Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Q: I was excited to see that there are a couple of condos on the market.

They are so rare to find on Vashon, so I was happy to take a look at them.  One thing really bothers me though, and that’s the dues.  I’ve never lived anywhere that required me to pay dues and that amount, added to the mortgage and taxes, seems too high.  Maybe I should try to buy a house instead, although I really would rather have a condo that doesn’t require so much care so that I can travel.

A:  Many people do not understand the issue of dues required for a condo.  What you should understand is that you would be paying out these fees every month anyway if you owned a house.  The dues typically cover sewer, water, garbage pick up, parking lot maintenance and landscaping.  It also covers the insurance on the buildings.  The insurance you buy with a condo is relatively cheap because it only must cover the inside of your unit. Generally, that means your personal belongings. There is also usually a reserve set aside, like a savings account, to cover potential repairs.

These expenses will also be required if you own a single-family home. Your insurance, utilities, and maintenance on a home can easily run as high or higher than those collected on a condo.  You must add those fees into your budget, but the condo fee is the same every month so it’s easier to track. As an owner, you will be involved in any changes in that fee structure.

Most of the people I’ve sold condos to wanted to simplify their life.  Now they can travel anytime without worrying about having someone taking care of their home, and the landscaping will continue to be kept up even if they’re not here. Many of these condo associations also watch out for each other so people feel more secure. Before rejecting the idea of a condo, you should do the math. You would probably be putting that much money out every month in a single-family home anyway.

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