Buy Alexandria Real Estate: Those Condo Fees are Too High! Compared to What?

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


If the condo is in Addison, Texas, you can forget about the gym membership fees.  There is a ONE TIME (not once a month, not once a year) fee of $10 for as long as you live in Addison!

Posted by Lorrie Semler, REALTOR® in the Dallas area. Call/text 972-416-3417, Real Service. Real Results. Real Estate (United Real Estate) about 8 years ago

Now that's a good deal, Lorrie!

Posted by Brian Block, Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President) about 8 years ago

Great article, Brian.  People do not realize all of the costs involved with home ownership.  My buyer clients get all upset with condo fees at $300 per month.  I point out to them that in that fee, everything is taken care of and you don't have to hire different people for landscaping, pool maintainence, etc. 

It is up to us, the Realtors, to keep educating our clients.  Make it a great day!!!


Posted by Harold Watts, Palm Springs Real Estate Blog (Teles Properties) about 8 years ago


This is an excellent comparison! I'm going to borrow your idea to a handout for my condo packages....very thorough and creative!


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 8 years ago

Oddly, I've never put the condo payment vs. how much more mortgage a person could qualify for if they didn't have a monthly maintenance fee. Interesting.  Both of my kids are in the process of purchasing  modest homes that are not in hoa's.

Posted by Chris Griffith, Bonita Springs Listing Agent (Downing-Frye Realty, Bonita Springs, FL) about 8 years ago

Brian the last time I did one of these estimates we figured for most folks looking to downsize that the condo was cheaper and the ability to lock and go was even better.  Thanks for the reminder about this tool.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 8 years ago

Brian - a great analysis.  Lenders look hard at condo/association fees too when "pre-qualifying".  This is food for thought for any buyer.

Posted by Christine Bohn, The Bohn Team, Gainesville FL (RE/MAX Professionals) about 8 years ago

thanks for the link, I will check it out, I always like when I get something new out of a post. Way to add value.

Posted by Ross Quintana, Real E Smarter Real Estate Coach - 509-362-1966 (Real E Smarter) about 8 years ago

I hear this complaint all the time!!! And I always want to ask 'compared to what?' - perfect post!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) about 8 years ago