While helping a couple narrow down the focus of their Reston home search recently, the husband made a statement that he would never own a condominium because the fees were in his opinion "a total rip-off."
As a condo dweller active on my condo's Board of Directors for years, I've heard this sentiment on condo fees many times before. So I decided to take the opportunity to talk about the true cost of ownership.
When you own a townhouse or a single family home you understand that sooner or later you will have replace your water heater, roof, windows, siding, appliances. Hopefully you have a financial plan that allows you to save for the replacement of things as they wear out.
It is a "pay me now or pay me later" situation, but you are going to pay. Most people would prefer to save a little bit each month rather than face a large unplanned expense. Condo management requires this forced savings.
Every year condominiums (in Virginia) are required to confirm that they are reserving enough money to repair, replace and maintain the property. If a condo has not adequately reserved (saved) the money needed to make repairs and has a sudden failure in a common element, it must make a special assessment in order to make whatever repairs are needed to maintain the property.
So, a rip-off? Not if your property is properly maintained. More on that next week.