skip to main content


January 4, 2019


There have been sweeping changes made to the guidance for revenue accounting within ASC Topic 606 by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) as part of a convergence project with the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). Those changes come into effect January 1, 2019 for all non-public companies including homeowners associations, condominiums and cooperatives. Because the revenue recognition standard will eliminate the transaction- and industry-specific revenue recognition guidance included in current GAAP and replace it with a principle-based approach, it is important for management companies to gain an understanding of the standard and how it may impact the entity’s revenue recognition.


Under the new guidance of Topic 606, revenue is recognized when the buyer receives the benefits of the product and/or service. Revenue is being determined based on contracts using a five step process.

Step 1: Identify the Contract

To determine if an agreement is a “contract” under Topic 606, one must answer the following questions:

  • Is the contract approved by both parties?
  • Are the rights of both parties included?
  • Are there payment terms?
  • Does the agreement have commercial substance?
  • Is it probable you will collect for the work performed?

If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” then there may not be a contract under the new revenue guidance. If there is no contract, then revenue should not be recorded.

Step 2: Identify performance obligations

For a service or good to earn revenue, it must be a performance obligation. A performance obligation has utility or value to the customer on its own or with available resources. A performance obligation also is separable from other promises from in the contract. The distinction on whether an item has value and is separable will require a significant amount of judgement. If it is determined a good or service is not separable or has value on its own, it would be linked or bundled with other goods or services until one performance obligation is identified.

For example, an Association’s main performance obligation is to manage common areas for the well-being of the owners which may include general repairs and maintenance, trash services, management fees, legal fees, etc. As such, all these services can be bundled as one performance obligation. Another example is the Association leasing its roof space to antenna companies. This performance obligation is separate from managing common areas and therefore need to be analyzed separately to determine how to recognize such revenue under Topic 606.

Step 3: Determine the transaction price

The transaction price for Associations is usually set through the approved budget. Owners are being charged based on the percentage interest as stated in the governing documents. There is rarely any ambiguity for this step.

Step 4: Allocation of price to performance obligations

A selling price needs to be allocated to all performance obligations. As indicated in Step 2, the main performance obligation for an Association is to manage common areas. The Association levies operating assessments to fund such performance obligations. As such, all of the operating assessments can be allocated to such performance obligation.

Step 5: Recognize revenue over time or at a point in time

Revenue will be recognized over time if the answer to any of the questions below is “yes”:

  • Does the owner receive and consume the benefit provided by the service concurrently?
  • Does the performance create or enhance an asset that the owners control?
  • Does the performance create an asset which cannot be resold to any other party?

If the standards noted above are not met, recognition at a point in time is used.


What if an owner is delinquent and collection for work performed is not probable?

Under the new guidance, revenue can only be recognized if a contract exists. For a contract to exist, collectability must be at least probable. That means, for owners that have been delinquent on a continuous basis, the revenue test fails at Step 1. Therefore, revenue should not be recorded until payments are being received and the account is no longer considered delinquent (cash basis of accounting). However, that would skew with the assessment income as it no longer matches the approved budget. 

To forgo this dilemma, we recommend the Association establish a contra-revenue and contra-receivable account. Operating assessments would continue to be recorded on a monthly basis based on the approved budget. However, the Association would offset the revenue by those owners that are considered not probable to be collectable through contra-revenue and -asset accounts. This provides the advantage that receivables can be traced back to the delinquency report and assessments can be tied back to the budget to assert completeness of revenue. (See Figure 1)
How to recognize reserve assessments?

There are two different thought processes on how to recognize reserve assessments:

  1. Reserve Assessments considered as Revenue - If reserve assessments are considered revenue, then the new guidance of Topic 606 becomes into effect and the 5-step process needs to be completed. The challenge comes up in Step 2 when determining the performance obligations as reserve assessments are collected to fund future major repairs and replacement. Such repairs and replacements do not occur on a continuous basis but are performed when needed. This means that revenue should only be recognized when the performance obligation took place. Reserve assessments collected in excess of the cost for the performance obligation would be considered deferred income and recorded as a liability on the Association’s financial statements. That means all the replacement reserve funds currently shown as equity would be restated as deferred income in the liability section.
  2. Reserve Assessments considered as Capital Contributions - Some accountants argue that reserve assessments should not be considered revenue as those are funds collected from owners and put aside until needed. It functions more like a savings fund rather than a continuous revenue stream. Under this scenario, the new guidance under Topic 606 would not apply. Reserve assessments would continue to be recorded when levied and contributed to replacement reserves. Replacement reserve will continue to be reported as an equity account on the Association’s financial statements.

There is currently no uniform answer on how to treat reserve assessments. However, a task force has been put in place and we hope more guidance is being provided before the end of 2019. In the meantime, we recommend management reviews both options and determines which best suits their understanding of reserve assessments. We also recommend that operating assessments and reserve assessments are being charged and recorded to separate accounts in case reserve assessments are going to be considered revenue and must follow the new revenue standards. It should help facilitate implementing the 5-step process keeping the operating and reserve assessments separate.


To make the switch to Topic 606, there are two approaches, the full retrospective approach and the modified retrospective approach.

Full retrospective adoption – Entities that elect full retrospective adoption will apply the standard to each period presented in the financial statements. This means entities will apply the standard as if it had been in effect since the beginning of all its contracts with customers presented in the financial statements and will recast revenue and expenses for all prior periods presented in the year of adoption. An entity may use one or more of the following practical expedients with full retrospective adoption.

Modified retrospective adoption – Entities that elect the modified retrospective method will apply the new standard to only the most current period presented in the financial statements. In addition, the entity will have to recognize the cumulative effect of applying the standard as an opening balance at the date of initial application.


While preparing to transition, companies should consider creating a transition timeline and plan of action to determine if a full or modified approach will be used. All accounting and finance staff will need to be educated on the standard to provide and understanding of the new revenue accounting guidance. We will be available for questions about the new standard and its impact on financial statement reporting.

For additional information, please contact Stephanie There at 410 423 4833 or or feel free to contact your local UHY Advisors professional.


Please complete this form to hear from one of our seasoned audit professionals


Hide Firm Disclaimer


UHY LLP is a licensed independent CPA firm that performs attest services in an alternative practice structure with UHY Advisors, Inc., and its subsidiary entities. UHY Advisors, Inc.’s subsidiaries, including UHY Consulting, Inc., provide tax and business consulting services through wholly owned subsidiary entities that operate under the name of “UHY Advisors” and “UHY Consulting”. UHY Advisors, Inc., and its subsidiary entities are not licensed CPA firms. UHY LLP, UHY Advisors, Inc. and UHY Consulting are U.S. members of Urbach Hacker Young International Limited, a UK company, and form part of the international UHY network of legally independent accounting and consulting firms. “UHY” is the brand name for the UHY international network. Any services described herein are provided by UHY LLP, UHY Advisors and/or UHY Consulting (as the case may be) and not by UHY or any other member firm of UHY. Neither UHY nor any member of UHY has any liability for services provided by other members.

On this website, (i) the term "our firm", "we" and terms of similar import, denote the alternative practice structure conducted by UHY LLP and UHY Advisors, Inc. and its subsidiary entities, and (ii) the term "UHYI" denotes the UHY international network, in each case as more fully described in the preceding paragraph.