For performers, the winning combination for success is singing, dancing, and acting. In condos, it’s location, selling price, and HOA dues.  In every condo purchase, the topic of HOA dues comes up.

For buyers comfortable in the digital age, that topic and resulting self-editing arrive when listings and HOA dues pop onto computer screens. That’s because condo buying adds a cost that’s not factored into single-family home purchasers. For single-family buyers, a monthly nut equals mortgage, utilities, insurance, and taxes. There is no maintenance component – each owner can neglect or maintain as they see fit. In a condo, maintenance is a monthly fee.

Many non-condo people are uncomfortable paying a monthly HOA fee because it typically adds hundreds of dollars to monthly budgets reducing what they can ultimately purchase. Almost everyone has a budget, so it’s an important consideration. Unreasonably high HOA dues crimp the buyer pool even more.

Me? I’m OK with reasonable HOA dues. One check a month and I don’t do a gosh-darn thing outside my front door. I don’t pay separate utilities, cable, internet, window washing, or even regular exterminator spraying – in my case, it’s all rolled into the monthly HOA dues.

But not all condos charge reasonable fees, especially when compared with similar buildings. The results aren’t good.

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When a condo is first built and still controlled by the developer, HOA dues are kept low to not scare off buyers. Once the developer is gone, those payments have to be reassessed to ensure they meet the needs of the ongoing repair and maintenance of the building. (Hint, they’re not.) The Mayfair, neighboring Lee Oak Lawn Park, is 18 years old, and like all buildings, various maintenance requirements need to be met. 

Soon after the Mayfair gained independence, they began conducting reserve studies that detailed the condition  of their infrastructure, its life expectancy, and estimated costs to repair or replace.  As you know, I’m big on HOAs doing reserve studies to avoid surprises that typically equate to a special assessment and/or the sudden failure of a critical element of a building (That noise you heard? Surprise! The A/C will be out for the month of August).

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Oh, I am saving you so much money today with this listing you’ll be able to buy a second home in Miami or Costa Rica. Nice Uptown location here with this great starter condo, perfect for a single gal or guy. Seller is so motivated he is offering a full six months of paid HOA dues ($139 per month) at closing — now that’s an offer! The spacious one bedroom, one bath at 4111 Cole (#32) is 682 square feet and decked out. Get this: Carerra marble countertops, wood floors, stainless steel appliances and even a wood burning fireplace. The kitchen has oodles of counter space and includes a breakfast bar, pantry, and desk for home office needs. The back balcony  has downtown views and great sunsets. The community includes a pool and hot tub with a deck, grill and lounge chairs that make Texas summers survivable. Gated,  secure covered parking, near Cole Park, tennis courts, The Katy Trail and even a dog park. Reduced to $115,000 from $129,900, the last unit in the building for sale and like I said, a little incentive of those HOAs paid up for six months. Call  Jennifer Shindler at Dave Perry-Miller and go for it! I mean,with rates this low you may not see a lick of appreciation but your payment will be secure and this baby will be your’s!

Now here is a very useful trick: this home talks to you! Kind of like having Siri in your house 24/7. Whenever you open or close a main door, it tells you that you have opened or closed a door. No kidding! This can be very useful information if you, say, forget that you have opened or closed a door in the house. I can see it now:

House: “You have just locked yourself out!”

5815 Portsmouth is listed by one of my favorite agents in the whole wide world, Jenny Ling at Virginia Cook. It’s in a gated home community, Cambridge Place, near Campbell Road, far North Dallas — my mom lived up there for years. The area was developed in the early to mid nineties, when this home was built: 1995. You get almost 3,000 square feet, three bedrooms, two and a half baths, two car garage, formals, fireplace, low maintenance yard, some HOA dues which likely cover some lawn care at $225 a month. Ron Natinsky lives up here, somewhere. I’ll be honest: this home is like a Sinatra tribute to cultured marble. God, remember when we loved that stuff, back in the ’60s? And the drapery treatments make me feel like I am in my aunt’s home — bye-bye! What do you expect? It was the home of the founder of Schepps Dairy, Harmon Schepps. Still, great bones, great kitchen (love the bar) and asking just $595,000 for a house that talks to you! Jenny swears it won’t talk back!