HOA Reserves Rule Of Thumb: Everything You Need To Know

April 18, 2024
Andrew Smith
minute read
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Managing an HOA comes with its share of financial responsibilities, one of the most critical being the maintenance of a healthy reserve fund. Many board members face challenges in determining how much should ideally be kept in these reserves to cover unexpected or substantial expenses down the line.

Here's a fact: The rule of thumb suggests that an HOA reserve should be at least 70% funded to ensure financial stability.

This blog aims to shed light on everything you need to know about HOA reserves, from understanding their importance and calculating contributions, to managing funds effectively and adhering to legal requirements.

By the end, you'll have a clearer picture of how well-funded your reserves should be and strategies for achieving this goal. Stay informed; it pays off.

Understanding HOA Reserves

Transitioning from the basics, HOA reserves are essential for maintaining a community's financial health. These funds ensure that homeowners' associations (HOAs) have enough money set aside for major repairs and replacements that aren't part of the regular budget.

Think roofs, pools, or clubhouse renovations—costs that can surprise you if not planned for. A well-managed reserve keeps these shocks at bay.

Reserve funds differ from day-to-day operating funds, focusing instead on long-term stability. They're used to cover costs beyond daily expenses, such as unexpected damage or necessary upgrades in common areas.

It's crucial these reserves are properly funded; rule of thumb suggests aiming for at least 70% funding based on the property’s calculated deterioration over time. This approach helps avoid special assessments that burden homeowners unexpectedly and ensures the community can handle whatever comes its way without financial strain.

Importance of HOA Reserve Funds

Moving from understanding HOA reserves, we see their critical role in financial health. Reserve funds are essential for handling unexpected expenses that aren't part of the regular budget.

This means if a storm damages the clubhouse roof or the pool needs sudden repairs, there's money set aside to cover these costs. Without sufficient reserves, associations might have to levy special assessments on homeowners or significantly increase dues—strains no one wants.

Reserve funds also offer peace of mind to both board members and homeowners. Knowing there’s a safety net for major repairs and replacements keeps everyone at ease. A well-funded reserve is proof of good management and planning by an HOA management company, showcasing responsibility toward preserving the community’s value and comfort.

Keeping reserve contributions at recommended levels ensures that when big expenses do arise, they won’t cause financial turmoil among homeowners.

HOA Reserve Rule of Thumb

The 70-100% funding guideline is crucial for HOA reserve funds. To learn more about how to implement this rule of thumb, dive into the full article.

The 70-100% funding guideline

HOA reserves should be at least 70% funded, but aiming for 100% is ideal. This range ensures that your HOA can handle major repairs and replacements without financial strain. By keeping the reserve fund within this guideline, you prepare for unforeseen expenses and maintain community assets effectively.

Calculating the right amount involves understanding your community's needs and planned future expenses. A fully funded reserve means having enough money to cover 100% of anticipated costs.

Staying in this zone not only follows best practices but also boosts confidence among homeowners about the association's financial health.

HOA Reserve Fund Laws and Regulations

HOA reserve fund laws and regulations dictate how reserves can be used. They typically require HOAs to conduct regular reserve studies every few years to assess the funding needed for future major repairs and replacements.

These laws often outline that the hoa boards must keep cash reserves in a savings account, ensuring that funds are available when major expenses arise in the future. Additionally, they may include guidelines on what expenses reserve funds can cover, as well as mandates concerning conducting a reserve study to calculate reserve funding percent.

The impact of underfunded reserves echoes through these laws, prompting HOAs to allocate management fees towards building up their reserves in accordance with governing documents and bylaws.

Moreover, there is likely legislation mandating that hoas must also invest time into eliminating the need for special assessments by diligently managing their reserve accounts based on the respective state's regulations....

The Impact of Underfunded HOA Reserves

Underfunded HOA reserves can lead to financial strain for the association. Major repairs and unexpected expenses may not be covered, causing a burden on homeowners. Inadequate reserve funds could result in special assessments or borrowing, impacting the community's financial stability and property values.

Funds should be available for unforeseen maintenance needs and capital improvements. Regular contributions are crucial to ensure a well-funded reserve, providing a buffer against potential financial challenges.

A proactive approach can mitigate risks and safeguard the community's long-term financial health.

Ways to Increase HOA Reserve Funds

To bridge the gap from underfunded reserves to increased funds, consider these tactics:

  1. Encourage higher annual contributions to the reserve fund.
  2. Seek additional revenue sources through fundraisers or community events.
  3. Explore cost-saving measures in day-to-day operations and maintenance.
  4. Implement special assessments for major renovation projects or unexpected expenses.
  5. Review and adjust reserve contributions annually based on updated reserve study findings.
  6. Consider investing a portion of reserve funds for potential growth.
  7. Seek professional guidance to optimize reserve fund management and planning.
  8. Engage homeowners in understanding the importance of contributing adequately to the reserve fund.
  9. Continuously educate board members and homeowners about the significance of well - funded reserves.


HOA reserves are crucial for maintaining common areas and funding major repairs. The 70-100% funding guideline ensures financial stability for the association. Underfunded reserves can lead to unexpected costs.

It's important to calculate contributions thoughtfully and stay informed about laws affecting reserve funds. Effective management and regular updates are key in protecting the community's assets.


What's the HOA reserves rule of thumb?
The rule suggests homeowners associations (HOAs) should aim for their reserve funds to be at least 70% funded. This means having enough money saved to cover about 70% of future repair and maintenance costs.
Why do HOAs need reserve funds?
Reserve funds are essential for HOAs, acting like a savings account for big expenses that aren't everyday costs—think fixing roofs or updating landscaping. They help avoid sudden fees when things need fixing.
How often should an HOA conduct a reserve study?
Every three years is a good rhythm for conducting a reserve study. It helps the HOA make sure they're saving the right amount of money and staying prepared for future needs.
Can an HOA use its reserves for day-to-day expenses?
Nope, that's what operating funds are for! Reserve money is specifically set aside for big projects or repairs down the line, not daily operations.
What happens if an HOA isn’t 100 percent funded in reserves?
Being less than 100 percent funded doesn't mean disaster, but it does signal that an association might face challenges covering large unexpected expenses without imposing special assessments on its members.
Do board members decide how much to keep in reserves?
Yes, board members play a key role in financial decisions—including how much to save in the reserve fund based on recommendations from regular reserve studies and the community’s needs.
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