A.C. from Fairfield County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I am having an awful time trying to sell my condo. In the five years that I have lived here, the prices have dropped and the common fees have almost doubled. My realtor says the reason my place isn’t selling is because the common fees (almost $400 per month!) and the taxes (almost $500 per month!) are too high. What can be done?
Mister Condo replies:
A.C., as a fellow condo dweller with high common fees and high taxes, I can feel your pain. The reality of higher taxes is completely out of our control as the taxes are set by the local municipality. You can check your assessed value and dispute it with your city hall or tax collector but that isn’t very likely to change anything. Your common fees are also out of your control. Your association sets the fees at the Annual Meeting and the fees represent the operating expenses and Reserve Fund contribution which is made each year to offset the decay of the common elements which will someday need to be replaced. The good news is that a well-managed and well-funded condominium can actually be quite attractive to the informed buyer. You might want to ask your realtor if explaining the financial strength of a community association is part of the sales presentation. To a well-informed buyer, that is far more important than the sweetness of a low common fee. After all, who wants to buy a condo unit that is very likely going to face special assessments for lack of a properly funded Reserve Fund? Not me, I can assure you. Good luck selling your unit to the right buyer!