Finance

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Dollars & Sense

By Jonathan Barnes

Even before the economic meltdown and the media storm swirling around the thievery of money men like Bernie Madoff, financial mismanagement and fraud have been destructive problems for many co-op and condo owners. Read More

Worst-Case Scenarios

By Keith Loria

You always want to feel safe in your home, but as the past few years have proven, you never know when a major calamity or weather disaster is going to strike. While most of New York City proper wasn’t hit as hard by Superstorm Sandy as some other states last year, it did open some eyes in the condo and co-op communities about what could happen to the property if something major was to occur. After all, insurance doesn’t always cover everything. Read More

STAR on the Rise

By Keith Loria

If you own a co-op or a condo, it goes without saying that you want to make sure you get all the tax credits and abatements available to you. One of the most important of those is the New York State School Tax Relief Exemption—more commonly known as STAR which provides a partial real property tax exemption for property owners on their primary residence. Read More

Common Sense Budgeting

By J.M. Wilson

Running a co-op, condo or HOA is a business, and like most businesses, proper budgeting is the key to financial health. Just like businesses, associations usually have two separate yet vitally important budgets. The first budget is the day-to-day budget, also known as the operating budget, which encompasses, exactly as described, the everyday operating costs and expenditures such as salaries, taxes, utilities, insurance and maintenance items. The second budget is the long-term budget, known as the capital budget. This budget is more flexible and is devoted to the association’s long-term financial requirements, such as improving the buildings’ condition, major projects like redecorating or major improvements like a new boiler or elevator upgrade. Read More

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By W.B. King

With natural disasters causing catastrophic property damages becoming more common, associations must be prepared for unexpected expenses, such as a major roof repair, or the installation of a new heating and cooling system. These major capital improvement projects typically come at a great cost, and are rarely popular with residents, who must bear that cost. It's up to association boards to plan ahead and have contingency funds available to cover these types of projectsóbut all too often, that doesn't happen. Read More

A Capital Idea

By Lisa Iannucci

These days, just about everyone is cutting back on spending, either to make ends  meet, saving for something special or a rainy day, paying off debt or funding  their retirement. Consumers are cutting coupons, looking for deals and keeping  a close eye on their dollars. Whenever costs or fees go up and consumers have  to pay more, they invariably get upset.  Read More

Living Social

By Lisa Iannucci

 When you were a child, you probably tuned into the PBS show Mister Rogers  Neighborhood, where a homespun sweater-clad Fred Rogers often sang “Won’t you be my neighbor?” Read More

City Council, Mayor Reach FY 2014 Budget Agreement

By Liam Cusack

 After nearly twelve years in office Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is poised to  leave office on December 31st of this year. One of his last acts as mayor of  immediate and possible long-term impact is adoption of a final budget for the  upcoming 2014 fiscal year. Read More

Follow the Money

By Raanan Geberer

 If you want to find out about the history of a town, region or country, head to  a museum or look it up on the Internet. If you want to find out about your  family’s history, look at your photo album, whether it’s in a book or online. And if you want to find out your medical history, well,  good luck! Read More

Coping With Arrears

By Keith Loria

 The foundation of any properly run condo association or co-op building rests on  residents paying their monthly maintenance fees on time and in full, with no  delays or delinquencies. However, in the wake of the recession, with many  shareholders and owners still on shaky financial ground, some co-ops and condos  are feeling the pinch of late and/or missing maintenance payments. Many owners  are also unable to cover the cost of special assessments to fund much-needed  capital repair and improvement projects. Read More

Watch Your Language

By George Leposky

 While the vast majority of one-time projects and long-term service contracts  involving vendors and service providers and their co-op, condominium or HOA  clients go smoothly and either conclude or continue without incident, a small  percentage of jobs do jump the tracks. Sometimes it’s a contractor’s inability to stay on schedule or stick to an agreed-upon budget that does it;  sometimes it’s the quality of work itself that’s not up to par.   Read More

Rebuilding the Pieces

By Enjolie Esteve

 While natural disasters have impacted the United States for countless decades—from The Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina—these catastrophic events are seemingly occurring with a more severe frequency.  For New York and New Jersey residents, 2012’s Superstorm Sandy was the largest and most damaging event in recent history. Read More

Buyers Checklist

By Vicki Chesler

For most people, buying a home is the biggest investment they will ever make. But in order to make sure it Read More

Balancing the Bottom Line

By Greg Olear

 Not everybody on a co-op or condo's board is an accountant (or can even balance  their own checkbook, for that matter.) No doubt, handling large amounts of money for an entire building is a huge  responsibility. Residents, therefore, rely upon their board to make good  financial decisions on behalf of the entire community in an effort to protect  its individual and collective assets. Read More

Wallet-Friendly Design

By Denton Tarver

 Every time someone enters or leaves a building, they travel through at least one  of the common areas. Multiply that times the number of units in a building and you can get a rough  idea of how much faster these areas may wear out than any individual unit. When you consider that buildings are in competition with each other for  prospective buyers, it becomes evident that these shared spaces will not only  need to be aesthetically pleasing, but will need to be updated and renewed  regularly. But what happens when a building is short on cash for these expenses? Read More

Letting it Slide...

By J.M. Wilson

 It’s the same dilemma that single-family households across the U.S. are facing:  What bills need to be paid immediately and what bills can wait? And should we  stretch ourselves thin, taking more out of our bank accounts to pay for private  schools and that desperately needed vacation? Or should we cut back on  restaurants and renovations to put more into savings? The same goes for co-op  and condo buildings. While it may be tempting to delay payment on some bills,  or delay expenditures on maintenance or needed repairs, in the long run this  may end up costing far more than we ever realized. Read More

By the Book

By Steven Cutler

 Unless you have a degree in accounting, your first board meeting could come as a  bit of a shock. You probably knew board members oversee the finances of the  corporation, but who knew there were so many records to produce and filing  deadlines to meet? Read More

Relief in Tough Times

By Debra A. Estock

 The age-old adage from Benjamin Franklin perhaps says it best: nothing is  certain but death and taxes. Read More

Understanding Operating Costs

By Lisa Iannucci

 In your own household, you have money coming in and money going out. You have  things you want to save up for—say, a new cool high-def, flat screen television or the latest iPad. Yet you owe  your car company and your creditors. To keep it all straight and get a handle  on your spending and what you need to save for, financial experts recommend  creating a budget. Read More

Flush with Cash

By W.B. King

 In December 2008, the National Bureau of Economic Research announced that the  United States was in a recession that had started back in December 2007. The  official announcement was old news for most Americans. Read More

Falling Behind

By Steven Cutler

Wait a second. You say you bought your apartment, but you don’t own it? Huh?” Read More

Mayor's 2013 Budget Plan Unveiled

By Liam Cusack

 Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg recently released the New York City Executive Budget  for the 2013 fiscal year. While the mayor lauded the $68.7 billion plan as a “balanced budget with no tax increases,” the City Council believes the preliminary budget still contains substantial and  unacceptable cuts to services for families and communities. Read More

Understanding Your Finances

By Lisa Iannucci

 For a crystal-clear picture of how a co-op board or condo association is doing,  there are few better lenses than the community's budgets and financial reports.  From an investment perspective, they show the association board, property  managers, the unit owners/shareholders and tenants whether the property is  solvent or not. If the numbers add up and monies coming in and out balance, you  can safely assume everyone is doing their job, and upholding their financial  and fiduciary duty to the community. If the property is in the red, it’s important to determine why that is, and what needs to be done differently to  turn the situation around and restore solvency. Read More

Cash-Strapped?

By Bernadette Marciniak

 Money is a topic some people are skittish about discussing. When you’re a board member or the managing agent of a residential co-op or condo building  however, there’s no benefit to skirting financial realities just because they may be difficult  or contentious—on the contrary, not talking openly and candidly about a building’s financial picture, or the need for a special assessment or fee increase can  have serious consequences for the entire community. Read More

Tax Fight in Queens Continues

By Raanan Geberer

 Many regular readers of The Cooperator doubtless remember the struggle that  ensued in the spring of 2011 when co-op officers and elected officials in  Eastern Queens declared a “tax revolt” against the city for huge increases in assessed valuations. Read More

Home Ownership and Mortgage Woes

By W.B. King

 The leading factor responsible for the Great Recession—fraudulent mortgage lending—remains a thorn in the side of the nation’s fledgling economy. It started with the false promise of home ownership to many  susceptible, under-financed people many of whom were wrongly awarded mortgages  by lenders promising a shot at the American Dream. Interest rates increased  along with employment rates, monthly bills mounted across the nation leading to  default, and then the bottom fell out. Read More

What's in Your Wallet?

By Elisa Drake

 Unless it's a thoughtful gift or a party in their honor, nobody likes surprises.  That's especially true when it comes to sudden, serious, or non-negotiable  repairs to a co-op or condo building. A building community must have enough  money saved to deal with major projects as they arise, or risk major financial  and structural troubles. But economic woes of residents such as unemployment or  default, or living on tight fixed incomes, means more HOAs are finding it  difficult to keep their reserves adequately funded. Read More

Don't Get Soaked

By Debra A. Estock

 It’s no secret these days that co-op and condo operating costs are going through  the roof, so to speak, and boards and managers are all looking for effective  ways to generate cost savings. Building management looks at fuel and energy  usage regularly, but one often-forgotten area is water usage. Doing a cost  analysis is a good way to determine if your metered building is paying its fair  share or is being overcharged by the utility company or a city agency. Read More

Year End Housekeeping

By Raanan Geberer

 Organizing and keeping a co-op or condo’s books and other records is, on the surface, not that different than keeping a  budget for one’s home. Read More

Running the Numbers

By James B. Peterson

 The key to proper financial management of a co-op begins with the presence of a  strategic plan. This plan should include, at a minimum, a projection of  necessary capital improvements; and a forecast of revenue and expenses over a  chosen number of years. The number of years, included in the plan, should be chosen based upon such  guidelines as to the building age, its physical condition as well as  governmental requirements. Just as important is to include “quality of life” improvements for shareholders within the plan, such as an exercise facility and  meeting rooms. Read More

Staying the Course During Delinquencies

By Kenneth M. Arnold

 Following the nationwide mortgage crisis, there is a lot of concern across the  country about communities being faced with the prospect of foreclosure. Many  states have enacted legislation relating to how to handle properties in  arrears, what should happen to delinquent units and even to penalizing owners  that have fallen behind in their payments. Read More

Estate Planning

By Lisa Iannucci

The death of a loved one not only brings grief and sorrow, but an agonizing pile of paperwork to tend to and affairs to get in order. For residents of New York City, it also means figuring out the fate of the deceased's co-op or condo apartment, if it hadn't been figured out beforehand. Read More

Mayor Unveils 2012 New York City Budget

By Liam Cusack

 Earlier this year, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg presented his Fiscal Year (FY)  2012 Executive Budget and an updated four-year financial plan. The mayor  outlined the plan, which costs $64.7 billion and would balance the budget with  a claim, he said, of no tax increases for New Yorkers. However, the budget does  call for the elimination of more than 6,000 teaching positions, and a slew of  other controversial cuts.   Read More

Good Board, Bad Board

By Bernadette Marciniak

 No matter if they're overseeing a towering high-rise or a sprawling suburban  association, co-op and condo boards usually have their fair share of problems  to be solved and emergencies to be defused. Talk to enough people who have  dealt with these situations and they can tell you that it’s no picnic—at times quarrels between neighbors can get ugly, and elected administrators act  selfishly instead of for the greater good. Read More

A Precious Commodity in the Big Apple

By Steven Cutler

 Owners of New York City co-ops or condos with parking garages in or adjacent to  their building are blessed in so many ways. The ability to drive right into  your building without the aggravation of hunting down a parking spot provides a  level of satisfaction only a New Yorker can fully appreciate.   Read More

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