Keller Williams Greater Seattle, Ben Kakimoto, Seattle Condo Agent

What is a Condo Reserve Study?

keyinsp.gif Farren West is the owner of Key Inspection Services. This is the second article of Farren’s series for SCL. Farren can be contacted at FarrenWest (at)

Once you and your real estate professional have found the right condo to meet your needs, the best location/price/aesthetics/etc you will now begin the process to understanding the distinct difference when buying into a condo and its association compared to purchasing a home.

When one purchases a home the home buyer is buying the home and surrounding land and is responsible for all maintenance and repairs be they minor or major. This is one of the distinct differences when buying into a condo. As the condo buyer not only are you purchasing the condo but also you are buying into an home owners association and all of the maintenance and repairs (minor, major, etc) for the particular association.

couplelookingatfile_sml.jpgIn order for the association to be properly funded for maintenance and repairs an association will hire a company to provide a Reserve Study. These studies generally are completed by a company having architects and professional engineers on staff, which is qualified to do building inspections and estimations on repair/replacement costs for all components related to the said property. These studies can be done every 1-5 years and at a cost of $3,000+ depending on the depth and breadth of the particular study.

The goal of the study is to set a minimum level of annual reserve contributions made by a home owners association. This will help to ensure adequate funds exist for a significant repair/replacement of any component associated with the property. The study breadth and depth of evaluation can vary depending on many factors but as a general rule the goal is to determine the present condition of said component, the remaining useful life, and the replacement costs.

During the next article we will discuss the benefits of a reserve study and begin to learn about building envelope studies.


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There Are 14 Brilliant Comments

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  1. I would like the names of several reserve study professionals in the Seattle Area for a 16 unit 1986
    condo in Kirkland, WA.

    Thank You.

  2. Ben_Kakimoto says:

    Mike – here’s a list from the Community Association Institute:

  3. JoLene Parks says:

    Can you provide a list of reserve study professionals in the Seattle Area. We have a small condo building housing 6 units, simple systems built in the 1980 time frame.
    Thank you

  4. Ben_Kakimoto says:

    JoLene, here’s a list of reserve study specialist from the Washington State chapter of the Community Associations Institute. Click here for list

  5. Jeff Pajor says:

    Are there any special qualifications to be a “reserve study specialist?” How can I be sure that a study meets state and lender requirements?

  6. I am the President of a 12-unit condo complex in Blaine, WA, and would like to obtain the
    names, fone numers of reserve specialists in Bellingham or the closest thereto.


  7. Clara says:

    The best Reserve Study company I have come across was HOA Services Group, they did ours and were very professional and timely. If you need their info let me know, I have their card here somewhere.

  8. Nora says:


    I used them too and everyone was amazed at the attention to detail they have in their reserve studies. They were great about explaining everything so you can understand & they even put in the things that need to be fixed now!!

  9. clara says:

    As we found out, you need to be very careful of reserve study companies who are willing to give you a proposal over the phone without doing a site visit. That is like a doctor making a diagnosis without seeing the patient. We got 4 proposals and HOA services group were the only ones that came to our complex to look. They were not the lowest proposal but were by far the most thorough.

  10. Bruce says:

    Our site has used HOA Services Group in the past and this year had Building Enclosure Design & Inspection Corp do our reserve study. We found that BEDIC’s study was much more in depth and easier to navigate. I would highly recommend using their services to any HOA. HOA Services Group was pleasent to deal with and their product was ok but we will continue to use BEDIC for our community needs.

  11. Carey says:

    Thanks for the links.

    I expect the cost to be prohibitive for our 2 unit Condo in Kirkland. I’ll check it out regardless.

    The problem will be that in this real estate environment, not having one may literally make our units a tough sell.

  12. Jim says:

    I just stumbled across this web site. After reading the above, I think it is inappropriate to compare reserve study providers with general comments. Every reserve study is unique, because every condo association and hoa is unique. I am familiar with most of the reserve providers in the pacific northwest and they all have their own way of doing things. Most important is whether the reserve study realistically speaks to the replacement needs of a community association and provides a realistic, workable funding plan for the association. You should look for a provider who has earned the “RS” (Reserve Specialist) certification from the Community Associations Institute, . The provider should be familiar with construction of condos and how condo associations work, should make site visits, be easy to communicate with and be prompt with the completed study. The reserve study is critical to the preservation and maintenance of common property and the avoidance of a crisis with replacement items and a special assessment.

  13. Carson says:

    I would have to say that the comments posted above (9/24(08) by “Bruce”, concerning HOA Services Group are suspect at best and disingenuous worst. As a senior partner in HOA Services Group I have supervised every reserve study ever performed by our company since its inception, and I did not see one homeowners association listed on the BEDIC website on their list of clients which has ever been a client of HOA Services Group.

    Perhaps “Bruce is simply mistaken and has our company mixed up with someone else or perhaps his comments are not sincere and are deliberately intended to mislead readers for some reason known only to “Bruce”. I would suspect that “Bruce” is either a figment of someone’s imagination or simply a misinformed individual who doesn’t actually know what he is talking about.

  14. Ben Kakimoto says:

    I am closing comments for this thread as there has been numerous negative comments against both BEDIC and HOA Services Group. Keep in mind, IP Addresses are logged and it’s not difficult to determine who’s making the comments.

    For information regarding condo reserve studies, please visit the Community Associations Institute website. For Washington, you can find a list of vendors here: