Control Your Operating Costs Budget Tips for Co-ops, Condos & HOAs

In the context of multifamily communities, there are two kinds of budgets: a capital, or reserve budget, and an operating budget. Capital budgets apply to long-term, big-ticket projects like new roofs or an HVAC overhaul. By contrast, the operating budget covers recurring monthly expenses such as salaries, taxes, utilities, insurance and maintenance items. In creating and managing their operating budget, co-op/condo boards must try to predict expenses, balance cash inflow and outflow, and keep a lid on unnecessary spending.

Know Your Funds

An operating budget, as the rather literal name suggests, is an attempt to forecast the costs associated with the operation of the building for the year. This includes fixed expenses like the mortgage, insurance, and real estate taxes, as well as variable expenses such as heating oil, gas and electricity. “The operating budget should consist of normal expenses for the operation of the building, all inclusive,” says David M. Rosenblum, CPA of  the accounting firm of Rosenblum Mishkin & Company, LLP in Plainview. 

Despite the fancy name and hard numbers underpinning it, a budget is really an estimate. “It’s nothing more than a guess,” says Steven Schneider, managing agent and owner of The Back Office, Inc in Manhattan. “It’s an educated guess, but it’s a guess.” 

Part of it is the revenue streams: maintenance fees mostly, even if there may be other ways for a building to generate income. “Some buildings want to include a flip tax, but it’s a risk,” says Rosenblum. “You can’t count on a flip tax, because you don’t know how many units will sell from year to year.”

A flip tax or transfer fee is money usually paid by the seller that goes back to the co-op each time an apartment is sold. Although some condominiums do have a flip tax, it is not very prevalent because of the laws governing ownership in condos. 

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2 Comments

  • Please advise whether a full-time resident (in-building) superintendent is still required if the building boiler is operating now entirely automatically on #2 oil interruptible with Con Ed gas, regulated by the exterior temperature. The building is 15-stories, union (32B), with 92 small cooperative units, located at 123 East 37th Street, Manhattan, and previously was heated with #6 oil. Thank you for your information.
  • As far as I know as long as the superintendent is on call 24/7 and his number is posted in the lobby you would be Ok