If you buy a condo or town home, there is almost always a homeowner’s association (HOA) that charges a monthly fee. What the fee buys you varies, but typical benefits are exterior maintenance, water, trash, and sometimes amenities such as a pool, tennis courts and club house.
The issue with HOA payments is they reduce your buying power, which is the amount of house you acquire for your monthly payment.
How You Lose Buying Power
Most people have a total monthly payment (TMP) they can afford, say $1200. If your HOA fee is $335, it takes $335 from the TMP. This leaves $865 for the rest of the TMP. If your HOA fee is $167, it leaves $1,033 for your TMP. Obviously you can borrow more with $1,033 a month than with $865, so that’s how the HOA fee impacts how much house you can buy.
Impact On Buying Power
What can you buy for $865 per month with a $335 HOA fee?
- A $155,000 condo with 3.5% down and 4.5% interest creates a monthly payment of $840.18 (Principle + Interest + Mortgage Insurance)
- You also need $77.83 for taxes and about $20 for insurance
- $335 HOA fee
- TMP = $1264
What can you buy for $1,033 per month with at $167 HOA fee?
- A $175,000 house with 3.5% down and 4.5% interest creates a monthly payment of $948.55 (PI + MI)
- You need $88.92 for taxes and about $20 for insurance
- $167 HOA fee
- TMT = $1,165.87
As a seller with a high HOA fee, you are competing against properties that are 11% higher priced, most likely with more features, more square footage, perhaps newer, or in better locations. As a buyer, you are bypassing properties that are 11% higher in price.
Another consideration is property appreciation. Since HOAs tend to increase over time, they put a drag on appreciation as they rise.
That being said, when a property is RIGHT for you, then that is your major consideration, not the HOA fee; it becomes something you live with to have the house you want.