Condo Fees – Love Them or Hate Them?

It’s a catch-22 for a lot of condo buyers… They love the idea of having a home or second home that doesn’t require any maintenance, has great amenities, and is well kept. The problem is, most folks aren’t too fond of paying monthly dues. I can’t say I blame you, but to me, it’s a matter of value. What do you get for the monthly dues that you’re paying? Here’s a list of what most monthly condo dues cover:

  • Hazard insurance on the building. Yes, this is where some good value comes in. While you probably still need a policy that covers the contents of your condo, (a very affordable policy similar to renter’s insurance) this hazard insurance is maintained by the condo association and is included in your dues.
  • Exterior maintenance of the property. There’s no painting, power washing, or gutter cleaning for owners of a condo… The association’s dues cover the exterior maintenance of the building. When the siding on a home needs to be replaced, it can be a costly event, but the association’s budget should have reserves for this type of deferred maintenance. Your dues over time have helped to build up that budget.
  • Lawncare and landscaping. A lot of condo buyers are looking for a maintenance-free lifestyle, and this is a big part of it. The association is responsible for mowing the lawn and maintaining the grounds.
  • Amenities. Enjoy swimming pools, tennis courts, and golf courses? Many condo developments incorporate these features, but someone has to pay for them!
  • Miscellaneous. Street/parking lot maintenance, trash removal, and other minor services are also often included in the association dues.

Sounds peachy, huh? Just pay your dues and have everything taken care of! Well, it’s not always that peachy… Here are a few pitfalls that every condo buyer should watch out for.

  • Poor management. As a condo owner, it’s your association, so every condo owner should be keenly aware of how finances are being managed. A good buyer’s agent will be sure that you have an opportunity to review the financial statements of the association before getting locked into a purchase. It’s also a good idea to stay involved in the board of directors in order to be sure that your investment is protected.
  • Shared elements, shared headaches. If the building next to yours has a foundation problem, the entire association is responsible for picking up the tab for repairs. This can be a blessing and a curse, of course, depending on whether or not its your building that has the problem that needs to be fixed.

It’s really a question of value. What’s it worth to you to have certain benefits and amenities? What are the dues for the condo that you’re looking at? Balance the two and you have your answer.

Consider these examples:

Condos at Cozy Cove in Branson

Condos at Cozy Cove in Branson

Cozy Cove is a very well maintained residential condo development in Branson. Lots of full time residents call Cozy Cove home. Because of careful management and a good association, the dues at Cozy Cove have remained among the lowest of Branson condo communities. A 2 bedroom 2 bath unit with about 1300 square feet will have monthly dues that run right about $100, totaling $1,200/year. Included in the amenities at Cozy Cove are a gated entry, swimming pool, and a lakefront park along the shores of Lake Taneycomo.

Pointe Royale Branson Real Estate

Pointe Royale Clubhouse

Among the most expensive dues is Pointe Royale, a beautiful golf community with an abundance of amenities. There are two layers of dues to pay – $2,300/year for home owner’s association dues plus condo fees that are about $140/mo for a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo. That comes to $332/month, or nearly $4,000/year in dues. This community has an elaborate club house, multiple pools, a golf course (although green fees are not included in the dues you pay), tennis courts, etc. It just comes down to whether you consider those amenities a good value for the price.

Now that you’ve seen both extremes, let’s do a little math. If you’re on the fence on condo fees, this should help you decide if it’s worth it to you.

Lawn Care: $400 – Landscaping: $500 – Trash Removal: $180 – Hazard Insurance: $1,000 – Exterior Maintenance: $500

This very rough estimate of some basic costs of home ownership total $2,580/year. Suddenly $100 or even $200/month doesn’t sound so bad, especially when that comes with amenities like swimming pools.

 

Questions about condo fees? Wonder what the dues are like for a particular community you’re interested in? Just ask! You can call me directly at 866-264-2803 ext 703. Of course, you can always comment below!

 

Comments

  1. Susan Smith says:

    Wondering if you have any knowledge of Schooner Bay Landing condos and patio homes in Kimberling City? I have a client there and it seems like a very nice, clean, quiet, attractive area.

    I have seen one condo for sale, and haven’t looked too hard for others. If we wanted to talk to you in person, what would be a good time for you?

    Thanks, Susan

  2. Hey Susan. I would be glad to visit with you any time… I’ll shoot you an email.

    I can already tell you, knowing someone that lives in a condo community gives you the best inside track on the condition of the HOA.

  3. I am a owner at Scooner Bay Landing… I am not happy with the Manger or the board.Take time to talk to some of the owners,nock on some doors…
    Condo fees here are around $700.00 a quarter. $2800.00 a year. Paul

  4. That’s great advice, Paul. Often neighbors are one of the best sources of information for a potential buyer. As an owner in an association, sometimes we have to step up and get involved as a leader in order to set the HOA/COA on the right course. Good luck to you!

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