Q&A with the HOALendingPro: What’s the difference between a bank loan and an HOA loan?

https://www.hoalendingxchange.comI was recently presented with the following question from one of my clients. I am publishing it here, along with my answer, in hopes of sharing the knowledge. It is a common question that all of us within the HOA lending field should be able to answer.

Question:
What are some differences between a construction loan or line of credit from a “normal” bank and an HOA loan or line of credit as a specialized lending option? I’m having trouble understanding the pros and cons between them.

Answer:
The differences are very stark. A construction loan handled by a traditional bank reflects that there is real estate involved. The financing provided might be to construct a building, expand a building or recondition a building. In all cases, the real estate has different degrees of value during the build out period. The bank’s collateral is the value of the real estate. Depending on the bank’s loan policy, the borrower will need to provide 20% to 30% cash into the project in advance. Consequently, the bank has a vested interest in the value of the property during its various stages of change. Therefore, the bank will monitor the project in some way and they will release money from the credit line once stages of build-out have been achieved based on a budget submitted in the beginning of the project.

A construction line of credit to a community association from a bank that is skilled at providing such financing operates on an entirely different logic. There is no real estate interest in a community association. The community association has common elements that are not separable from the association and the property owners have an indivisible interest in the common elements. Consequently there is no real estate value. The financing does not rely on the value of real estate as does a traditional construction loan discussed above. What is being financed is the lack of reserves. In essence, the association should have accumulated cash reserves over time in order to pay cash for any project that needs to be done. The collateral for such a loan is the Assignment of the Association’s right to levy and collection regular and special assessments. It is a cash flow based loan. The bank looks to the level of budget increase that needs to occur to support the loan in order to make a credit worthiness judgment. It is typical for a community association specialized bank to provide 100% financing of the project. Depending on the loan policy of the bank, the bank might simply provide the funding to the association as a lump some and want to have any interest in the construction activity of the project. Other banks might provide a line of credit that is available to be drawn on at the sole discretion of the association. In other cases, the bank might want to see evidence that the project is being performed before they release funds from the credit line. Not because they have a value concern but only to be sure a project is being done at all.

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Getting a Good Yield While Maintaining Fiduciary Responsibility to Protect Association Assets

https://www.hoalendingxchange.comMaintain, protect, and enhance. That is the mantra of every well-meaning community association director in the country. Following the association’s rules and regulations, interpreting the covenant, practicing proper governance and more require dedication and commitment to best practices for community governance. What about best practices for the cash that the association has collected to protect itself from all of the expenses, known and unknown, which the association must bear? Following best practices in cash management is a challenge that even savvy volunteer leaders often leave to investment professionals to handle and for good reason.

Before banks, anyone who amassed a large sum of money was tempted to bury it in their backyard or sleep with it under their mattress. That strategy won’t work for your community association’s funds. In fact, a well-managed cash management program can actually help defray inflation and future expenses by allowing the association’s money to make money through proper investment. That’s where the skill and experience of an investment professional can help.

If you haven’t already done so, it is a good idea to search for an expert to help you navigate these financially tricky waters. For smaller associations with smaller amount of cash on hand and in reserve, it may be their local banker. For larger associations who may amass millions of dollars in reserves, it may mean working with a larger financial services firm who has a proven track record working with such substantial amounts of money and homeowners associations. Either way, there are some key considerations to take into account before investing the association’s money.

The financial institution that you work with should understand the needs of your community association. Condominiums and Homeowners Associations function closely to municipalities and often have the same needs. Instead of local taxes, they collect common fees. Instead of emergency services, they provide landscaping, insurances, common element maintenance, and such. They are typically not-for-profit corporations and typically behave as conservatively as possible from an investment standpoint.

Of course, security is paramount these days. You want assurance that the money is safe and cannot be easily stolen. Also, you want to know that there is insurance in place to protect the investment. If the amount becomes too large to insure, there are programs that help spread the risk and offer the highest level of protection possible. Ask your financial institution for the details on their security programs, especially if large sums of cash are involved.

FDIC coverage is important for Certificates of Deposit (CDs). These certificates generally assure a rate of return in excess of what a standard savings account would offer. Of course, there are rules and requirements to obtaining CDs but many associations find that CDs suit their needs just fine.

Higher rates of return are often available but they generally require higher rates of risk. Association Reserve Funds are not commonly subjected to risk as the monies collected represent common fee contributions by owners. However, if conservative investments in government bonds or similar low-risk derivatives are available, it is possible to invest some of the cash into low-risk investments that will yield higher returns. The potential return must be weighed against the risk before any association funds are invested.

The bottom line is that the association’s funds are its lifeblood. It must be treated with great conservation but must also be allowed to work for the association. A solid cash management program can accomplish both and bring a reasonable return to association members. Your condominium or HOA may also need funds in addition to what they already have on hand for capital improvement projects. HOALendingXchange can help! Simply fill out our inquiry form and our HOA loan experts will get busy preparing their very best HOA loan concepts for your consideration.

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Does Your Business Specialize in Lending to Condominium Associations?

https://www.hoalendingxchange.comThat’s a question we get a lot. Believe it or not, lending to Condominium Associations and other common interest communities is our ONLY business. In the United States alone, Condominium Associations and other commonly owned properties make up more than 20% of the value of all residential real estate. There is more than 40 billion dollars spent annually on operating revenue. And the numbers are actually increasing. We think that is a market worth selling and servicing to.

The largest challenge facing this evolving industry is the lack of dedicated and specialized financial service professionals to service the growing demand for lending to Condominium Associations and other common interest communities. That is where HOALendingXchange comes in. We have seen the future of Condominium Associations like yours and we know that you will need lending solutions that are as unique as your community. Simply fill out our inquiry form and our HOA lending experts will submit their best concepts for your Condominium Association’s Lending needs.

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Building Components: Technological Advancements Make Upgrades Worthwhile

https://www.hoalendingxchange.comWith technology advancements, replacing worn elements may be less effective than upgrading to new materials. For instance, wooden decks may look fantastic at a shore side condominium complex. It’s too bad they need to be replaced every 10 years. They just don’t hold up to the elements. Until recently, using wood to replace wood may have been the only option. Now, it is not uncommon for modern materials like plastics, amalgamations, and even recycled products like rubber from tires to be used to offer beautiful options with the benefit of longer life and lower cost of ownership.

There was a time when most condominiums were referred to as “brick and stick”, referring to a simple concrete foundation and wood infrastructure and building exteriors. Today, new materials are everywhere. From the ground up, technological advancements are making modern buildings more efficient and less expensive to maintain over time.

Concrete is still the foundation material of choice but even concrete has seen its share of technological advancement. Additionally, many folks look to finished basement systems to keep them dry and add extra living space. New buildings routinely make use of foundation space that was once relegated to basement storage in many older condominium buildings. Even materials such as steel and pressure treated wood are being used in modern foundations.

External building products like fiber cement are changing how buildings can protect themselves from the elements. They hold their finish longer and offer a 30-year non-prorated warranty. That’s something that wood just can’t do. With the increased damage inflicted by major storms, many communities are faced with the challenge of replacing what they lost. It is actually a perfect time to consider upgrading existing building materials to something more durable and more likely to withstand Mother Nature’s next attack.

Glass-based products like windows and sliding glass doors are constantly being replaced. While the most visible benefit is great looking windows and sliders, there have been vast technology improvements in materials and energy savings that often allow these upgrades to pay for themselves in just a few years time. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that almost 30% of heating and cooling energy is lost due to inefficient windows and sliders.

Roofing materials have seen technology advancements as well. New materials offer longer warranties and lower cost of ownership over time. Solar electricity can also be a consideration next time the roof needs to be replaced. Solar shingles are not only durable but they can even provide an energy or revenue source for forward thinking common interest communities. Companies like Dow Solar have received millions of dollars from the U.S. Department of Energy to pioneer this technology which they make available to builders and remodelers to incorporate modern construction. Perhaps your next roof will make you money instead of costing you money!

The bottom line is that technology has advanced almost all components of building. Buildings that were fully modern just 20 years ago can experience huge performance improvements by replacing dated and worn building materials with modern, longer lasting, and energy efficient products. Old buildings can look great and perform better by taking advantage of these new building materials. Your condominium or HOA may wish to take advantage of these advances and need funds to do so. HOALendingXchange can help! Simply fill out our inquiry form and our HOA loan experts will get busy preparing their very best HOA loan concepts for your consideration.

 

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Is Deferred Maintenance Becoming a Crisis?

https://www.hoalendingxchange.comI recently was processing a loan application for $2.8 million for a Washington State condominium association of 66 units. The loan repayment was going to cause the Association’s regular monthly level income to triple. Not surprisingly, the Association responded that they could not afford such an increase. I appreciated that perspective and agreed. The sad part of the negotiation was that they still needed the funds in order to keep the property in a habitable condition. They were effectively looking for me to be a Genie and turn the Loan application into a Grant request. They were frantic because they were out of options.

I have been specialized in lending to community associations nationally for over 20 years. I have, in recent years, noted a concerning trend with loan applications. The loan requests have gone from funding the replacement of a single component such as a roof to becoming wholesale renovations of the respective buildings. The per-unit project costs have gone from an average of $2,500 to $25,000. The core issue is the underfunding of the Reserve Fund for easily determined future capital maintenance upgrades.

There are States that require, by law, community associations to have professionally prepared Reserve Studies and even require that the studies be updated periodically. The irony is that those proactive States do not require that Reserve funding indicated by the required Reserve Studies be fully funded. One of the States with the most rigorous set of regulations related to reserve studies is California. However, contradictory to logic, it is my most prolific market for loans due to excessive deferred maintenance of associations with inadequate reserves. The state wants the associations to know they are underfunded but they do not require that they solve the problem. What exactly is the point?

Reaffirming my anecdotal experience of excessive deferred maintenance is the number of loan applications that are due to a property being “Red Tagged”. This is something have I only been exposed to in the most recent five years. It is municipalities stepping forward and giving community associations formal notice that they have a specific date to get required repairs completed or the property will be condemned and must be immediately vacated. These types of circumstances do not come about overnight. Typically, there are warning notices issued over extended time periods. Yet, the Associations do not take the steps required. The dialog that ensues with me once these notices occur is that the unit owners cannot afford the repairs. Which is also to say that they could not afford the little bit of extra added to the monthly dues that would allow for building of cash reserves.    Effectively, the unit owners never could afford to live in the particular property that it is about to be taken from them.

In theory, loans for capital maintenance upgrades are not a product that should exist. There is no valid reason for a community association to be significantly under reserved. There is a very accurate and sophisticated system practiced by skilled and licensed professionals to generate life cycle analysis of community association components. The report generated is able to determine the estimated level of cash reserve needed at any point in time for the association to self-fund improvements. Special assessments should be limited to the potential differences in those estimates when actual repairs occur. The additional reality is that most people cannot afford to live in the units they currently occupy because they “claim” they cannot afford the projected future capital maintenance need that should be added to their monthly association dues.

 

There are 3 realities to living in a community association:

  1. The property will wear out.
  2. The improvement projects will not go away or become less expensive.
  3. The only place the funds to support the improvement projects will come from is the unit owners whether by building reserves, special assessments or loan payments.

 

It is my perception based on the ever-expanding problem. In the near future, regulatory agencies such as FHA, the insurance industry or the mortgage industry are going to inject themselves into the problem and require proper levels of reserves. Community associations are not likely to solve this pervasive problem themselves.

 

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Delinquency and the HOA

https://www.hoalendingxchange.comThe timely collection of fees and assessments is the lifeblood of any HOA, condominium association, co-operative, or timeshare. However, unit owners are not always able to pay their fees and assessments on time. Depending on the state you live in and the penalties for late payments ascribed in the governing documents, delinquency is handled in one a few different methods. This article describes some of the best practices common interest community associations can use to keep their delinquencies to a minimum and their collection efforts on track to keep the revenue flowing while the delinquency is remedied.

Most HOAs have rules about when payments are late and what steps the association should take to collect delinquent funds. Consult with your association’s governance documents to see how delinquencies are handled at your HOA. If the documents are silent or the penalties are not strong enough to encourage compliance, it may be time for new rules and a document revision to help ensure that there are adequate penalties and remedies in place for late payments. Generally speaking, a fine ($25 or so) is imposed for payments that are 10 days or more in arrears. Additionally, there are collection efforts at 30, 60, and/or 90 day intervals when payments are missed.

At 30 days, a letter of demand is usually issued. This letter details the delinquency, reaffirms the fine that went out 10 days after the payment was missed and details what further collection activities await if the payment is not made in timely fashion. At 60 days, the matter is generally turned over to the association’s attorney or collection agent for legal proceedings. The legal costs are generally paid by the association and assessed to the delinquent unit owner as outlined in the association’s governing documents. The simple desire to avoid all of these additional costs is usually enough incentive for the unit owner to make good on the debt at this time. The addition of the attorney’s fees on top of the unpaid common fees and fine really drive up the debt. It is not uncommon for these fees to top $500 or more depending on the part of the country you live.

Finally, if the delinquent unit owner is unable or unwilling to pay the delinquent fees, the association can begin foreclosure proceedings against the unit owner. Again, laws vary from state to state but, generally speaking, delinquency can be remedied via foreclosure action, although unit owners have very specific rights from state to state. That is why it is best for associations to work closely with legal counsel during this phase of collection procedures. Laws also vary from state to state about the right of priority (who gets paid first) when foreclosure occurs as there are usually multiple claimants in the foreclosure proceeding. It is a drastic and final measure for just this reason.

There are times when HOAs, condominiums, timeshares, and cooperatives simply need more money than they have collected for capital improvement projects that are needed. HOALendingXchange.com is the easy choice for community associations and HOAs seeking money. Getting started with your own HOA loan is easy. Simply fill out the HOALendingXchange inquiry form and HOA loan experts will get busy preparing their very best HOA loan concepts for your consideration.

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Capital Maintenance Loans Can Provide Funding for Community Association Projects

https://www.hoalendingxchange.comCapital maintenance loans are available to condominium and homeowner’s associations to fund projects when there is a lack of adequate financial reserves. Whether you are a Property Manager, Board President or a service provider to a common interest community, there will likely come a time when there just isn’t enough money to fund the next big project. Inflation, failure to plan, unforeseen expenses and more can create a cash drain on even an otherwise successful community association. In the past, special assessments seemed to be the only way a community could quickly raise capital to fund these projects. Today’s savvy community association leader knows that a capital maintenance loan is almost always a better choice to fund such projects for so many reasons. HOALendingXchange can help!

Upfront benefits include the ability to act on behalf of the association as a whole rather than relying on the special assessment process of levying and collecting assessments. Owners within the association will be asked to increase their monthly payments instead of having to come up with a lump sum all at one time. This is more in line with how they pay for other expenses in the association and will not, typically, create an undue burden, unlike the special assessment which brings with it an ominous “pay now or else” collection approach. Once the capital maintenance loan is secured, the association can get on with the business of evaluating bids, hiring contractors, purchasing materials, and spending their efforts where it is most needed in bringing the capital maintenance project to successful completion. They can do so with the confidence that they have the ability to pay their vendors and suppliers, which savvy negotiators can even use to their advantage to get a better price.

The types of projects that are eligible for capital maintenance loans are extensive. They range from everyday items such as roof replacement to far more complicated projects like marina restoration. Capital maintenance loans could be used for sidewalks and walkways that need repair or a complete parking lot installation. The one thing all of these projects have in common is a large price tag. Even communities with healthy reserves should consider the value of financing their capital maintenance projects with a loan instead of draining the reserve fund. It allows the community to remain fiscally strong and complete its capital maintenance projects.

HOALendingXchange was designed with community associations in need of capital maintenance loans in mind. Our community association lenders are experts at working with community association leaders and designing capital maintenance loan programs that are right for them. Every community association loan we arrange is as unique as the community our banks loan to. We make it easy for communities to apply. To learn more and see if your community association qualifies for a capital improvement loan, get in touch with HOALendingXchange today!

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Reserve Studies: Preparing for the Inevitable Maturation of Building Components

https://www.hoalendingxchange.comSome things just get better with age. Wine or cheese, for example, may actually improve as they get older. The same cannot be said for the common elements of a condominium or community association. From the moment the first unit is built, the battle to maintain, protect, and enhance the building components begins. A well thought out Reserve Study is the proper guide to win this war. It can be the difference between success and failure in the struggle to keep the community’s common elements in great shape as it battles the process of maturation of the building components. HOALendingXchange always recommends association’s keep their Reserve Study current and active.

One way to assure that your community association is properly prepared is to hire a Reserve Specialist to review or prepare your community’s Reserve Study. Reserve Specialists have a unique set of skills that combine engineering (typically construction management, architecture, or civil) with financial planning. This allows them to not only summarize a community association’s current state of affairs but to also offer advice on how best to plan and save for future projects. While no Reserve Specialist can guarantee your community’s success by following the Reserve Study guidelines, it is far more likely that your community will thrive under its guidance.

Speak with a qualified Reserve Engineer. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) offers the Reserve Specialist (RS) designation to qualified professionals who have prepared at least 30 Reserve Studies within the past 3 years. They require the RS candidate to hold a bachelor’s degree in construction management, architecture, or engineering (or equivalent experience and education). Some states actually require common interest communities to conduct proper Reserve Studies and to adhere to their guidance in developing common fee schedules and contributions to the Reserve Fund. Finally, designated Reserve Specialists must adhere to the Professional Reserve Specialist Code of Ethics.

Reserve Studies cannot completely predict when building components will fail but they can provide solid financial advice on how those components can be paid for once they fail within a specified timeframe. Just as insurance is there in case Mother Nature deals your community a blow, a Reserve Study will help you prepare for Father Time’s visit. It is not a question as to “if” but rather “when” with regards to repair and replacement of building components in your community association. Without a Reserve Study, your community is relying on luck and gut feel of the Board to make financial decisions that will have a major impact on all members of the association. If your community association doesn’t have a proper Reserve Study, there is no better time to start one than now. And if your community association finds itself in need of an HOA loan to pay for revitalization or replacement of aging common elements, we’ve made it easy to seek the funds for the project. Simply fill out our inquiry form and our HOA loan experts will get busy preparing their very best HOA loan concepts for your consideration.

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Borrowing Is an Option for Home Owners Associations

https://www.hoalendingxchange.comArriving just in time for your aging common interest community is a fairly new option for condominium, cooperative, and timeshare boards – an option sure to smooth those riotous owners’ meetings. It is another arrow in your quiver to solve those nagging maintenance problems that just seem to come out of the woodwork (or are caused by it).

Whoops, we need a special assessment on top of the monthly assessment increase you just approved three months ago! So, who could know that a sinkhole would form in the parking lot?

The option that more and more condominiums are discovering is the bank loan. This option is arriving on the condominium scene all across the country as more and more properties are facing the problems of aging. Many condominiums were built in the mid- to late- 1970s, making them 30+ years old. It is well past time for things to go bad. Or, framing the problem in terms of technology improvements and desires for aesthetic changes, there is a need for upgrades.

Another group of complexes that have a lot of work to do are those built in the mid- ‘80s. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for this group to suffer from poor workmanship or low-quality materials. These weaknesses are now resulting in premature problems.

Typically, condominium associations have been left to their own resources to support the cost of the repairs that are needed. The results have not been particularly favorable. The cost impact of these projects makes residents shudder. Often, the projects compound on top of themselves with the result being maintenance imprudently deferred.

One way out of this dilemma is planning properly for failing components and financing the current project(s) with a loan sought through HOALendingXchange to smooth the impact on unit owners. By utilizing a loan, the cost of the project is spread over several years instead of a few months and most owners will appreciate this approach.

There is a third group of associations that can benefit from financing through HOALendingXchange.  These are complexes that are subject to land leases. These associations can purchase the lease and pay off the obligation long before the lease would ever mature in order to potentially save a large sum of money! Perhaps there is a need to purchase adjacent land as a buffer from undesirable development or to acquire a parcel that has been accessible only by easement. Of course, facility additions like building a clubhouse, pool, tennis court, etc., also make sense to finance.

Now, how do you find a bank that can provide the financing?  Financing for condominium associations is relatively new. Changes in state statutes across the country have made this industry a viable and safe place for bank financing. However, most banks have little experience with this industry. The first chore is to find a financial partner that is comfortable and skilled with financing a condominium association. HOALendingXchange is the logical choice to find financing as matching borrowers and lenders at HOAs, condominiums, cooperatives, timeshares and other common interest communities is our only business. Simply fill out our inquiry form and our HOA loan experts will get busy preparing their very best HOA loan concepts for your consideration.

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New Funding Resource for Timeshare Renovations & Upgrades

https://www.hoalendingxchange.comThe competition for consumer disposable dollars in today’s economy is tough. People of all economic levels are being dramatically affected by declining real estate values along with increasing food and energy costs. The vacation product you are presenting to the market, therefore, needs to have excellent value, making it a cost-effective, satisfying choice for the timeshare owner. Keeping the resort looking fresh and new is of key importance.

With the rapidly increasing costs of construction, a loan for a project that you finance now (versus piece meal over an extended period) could help mitigate those cost increases and will improve the curb appeal now. HOALendingXchange.com works directly with lenders that have loan funds available for refurbishments/upgrades and new facilities (a clubhouse, pool, tennis court, etc.). Often associations want to purchase adjacent land to prevent unwanted development or to acquire a parcel that has been accessible only by easement. We can help.

Non-Real Estate based bank loans for timeshare associations have increased in popularity in recent years, as resorts built in the mid- to late-80s and 90s are starting to age significantly. The concept has been available to the residential community association industry for more than 20 years. The loan only uses the association’s cash flow as the basis for the loan along with an assignment of assessment rights as collateral. Many timeshare associations haven’t accumulated reserves based on a properly done and frequently updated reserve study, so they typically require a special assessment. Given the current economic climate, special assessments are falling ever further out of favor with interval owners. Associations that are subject to land leases or for amenities can also benefit from loan financing with the buyout of the lease. It is a particularly active transaction in Hawaii. These associations can purchase the lease and pay off the obligation long before the lease would ever mature.

Financing for timeshare associations is relatively new and must abide by laws each state sets out in a Common Interest Ownership Act or other industry specific regulations. The first thing that you may wish to do is contact the association’s counsel to determine if there are any legal obstacles. Associations may need to update their declarations if they don’t have a legal capability to borrow or assign their common charge assessments as loan collateral. Each set of declarations includes unique steps that empower the Board to enter into a financing agreement and encumber the assessment rights. It’s important to understand the details of the process and what will be required, so you avoid any surprises or delays in later stages.

Visit HOALendingXchange.com today. Many banks have little experience with financing for timeshare resort associations. Our application process is simple and straightforward. Simply fill out our inquiry form today and start your renovation or upgrade project tomorrow.

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