Why Are Condo Fees So High

Why Are Condo Fees So High in Bonita Springs?

One of the larger concerns buyers have when purchasing a Bonita Springs Home  or condo is what the true, bottom line cost of ownership is going to be to them.  Since Southwest Florida real estate buyers come from all over the country and world for that matter, a lot of our local terminology may be different from what they're accustomed to.  Buyers almost always ask about real estate taxes, CDD's, homeowner association fees and condominium fees in particular.  Buyers just don't want to get in over their head and purchase a home not knowing all of the data. 

In a perfect world buyers are presented the fees associated with a home or condominium on an addendum to be made part of the contract.  In an imperfect world the seller doesn't know the fees or maybe the seller "has moved on to greener pastures" or the purchase involves third parties that have no knowledge of all the fees.  Some of our seller's are from all over the world, too, and may be unable to provide the fees accurately.

There are a few simple things buyers can do to make sure they get the correct fees and the community they're settling into is economically stable.  Yes, economic stability is a concern in a few deed restricted communities that have seen explosive growth through the "real estate gold rush years" only to have the unit owners become unable to afford to keep the properties or pay their quarterly assessments.

Whether the current owners are slipping into foreclosure or they're in over their head and they're trying to sell their real estate short, there are some communities that could be experiencing delinquent HOA and condominium association fees.  Someone has to make up for the short fall in fees and it's usually the rest of the owners who are paying on time.  Special assessments or fee increases are usually called for to mend the budget deficit.  Buyers will want to find out if either of those will be coming down the pike.

A few things that buyers should also be aware of while they searching for real estate in Bonita Springs are that the fees listed on the internet or the MLS aren't carved in stone.  Until fees are verified with a budget they're not the right fees.  There are probably more than a few properties out there that have been on the market for a year or two, even.  A condo or home on the market that long may have not had their fees updated.  It may also have not had any "special assessment" information added, either.

Here's the deal.  Just before or at the beginning of the year a homeowner association or condo association sets their budget. It is voted on and passed by the owner/members and a written copy is given to their owner/residents right after the New Year.   All current owners, at the time, are mailed a copy of the budget and changes to rules and information for that year.

Typically, the agent that lists the property contacts the management company or officer of the HOA or condo to obtain a current copy.  When purchasing a condominium or home a buyer is presented with:

    • Current budget for the association
    • Frequently asked questions and answers
    • Rules/regulations of the association
    • An application for membership to the association
    • The condominium or HOA documents/articles of incorporation. (provided by seller or seller's listing agent)

Most of the answers a buyer will be looking for are in the documentation and the buyer will have three days to research the budget and documents when buying a resale property.  You may certainly request to review the documents prior to writing a contract for more time to review.

There are some questions and circumstances when you just don't find the answer you're looking for in the required paperwork.  Maybe you want to find out if there are excessive delinquent owners, maybe you want to make sure pets are permitted or you're not sure if your boat trailer can be parked in your driveway.  It is then that you or your Bonita Springs real estate agent should call the management company and speak with whoever is in charge of that community or ask to speak to one of the resident/officers of the association.

Not long ago buyers asked me to get the last two sets of meeting minutes in addition to the other documents.  They wanted to see what the most recent discussions and concerns were brought up at the last association meeting.  Had there been squabbling or talk of needing to charge an assessment they would have had the heads up before the purchase.  They were being thorough and it wasn't known to me until after they reviewed the minutes that they were members of an association up north where there was considerable bickered and argued.  These buyers just didn't want to make a new home in a community of nit pickers who couldn't get along.

Buying real estate doesn't have to be a guessing game where fees are concerned.  If you're armed with the information that you're entitled to, ask the questions you need to ask and you make sure you look at all the data, you'll get what you pay for and not take someone else’s albatross off of their hands.


Real Life in Bonita Springs is a project by Chris Griffith dedicated to writing useful blog posts for consumers about the Bonita Springs, Florida area.  Find out what it is really like to live in Bonita Springs, Florida by reading about our fair city. You’ll get the latest in local real estate information, Bonita Springs real estate market reports and a little bit of humor.  If you have topic ideas, feel free to request a story about the idea, after all, this site is just for you.

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