The State of HOA Reserve Funding: Are Associations Nationwide Meeting the 70% Benchmark?

The State of HOA Reserve Funding: Are Associations Nationwide Meeting the 70% Benchmark?

Homeowners associations (HOAs) play a critical role in managing and maintaining the common areas and amenities that enhance the quality of life for residents in communities across the United States. One of the key responsibilities of an HOA board is to ensure the association has adequate reserve funds to cover the future repair and replacement costs of major components, such as roofs, paving, and pools. Achieving a reserve fund that is at least 70% funded is considered a benchmark for financial health, helping to avoid special assessments and ensure that the board members fulfill their fiduciary duty. However, the reality of reserve funding levels nationwide paints a mixed picture.

Understanding the 70% Funded Benchmark

The 70% funding level is derived from a methodology used in reserve studies, which are detailed assessments conducted to determine the amount of money an HOA needs to set aside for future capital expenditures. A community that is 70% funded is considered to be in a strong financial position, reducing the likelihood of unexpected costs falling on homeowners. At this level, the HOA has a significant cushion against future expenses, minimizing the need for sudden special assessments or large increases in regular dues.

National Trends in Reserve Funding

Data from various industry sources, including the Foundation for Community Association Research and reserve study providers, indicate that many HOAs struggle to meet the 70% funding threshold. The reasons for this shortfall are multifaceted:

  1. Lack of Awareness and Education: Many HOA board members are volunteers who may lack formal training in financial management. Without adequate understanding, they might underestimate the importance of a well-funded reserve.
  2. Underfunded Initial Budgets: Some communities are established with initial budgets that do not account for long-term reserve needs, leaving them perpetually playing catch-up.
  3. Prioritization of Immediate Needs: In some associations, pressing short-term maintenance or operational costs overshadow the importance of long-term reserve funding.

Despite these challenges, there is a growing awareness and push towards better reserve management. Recent surveys suggest that about 30-35% of associations are at or above the 70% funded mark. This is a significant improvement from past decades, where reserve funding was often an afterthought.

The Benefits of Reaching 70% Funding

Communities that achieve and maintain a 70% funding level enjoy several advantages:

  • Financial Stability: A well-funded reserve reduces the risk of financial shortfalls and special assessments, providing peace of mind to homeowners.
  • Property Value Protection: Properly maintained common areas and facilities help preserve property values, making the community more attractive to potential buyers.
  • Improved Community Relations: When homeowners are not faced with unexpected financial demands, it fosters a more harmonious community environment.

Moving Forward: Strategies for Improvement

To help more HOAs reach the 70% funded benchmark, several strategies can be employed:

  • Regular Reserve Studies: Conducting comprehensive reserve studies every three to five years ensures that the reserve fund needs are accurately assessed and updated.
  • Board Education: Providing board members with training on financial management and the importance of reserves can lead to better decision-making.
  • Transparent Communication: Keeping homeowners informed about the reserve fund status and the rationale behind funding decisions can garner support for necessary increases in dues.


While many HOAs nationwide are not yet at the 70% funded level, the trend is moving in a positive direction. Through education, diligent financial planning, and a commitment to long-term community health, more associations can achieve this crucial benchmark. The benefits of reaching and maintaining a well-funded reserve cannot be overstated, providing stability and security for the communities we call home.

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