In Sarasota, FL (and probably everywhere else in the Sunshine State), monthly condominium fees surprise potential buyers because they seem very high in price.
Such fees usually include a lot of services like sewer/water; maintenance of the grounds; care and maintenance of the exterior of the building such as repainting, re-roofing. resurfacing the parking and garage areas, and maybe even small maintenance within you own unit like dripping faucets. But the bulk of the fee goes to the Insurance Industry!
THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY (*## ; ( grrr ##.) Since Katrina and assorted other wind storms that blew around Sarasota, FL (Sarasota HAS NOT experienced a hurricane for over 70 years) the insurance industry has gotten almost free rein to raise premiums.
That coverage pays for costs to rebuild and/or repair damage to the roof and/or the exterior of the building in which your condo is located. It covers damages produced by wind, flood, and debris damage (flying ceramic tiles can be treacherous missiles). Normal coverage handles fire and liability for a slip, fall, or even a drowning. It is all lumped into one fee which owners have to pay.
Adding to the cost for monthly fees may be an association’s desire to collect more than needed in order to have a large reserve to use for new sprinkler systems, new elevators, pool resurfacing, updating of lobbies…and any other item that MIGHT be needed in the not so distant future. In this way, owners are never bothered with assessments (demands for money) to keep their investment current and valueable.
The Watergate in downtown Sarasota, for example, has monthly association fees of over $700. Their reserves are impressive and used well year-after-year. And the Ritz….if you can afford to buy at the Ritz, I guess monthly fees in excess of a thousand dollars are no problem. You want a Cola at 2 a.m? Just call the desk and it’s their pleasure to bring it to your door. There are a few buildings with such Concierge Services and it is paid for, along with all the coverage outlined above, by a monthly association fee.
Aside from association fees, owners pay local and state taxes (figure 1.5% of purchase price unless you buy a foreclosure or short sale).
You will also want to insure your interior which will cover your furnishings…..and the walls from the studs inward. That coverage is usually very low. You aren’t going to furnish it expensively so why bother? Well, let’s imagine that a storm breaks a window….or the comode in the unit above yours breaks and for a few days, without being discovered, flows into your condo. Your sheet rock will absorb that moisture and must be replaced, maybe all the carpeting as well. That’s when you call your insurance company and yes, you will be glad you paid $300 a year for interior coverage. I had a break like that in a tiny pipe behind a comode and it cost in excess of $10,000 in repairs–all paid for by my insurance company!
Therefore, when considering a purchase of a condominium (or villa, townhouse), look to the association documents or ask your real estate agent what the fees cover. Usually it is spelled-out on the sheet the agent will give you for each property you are considering. (I send my buyers a sheet for each property we are going to visit and all these particulars are therein stated.)
WHAT MY COMMUNITY PROVIDES – As an example, consider where I live which is just 5 miles from downtown Sarasota, Lido Key and St. Armands Circle. It is composed of 400 dwellings, and 4 associations all with their own president and fees: The Single Family home section pays $80 a quarter and just the entrance greenery is cared for; the Townhome and Villa section pay $300+ a month for exterior bldg. care, grounds, basic cable and pressure washing the roof every few years, and the Maintenance-Free home section owners pay $188 a month which gets you grounds maintenance and basic cable. Furthermore, ideally each section’s association has put aside enough money in reserves to take care of the roads when they need resurfacing.
In case I’ve got you totally freaked out about fees: You get to look at the financials and full documents of an association after you have an accepted contract to purchase, and have 3 days after receiving same on a resale to back-out of your offer if you don’t like what you see. For a condo newly constructed or with no previous owner, you have 15 days for review of the docs.
ASSOCIATION FEES FOR SINGLE FAMILY HOMES: If you buy a single family home in a DEED RESTRICTED COMMUNITY there will also be fees required….and usually monthly. These may cover only the upkeep and care of public areas….not insurance on your structure….and are therefore probably very low cost.
I’ll do another blog on Deed Restricted vs Non-Deed Restricted purchases later if you want.
Do you have other areas of interest? Ask me a question….and sign up to follow my blog.
CONTACT ME FIRST. And if you are a potential buyer of real estate in Sarasota, FL or surrounding towns…be that a condo, single family home, or a commercial property, contact me before you come so I can send you the best buys. If you are already a client of mine. Tell all your friends ; ) Karen