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The Condo Mania Team

News > Why You Shouldn't Hate an HOA Fee

published on 2023-03-23

Fireside At Norterra Pool

An HOA fee (Homeowner's Association Fee) is a fact of life for most condo and townhome owners. It's an extra cost that comes out of your bank account every month so you will notice it. And the HOA is factored into your monthly housing payment by lenders to determine what price home you can afford. But is an HOA something to be feared when you are buying a condo or townhome, or is it a good thing?

What does an HOA fee cover?

The short answer is that the Homeowner's fee usually pays for the exterior maintenance of all the buildings in your condo community as well as any landscaping and buildings in the common area of the community. Some of those things include:

  • Roof replacement (some townhome HOA don't cover this)
  • Exterior building painting
  • Pool and spa maintenance
  • Landscaping maintenance
  • Fitness facility and clubhouse maintenance
  • Community roads and entry gates
  • Liability insurance
  • Management fees for billing, coordination of repairs and maintenance

Other than the management fees and community road maintenance, all of these items would need to be taken care of whether you own a condo or a single family home. Many people that buy single family homes haven't properly considered the total costs required by a homeowner, whether in DYI maintenance or maintenance you'll have to pay for.

Why are HOA fees so different between condo communities?

If you want the cheapest HOA fee, pick a Phoenix condo community that doesn't have a fancy pool, lots of greenery, a fitness facility and gated access. But if you like all those things, you may have to pay a little extra and just remember that you don't have to pay for an outside gym membership if you have everything a short walk away. For example, in communities like Bella Monte Desert Ridge, residents love the beautiful landscaping and the views are highly prized by condo owners here.

In addition, some condo communities are part of a greater master planned community, where you can share an even larger set of amenities. As an example, the condos and townhomes at Fireside at Norterra have access to a spectacular community center with large fitness center and several pools. But if you don't think you'll be using the fitness center or pools, the $500+ quarterly fee may not be worth it to you.

If high HOA fees are not your thing, then you'll want to avoid highrises. Fees here can be significantly higher because they usually cover front desk personnel and interior elevator and hallway maintenance.

Hate Surprise Costs? Watch Out for This

HOAs should have enough reserves to pay the expected costs, and they perform a study (called a "Reserve Study") every few years to determine what maintenance costs will be required every year. Those costs should be set aside for those purposes. Good HOAs should not signficantly underfund their reserves or the condo owners may be charged a big assessment every once in a while, just like that unwary homeowner who didn't plan for a roof replacement or new pool pump. Assessments can be unavoidable, when things like happen like a big windstorm that knocks down a few big trees, or the pool pump and pool heater go out several years earlier when they were supposed to. But at least you should expect that the HOA has a realistic maintenance plan and the funds ready to use for those maintenance items.

Bottom Line: Buy What you Can Afford and What You will Enjoy

You can spend $500 per month on HOA fees at Toscana at Desert Ridge, where you'll have an activities director, several pools and a guarded gate. Or for an HOA fee of $160 per month, 23 North townhomes with a community pool will keep your budget intact.

We're condo and townhome experts and can help you find a great condo with the right sized HOA fee. Contact us when you're ready to find your next home!

 

Though not guaranteed, information and statistics in this article have been acquired from sources believed to be reliable.

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Information Deemed Reliable But Not Guaranteed. The information being provided is for consumer's personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. This information, including square footage, while not guaranteed, has been acquired from sources believed to be reliable.

Last Updated: 2024-05-21 00:47:34