No one likes to pay higher HOA assessment fees, but homeowners want the property maintained well. They also enjoy the services in the community—these services are one of the big reasons that owners choose to live in an association. When assessment fees don’t keep pace with increasing costs and inflation, something has to take the hit. Whether that’s preventative maintenance, services or dipping into the reserve fund, every owner eventually pays the price.
Your HOA Board isn’t doing owners a favor when you delay increasing fees. In the past 10 years that include a recession, cumulative inflation in the U.S. was 28.5%. While this percent doesn’t reflect the exact increase of every product and service, it gives you an idea how much can be neglected when HOA fees are kept artificially low. You don’t have to be a fortune teller to see that the future holds higher fees and the potential for special assessments to keep the community afloat.
Your HOA Board should be realistic about assessment fees and potential increases, but don’t leave money on the table. There are a lot of things that the Board and owners can do to keep fees from rising too fast. The Hignell Companies’ recent blog, Tips to Keep Assessments from Increasing in the Homeowners Association, outlines several ways that everyone can work together to keep fees as low as possible.
It’s easy for owners to forget why they pay assessments because they don’t write the check to a vendor. But, every residential community is going to have costs that rise with inflation. Regular maintenance and general upkeep, preventative maintenance, repairs and renovations — these all cost money. Services also cost money. It’s impossible to keep everything maintained in the community without regular increases.
Communication is key to getting support for increased assessments. Don’t wait until budget time to tell owners what you’re doing. Share ways that owners can help save money on your website and in newsletters. Talk about projects and updates. When your HOA Board is transparent about what’s happening in the community, it’s easier for homeowners to understand why increases are needed.
Asking for more money is always a controversial topic. If your HOA Board has done a good job of building trust with owners, your job is easier because owners will be more receptive. As you review the numbers for this year’s budget, be fair to the association and future owners. Make your community all it can be – today and tomorrow.