Condos

Why are Condo Fees So High in Hawaii?

“Condo fees these days seem ridiculously high,” a client said to me the other day. We were looking at condos on the Big Island at both Waikoloa Beach Resort and at the Mauna Lani Beach Resort.

Condo fees up, up and away

Condo Fee Sticker Shock

Condo fees at the complexes, in general, have a range between $800 and $1300… can that be right? Can that be justified? Let’s take this condo I am selling for example at Mauna Lani Fairways at the Mauna Lani Beach Resort.

The condo fees are $1245 a month. As my buyer client said to me “That is a lot of money for nothing!” And that is why I had to write this blog about condo fees. They cover much more than nothing. Let’s take a look…

Condo living at Mauna Lani Fairways (MLS 622612)

What Condo Fees Cover

  • Primarily, the fees cover insurance for hazard damage from flood, fire, hurricane, etc.
  • Next, they cover the fees to maintain the landscaping, the pool, the driveways, the gate, the gym, etc.
  • And they cover things like replacing the roof, painting the outside of the building
  • And we are not done yet as they cover the trash, the water bill, the pest control
  • And you get a little bit more with basic cable and high-speed internet.

So what does that all add up to??

Condo Fees Really Add Up

If you had your own home, here is a sample of what those costs could look like:

  • Insurance – based on my own flood, fire, and hazard – about $200 a month
  • Pool Maintenance – $100 a week if used regularly, and $2o0 a month if the pool is not used much.
  • Yard Service – if you have a yard with plants and a lawn – it is about $100 a week – let’s pretend that you mow the lawn and do most of your yard work – you still need someone to come – let’s call it half at $200 a month
  • Gym Maintenance – well, let’s just call it gym membership – $30 a month seem fair?
  • Road and Gate Maintenance – well – your house would have a driveway – so let’s pretend you never have to repair it.  And if you have a gate to your house, let’s pretend you only maintain it once a year for a checkup. Let’s call that service call for your gate $360 or about $30 a month.  Seem reasonable?
  • Roof Repair – I know you might say your roof is fine, but a roof can be about $20. You’ll have to fix it and either that is a one time cost or you are setting aside $100 a month for those 15 to 20 years.
  • Savings for Unexpected Repairs – $100 a month
  • Trash Service – $50 a month
  • Pest Control – $50 a month
  • Basic Cable – $50 a month
  • Internet – $50 a month
  • Water – $100 for your home and another $100 for your pool (at least)

Managing all of those vendors, well, I’m not putting a cost on it, but at the condo, someone is doing all of that management for you. Let’s just call that cost a freebie for now…

So let’s see how this all added up (with barely using your pool and you doing a bunch of yard work and someone else managing all your vendors):

$200 + $200 + $200 + $30 + $30 + $100 + $100 + $50 +$50 +$50 +$50 + $200 = $1260

I didn’t even include painting and upkeep of the outside of the building! I don’t think I am pushing it with these costs, but please let me know if you think so.

Condo fees are similar to actual costs of owning a single family rgesidence

Are Condo Fees Worth It?

Suddenly, that $1245 number starts to make sense. If you look at condo fees a little deeper, the sticker shock starts to go away and paying the condo fees starts to seem more reasonable than ridiculous. If you see it differently, feel free to comment below.

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Larry Martin

November 15, 2018

Not really an explanation of why they are SO much higher. I live in Cincinnati in a condo complex and we have exactly the same things to pay for PLUS we have snow plowing all winter long and cable is not included. I pay $225 a month. I know most thing are higher there, I visit every year. Someone is making a ton of profit.

Jen

November 15, 2018

Most of the places don’t look like anything has been touched up, fixed, or repaired in ages… mortgage companies don’t care if you do or don’t do all those things so you are forced to pay for things in a condo at a high cost and most of the time the condo mgr is the handy man or they get the handy man to do lots of those side jobs which is paying the condo mgrs salary. I don’t think this is an accurate or fair description of why condo fees here are so high. Most places, unless in Waikiki the biggest tourist zone, are not coming with any amenities and still charge an outrageous condo fee.

J Bailie

November 15, 2018

You are comparing apples to oranges. Comparing the costs incurred by a single home owner to costs shared by a condo complex is not valid. Using you examples for demonstration for a single homeowner vs a 20 unit condo complex.

Pool maintenance at 200/mo
homeowner pays full $200
20 condo owners pay $10 each

New roof fund $100/mo
homeowner pays $100/mo
4 plex condo each owner pays $25/mo

Yard service
homeowner pays $200/mo
double that for condo owners and they still pay only $20/mo

You cannot compare costs borne by a single homeowner to that borne by a condo complex.

Kelly Whitney

November 15, 2018

Just peak at the budget that every owner or interested purchaser has the ability to view. Every dollar is accounted for. You’ll also see a savings portion for those big upcoming projects in the reserve fund.

Lisa Velasquez

November 27, 2018

Right on Kelly. What many readers are missing is that condo fees are determined by the owners and their board. A well run HOA works hard to keep costs down while providing services the owners want. The cost of operations is transparent. Some associations are better at negotiating good contracts with vendors. For example, Halii Kai in Waikoloa is very strong and has actually reduced costs and fees. >

Aaron

November 20, 2018

I have a simpler answer. I think they charge high condo fees because they can. It’s a high demand area. No different than downtown New York or any other high-demand city. Costs go up until the demand goes away. Simple economics.

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