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Subject: HOA Fees
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Author Messages
GaryJ5
(New York)

Posts:12


08/26/2021 10:03 PM  
Does anyone know of how to find a list or website of Florida communities for comparison to ours when it comes to number of units, fees, amenities, etc... We are trying to upgrade our community and would like to upgrade several areas. If you can help me that would very helpful. Thank you.
TimB4
(Tennessee)

Posts:17856


08/27/2021 4:01 AM  
Not what you are specifically looking for, but can be a starting point:

Homeowners Associations in Florida - Search by County




CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2607


08/27/2021 5:52 AM  
If you're on the board, I'm sure you know this. But looking at fees can be very misleading. Two apparently identical communities can require very different assessments for a host of reasons:

* the community's history of financial decisions, good or bad, including funding of reserves;

* the amount of deferred maintenance

* inclusion of utilities in assessments, which ones and what do they cost (water is expen$ive)

* extent of the infrastructure owned by the association (streets, water lines, etc.)

* presence of a special municipal taxing district

* pending litigation that will affect the community

You get the idea...
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:297


08/27/2021 6:34 AM  
Over 5 years ago our Board voted to propose a permanent increase to our monthly dues. Planning that the kick back would be, "Oh, that's too much", we were prepared with our response.

Using a great local realtor website, along with our municipalities Real Estate look up records, we were able to provide the membership with a comparison of surrounding HOA condo communities built around the same time (40 years ago)based on # of bedrooms and square footage, community amenities (pool, water included and such). We stayed within our selling price range because our zip code had condos from under $100,000 to over $1,000,000.

We found that our monthly dues were below the low end and used this to secure the increase. It still wasn't easy, but with having the data to back up the increase, the dues increase was passed.

Most members don't realize how much it costs to maintain an HOA. Some even think that the MC pays for everything.

Gathering this info took time hunting down info, but we found it a great way to present our case to the member's.

Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10595


08/27/2021 6:43 AM  
You do not compare yourself to other HOAs. EveryHOA is separate. You figure out the expenses your HOA has and budget from there.

Former HOA President
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4297


08/27/2021 7:04 AM  
All good advice. It really doesn't matter what other communities do because you don't live in them.

Since you're considering various upgrades,why not take a poll of the homeowners and see what they like and don't like, and what improvements they'd like to see? hopefully enough people will respond so you can see patterns and set priorities from there.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1469


08/27/2021 7:19 AM  
Why are you trying to adequate your assessments to other properties around you? Your assessments should be a reflection of your reserve study.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2607


08/27/2021 8:02 AM  
One thing to watch out for if you're using realtor web sites for info on assessments:

The ones in my area list only one fee and specify whether it's monthly or yearly. The problem is that communities may have both, so their total assessments will be understated.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:297


08/27/2021 8:30 AM  
Posted By LetA on 08/27/2021 7:19 AM
Why are you trying to adequate your assessments to other properties around you? Your assessments should be a reflection of your reserve study.




Passing any type of dues increase by membership based on our reserve study would have been impossible. Our increases are maxed out to CPI for the previous year. We had a hard fight for less than $30.00 a month/unit increase. Our lawyer advised that for a Board approved assessment, the monies spent should be specific to a project. During that time we had so many it was hard to choose. Presenting a palatable dues increase allowed us to move forward.

We've done an outstanding job with our ability to maintain the integrity of the buildings and community elements with the exception of our community roads. We are looking at $1,250,000+ to dig up and relay all the roadways including curbing and such, due to years of no maintenance.

Sales price of our condos average $125,000 with dues averaging $200/month. An assessment for each unit to replace the roads will be $7,000.00 per unit setting us up for a mess of collection issues and where would we be if we can't collect the money besides filing foreclosure notices left and right? Wouldn't matter then because we would be in receivership because there wouldn't be a Board.

Every HOA community is different and I am only sharing what has worked for us to move forward. All of our previous volunteer boards have been so concerned with not spending any money and violations that they failed us completely.

This is what we have to work with. I post my experiences to assist anyone else in a similiar position to find ways to survive or overcome obstacles.

Whoever came up with the idea that volunteers could maintain HOA with over $15,000,000 in assets was crazy, but this is where we are. HOA's are not for profit, but not a non profit.









Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
AugustinD


Posts:1937


08/27/2021 9:02 AM  
Posted By PatJ1 on 08/27/2021 8:30 AM
Posted By LetA on 08/27/2021 7:19 AM
[snip by AugustinD]Your assessments should be a reflection of your reserve study.


Passing any type of dues increase by membership based on our reserve study would have been impossible. Our increases are maxed out to CPI for the previous year. We had a hard fight for less than $30.00 a month/unit increase. Our lawyer advised that for a Board approved assessment, the monies spent should be specific to a project. During that time we had so many it was hard to choose. Presenting a palatable dues increase allowed us to move forward.
First, I agree with LetA's statement.

Second, I am aware that many states and Declarations impose restrictions on (1) increases in the regular assessment; and (2) special assessments. Either way, I feel a Board has fiduciary duties to (1) work with reserve study companies so that all are satisfied that the study reflects reality as well as possible; and (2) set both the regular assessment and special assessments pursuant to the reserve study and seek loans as needed, consistent with the law. If they do not, then as is much repeated these days, either Champlain Towers South could result, or financial ruin may be likely.

Third, "upgrade" is a curious term in GaryJ5's first post. From my reading over the years, New York is one of the worst states for HOA and condo laws. I wonder whether GaryJ5's Board's interpretation of the covenants is reasonable when it comes to "upgrading." Nationwide, changing the common areas often is a de facto amendment to the governing documents and may requires a vote of the owners.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2607


08/27/2021 10:55 AM  
Posted By PatJ1 on 08/27/2021 8:30 AM
Posted By LetA on 08/27/2021 7:19 AM
Why are you trying to adequate your assessments to other properties around you? Your assessments should be a reflection of your reserve study.




Passing any type of dues increase by membership based on our reserve study would have been impossible. Our increases are maxed out to CPI for the previous year. We had a hard fight for less than $30.00 a month/unit increase. Our lawyer advised that for a Board approved assessment, the monies spent should be specific to a project. During that time we had so many it was hard to choose. Presenting a palatable dues increase allowed us to move forward.

... snip ...




This is the kind of nonsense that makes me crazy (and FWIW, it would make more sense to peg increases to the PPI - who cares if the cost of food and clothing are rising, HOAs deal with things like raw materials and construction costs).

So what the heck happens when you're hit by the unexpectedly fast wear and tear, or inflation picks up and your last reserve study underestimated replacement costs - too bad, so sad, wait until the CPI catches up to the damaged property?

Anyway, requirements like this, and the one requiring homeowner approval for assessments increases, actually undermine well-being of the communities and homeowners that they're intended to protect:

* Board members have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of their communities, and should be the final authority. This is what allows homeowners to hold the board accountable for their decisions. When the board does not control the decisions, accountability goes out the window.

* Homeowners have no fiduciary duty to the association and are free to act in their own self interest, even if that self interest is harmful to the association.

* Capping assessments at some arbitrary number will result in short-term thinking and kicking the can down the road. We saw in Surfside what can happen after 40 years of can kicking.

* Arbitrary caps do not force boards to live within their means. In reality the HOA will live beyond its means - but instead of overspending, it will burn through the useful life of components at an accelerated rate because these components are not being maintained properly.

* The cap hides the true cost of home ownership, as does allowing homeowners to keep assessments artificially low. This sets up future boards and homeowners for larger or even unmanageable expenses - and when it's finally time to pay the piper, homeowners will wail that they can't afford the assessment (as at the Surfside condo). Affordability is the sort of thing that's better to figure out sooner rather than later, ideally before you buy in the first place.

I swear, one of these days I'm gonna write an op-ed and send it out to everyone who will publish it.

*** off my soapbox now ***
TimB4
(Tennessee)

Posts:17856


08/27/2021 1:55 PM  
Posted By PatJ1 on 08/27/2021 6:34 AM

Using a great local realtor website, along with our municipalities Real Estate look up records, we were able to provide the membership with a comparison of surrounding HOA condo communities built around the same time (40 years ago)based on # of bedrooms and square footage, community amenities (pool, water included and such). We stayed within our selling price range because our zip code had condos from under $100,000 to over $1,000,000.




My Association tried that.
I tore it apart citing service that the other Associations were providing that we did not.


Assessments should be based on budgetary needs.

We were able to obtain support for a 20% increase by showing the need and showing how the Association did what they could to minimize costs.


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