continue to engage in conversations with members, experts, and stakeholders in the community association housing model to strengthen existing standards and public policy in these areas.

If you have comments, opinions, or expertise in any of these areas & would like to contribute to the conversation, please email government@caionline.org.

Condo Safety - Structural Integrity, Maintenance, And Reserves - Community Associations Institute - Click to Go to CAI's Web Page

Right now CAI is providing information & resources to help concerned residents and board members understand structural integrity, maintenance, and reserves.

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Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 3: RECEIVABLES

Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 3: RECEIVABLES

[ Blog/News ]

Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 3: RECEIVABLES

We introduced you to cash as part of a balance sheet in our last blog, which was the second in our Reading Financial Statements Series©. In this and following blogs we will explore more typical association balance sheet accounts and receivables in more detail. 

Receivables are an asset which is generally presented just below cash on the balance sheet. It represents amounts the association has the right to receive. Receivables are amounts due from other people or entities. 

For associations, the largest and most common receivable is for unpaid assessments. Most associations bill owners for assessments each month.  If an owner has not paid their monthly assessment by the due date, the assessment is considered a receivable from the owner.

Recording assessments revenues on the accrual basis without considering the effect of delinquent accounts receivable can mislead readers of an association’s statement of revenues and expenses.

Assessments are recorded when billed under the accrual method. Should there be an accumulation of delinquent accounts, the statement of revenues and expenses will continue to present results assuming 100% collection of outstanding assessments. Readers should always refer to an aging report to assess the status of assessments receivable.

What if an association’s board of directors thinks that not all the amounts due to the association are collectible?

It is important not to overstate assets in an association’s financial statements.

Consideration should be given to providing for an allowance for uncollectible receivables. An allowance for the total receivables that a board determines might be uncollectible should be presented below receivables on the balance sheet.

The net of the two amounts should indicate to readers of the financial statements the amount the board expects to collect.

Bad debt expense

When an allowance for uncollectible accounts is recorded on the balance sheet, a second account, bad debt expense, is recorded on the statement of revenues and expenses.

Recording bad debt expense helps boards and managers to understand the effect of not collecting all amounts that are billed, thus providing a more realistic bottom line.

By Newman CPA

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CPR: Consideration of Others, Personal Responsibility & Respect

CPR: Consideration of Others, Personal Responsibility & Respect

[ Blog/News ]

CPR: Consideration of Others, Personal Responsibility & Respect

If you’re my age or beyond, you will recognize “Imagine, if you will…” from The Twilight Zone. If not, feel free to roll your eyes but bear with me. My modified version is “Consider, if you will…” what we have all endured over the past year and a half. Restated for emphasis, what we have ALL endured. A pandemic. Schools closed. Businesses closed. Unemployment. Divisive election. Cultural shifts. Riots. Uncertainty. Unprecedented weather. Isolation. Relationship stresses. Financial pressure. Rising housing costs. No vacations. Inability to attend weddings, funerals, religious services, and social gatherings. Loneliness.

The intent is not to bring you down, but rather to take this opportunity to set the stage of where we are today. Early last year, I recall offering to our homeowners, Board members, vendors, and colleagues “we’re in this together; and together we will be okay.”

Along the way, humanity seems to have lost the “together” part. The isolation and separation seem to have caused us to become less aware of the fact we are each part of the fabric of our community. If we are to exit the misery of this past year and a half, we must revive “together” with some CPR – Consideration of others, Personal responsibility, and Respect.

The recent past has affected all of humanity in a profound way. No one has been untouched. Yes, we are each and all feeling stressed and anxious beyond anything we have ever experienced before. So is the person on the other end of that email you’re writing. Or that text you’re about to send. Or that voice mail message you’re about to leave. It’s NOT okay to stomp on others when we are feeling stressed out beyond anything we have experienced before. The anonymity of email and voice mail seems to be encouraging us to lash out viscerally, completely and utterly disproportionate to the issue at hand, in ways we would never imagine doing in person.

It’s natural for us to want to blame someone or something for what life has been like during this time. At the end of the day, we all need to accept and embrace personal responsibility. No one made us buy our homes. No one made us accept the deed to real estate, subject to the governing documents as a condition. No one made us not mow our lawns or park in the visitor parking. No one made us enjoy lower assessments in the past so now we must pay a special assessment for the new roof. We made those choices freely and must accept personal responsibility for those choices.

We need to be respectful of our neighbors, our volunteer Board members, our Community Association Managers, and the vendors who take care of our neighborhoods. We need to respect ourselves and take pride in our homes. We must be respectful in the tone and word choices in our communication and interactions, especially so when not face to face. We must try to keep in mind we are a part of the fabric of our communities, not the center of it. We need to find another way and another place, other than each other, to vent our stress and anxiety.

By Morris Management, Inc., AAMC

By Morris Management, Inc., AAMC

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CA Journal - September 2021

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How To Help Those Affected At Champlain Towers South

How To Help Those Affected At Champlain Towers South

[ Blog/News ]

How To Help Those Affected At Champlain Towers South

The Southeast Florida Chapter of CAI is assisting with the collection efforts for those affected by the events at Champlain Towers South in Surfside. They have shared some ways for non-local CAI members to donate:

 

  • The Coral Gables Community Foundation, the Miami Foundation, and the Key Biscayne Community Foundation are asking Miami-Dade County residents to contribute to The Surfside Hardship Fund. Donors can use PayPal or credit cards.
    Click Here To Visit Page >
  • The Greater Miami Jewish Federation established an emergency fund for short-term and long-term needs. The federation is accepting checks with the notation Surfside Building Collapse at 4200 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33137. They are also accepting donations via credit card.
    For more information about the fund, call 305-576-4000 or Click Here To Visit Page>
  • The Shul of Bal Harbour is accepting donations for those impacted by the collapse.
    To donate visit www.theshul.org/8777.
  • The Miami Heat Charitable Fund is working with the humanitarian organization Direct Relief and raising funds to help survivors and first responders.
    Click Here To Visit Page >
  • GoFundMe launched a centralized hub identifying all verified fundraisers.
    Click Here To Visit Page >
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CA Journal - September 2021

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Ryan Swanson - Jo Flannery - Flannery @ryanlaw.com
Replace Your Plumbing At 50 Years? 60 Years? Not So Fast…

Replace Your Plumbing At 50 Years? 60 Years? Not So Fast…

[ Blog/News ]

Replace Your Plumbing At 50 Years? 60 Years? Not So Fast…

You may have been noticing an increase in the frequency of plumbing system replacement, at very high costs. Now that a significant portion of the housing stock we serve within Washington Community Associations has reached or is near the 50-year mark of life, expect that trend to continue. But what do you plan for in terms of timing, and cost? Why isn’t total replacement typically in your reserve study?

Answering the last question first, reserve studies are limited to exterior visual inspection and research, for budget purposes, guided by National Reserve Study Standards that state:

  1. must be common association responsibility;
  2. must have predictable useful life;
  3. must have predictable remaining life;
  4. must be significant in cost.

It is the hidden and unpredictable nature of plumbing that often keeps replacement out of the reserve study, unless there is a higher level of evaluation underlying the projected timing and costs. There are so many other issues that associations know about and can see every day, that cause plumbing to go out of view.

It is also a challenge to plan for, because there are many types of plumbing systems, configurations and site conditions that can lead to full replacement in as few as 15 – 20 years, or as far away as 75 – 100 years[1]. There are different material types, grades and wall thickness of piping, water chemistry, fittings, etc. As reserve study providers who regularly track actual expenses in our region, we have noted replacement costs around $10,000 per unit, to recently over $90,000 per unit factoring: asbestos, tight in-wall install conditions, currently high inflation and extensive unit interior repairs.

So again, what do you do? We suggest that you begin by hiring a reputable engineering consulting firm to thoroughly evaluate your particular system conditions, providing recommendations for both near-term care and the most likely timing and rough order of magnitude cost, specification options as basis for planning. This is our approach as proactive reserve budget consultants.

At the end of the day, it is better to have an idea when this large expense may be coming, than continuing to let it slip from view, to someday turn into an even larger disruptive and costly “surprise”.

[1] Source: Kent Engineering

By Association Reserves Washington, LLC

By Association Reserves Washington, LLC

Chapter Happenings Sponsor, May 2021

Written by Jim Talaga, RS

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Ryan Swanson - Jo Flannery - Flannery @ryanlaw.com
Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 2: CASH

Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 2: CASH

[ Blog/News ]

Reading Financial Statements Series© – Balance Sheet Part 2: CASH

We introduced you to balance sheets in our last blog, which was the first in our Reading Financial Statements Series©. In this and following blogs we will explore some typical association balance sheet accounts in more detail. 

CASH! Everyone likes cash! Associations are no different. Without enough cash, association management and community property can become neglected, often leading to future major repairs requiring loans and special assessments. Understanding what activities have the most impact on cash balances is vital to the future success of an association’s operations. As managers and board leaders, it is so important to review cash activity and balances continuously. Be proactive in a timely manner. Not reactive two years down the road.

Cash includes petty cash, checking, and money market accounts. Remember from the last blog, assets represent what an association owns. We recommend a serious review of cash every month. Cash balances are going to significantly impact an association’s ability to pay for budgeted expenses. Not addressing near term cash challenges can result in current and future budget constraints and economic pressure on the association and its members, including surprise assessment increases. (Please refer to our article on budgeting which discusses assessment increases, at www.hoacpa.com). 

Assessment Collections:

If you have significant owner delinquencies, your cash holdings will be negatively impacted. We recommend that you review the accounts receivable balances in conjunction with a review of cash balances every month. As assessments receivable/delinquencies increase, you will usually see a decrease cash balances. Addressing reductions in cash received compared to budgeted revenues will help you to determine if you also need to work on reducing expenses. Know how much money is received each month.

Contributions Of Assessments To The Reserves Fund:

Associations budget for monthly contributions of assessments to the reserves fund. When associations do not make payments from the operating fund to the reserves fund each month because there is not enough money in operating bank account, the reserves fund will start to be underfunded. The association still has a liability to fund reserves per its ratified budget. Not funding reserves because of operating fund shortages will lead to significant cash pressures as major repairs and replacements are deferred and future special assessments and loans may be required to fund expenditures.

We will continue to address various aspects of cash management and controls surrounding cash in future blogs.

By Newman CPA

By Newman CPA

Chapter Happenings Sponsor, June 2021

By: Jeremy Newman CPA. Newman Certified Public Accountant PC.

Visit us online: www.hoacpa.com

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Chapter Magazine

CA Journal - September 2021

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Ryan Swanson - Jo Flannery - Flannery @ryanlaw.com

Reading Financial Statements Series© — Balance Sheet

Reading Financial Statements Series© — Balance Sheet

[ Blog/News ]

Reading Financial Statements Series© — Balance Sheet

This blog, introducing you to balance sheets, is the first in our Reading Financial Statements Series©

What Is A Balance Sheet?

Balance sheets present the financial position of your association as of a certain date, usually the month or year end.

What Are The Classifications Of Accounts On My Association’s Balance Sheet?
  • Assets
  • Liabilities
  • Equity or Funds
Assets

What the association owns or owns the rights to, including:

  • Cash
  • Assessments and other receivables
  • Prepaid expenses
  • Deposits
Liabilities

What the association owes or is obligated to pay, including:

  • Accounts payable (unpaid vendor invoices)
  • Accrued expenses
  • Prepaid assessments
  • Deferred revenues
Equity or Fund Balances

The association’s net worth. Generally, represents the cumulative revenues minus expenses over the life of the association since its inception.

Basis of Accounting

One of my favorite topics is “What basis of accounting is used to present your association’s financial statements?” Some balance sheet accounts will not be presented on financial statements if your association presents its financial statements using the cash basis of accounting.

Being aware of what you are reading, as well as what may be missing from the balance sheet you are reviewing is important to your understanding of the association’s financial position each month.

We will dive deeper into the individual accounts like cash and receivables in future blogs in this Series.  A short example of what to look forward to:

  • Cash – Do you know what your bank accounts are used for? Do you verify balances? Are you pursuing returns over security?
  • Receivables – Are you expecting to collect everything that is owed to the association? Did you bill for all services?
  • Payables – How much does the association owe to vendors?
  • Prepaid assessments – Are you shoring up today’s cash balances with money collected for future expenses?
  • Operating Fund (Equity) – Does the association have excess funds, has it been over-spending?
By Newman CPA

By Newman CPA

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By: Jeremy Newman CPA. Newman Certified Public Accountant PC.

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Ryan Swanson - Jo Flannery - Flannery @ryanlaw.com

A Strong Reserve Fund Is The Strongest Hedge Against Inflation

A Strong Reserve Fund Is The Strongest Hedge Against Inflation

[ Blog/News ]

A Strong Reserve Fund Is The Strongest Hedge Against Inflation

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!


[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

Learn more about Association Reserves WA at: www.reservestudy.com

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Chapter Magazine

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Ryan Swanson - Jo Flannery - Flannery @ryanlaw.com