With inflation on the rise and economists forecasting a potential recession in the near future, it’s easy to start worrying about your finances and the finances of your community. A recession could result in job loss, difficulty finding employment, and cost of living increases, which could impact homeowners’ ability to pay assessments as well as increase the cost of any community maintenance or repairs. With this in mind, it’s important to prepare well ahead of time to ensure that your community is financially prepared for a recession.
The first step to preparing your community for a recession is to see where your community stands financially. As a board, review the finances and reserve study for your association. When reviewing, take note of any potential maintenance or projects that are planned for the near future, as well as any costs that could rise.
Make Cuts and Save
Once you have a grasp of where your association currently sits financially, now it is time to see if any costs can be cut. When searching your budget for areas where costs can be cut, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are any of the vendors or services the association regularly pays for expendable?
- Is a cheaper package available for some of your service contracts?
- Can scheduled maintenance be delayed or would it be cheaper at a different time?
- Can community improvement plans be postponed?
Question your costs to ensure that you are not only getting the best value for your money, but that you are saving as much money as possible for your association. Since a recession could lead to unpaid assessments, you want to ensure that you have reserves on standby for emergencies.
If your association is low on operating funds or is in danger of going over budget, then outside assistance in the form of microloans or premium financing may be needed.
Microloans can be utilized to fund emergency repairs, help your association’s budget stay on track, or simply help ensure that your reserves stay protected.
A high premium payment can jeopardize any budget, even in times of a stable economy. Premium financing can help your association by breaking up large premium payments into smaller, more manageable installments. For more information on premium financing, visit our friends at Mintfish today!
If a recession is in the near future, then your homeowners are likely already feeling stressed over their finances and how a recession will impact their community. To help alleviate some of that stress, keep the lines of communication open between the board and homeowners.
Take an honest, early approach when it comes to notifying homeowners on how the community may be impacted. Maybe the association has to cut some of the services that homeowners have grown accustomed to, or maybe non-pertinent maintenance or repairs are being delayed until a later time. Whatever situation your association faces, you want to keep homeowners informed so they can feel confident in how the community is being managed.
It is also important that homeowners know all the options that are available for paying their assessments. If your association has an early bird discount for homeowners who pay their assessments early, be sure to communicate that information with homeowners regularly to ensure they have ample opportunity to save money. Also, make sure payment options are easy for homeowners to locate and that they know what options are available if they fall behind on their assessments.
In times of a recession, homeowners may be struggling to make ends meet. Local organizations may be able to offer them some relief through such difficult times. Take the time to research resources in your area that may help those who are experiencing unemployment or may be falling behind financially and share this information with your homeowners through eblast or by posting them on your community website.
If your community finds that it is financially secure going into the recession, then giving back to your community is a great way to help. Consider hosting a food drive or fundraiser to help those impacted by the recession.
Be sure to utilize all of the resources that are available to your community. If your association works with a management company, then lean on their expertise to help you navigate difficult times, like a recession.
A management company can help you establish an emergency plan for your association, maintain communication with homeowners, save money by pricing vendors in your area, or even find financial assistance, if it is needed.
We hope that these tips help your association navigate a recession while staying bonded as a community through difficult times. For more information on weathering financially difficult times, you can check out our article, Inflation: How it Impacts Your HOA.