Condo owners/leasers - Can I ask some questions?

Tweak155

Lifer
Sep 23, 2003
11,442
254
126
I've tried to do some research on condos but not sure where to start. Google and yahoo have been my only friends... most sites seems to suggest that Condos are mostly for people that are going from renting apartments into owning property - but not quite a house yet.

I think in the area I'm looking I can grab one for 80-150k depending on how fancy I want to get...but all these sites keep talking about association fees for the upkeep of the grounds.

I'm not against association fees because they make sense - the structure needs to be kept in good order, grass cut, etc... but what I haven't been able to find are suggestions as to what the costs are. Any idea what an estimate might be as to the cost? Is it proportional to the cost of the unit?

Looks like I can get one that is about 1400sqft for about 135k here which doesn't seem like a bad deal...but I'm still looking. Any suggestions? I've only rented (legally) for a total of 9 mo's...prior that I was in a fraternity house with 4 other people and didn't have a contract so I'm still kind of testing the fields at this point.

I have a set amount I want to spend each month including mortgage (if I buy), taxes, fees and utilities and not quite sure how much these fees are going to hit me for.

Anyone willing to post their costs (total cost of condo, monthly mortgage + taxes, assoc fees, length of loan and interest rate)? They have mortgage calculators, but I haven't found one that I can "trust" in...and those don't include assoc fees.

Any help appreciated...thanks.

EDIT:

Found an offer on Craigslist and noticed it was a property manager...told him I wasn't particularly interested in the one posted but asked if he had another one near a particular intersection... He had one AT the intersection for 950/mo (rent) and offered it to me for 900/mo which includes all fees and covers utilities minus electric. The only catch I can think of is it was built in 1978 which seems to me to be a little bit older. Going to check it out Thursday.
 

Demon-Xanth

Lifer
Feb 15, 2000
20,551
2
81
The association fees (aka: HOA fees) will vary from place to place as well as what is included. When I was looking around one halfplex had a $20/mo HOA fee to cover the maintenance of the front yard. That's something I'd happily pay. Another housing area had $200/mo HOA fees, of which I didn't look into because it was out of my price range. The way to figure it out easily would be:

Budgeted monthly payment-HOA fees-taxes=money left for the mortgage.

This isn't including other things such as utilities and your own maintenance. If a place has $100 less HOA fees, then you can put another $100 towards the mortgage. It's as simple as that.

Edit:
Your realtor should be able to get you the HOA fees prior to making an offer.
 

MrChad

Lifer
Aug 22, 2001
13,507
2
81
Originally posted by: Demon-Xanth
The association fees (aka: HOA fees) will vary from place to place as well as what is included. When I was looking around one halfplex had a $20/mo HOA fee to cover the maintenance of the front yard. That's something I'd happily pay. Another housing area had $200/mo HOA fees, of which I didn't look into because it was out of my price range. The way to figure it out easily would be:

Budgeted monthly payment-HOA fees-taxes=money left for the mortgage.

This isn't including other things such as utilities and your own maintenance. If a place has $100 less HOA fees, then you can put another $100 towards the mortgage. It's as simple as that.
Condo fees generally run higher than HOA fees, but they cover more as well. Our HOA fee covers trash / snow removal, access to the pool and maintenance of the common grounds. A condo fee might also cover building maintenance as well (such as the roof of the apartment building).

Condo fees around here are closer to the $200/month range, but the condo prices are higher than what the OP is looking at.
 

amdskip

Lifer
Jan 6, 2001
22,530
8
81
My hoa fee is $113 a month. It includes mowing the front yard, snow removal, water, and trash.
 

Demon-Xanth

Lifer
Feb 15, 2000
20,551
2
81
Originally posted by: MrChad
Condo fees generally run higher than HOA fees, but they cover more as well. Our HOA fee covers trash / snow removal, access to the pool and maintenance of the common grounds. A condo fee might also cover building maintenance as well (such as the roof of the apartment building).

Condo fees around here are closer to the $200/month range, but the condo prices are higher than what the OP is looking at.
$200 sounds about right for what is included. A place that doesn't have snow and a pool will likely be lower. The fees also may or may not include trash+water+sewer. In my apartment's case those were billed separately from the rent. :)
 

troytime

Golden Member
Jan 3, 2006
1,996
1
0
i pay 95/month for condo/hoa fees

that covers mowing front and back lawns, landscaping (trimming trees/shrubs, mulch, etc), snow removal and salting, deck staining, two exterior window washes per year, and any exterior maintainence

a lot of people really hate HOAs, but i really like it.
my HOA aren't nazis, they take care of everything and don't really cause problems.
 

Skiddex

Golden Member
May 17, 2001
1,380
0
76
I am looking at buying a condo/loft in the Kansas City, MO area and am at the point where I will start visiting places. Here is what I have found out that I can add:

1) Figure out if you want to rent or can afford to buy (I met with a financial advisor)
2) Pull your credit, make sure there are no errors and correct if there are (some of my address information was off and my birthday on one report)
3) HOA dues many times are linked in with square footage of the place you buy
4) In some cities, they offer a huge tax break or abatement to new properties in older areas, this can be a huge savings that can be put toward the mortgage.
5) I've been told buyers agents are the way to go...any thoughts?
6) If you buy and can put down the 20%, ask for a home equity line of credit which will let you have some money available at prime which can come in handy in an emergency
 

MrBond

Diamond Member
Feb 5, 2000
9,911
0
76
You haven't lived in apartments very long, so you may not have had to deal with really bad neighbors - keep in mind that with a condo, you're basically living in an apartment style building, except you own it and so do your (potentially) annoying neighbors. You can't really pack up and move after a year if you find out too late that your neighbors are loud/etc. A condo may be built better than an apartment with more sound dampening, but then again, it may not be.

For example, I'm renting this condo from a lady who used to live here until she moved out of town for her job. She told me that every Sunday morning, she'd be awoken by her upstairs neighbor who was running the vacuum cleaner. He did this like clockwork every Sunday. Since I've lived here, I haven't heard his vacuum cleaner, but I hear his grandfather clock chime the hour at least once a night (it must be right over my bedroom). I can hear him doing laundry, I can hear him coughing sometimes. He probably can hear me laughing sometimes (I tend to laugh loudly) and I'm sure the sounds of my guitar drift into his condo in the summer when I play with the windows open. If I owned this place, my only recourse would be to sell and take a pretty big loss (my landlady told me what she paid for this place - other people are trying to sell them for $30k less than that with no luck). There's nothing he can do about the noises I hear short of moving out.

I've always heard it's easier to sell a house than a condo, so keep that in mind as well. That probably isn't the case everywhere, but take a good look at your local market and see if it makes sense for you.
 

compman25

Diamond Member
Jan 12, 2006
3,767
2
81
Our last townhouse the HOA fees were $150 a month. That included phone, cable, internet, garbage, snow removal (driveway included), use of pool, gym, theater room in clubhouse, and all exterior upkeep on townhouse.
 

CasioTech

Diamond Member
Oct 1, 2000
7,157
9
0
I own with a condo with a private mortgage so my interest is much lower. My maintainence and taxes amount to $600 a month. I need to file homestead before it's too late. I haven't done it in 3 years but am doing it this year, hopefully I can still make it in time.

the prices are on the rise again, or at least, will not go lower in my area (miami beach).

These days, banks will not open mortgages to just anyone for little or nothing down. They are becoming smarter. My brother works for the State's Real Estate department as an auditor and you wouldn't believe the amount of mortgage scams that go on.

Basically, they are all in on it, the appraisers, mortgage brokers and now are losing licenses but many have made over 500k doing equity scams and such this past 5 years doing this and that money is untouchable.
 

LS21

Banned
Nov 27, 2007
3,746
1
0
why cant you "trust" mortgage calculator? mortgate rates are not black magic. taxes are a % that you can find out. maintenance ive seen anywhere from 100 to 600 for fancy places.
 

Tweak155

Lifer
Sep 23, 2003
11,442
254
126
Originally posted by: LS21
why cant you "trust" mortgage calculator? mortgate rates are not black magic. taxes are a % that you can find out. maintenance ive seen anywhere from 100 to 600 for fancy places.
Because I put the same numbers in on different calculators and get different results. How do I know which one is right?
 

Pheran

Diamond Member
Apr 26, 2001
5,849
48
91
Originally posted by: Tweak155
I've tried to do some research on condos but not sure where to start. Google and yahoo have been my only friends... most sites seems to suggest that Condos are mostly for people that are going from renting apartments into owning property - but not quite a house yet.
I own a condo, and it is our first house after apartment living. The condo was a much better option for the price range we were looking at - you can get more for your money since it's part of a larger building, so they can make great starter homes. Of course you will have neighbors in the adjoining units, which is a variable. Currently our neighbors on one side are great - we hang out from time to time. There's an obnoxious old lady on the other side, but we basically just ignore each other so she's not a problem. Our buildings are very well built - there are concrete firewalls between each unit which are extremely effective at deadening sound. I would not want to live in a condo where I could hear the neighbors all of the time.

I think in the area I'm looking I can grab one for 80-150k depending on how fancy I want to get...but all these sites keep talking about association fees for the upkeep of the grounds.

I'm not against association fees because they make sense - the structure needs to be kept in good order, grass cut, etc... but what I haven't been able to find are suggestions as to what the costs are. Any idea what an estimate might be as to the cost? Is it proportional to the cost of the unit?
Right, with a condo you only own the interior of the unit; the exterior is maintained by the condo association/property manager. My condo fee is about $185/month, and covers all exterior building maintenance (periodic repainting, roof repair, etc.) and landscaping work/snow removal. The condo fees in our plan vary depending on which unit you own - they are not all exactly the same size and the larger ones have a larger fee (ours is a bit larger than the average but not the largest in the plan).

Anyone willing to post their costs (total cost of condo, monthly mortgage + taxes, assoc fees, length of loan and interest rate)? They have mortgage calculators, but I haven't found one that I can "trust" in...and those don't include assoc fees.
I don't see how this makes any difference - your condo fee is a set amount that has nothing to do with the mortgage. Our mortgage only covers the loan payment and escrow for property taxes - it is paid to the bank. The condo fee is separate and is paid directly to the realty company that manages the condo plan.

Let me know if you have more questions - we've been living in a condo for about 8 years now.
 

AlienCraft

Lifer
Nov 23, 2002
10,539
0
0
Ask to see the minutes and books of the HOA before deciding.
You're looking for actual management of Common Area issues and not feather-bedding.

Also, an HOA that is constantly raising it's fees to pad it's coffers for some "future disaster" is a red flag.
You should also be able to get a police report on calls to the complex and what they were for. Nothing like buying a home near the local dime bag outlet to keep you from really relaxing at night.
Also, it's good to know if the couple down the hall are prone to knock down drag outs every fortnight.
Look to see if there have been any major roof or foundation issues, that may not have been completely addressed.

All these are things I learned from my Condo By The Bay.
 

LS21

Banned
Nov 27, 2007
3,746
1
0
Originally posted by: Tweak155

Because I put the same numbers in on different calculators and get different results. How do I know which one is right?
are you using the same parameters? its a pretty straight forward equation... you could program it into excel and calculate the numbers yourself too
 

CasioTech

Diamond Member
Oct 1, 2000
7,157
9
0
Originally posted by: AlienCraft
Ask to see the minutes and books of the HOA before deciding.
You're looking for actual management of Common Area issues and not feather-bedding.

Also, an HOA that is constantly raising it's fees to pad it's coffers for some "future disaster" is a red flag.
You should also be able to get a police report on calls to the complex and what they were for. Nothing like buying a home near the local dime bag outlet to keep you from really relaxing at night.
Also, it's good to know if the couple down the hall are prone to knock down drag outs every fortnight.
Look to see if there have been any major roof or foundation issues, that may not have been completely addressed.

All these are things I learned from my Condo By The Bay.
associations always raise the maintenance and there isn't anything you can do about it. They often need a 'reserve' in case of something like a flood (esp in south florida)
 

AlienCraft

Lifer
Nov 23, 2002
10,539
0
0
Originally posted by: CasioTech
Originally posted by: AlienCraft
Ask to see the minutes and books of the HOA before deciding.
You're looking for actual management of Common Area issues and not feather-bedding.

Also, an HOA that is constantly raising it's fees to pad it's coffers for some "future disaster" is a red flag.
You should also be able to get a police report on calls to the complex and what they were for. Nothing like buying a home near the local dime bag outlet to keep you from really relaxing at night.
Also, it's good to know if the couple down the hall are prone to knock down drag outs every fortnight.
Look to see if there have been any major roof or foundation issues, that may not have been completely addressed.

All these are things I learned from my Condo By The Bay.
associations always raise the maintenance and there isn't anything you can do about it. They often need a 'reserve' in case of something like a flood (esp in south florida)
Well, when the HOA fees exceed the mortgage, somethings amiss,in my book.
I well understand needing reserve and insurance, and even being self-insured.
What I find interesting is when the HOA has enough to start being a bank.

A couple of other things occured to me as well.

Ask about any grandfathered building in any units. The people who owned the unit above mine used it soley as an office (prohibited inthe CCR's} and they had hardwood floors w/o insulation or subfloor ( you guessed it).Made for an interesting effect when they guy would roll fromone side of the room to the other. I started following him with a broomstick, tapping underneath.
The HOA wouldn't do anything because he was "grandfathered ".
That's whenI decided to unload the place, because they weren't moving.

HOAs are unAmerican.
Fail to pay their fees and they can force a sale of your home.
Fuck that.

Next time I'm buying the dirt.

 

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