2014 Community Association Financial Survey
In 1996, Berding|Weil published “Latent Liabilities” a treatise which explored the long-term impact of underfunding of the reserve accounts of community associations. Some of the data came from our clients, and some from Levy, Erlanger & Company. We predicted that most multi-family community associations were severely underfunded for long-term maintenance and repairs and we opined this issue could lead to serious deferral of maintenance obligations and ultimately a shortened service life for these projects. Subsequent financial surveys by Levy, Erlanger & Company, with our assistance, have shown this problem to be systemic—affecting most community associations. This year’s survey finds community associations to have only 57% of the funds on hand they should have. This shows that the problem is not getting better—in 1993 that figure was 60%.
Since “Latent Liabilities” was published, we have further documented this problem in “The Uncertain Future of Community Associations” and similar treatises. Community associations are slowly running out of cash. Borrowing from reserves for regular, and newly discovered maintenance issues has trended upward, and when the reserves run out, special assessments and borrowing from banks increase. The fundamental cause of this cash shortage is the inability or unwillingness of boards of directors to increase assessments sufficiently to keep up with inflation coupled with the discovery of needed repairs not anticipated by the reserve budget.