Condominium Fee Examples

If you own a condo or are considering buying one, you’ve likely encountered the sometimes mysterious world of “condominium fees.” 

As a condo owner, you’re responsible for paying a regular fee, usually monthly, to cover various expenses related to the upkeep and operation of the building and shared amenities. But what exactly do these fees cover? Why do you have to pay them in addition to your mortgage? And how much should you expect to shell out?

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The same holds true for those on condo association boards – knowing what exactly is covered by these fees is key for managing the finances of the building, and making sure the condominium accepts online payments. It is a must. (Plus, your residents will thank you for the added transparency!)

To get a better idea of what condo fees are – and what they cover – let’s take a look at the different fees that you may find depending on the type of condominium you find yourself in.

 

What Are Condominium Fees?

Condo fees can go by many names – HOA fees, maintenance fees, or common charges.  Generally, condominium fees are regular payments made by condo owners to cover their share of the costs of operating and maintaining the condominium property. 

These fees are set by the condo association or homeowners association (HOA) and are mandatory for all unit owners, and usually, the amount is determined by the size of your unit and the amenities that your building offers.

Condo fees are separate from your mortgage payments. While your mortgage covers your individual unit, condo fees pay for expenses related to the shared spaces and services. Even if you pay off your mortgage, you’ll still be responsible for condo fees for as long as you own the unit.

What's Included In Condo Fees?

What's Included In Condo Fees?

The specifics of what’s covered by condo fees can vary quite a bit between different condominium properties. It really comes down to the specifics of the particular condo, what repairs/maintenance may be needed, and how the association budget has been set up. 

However, there are some general things that condo fees typically cover:

  • Amenities and common areas: This can include things like a gym, pool, rooftop deck, or garden area, as well as shared spaces like hallways, elevators, and lobbies.
  • Maintenance and repairs: Condo fees often cover the cost of maintaining and repairing common areas and amenities. This can include landscaping, snow removal, cleaning services for shared spaces, and any necessary repairs to the building’s structure or systems.
  • Utilities: Depending on how your association is set up, condo fees may also cover certain utilities such as water, sewer, trash removal, and/or electricity for common areas.
  • Insurance: The condo fees typically cover the cost of insurance for the building and common areas. This includes things like fire, flood, and liability insurance.
  • Reserve fund: Condo fees also often include a portion that goes towards a reserve fund. This usually sits and gains interest until necessary for unexpected expenses – typically larger purchases.
  • Management fees: In some cases, condo fees may also cover the cost of hiring a professional management company to handle day-to-day operations and tasks such as collecting fees, enforcing rules, and maintaining records.

It’s important to note that each condominium association may have different policies and fee structures. It’s always a good idea to review your association’s documents and speak with current residents to get an understanding of what your specific condo fees cover.

Examples of Condo Fees

So, what does this look like in practice? Here are a few real-world examples of condominium fees:

Example 1: High-Rise in Downtown Chicago 

Let’s consider a 700-square-foot, 1-bedroom condo in a luxury high-rise in downtown Chicago. The condo fees here are $650 per month. For that, residents get:

  • Heat, air conditioning, water, and sewer
  • Basic cable TV and high-speed internet
  • Maintenance of common areas, including a state-of-the-art fitness center, heated outdoor pool, sundeck, party room, and 24/7 concierge
  • Salaries for property management, maintenance staff, concierge, and security
  • Building insurance and reserve fund contributions

Example 2: Low-Rise in Suburban Dallas 

In a more modest low-rise condo complex in the Dallas suburbs, a 1,200-square-foot 2-bedroom unit has monthly fees of $350. This covers:

  • Water, sewer, and trash collection
  • Exterior maintenance and landscaping
  • Parking lot upkeep and snow removal
  • A small reserve fund for long-term repairs
  • Minimal amenities – just a small gym and outdoor grilling area

 

 

Example 3: Townhouse in Miami 

A 1,500-square-foot townhouse in a gated Miami community has quarterly fees of $900 ($300/month). For that, owners receive:

  • Landscaping and exterior maintenance
  • Security at the gate
  • Access to a community pool, tennis courts, and clubhouse
  • A reserve fund for townhouse exterior repairs/replacements

As you can see, condo fees can range quite a bit depending on the property, location, size, age, and amenities offered. In general, fees are higher for properties with more square footage, more luxurious amenities and services, and in more expensive real estate markets.

Condo Fees vs HOA Fees

You may be wondering about the difference between condo fees and HOA fees, as the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. In reality, they refer to slightly different things.

HOA fees apply in planned communities where owners have detached houses but share some common spaces. These fees go toward maintaining those common elements – things like community pools, parks, gates, roads, etc.

Condo fees are specific to condominium buildings where owners own their individual units but share ownership of and responsibility for the rest of the property. These fees are usually higher than HOA fees because they cover more – the upkeep of the building itself plus more extensive shared amenities within the building.

 

 

How Are Condo Fees Calculated?

Condo fees are determined by the condo association’s board of directors and are based on the anticipated expenses for the year. These expenses are tallied up in an annual budget, which owners can review and provide input on.

The total budget is then divided among all unit owners, usually based on the size or value of their unit. S, owners of larger, more valuable units will typically pay higher fees than those with smaller, less expensive units.

Here’s a simple formula to illustrate:

(Annual Budget / Total Square Footage of All Units) x Your Unit’s Square Footage = Your Monthly Fee

So if the annual budget is $250,000, the condo has 50 units totaling 75,000 square feet, and your unit is 1,500 square feet, your monthly fee would be:

($250,000 / 75,000) x 1,500 = $500 per month

Keep in mind, this is a simplified example. The actual calculation can be more complex, factoring in things like the unit’s value, location, and other variables.

Can You Negotiate Condo Fees?

Can You Negotiate Condo Fees?

Unfortunately, condo fees are not really negotiable. They are set by the condo association and apply equally to all owners. However, if you feel the fees are unreasonably high, you can get involved with the condo board, review the budget, and push for changes.

You can also potentially save on fees by looking for a condo with fewer amenities, in a less expensive area, or in an older building. But ultimately, condo fees are a fact of life for condo owners.

Other Fees Your Condo May Have

In addition to the typical condo fees listed above, your specific condo may have other fees that go into maintaining the building and common areas. These may include special assessments for major repairs or renovations, parking fees, and storage unit fees.

Other fees may include:

  • Move-in/move-out fees: Some condos charge a fee for residents moving in or out of the building to cover any potential damage to common areas during the process.
  • Pet fees: If your condo allows pets, there may be additional fees associated with owning a pet, such as pet registration or monthly pet rent.
  • Utility fees: Depending on your condo’s setup, you may also have to pay for utilities such as water, electricity, and gas separately from your condo fees.
  • Insurance premiums: While your condo association will typically have insurance coverage for the building and common areas, you may still need to purchase separate insurance for your individual unit. This can add an extra expense to your overall costs.

The best way to know what exactly your fees are going toward is to read all of the fine print in your condo association’s bylaws and budget. And don’t forget to get involved – it’s one of the best ways to stay informed about any potential changes or increases in fees (and have a say in how they are spent).

Tips For Condo Association Board Members

Tips For Condo Association Board Members

If you are on the board of directors for your condo association, it’s essential to keep in mind that you have a responsibility to the community and its residents. Here are a few tips to help you fulfill this role successfully:

  1. Be transparent: As a board member, try to always be upfront and honest about any decisions or changes being made within the association. This includes financial matters such as budget allocation and fee increases.
  2. Communicate effectively: Make sure to communicate regularly with other board members and residents, whether through email updates, newsletters, or meetings. This will help ensure everyone is well-informed and able to voice their opinions.
  3. Stay organized: Keep all necessary documents and records easily accessible for reference. This includes bylaws, budgets, meeting minutes, and any contracts or agreements. Using an HOA website or management system is a great way to keep everything organized and accessible.
  1. Listen to residents: As a board member, it is vital to listen to the concerns and suggestions of the community’s residents. They are ultimately the ones living in the association, and their input can help guide decision-making.
  2. Seek professional advice: If there are complex legal or financial matters that need to be addressed, consider seeking advice from professionals such as lawyers or accountants. You want to be safe and follow the proper procedures in managing an HOA.
  3. Act ethically: Always strive to make decisions that are in the best interest of the community as a whole and avoid personal conflicts of interest. Many condos and associations have a bad reputation due to the unethical behavior of board members, so it is vital to act with integrity and transparency.
  4. Be open to feedback: Remember that you are not the only one with a stake in the community, and be open to hearing feedback from other members. Consider holding regular meetings or forums where residents can voice their opinions or concerns.
How Do You Pay Condo Fees?

How Do You Pay Condo Fees?

Most HOAs and condo associations have a set monthly fee that all residents are required to pay. This fee goes towards maintaining common areas, such as landscaping, amenities, and general upkeep of the property.

  • Online payments: Many associations now offer the convenience of paying fees online through their website or a third-party platform. This allows for easy tracking of payments and provides an electronic record for the resident and the association.
  • Mail-in checks: Some residents may prefer traditional methods of payment and can mail in a check to the designated address provided by the association.
  • Automatic withdrawals: With the association’s approval, automatic withdrawals can be set up for those who want a hassle-free payment option. This means the fees will automatically be deducted from the resident’s bank account each month, ensuring timely payments.

In-person payments: Some associations may allow in-person payments at their office or designated location. This allows for face-to-face interactions and provides a physical receipt for the resident.

The Bottom Line

While condo fees can sometimes feel like an extra financial burden, it’s essential to think of them as an investment in the overall maintenance and management of your community. By pooling resources, condo owners can enjoy well-maintained homes and a range of amenities that would be much more expensive (or impossible) to have on their own.

The key is to make sure you understand what your fees cover and that you’re comfortable with the amount before you buy. Review the condo association’s budget, ask questions, and factor the costs into your overall housing budget. When you know exactly how much you’ll be paying and what services you’ll receive in return, you can decide whether condo living is right for you!

 

FAQ

What is the meaning of condominium fees?

Condominium fees, also known as condo fees, HOA fees, maintenance fees, or common charges, are regular payments made by condo owners to cover their share of the costs of operating and maintaining the condominium property’s shared spaces and amenities.

What do most condo fees include?

Most condo fees include contributions to the upkeep and repair of common areas, shared utilities, landscaping, snow removal, amenities, building insurance, staff salaries, and the reserve fund for long-term repairs and replacements.

 

 

What’s the difference between condo fees and HOA fees?

HOA (Homeowners Association) fees apply in planned communities of detached houses with shared common spaces, while condo fees are specific to condominium buildings where owners share responsibility for the property. Condo fees are usually higher, covering the building upkeep and more extensive amenities.

Are condo fees included in the mortgage?

No, condo fees are separate from your mortgage payments. Your mortgage covers your unit, while condo fees pay for expenses related to the shared spaces and services. You’ll pay condo fees for as long as you own the unit, even if your mortgage is paid off.

Do condo fees include property taxes?

No, condo fees generally do not include property taxes. Property taxes are typically paid separately by each unit owner.

Do condo fees include utilities?

It depends on the specific condo. Some condo fees include certain utilities like water, sewer, garbage, and sometimes heat or electricity for common areas. However, utilities for individual units are usually the responsibility of each owner.

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