Buy Alexandria Real Estate: December 2009

Alexandria Virginia Real Estate Blog

Those Condo Fees are Too High! Compared to What?

Shocked by Condo Fees!People buying condos are often shocked, surprised, deterred, upset, disgusted, confused, aggravated, insulted, scared, cautious, and multiple other adjectives (which cannot be printed on this family-friendly blog) upon hearing about the monthly condo fee payments.

Those Condo Fees are Too High!

To get an idea of average area condo fees, take a look at Alexandria Virginia Average Condo Fees -- 2009 which I wrote earlier this year, comparing the fees at some of the more popular condo complexes in Alexandria, Virginia.

So, yes, the average condo fee for a two bedroom high-rise condominium unit easily exceeds $600.  Yes, that $600 is not deductible from your taxes like your mortgage interest payments are.  The condo fee is an added expense of living in a condominium.

Wouldn't It Be Cheaper to Buy a Townhouse or Single Family Home?

Whoa!  A $600/month payment is equivalent to an extra $105,000 mortgage loan at today's 5.5% interest rates.

These numbers are true and can be astonishing to the otherwise ready-to-buy-a-condo purchaser.  However, there is one more very important factor that must be considered.

Costs to Maintain the Home

The screenshot below is from a website called BrickBits.  It has a nifty tool that allows you to enter your zip code and general information about a home (age, lot size, number of rooms, square footage, etc.) and it will determine an estimate of maintenance and utility costs for that type of home in that location.

For purposes of this example, I entered a 2 level, 3 bedroom, 1800 square foot townhouse in Alexandria and got the following results, which we'll then compare to a condo (and condo fee).

Townhouse Maintenance Costs

Now, let's subtract out a few things to make the comparison legitimate.  Property taxes are present for both the townhouse and condo.  Everyone pays internet, tv, and phone, and needs to have the home professionally cleaned from time to time.

That leaves an annual total of maintenance costs for the hypothetical townhouse at $8293, or $691/month.  Already well above the average condo fees in the area.

Remember most high-rise condo fees include all your utilities, trash removal, building and outdoor maintenance, landscaping, and security services.

In addition, living in a townhouse (or single family home), you'd probably being paying extra for a gym membership ($35-75/month), pool membership for the summer, etc.

While on initial impression, condo fees may seem oppressive, after this analysis, the condo might be looking like a better deal after all, huh?

Condo fees aren't so bad... Help me find a Northern Virginia condo, Brian.

 I can also help you search for and buy a Northern Virginia or D.C. townhouse or single-family home.



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Comment balloon 9 commentsBrian Block • December 30 2009 10:51AM
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