Jeff’s Carlsbad Blog for First Time Home Buyers

More Thoughts on HOA Fees

Posted in Due Diligence,Financial,Homeownership by Jeff Dowler on February 12, 2009

Ya gotta love ’em if you are buying a condo, since you don’t have a choice.

AND they can sometimes be pretty hefty – so watch the MLS listings (or ask your Buyer Agent) so you are not too surprised. In our area here in Southern California HOA fees in condo associations typically range from perhaps the mid $100s to over $300 per month (and well in the $500s for higher-end complexes). These are not tax deductible so you need to factor these costs into your budget (and the bank doing your pre-approval and your loan will as well).

HOA fees can cover all sorts of things, although buyers often feel they are not getting a lot for the fees they are paying. And in some complexes that does appear to be the case. Usually exterior building maintenance is included, as is grounds maintenance. Perhaps also water and sewer, and the association will have a master insurance plan to cover the building exteriors and common areas. If the HOA is professionally managed the fees for those services are also part of the HOA fees you pay. If there is a pool, a garage, elevators, tennis courts, an electronic gate, and other amenties then you are paying for these as well.

Keep in mind these are not negotiable since they are set by the HOA not the seller. Also know that they will go up over time, and in some cases a special assessment may be needed for repairs if there is not enough money in the budget.

When doing your due diligence as the buyer once an offer is accepted, make sure you examine all the HOA documents including the meeting minutes, the budget and accounting, the rules and regulations, and the by-laws. And be sure to ask any questions so you are satisfied.


If I can provide more information about Carlsbad and surrounding areas, or the housing market in general, or otherwise assist you in your home search, please contact me by phone or text at (760) 840-1360 or email me at

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All content copyright © 2009 Jeff Dowler


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