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Regular Contributor
Xindig
Posts: 177
Registered: ‎12-01-2008
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Utilities expenses - Townhouse vs. House - from your experience

Hello all

 

I asked a similar question before, but now I have a specific townhouse in mind

 

This townhouse is almost 1,400 sq ft

HOA is $190

 

I spoke to someone living in one of the other units who says the HOA covers Grounds Maintenance, Trash, Sewer.

On top of that, this person says she's paying approx. $67 / mo. for other utilities (water, gas, they never use the AC cuz it's always cool)

 

So sounds like she's paying about $257 / mo. (HOA + utilies)

 

We are NOT talking about landline phone, cable, internet, so please don't include these in any way

 

Sooo, trying to compare apples to apples, for a home's expenses, would you say FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE as a HOMEowner that you are spending about the same?  less?  more?  for an average use (preferable not "Well we live in the Valley where it's hot, so we blast our AC all summer" because that would not be apples to apples)

 

Thanks for any input

 

Oh, & uh, please stick to the topic instead of deviating from the above "parameters" (e.g. "Well our place had a swimming pool, so..."

Silver Regular Contributor
Fishmarty
Posts: 681
Registered: ‎08-25-2012
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Re: Utilities expenses - Townhouse vs. House - from your experience

I would think it is expensive for the $190 HOA to cover ground maintenance, trash and sewer.

 

I own SFH and trash is $40 at most. In my county property tax includes sewer. I have a large lot (7,000 sf) and I do lawn mowing myself twice a month at most. Water you use to feed sprinklers is ~ another $40 if you don't waste a lot. And at raining season (winter in CA) you don't need to water at all.

 

Other utilities (PG&E and water) charge on amount you use not type of house you own. So I guess they be the same Town house or SFH.

 

Be aware that HOA does not really include only the items you mentioned in your post. If your complex involves a new litigation or some large schedule repairs, they can send your HOA skyrocketing next month you never foresee.

 

Read some books before you buy a T house or condo.

 

http://books.google.com/books?id=TeAUD2TC5j0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=things+needed+to+know+before+bu...

Regular Contributor
Xindig
Posts: 177
Registered: ‎12-01-2008
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Re: Utilities expenses - Townhouse vs. House - from your experience

I understand some of that HOA goes towards a reserve also

And reserves can vary widely from place to place

 

Honestly, I REALLY don't want to live in a townhouse & pay that HOA because it just seems like wasted money, but I may be only able to afford a townhouse given the lack of inventory right now

 

I'm just trying to see if I'm REALLY pissing money away every month if I get a townhouse vs. a house.

I understand houses can have surprise expenses like a burst pipe or you need a new fence

Silver Regular Contributor
Fishmarty
Posts: 681
Registered: ‎08-25-2012
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Re: Utilities expenses - Townhouse vs. House - from your experience

But if you are paying water on a town house, meaning you have your own incoming pipe and your own meter, when pipe bursts you are the one not HOA to pay for it.

 

You should go ahead to read the book I recommend. You may borrow it from your county library.

 

Or you can Google and spend a good hour to find out, don't guess or think, what exactly HOA covers.

Platinum Super Contributor
Nanomug
Posts: 10,352
Registered: ‎05-30-2009
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Re: Utilities expenses - Townhouse vs. House - from your experience

It matters what the HOA pays for.  Do they pay for any insurance or unit maintenence including roof, decks and siding?

 

The last time I looked at a townhome the HOA paid for hazard (structure, not finishings, owners pay for the inside) and liability insurance along with trash, water and sewer.  Owners were responsible for painting their decks every two years.  The HOA paid for the exterior painting and any roof repairs or replacement. Plus the HOA maintained the parking areas, internal roads and maintained the landscaping including mowing and watering. This was just under $200.  No pool or clubhouse. 

 

In a home I pay both portions of the hazard insurance (even tho its not written that way), water (including landscaping), trash, sewer, all maintenance and repairs including painting and roof I save $300 a month for basic maintenance and repairs.  I'm frugal so the hope is always that I'll have enough saved for the new roof and exterior painting coming up in a couple of years.  My utilities are higher because I don't have neighbors sharing a wall.

 

Some townhouse HOAs are a bargain and others spend money like crazy.  Read the financials and determine what the hOA pays for and how healthy the reserves are.  Read the minutes from the previous 12 months board meetings to see the sorts of issues.  Talk the other owners and see what they think.

Gold Regular Contributor
sheriff
Posts: 2,324
Registered: ‎06-01-2012
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Re: Utilities expenses - Townhouse vs. House - from your experience

[ Edited ]

I agree with the other posters about knowing exactly what is covered and what isn't.  Your townhouse dues seem a little low.  One common trick developers use is to start the HOA fees on the low side and a few years after the developer sells all his units  they will have to raise them due to insufficient reserves.  Is it a newer development?  As for your original question, the only difference I have noticed is they are cheaper to heat and cool because you usually have a common wall on each side.

Regular Contributor
DHEAT
Posts: 71
Registered: ‎05-23-2012
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Re: Utilities expenses - Townhouse vs. House - from your experience

[ Edited ]

I wouldn't buy a townhouse unless you like that's style of living. Personally I really disliked it and we sold it and bought a house. Albeit, it's a small house. The extra I may pay in utilizes (maybe $50 a month during the summer months) is made up in my sanity for having my own space. 

 

As a member of an HOA you are part of a community. You better like how that community is organized. So do your research on the HOA - read their minutes, talk to the management company, talk to neighbors, etc.

 

If your decision comes down to only the difference in the prices of the utilities then I would buy the house. 

Regular Contributor
casetronic
Posts: 115
Registered: ‎12-09-2010
0

Re: Utilities expenses - Townhouse vs. House - from your experience


Xindig wrote:

I understand some of that HOA goes towards a reserve also

And reserves can vary widely from place to place

 

Honestly, I REALLY don't want to live in a townhouse & pay that HOA because it just seems like wasted money, but I may be only able to afford a townhouse given the lack of inventory right now

 

I'm just trying to see if I'm REALLY pissing money away every month if I get a townhouse vs. a house.

I understand houses can have surprise expenses like a burst pipe or you need a new fence


But let's say you spend 5 years in your townhouse and there is no unexpected expense, meaning the HOA reserves for fixing roofs ect aren't tapped.  When you sell, you can't recoup those 5 years worth of HOA reserves.  In a house, those 5 years worth of "HOA reserves" are sitting in your bank account, waiting for you to do with it however you wish.

Gold Regular Contributor
sheriff
Posts: 2,324
Registered: ‎06-01-2012
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Re: Utilities expenses - Townhouse vs. House - from your experience


casetronic wrote:

Xindig wrote:

I understand some of that HOA goes towards a reserve also

And reserves can vary widely from place to place

 

Honestly, I REALLY don't want to live in a townhouse & pay that HOA because it just seems like wasted money, but I may be only able to afford a townhouse given the lack of inventory right now

 

I'm just trying to see if I'm REALLY pissing money away every month if I get a townhouse vs. a house.

I understand houses can have surprise expenses like a burst pipe or you need a new fence


But let's say you spend 5 years in your townhouse and there is no unexpected expense, meaning the HOA reserves for fixing roofs ect aren't tapped.  When you sell, you can't recoup those 5 years worth of HOA reserves.  In a house, those 5 years worth of "HOA reserves" are sitting in your bank account, waiting for you to do with it however you wish.


Unless you have a major repair and then you may spend alot more.

Silver Contributor
basschick
Posts: 496
Registered: ‎07-17-2012
0

Re: Utilities expenses - Townhouse vs. House - from your experience

but let's say you spend 5 years in your house.  unless you bought one with new pipes and a new roof, which would probably raise the price of the house some, there's a chance you may have had some high expenses - make it 10 years and that gets a lot more likely, and you can start to add in carpets, flooring or other things that will wear out over time.  not to mention that if you choose an HOA that pays for earthquake insurance and cable, that's money you'd have been out in a house. 

 

heck, my son's HOA pays for residents' water and gas, although i haven't seen many townhouses where that would be the case - most have their own water heater, but not all.

 

most of the people i know who have to worry about costs like this and bought a house did run into some unexpected expenses.  how much is a question of time, but if you go to the home improvement section, you can read about some $10,000 or higher plumbing costs, and let's not forget tenting for termites.

 

it really all sort of depends on a lot of things.

 

btw, there's another thread here on this same topic if you can find it.