Reserve Study Season is here!

In Condo Association, Home Owner Association (HOA), Home Owner's Association, Reserve Studies by Patricia Staebler

Recently our books filled up with reserve studies quicker than ever, mostly because budget season is upon us with most condo associations starting their budget sessions in October.

While the bulk of appraisal work happens between January and May, reserve studies are a hot commodity between June and October.

Here is a list of items we will need when a community association manager (CAM) or an HOA or condo association orders an initial reserve study, meaning they never had a study done before:

  • All maintenance plans you have in place with maintenance providers
  • Current reserve balance
  • Interest rate
  • Operating budget
  • Complete list of your equipment
  • Invoices for recent repairs, replacement and new construction
  • Construction plans
  • Site plan
  • Your last reserve study, if any

When the inspection day comes, we will need access to all buildings, so make sure a representative of the board or the property management is present. All buildings will have to be measured on the exterior and the interior. Pools and other site improvements have to be accessible as well.

Hands of Couple Looking at Blueprints

If you have construction plans, please have them ready available for the analyst. And if you have a list of all your machinery and equipment, the data collection will be much easier and your reserve study will be completed in a much shorter timeframe.

During the inspection we will take a lot of photos, depending on the size of the assignment somewhere between one and three hundred.

After the inspection our first step is to develop the component list, which contains all assets, their in-service date, the useful and remaining life and the current cost per unit. The component list is the heart and soul of each reserve study and is the basis from which the data is entered into the software.

Our firm uses software developed in California. The law regulating reserves is probably the most stringent in California; therefore, in my opinion the Reserve Analyst® software is topnotch.

After we will have finished the data input, the software will calculate the reserves in three different reserve scenarios; current, threshold and fully funded models. This draft will be reviewed for accuracy and after possible necessary adjustments the final reserve study will be printed.


After delivering the study to our clients, our firm usually schedules a consulting session with the board and the property management to explain the ins and outs of the reserve study. The finalized study can be overwhelming with all the data and funding models it contains, especially for communities which never had a study done before. But we are here to help and our firm’s forte is to working closely with the client to avoid confusion and misinterpretation. Quite frankly, the best part of finalizing a reserve study is the interaction with the client, assisting, explaining and helping to plan for the future.

If you have questions about reserve studies, please call or email us at any time. You can also find a lot of information in the CAM library.



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