What is a repairs or replacement reserve?

Published Date: January 6, 2023

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A repairs or replacement reserve generally refers to an account funded by property owners to pay for large property expenses. This fund exists to deal with long-term major repairs and unexpected expenses, like emergencies. Replacement reserve funds are usually liquid assets (cash) in a savings account so they can be accessed quickly. 

Understanding repairs and replacement reserves

There’s peace of mind in having an emergency fund baked into your savings plan. The same goes for real estate. It’s hard enough to budget for annual repairs and maintenance, let alone if a hurricane blew the roof off your condo building. That’s where a replacement reserve fund comes in. Repairs and replacement reserves go towards large-scale projects that benefit all property owners. If you own property managed by a homeowner’s association (HOA) or other governing body, you’re likely already paying a monthly maintenance fee. It’s common for a percentage of these monthly dues to go towards a repairs and replacement reserve for the property. These monthly fees can go up if a community or property needs more funds to cover an expense. HOA members vote to make a change like this. Example: Elena and Kath are neighbors in a gated community with an HOA. On a morning walk, they notice that someone damaged the subdivision’s front entrance gate. They report the damage, and the HOA votes to use some of the replacement reserve funds to fix the gate. 


In short, repairs and replacement reserves are:
  • Liquid funds for long-term repairs or property emergencies
  • Used only when authorized by a governing body (like an HOA)
  • Paid by property owners on a monthly basis
  • Subject to changes, depending on the needs of the community

In more detail:

What are long-term repairs? What else are reserve funds used for?

“Long-term repairs” is a catch-all term for planned property improvements. Refinishing siding or updating a roof are two examples of long-term repairs. Property owners know they’ll have to invest in these eventually, and the reserve fund pays for necessary upkeep and improvements. Reserve funds are also used to recoup emergency costs not covered by insurance,  like damage from severe weather. 

What can cause reserve fund fees to go up?

Reserve fund balances differ from property to property. When an HOA doesn’t have enough money to cover the cost of a project — like replacing a roof after storm damage — they’ll raise the funds by upping monthly contributions or adding a special assessment. This requires a vote by association members. Ideally, monthly fees are set high enough to keep a property’s repairs and replacement reserve topped up for any given situation. This keeps the HOA from needing to make special assessments and raise rates. 

How much money is usually in a reserve fund?

It depends on the amount of anticipated repairs and projects planned for the property. Location plays a big factor, too — HOAs on the coast might factor in costs for hurricane or cyclone repairs, for example.Funds are usually kept in an account that can grow interest over time. Repairs and replacement reserves are often savings accounts. 

How are HOA fees and repairs and replacement reserves related?

HOA fees are set by homeowners associations and include expected monthly contributions to repairs and replacement reserves. HOA fees also cover routine maintenance for day-to-day needs like staffing and landscaping. These fees pay for the services needed to keep a community or property looking its best so owners retain the most value in their investment. 

Who decides when a reserve fund gets spent?

Repairs and replacement reserves are only used for very specific situations. The fund is off limits unless property managers (like an HOA) give the go-ahead to release money to fix something. HOA authority comes down to a board member vote. 

Does Pacaso use a repairs and replacement reserve?

One of the benefits of Pacaso’s fully managed LLC co-ownership is the shared reserve fund held by the LLC’s bank account. Reserve funds are only used for home repairs and maintenance. Should your home need a major repair, Pacaso will allocate funds.Home operating costs like property management, maintenance, taxes and repairs flow directly to owners with no markup. Any routine maintenance (like replacing a broken appliance) will be taken care of without an ownership vote to keep your home in owner-ready condition.Owners may vote to use reserve funds to replace life-limited items like washers, dryers and roofs. They may also request a vote to use funds to add, replace or upgrade items around the house (installing a sound system, for example). Reserve funds are just one of the benefits of Pacaso co-ownership — learn more about becoming an owner here!

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Kayla Moses

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