Reply
Regular Contributor
LoveRedfin
Posts: 134
Registered: ‎07-24-2009
0

HOA fees, Montgomery County

I live in a small TH community with NO amenities - no pool, no tennis court, no security, nada. The HOA fees vary according to the square footage of the unit. Our unit is 2250 sf and the monthly fee is $425. Looking at other townhouse condos, this seems a bit on the high side. For instance, the very high-end Goldleaf townhouses off Goldsboro are $200/month. I just saw a high-end TH in Barnaby Woods (in DC, across the street from Rock Creek Park) with monthly fees of $158. 

 

Now, our HOA fees include the water, so perhaps that accounts for some of the difference, but still, it seems quite high. 

 

I am not having any luck finding out what the average HOA fee is for MoCo  so would appreciate input from other Redfin members.

Redfin Senior Agent
philip-gvinter
Posts: 553
Registered: ‎05-18-2010
0

Re: HOA fees, Montgomery County

Is your townhouses deeded condo or fee simple? If it is deeded condo than the fee still feels a little high for not including any utilities besides water but is less outrageous because those fees tend to be somewhere in the $200 to $350 a month range.

 

If the townhoses is not a condo than the fee is WAY too high as the normal fees range between $79 and $110 a month for communities without a pool and or other amenities. Let me know if you want contact info for a property manager I know who could meet with your association board and discuss other options with them.

Philip Gvinter | Redfin | Listings DC Team Lead
See all my deals and reviews
Regular Contributor
LoveRedfin
Posts: 134
Registered: ‎07-24-2009
0

HOA fees, Montgomery County

It is a condo. 

 

I have been searching for similar units and found the following: 

 

High-end TH off Goldsboro for sale. Like our units, they have no amenities. The fee is $200/month.

http://www.redfin.com/MD/Bethesda/6423-Goldleaf-Dr-20817/home/10691795

A high-end unit in Barnaby Woods, which is just off Western Ave, across the street from Rock Creek park, $158/month:

http://www.redfin.com/DC/Washington/2741-Unicorn-Ln-NW-20015/home/9995201

Rising Ridge, $140/month:
http://www.redfin.com/MD/Bethesda/8312-Rising-Ridge-Way-20817/home/10916434

River Quarry, $275
http://www.redfin.com/MD/Bethesda/8216-River-Quarry-Pl-20817/home/44495166

Whitley Park, $363
http://www.redfin.com/MD/Bethesda/9704-Whitley-Park-Pl-20814/unit-TH-21/home/28430727

Our HOA  is $425. Three bdr, plain-vanilla townhouse. 

It is possible that these lower HOA fees do not include the water bill, but that shouldn't be a difference of $200/month or more! Only Westbard at $450 seems comparable:

http://www.redfin.com/MD/Bethesda/5111-Westbard-Ave-20816/home/40528642

although another 3 bdr unit at Westbard had fees of $250:
http://www.redfin.com/MD/Bethesda/5221-Crown-St-20816/unit-15/home/10696682

Regular Contributor
LoveRedfin
Posts: 134
Registered: ‎07-24-2009
0

HOA fees, Montgomery County

[ Edited ]

Just curious - why would the fee be higher if it is deeded fee simple rather than condo? Other than the condo insurance, wouldn't the other costs - things like maintenance, landscaping, and so on - be basically the same?

 

We have a property management company  - Allied Realty. They seem to be very good. It may be that the board simply doesn't have any common sense and doesn't listen to them. At the moment, our reserve fund is 100k/33% below the level recommended in a professional reserve study done in 2005. They had another reserve study done in 2010 that recommended that the reserve be another $25,000 higher than recommended by the earlier study. They decided to "disavow" that second study as "overinflated" even though they had no evidence that the estimates were too high. In fact, one estimate - for replacement of utility closet doors - was $9,000 and the actual cost was $40,000! The single biggest item - the roofs - would alone wipe out the current reserve fund. We have no contingency fund. They are contributing to the reserve at the rate of about 40k/year which surely explains the high monthly assessments, but does that mean that all those other condos have insufficient reserves or insufficient annual contributions? 

 

 

Redfin Senior Agent
philip-gvinter
Posts: 553
Registered: ‎05-18-2010
0

Re: HOA fees, Montgomery County

If the townhouses are deeded fee simple than the HOA for the community does not maintain anything other than the common elements which would be the landscaping, playgrouds, etc which is why fee simple communities have much lower fees.

 

Every condominium community is slightly different in what they deem as owners' responsibility vs. items that are maintained by the community. The typical discrepancies are windows and with condo townhouse communities roofs and siding. The more the community maintains the higher the fees and vice versa. If your community takes care of the roofs, windows and other exterior elements than naturally the fees will be a bit higher.

Philip Gvinter | Redfin | Listings DC Team Lead
See all my deals and reviews
Regular Contributor
LoveRedfin
Posts: 134
Registered: ‎07-24-2009
0

HOA fees, Montgomery County

[ Edited ]

Thank you. That is good to know. I will need to find out if the other TH communities are fee simple or condo to be able to determine if our fees are out of line (i.e., comparing apples to apples). 

 

Our condo fees cover common elements, roofs, outside trim (doors, shutters), and the water bill, plus insurance and the management fee and electric bill for the outdoor lighting, as well as snow removal and landscaping. 

 

 

ETA: I just looked them all up. All, including ours (I was wrong when I said ours was condo) are FEE SIMPLE except Whitley Park, which is condo but still has a lower fee (about $57/month) than ours!

 

 

Contributor
TreArchitect
Posts: 22
Registered: ‎06-07-2012
0

Re: HOA fees, Montgomery County

I've never heard of water being included in condo fees for a townhouse, but anywho, perhaps your community has a high number of deliquencies and in order to make up the difference, the fees have been raised?  That's usually what happens in multi-unit condo buildings that have inclusive utilities.  I actually live in a single family house and am paying $80 a month for HOA dues in Clinton, but it covers our pool and tennis courts.  

Regular Contributor
LoveRedfin
Posts: 134
Registered: ‎07-24-2009
0

Re: HOA fees, Montgomery County

The water IS included, much to my chagrin. I would very much like to see submeters installed so I don't have to pay for my neighbors' profligate waste of water. When people don't see the actual costs of their usage, they are less likely to be careful.

 

We have NO delinquencies so there is nothing to make up in that sense. What we do have is a Board that loves to spend other peoples' money for non-essentials like surveying one of the property lines - TWICE - because they wanted actual boundary markers and the first markers were not visible if the grass was not kept extremely short. Or installing $4500 dollars worth of signs - - 3 signs for a tiny (34-unit) community so the first responders can find us. Aside from the fact that we are directly across the street from a defense facility and we are on the same road as the fire station, and aside from the fact that the first responders have never actually had any trouble finding us, and aside from the fact that first responders all have google maps in their vehicles, as does dispatch...this is seriously irresponsible on their part because our reserve fund is 33% below recommended levels and we have one major repair that will wipe out the reserve or nearly so. Wait until someone tries to sell and the buyer can't get an FHA mortgage...

 

I have been investigating condo assessments/square foot by looking at Redfin listings for condos and there is only one other condo in the Bethesda area that is as high as ours. 

 

The condo law in Maryland is very loose - they need only exercise "business judgment" and proving that they are not meeting their standard of care is really tough. This is a situation where more regulation is needed. I have proposed that they consider looking at condo "best practices" or adopting a set of guidelines for use of the reserve fund but they have just ignored me. I also suggested that they establish a contingency fund for the kinds of things that cause budget deficits, such as huge snow removal costs, and they ignored me. Now their attorney has told them the same thing.

 

They actually "disavowed" the most recent reserve study because in their totally uninformed opinion, it was too high. Now since then, one of the repairs actually cost 4x more than the reserve study estimated, but even that did not wake them up. They claimed that the estimate for roofing was too high, but in the two years since then, they haven't bothered to get an estimate.

 

They are the old guard and anyone new is treated like dirt. They disparage unit owners openly and have even lied to me about my next-door neighbor. They think they own the place, including the common areas. They are basically the only ones willing to be on the board because no one wants to deal with them. One of the former board members told me that two board members actually refused to attend board meetings because dealing with this group was so unpleasant; one of them would actually turn off all his lights and pretend he wasn't home because they would otherwise pound on his door and insist he come to the meeting. 

 

Sorry to vent. 

Redfin Senior Agent
philip-gvinter
Posts: 553
Registered: ‎05-18-2010
0

Re: HOA fees, Montgomery County

Wow that is a very unfortuante situation where the board described seems to be extremely incompetent. Is there any chance in getting enough people to run for the board to replace the current members in their entirety and put a functional board in place?

 

The one bright side is that water is cheap enough where wasteful use in a condo can only increase the bill by dozens of dollars per quarter, it still stinks to pay for other peoples' wasteful habits but at least water is much cheaper than gas or electricity.

Philip Gvinter | Redfin | Listings DC Team Lead
See all my deals and reviews
Regular Contributor
LoveRedfin
Posts: 134
Registered: ‎07-24-2009
0

HOA fees, Montgomery County

No one wants to be on the board. It is a thankless task. That's why condo boards are comprised of the least unwilling, not the most competent or knowledgeable. And they do tend to attract people who like to push others around. 

 

Yes, I had heard the horror stories about condo boards before we bought but you buy what you can afford. We needed to be in a certain geographical area and there are no single family homes around here in our price range. Not even close.