Re: Reserves study
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2021 07:33:45 -0800 (PST)
> On Jan 15, 2021, at 1:59 AM, Katie Henry <katie-henry [at]> wrote:
> I spoke with a reserve analyst from Association Reserves a few months ago 
> about a reserve study for Heartwood Commons - Tulsa, which is now starting 
> construction. Association Reserves is a nationwide company that was 
> recommended to me by another cohousing community. 

I’ve been aware of Association Reserves for over 10 years now and regularly 
hear about positive experiences with them. They used to have a newsletter that 
came out once a month that was very helpful — particularly for convincing 
people why you need a reserve study. And they have other resources on their 
website as well. 

They even put together a DIY kit so you can do your component list and they run 
the numbers for you. Their reason for doing this was so no community had an 
excuse for no having a study. Costs less than $400.

They have a samples of studies on their site for all kinds of buildings so you 
can see what a good estimate of expenses looks like:

One key to a good study is the component list. Communities with residents who 
are architects or other person with professional construction experience forgo 
studies because they have an in house person who can do the component list and 
there are spreadsheets for running the numbers.  Most of us do not have the 
in-house skills and sibling rivalry makes it hard to accept “unprofessional” 

There is nothing so wonderful as having adequate savings when a crisis hits and 
10% of your members are unemployed and another 25% are under employed. And 11% 
of your units are for sale and have been for 2 years. Remember 2008? 

There will always be people who think they can get away with anything and that 
all the hype is just those liberal spendthrifts over there who don’t know a 
pipe from a brick. We can do it ourselves and don’t need it anyhow. (Trumpers 
aren’t the only ones who think they know the real story.)

Cohousing communities are multi-million dollar residential complexes. Our 
property was worth $7+ million in 1999. I ran the figures using Zillow almost 2 
years ago and it was worth $19.5 million, at least. I say that not as an 
example of how much money you can make on real estate but as a key to how much 
needs to be spent to maintain that property. 

Very few of us are used to those kinds of numbers. 

> I was quoted $3,200 for a full reserve study (described on their web site; 
> they have several levels of service). This includes travel expenses from 
> California. This is for a community with 36 units clustered into various 
> plexes and a common house.

This is a very good price. We have paid $5,000 for studies with a site visit 
several times. Updates are $3,000. We have also had maintenance studies 
included — a schedule of how often this and that needs routine servicing. Those 
were helpful on budgeting for things that need to be done every 3-5 years and 
don’t fit into an annual budget.

> I'd be uncomfortable living in a community that didn't have a reserve study 
> except possibly in the case of a community of free-standing homes maintained 
> by their owners and the common house being the only shared element. I'd 
> always be worried about a unexpected special assessment.

I’m with Katie on this and had no idea what reserve studies were when I moved 
into cohousing. I’m sold now. It not only warns you about the money required 
but also teaches you about your facility.

Sharon Villines
Affordable begins with 30% of income, not 80% of median house prices.

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