re: hoa fees, reserve study
From: Christine Johnson (manzjohnsonnetzero.net)
Date: Thu, 2 Feb 2006 06:33:19 -0800 (PST)
Amy Dwyer, Wasatch Commons Cohousing Community, Salt Lake City wrote: "Could you tell me what your fees are, if they go up yearly and by how much, what they cover, if there is a sweat equity component to them, and are they flat fees or square footage based, or both?"

I don't know that our budgeting assumptions would be useful to you. For one reason, our costs will differ from yours even if have similar improvements since we are in a different part of the country and material and labor costs will differ. To calculate our first formal operating budget, we are using a combination of historical and zero based budgeting. Our initial budget was modeled on local cohousing budget numbers and that budget was off the mark by quite a bit as a result. So, in short, can't recommend using other's estimations. If their numbers weren't close to true, yours will be even worse!

We contracted for and are about to receive a preliminary reserve study. We paid a team of engineers and reserve analysts a flat fee to complete the work you are attempting to do on your own. IMO, contracting for a formal reserve study is one of the best decisions our community has made to protect everyone's financial interests (present and future owners, present and future sellers and purchasers). I wish we would have done an initial study as soon as our plans were accepted by the city for approval.

We will be working with the numbers provided in the preliminary study to make any adjustments (for example: to remove an improvement, choose not to replace an item included in the forecast, reduce or increase our operating budget) and then following on the submissions (which we have six months to compose), we will be provided the final report. We will end up with a financial plan to fund our reserves over the next thirty years . We may update it periodically, if needed, for a lesser fee.

There are so many good reasons to go with a professional firm to do a reserve study. There are way too many reasons to list here! A excellent resource for information on community association financial management is Community Associations Institute at http://www.caionline.org/

Christine Johnson
Stone Curves Cohousing
Tucson, AZ


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