Fungirl, Home Buyer in Washington, DC

HOA FEES on Codos/Townhomes

Asked by Fungirl, Washington, DC Tue Feb 5, 2013

Good Morning.
Why is the HOA Fee so high here? If I'm not mistaken I believe someone told me it was over $500.00 a month. Is the hoa fee higher on a Condo or Townhome?

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Hi Fungirl,

I applaud you for asking so many questions! All buyers should ask questions like these before going into viewing properties in person with a blindfold on.

As Maureen mentioned, this is a condo, so it doesn't actually have an HOA fee, and the condo fee is only $195/month, but that includes your master insurance policy, water, trash, property management, lawn care, snow removal and reserve funds. Plus this is a brand new condo and the builder is willing to pay for the first year of condo fees, $2340 that does not have to come out of your pocket.

The HOA (Home Owners' Association) is typically lower because it covers a lot fewer things than a condo fee. HOA usually covers snow removal, grounds/landscaping maintenance, street maintenance if it's a private community where the county does not maintain the streets and amenities such as a pool, playground or clubhouse. A condo fee, set by the condo association board and management, tends to be higher because, on top of covering the same items in an HOA, it includes your master insurance policy and reserve funds for the association. These are big benefits because you won't be required to have homeowner insurance on a condo (but you should get very inexpensive HO6 insurance to cover your belongings in a disaster) and the reserve funds, which are to cover items such as roof replacement, repairs and maintenance of boilers and HVAC systems for the whole complex and a maintenance crew who does all this work.

$195 is a pretty cheap condo fee for DC. I typically see upwards of $300-$1200, depending on amenities, and if it includes utilities.

BTW - there is another 2BR condo in this same complex that is listed for $149,900 with the same incentives by the builder.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 5, 2013
While they have an extraordinary number in the listing you saw, the mris shows the monthly condo fee to be $195/month for each of the two units remaining. The builder will pay a year of condo fees as a concession among other options. This fee covers a master insurance policy, water, trash and snow removal, management, and lawn care.

Condos may have higher fees than townhouses because typically the homeowner is responsible for the fire/hazard insurance on a townhouse while it is covered for a group in a condo. Some common utilitities may be covered in a condo while it's the homeowner's responsibility in a townhouse. The more amenities a condo offers - swimming pools are notorious for driving up costs - the higher the price tag. Coops can have outrageous fees but they often include a mortgage and therefore a portion can be tax deductible. in general condo and HOA fees are not tax deductible. There is usually a Board in each building which governs what is included in the fee and lets contacts for services. It pays to pay attention to what the Board is considering and even to run for a place on the Board.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 5, 2013
Hi Fungirl! HOA fees may be high for different reasons such as residents not paying fees forcing the HOA fees to be increased. It is important to attend the meetings to have your opinions heard.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 5, 2013
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