Feb 10, 2024 - News

High fees: What to know about DMV HOAs

Estimated number of HOAs, condominiums and cooperatives with fees, 2023
Data: Foundation for Community Association Research; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

There are between 1,000 and 2,000 condo and other community associations in D.C., according to the latest estimates from the Foundation for Community Association Research.

  • Maryland has 7,100, and Virginia has 9,100.

Why it matters: Homebuyers looking at condos for their low prices might not realize HOA dues can run into the thousands per month and can change over time.

Between the lines: HOA fees cover maintenance and amenities like pools and gyms, among other things keeping the building running.

Be smart: Buyers should pay close attention to the building's age, condition, location and finances, Clare Trapasso with Realtor.com tells Axios.

  • "If they're buying an older building that doesn't have much in its reserve fund to pay for emergencies, and the building floods frequently or the elevator gives out, then each individual condo owner may see their monthly HOA fees go up," says Trapasso, the company's executive news editor.

What they're saying: "[It's] nothing out of the ordinary but [the] general consensus is always what does this money actually go to?" Old Town resident Larry Otsuka wonders.

  • He pays $1,230 a year in dues. His building doesn't have any amenities, so the dues go toward snow plowing and general upkeep.

The other side: Not everyone hates paying HOA fees. Adam Shubert pays just $235 a year in dues for his Fairfax County neighborhood. They've got tennis and basketball courts and ample green space. There aren't any wild rules either, Shubert tells us.

  • "We're probably kind of boring with very few Best of Next Door moments, but it's a nice place to live and our single-family homes are NoVA affordable," he says.

What's next: If your dues change, the association board should report that in the community newsletter, website, notices, or meetings, according to Thomas M. Skiba, CEO of the Community Associations Institute.

  • Typically condo fees don't go down, unless a special assessment — extra fees charged under unforeseen circumstances — ends or the building gets an influx of cash, Trapasso says.

The intrigue: Higher monthly fees have similarly pushed up the price of renting.

  • Many renters are being hit with charges for valet trash pickup, pest control, move-ins and move-outs, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Go deeper: How much owning a single-family home really costs in the U.S.


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