Q: Our last two HOA Board of Directors have been looking for some time at an HOA Loan as an option for a $1M required renovation. I'm trying to get an idea if there is a standard monthly income (assessment) to debt payment ratio (similar to the 28% used for personal mortgages) to give some guidance. Our property management company came up with an initial offer but the ratio was 44% and seemed excessively high to be sustainable for 10 years to us. Can you give me an idea on the usual ratio so we can start looking again?
A: I can tell from your question that your former Condo Association Boards have been approaching banks that have no understanding on how to lend money to a community association. Believe it or not, there are banks that are specialized in providing such HOA loans. You might also want to know that the community association industry has proved to be the safest market for a bank to lend to.
The approach that you reference of a ratio of assessment income to debt payment ratio is not the right approach. Community association loans are looked at on a cash flow basis. The view is what the the impact to the annual budget will be. In essence, how much larger a check will a unit owner will need to write each month.
Let me give you a very rudimentary example. An association has 100 units that are paying $250 per month. They have a break even budget. So, the annual and monthly income is: 300,000 / $25,000.
A $1.0 million HOA loan at 6.25% for 10 years causes a monthly loan payment of $11,228. That means that the monthly amount amount due from each unit owner is $112.28. So, their new annual/budget is: $434,736 /$36,228.
This is a very simple representation. Each community has different needs and structures. The loans are very much tailored to the association.