Due to the current financial difficulties many owners are going through, many a client has asked us to manage their community with austerity.
We always consider the financial management of our Communities our upmost priority, as, with the finances in line, weâ€™re able to carry out all the necessary repairs and maintenance that we need to maintain the Communities integrity and the long term value of the properties within.
But this situation is new, it is very hard to achieve austerity in communities, as most of the costs you have are fixed costs and very hard to reduce, however some adjustments are possible. We go through this list of revisions with all the communities that we have on our books on a yearly basis, to make sure that we have the best value for money in each area of maintenance.
- Revision of insurance policy, to make sure it includes items such as water damage and liability insurance for the President and Committee, as well as third party cover.â€¢ Revision of Lift maintenance contracts: renegotiation to include an upgrade in services and to include the emergency phone lines.
- Revision of electricity supplier and improvements such as light sensors and led lights.
- Revision of Gardening, Maintenance and Cleaning contracts, as well as any other contracts in place (security, pest control, garage door maintenance, etc).
- Revision of banking costs.
- Checking the invoices provided to make sure that they correspond with the approved quotes and the works carried out, and to avoid any extras â€˜slippingâ€™ into the costs.
- Revision of any large items in the budget, such as â€˜variousâ€™, â€˜repairsâ€™, etc. To ensure that all expenditure is appropriately identified and allocated.
- However, apart from the above, there are two areas that will need extra energy to make sure they are cost effective:
Personnel: it is very important that the people working onsite are happy with their job and that the community recognize their value. An unhappy worker will cost the Community a lot of money, vs having someone who cares. In this case the â€˜hours workedâ€™ is not as important as the â€˜quality of the work providedâ€™. Someone who cares will save the Community a lot of money both in the short and the long term, as the personnel are the eyes and the ears for the whole community.
- Repairs and maintenance: Survey of the installations and the status of maintenance of the existing equipment, so that any required work can be duly scheduled. Equipment tends to fail when it usage increases. For example, pool pumps tend to break in the summer, when they are used the most, and during July and August it is virtually impossible to find replacement equipment as most factories in Spain close down for the month of August. This is only one example of how an ongoing maintenance schedule can help save money and avoid headaches.
One way to make sure you have the resources for the repairs needed when austerity is needed is to make sure that your community has a refurbishment fund and a reserve fund in place. Ideally the refurbishment fund should cover a full refurbishment (including painting of the whole urbanization, every 6-8 years); and the legal fund should cover 10% of your budget, or more if your community has a high level of debtors.
There are always owners who will not agree with paying extra and leaving the money in the Community account for when it is needed, but it is vital to look at the big picture. If a major repair is needed, such as a drainage problem or a structural issue (and yes, both happen more frequently than you would imagine), if you havenâ€™t got the funds to carry out the repairs, and owners canâ€™t afford the cash call needed to cover the repair, it means that project would be delayed, and delays mean more money that could have been saved if the appropriate long term financial planning is in place.
I know that having reserves and funds is something I have insisted on before, but the complications caused by the lack of long term financial management are very costly, and it makes it so much harder to manage your community without these items taken into account.
Enough said about money, they say that the best things in life are free, so get out there and enjoy some sun and fresh air, and overall, stay healthy!
Chartered Community Administrator Reg. 2447
College of Chartered Community Administrators of Malaga and Melilla
COMUNIMAS â€“ Chartered Community Administrators