CO-OP MAINTENANCE FEES
There are not many co-ops in the Washington DC area, although some of the older buildings like the Westchester and the Broadmoor are co-ops, and the Watergate buildings all are co-ops. The most recent co-op to be built in DC is the Capitol Hill Tower, a nine year old high rise just south of Capitol Hill. One of my favorite buildings in the Chastleton which recently converted to co-ops from a rental apartment building.
A major distinguishing factor of co-op living is the maintenance fee. Shareholders are required to pay a monthly maintenance fee to cover communal expenses such as property taxes, payments on the underlying mortgage, repairs, and maintenance. The maintenance fee ranges from negligible to substantial, so it’s important to understand the difference between a condo fee and a co-op fee. Once you understand the difference in principal, it may make the concept of a co-op less foreign. You may have just opened up a whole new part of the city to explore when you put co-ops back into your search.
It is important to remember that co-op fees and condo fees are not the same. Many people balk at the maintenance or co-op fees which typically are higher than similarly sized condos. You have to look at what is included in those fees. For instance, if you focus just on the amount of the maintenance fee (which covers utilities and amenities and repairs) by subtracting the taxes, underlying mortgage payment, and property insurance from the co-op fee total, you may discover that the co-op fee is comparable to a condo building with similar services. A good listing agent will lay this out as part of the marketing package. If not, your buyer's agent should be able to research it for you.
In addition, if the co-op fee includes all the utilities (gas and electric in addition to water) then you wll realize that the co-op fee is actually even less than you had previously thought. Some co-ops include water and sewer, gas, electric, heat, and internet service in their fees. At the end of each year, you will get a statement from the co-op detailing how much you paid in property taxes and underlying mortgage so that you can declare that on your tax return.
If you would like more information about co-ops in DC or you have one to sell, please give the Lise Howe Group a call at 240-401-5577 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't you want to work with a realtor who understands the intricacies of cooperatives? Some of my favorite buildings in all of DC are co-ops so it would be a shame to eliminate them at the start. The additional good news is that coops are frequently larger than their comparably priced condos -- because of the confusion about what the value of the coop fee is. That coop may actually be a good deal! So.... give us a call and get our list of favorite coops currently on the market - the ones that represent the REALLY good value!
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