It’s my FAVORITE Blog of the year! Howdy Belltown. Let’s talk about your HOA dues 😉
Oh, condo life. It is so easy. No yard to mow, no gutters to clean, and in Belltown, you have the whole world right outside your front door. And everything comes with a cost. And the big cost associated with living in a condo is the HOA dues.
Condo dues vary. In a big way. This year, when we look at the average cost of the HOA dues compared to the square footage of the individual condos, we see dues as low as $0.45 per square foot and as high as $1.07 per square foot. To put that into perspective:
Let’s say you had a lovely 650 square foot one bedroom condo. If you lived at the Matae, where dues are only $0.45 per square foot, your monthly HOA dues would be $292.50. Our Belltown average this year was $0.69 per square foot. If you lived at The Montreux (which has the average of $0.69), that same condo would cost you $448.50 in monthly HOA dues. If you lived at the Grandview, which tops the carts at $1.07 per square foot, your monthly HOA dues would be $695.50.
- Matae (at $0.45) = $292.50 per month/$3,510 per year
- Montruex (at $0.69) = $448.50 per month/$5,382 per year
- Grandview (at $1.07) = $695.50 per month/$11,586 per year
- That is a $403 difference PER MONTH between the highest and the lowest.
- If you look at it annually, that is an extra $8,076 per year difference
How does YOUR condo stack up?
Quite the spread! Let’s also look at the raw data so we can see the changes over the last 6 years. Notice that HOA dues almost always go UP, and almost never go down:
The Belltown average has gone up every year over the last 6 years:
Before we go on to my analysis, if you want to dig into the archives, you can find the previous years Belltown HOA dues blogs here:
Why this is flawed data:
I’m sure one of you is thinking “HEY – I live in the Parc and my dues are $0.76 per square foot, not the $0.66 you have on the graph!”. Let’s talk about how I compile this data each year:
– I take all the sales for the last 8 months (that weeds out any listings that may still have last years HOA dues listed) for each condo community in Belltown and use the condos square footage and the listed monthly HOA dues. From that I calculate the average HOA dues compared to the square footage for each building. Some buildings, like the Escalla, have a very consistent cost per square foot across all the condos that have sold:
Some buildings, like Market Place North, have a huge swing in HOA dues when you compare them on strictly a price per square foot comparison:
We also need to take into account that real estate agents are the ones that add the data, and we are human and can make mistakes. The condos with the least number of annual sales are the ones most likely to have incorrect data since there are less sources to derive a pattern from. Some condos also allocate HOA dues in a less formal way, making units with more desirable features (views, extra parking spaces, large patio) carry more of the burden to of the total HOA dues. That is tough to translate on a price per square foot basis.
HOA dues really matter. For a number of reasons. Not only do them impact your monthly expenses, but they can impact your resale value. Homes at the Grandview sell for a lot less (on a price per square foot basis) than homes in other communities do, and a lot of that has to do with their REALLY high HOA dues.
Really low HOA dues can be a cause for alarm also. If a building is not adequately funded, that can leave the owners of those condos at a high risk for a special assessment. Also, if a building has had a spike in the amount of HOA dues (like Avenue One, that went from $0.62 to $0.78 in one year), that can indicate that building is not financially healthy and they are trying to rapidly build up the reserve amounts in the form of increased HOA dues.
I love condos. I bet you do to! Just know what you are getting into and keep an eye on the data. Always follow the data…