What is an HOA Budget?

What is an HOA Budget?

For homeowner associations (HOAs), creating and managing an annual budget is one of the board’s most important financial responsibilities. A comprehensive, thoughtful HOA budget provides the roadmap for funding the services, amenities, maintenance, and improvements that homeowners expect.

While HOA budgets aim to determine assessment amounts needed to cover expenses, they involve much more than just balancing income and costs. A budget reflects the priorities and values of the community and facilitates productive planning for its future needs.

But what exactly constitutes an HOA budget? What key elements does an effective HOA budget contain? More than just a DIY process for hobbling together a few financial figures, let’s look at why building and maintaining your budget – with the help of a robust management HOA software – can help improve your community. You may be surprised at the benefits of HOA software programs like these!

 

 

What Does an HOA Budget Include?

A comprehensive HOA budget consists of several key components that include the association’s total anticipated financial picture for the coming fiscal year:

Income Streams:(Sources of money flowing into the HOA)

  • Homeowner assessments
  • Other revenue sources (amenities fees, advertising, interest, etc.)

Operating Expenses: (Costs to run day-to-day operations & services)

  • Utilities, landscaping, trash collection
  • Management fees
  • Insurance
  • Maintenance & repairs
  • Contingency fund

Reserve Fund Contributions: (Savings for future capital projects)

  • Future capital repairs & replacements
  • Preventative maintenance items

Taxes: (Levies on taxable income if applicable)

  • Income taxes

A well-structured HOA budget balances these elements to determine the appropriate funding level that must be collected from homeowners through assessments to cover all projected association expenses year-over-year.

The HOA Budgeting Process

Creating an effective, comprehensive HOA budget that determines assessment amounts involves an in-depth preparatory process, usually spearheaded by the HOA’s treasurer and finance committee. While every process will be unique to the HOA, here are some fundamental steps to consider:

1. Review Past Financials

Complete a diligent analysis of the HOA’s previous 2-3 years of budgets and annual financial statements, including reserve studies. Identify cost and revenue trends and variables to inform realistic projections.

2. Build Detailed Line Items

Develop granular projections – itemize all known and estimated income sources and operating expenses for the coming fiscal year. Incorporate input from contracted vendors, suppliers, and service providers.

3. Update or Commission Reserve Study

Leverage an updated reserve study by a qualified provider to guide reserve funding strategy. A current study is critical for budgeting and highlights maintenance needs.

4. Board Review

The treasurer formally presents the entire annual budget proposal, including methodology for board review, questions, and refinement before member distribution.

5. Facilitate Homeowner Input

Once formally circulated to all homeowners, allow ample response time for budget questions and suggestions. Consider a community vote.

6. Finalize & Ratify

Carefully consider homeowner feedback and fine-tune line items accordingly. Once finalized, the board officially votes to ratify and implement the annual budget.

Dedicating time for thoughtful preparation empowered by diligent analysis and earnest homeowner participation results in an HOA budget that balances fiscal planning with community expectations.

QuickBooks vs. HOA Software for Budgeting

When it comes to the number crunching of building detailed HOA budgets, two technology options exist — accounting software or specialized HOA management software. Which works best?

QuickBooks

QuickBooks delivers robust accounting tools to produce HOA budgets and integrate directly with bank accounts for efficient reconciliation. However, limitations exist:

  • Requires manual data entry prone to errors
  • Challenging to track homeowners at a granular level
  • Does not automate assessment billing
  • HOA Management Software

HOA Software

Purpose-built HOA platforms – often designed specifically for community associations – offer many advantages over traditional accounting software:

  • Directly syncing with other integrated modules like billing
  • Automating recurring assessment fees as line items
  • Custom cost centers to budget by sub-association
  • Homeowner-level tracking and reporting
  • Streamlined bank integrations

Regardless of the system you choose to manage your HOA finances, it is important to thoroughly research and compare options before deciding. Look for features that will best suit your community’s needs, and consider factors such as cost, customer support, and ease of use. With the right HOA management software in place, you can ensure efficient and accurate financial management for your community association.

HOA Budget Template

To give you an idea of what your HOA finances might look like, here is a sample budget template to help you get started:

1. Income

  • Assessment Fees: Monthly or annual fees collected from homeowners.
  • Special Assessment Fees: Fees collected for specific projects or emergency fund replenishments.
  • Interest Income: Income earned from HOA savings or investments.
  • Other Income: Fees from facility rentals, fines, or any other miscellaneous income.

Total Income: [Sum of all income]

2. Expenses

Administrative Expenses:

  • Management fees
  • Legal fees
  • Accounting/auditing fees
  • Office supplies
  • Bank fees

Maintenance Expenses:

  • Landscaping and grounds maintenance
  • Common area utilities (electricity, water, sewer)
  • Common area repairs and maintenance (painting, roofing, plumbing)
  • Pool maintenance (if applicable)
  • Snow removal (if applicable)

Insurance:

  • Property insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance
    – Reserve Fund Contributions:
  • Long-term repair and replacement fund

Other Expenses:

  • Community events
  • Capital improvement projects
  • Loan payments (if the HOA has debt)
  • Miscellaneous expenses

Total Expenses: [Sum of all expenses]

3. Net Operating Income

Total IncomeTotal Expenses = Net Operating Income

Is Your HOA Budget Helping Serve Your Community?

An accurate, carefully constructed budget is the foundation for a financially thriving HOA. Streamlined access to current financials and past trends and automating projections based on homeowner billing and vendor contracts enable reliable budgets.

While tools like QuickBooks deliver solid accounting functionality, purpose-built HOA management software contains specialized modules that drive more robust HOA budget-building capabilities. 

By leveraging community association software systems with rich features designed around budget creation, tracking against actuals, and adjusting projections based on real data, HOAs can more easily develop healthy, realistic budgets every year to keep communities on solid fiscal ground.

FAQ

What are best practices for an HOA budgeting process?

Diligent analysis of past year’s data, granular line items, contracted vendor input, reserve study guidance, and earnest homeowner feedback result in realistic, balanced HOA budgets.

How can homeowners provide budgeting input?

HOAs should circulate draft budgets to all members well in advance of ratification, welcoming questions, suggestions, and usually a community vote.

How often should HOAs update their budget?

While budgets should project 12 months of income and expenses, analysts recommend reviewing fiscal-year-to-date performance quarterly and adjusting as needed.

What features help software streamline HOA budgeting?

Automated syncing of past and current assessment revenue data together with centralized expense tracking in an integrated system enables consistent budgets grounded in real totals.

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