The Housing Bubble Also Hurts The People That CAN Make Their Payments – Especially Condo Owners
May 16th, 2022 by MG
Just like many of us have to pay increased HOA dues for upkeep on homes that have been abandoned, condos have it even worse because upkeep fees tend to be much more closely tied to condo ownership than single family home owners.
Barbara Sanz has never missed a mortgage payment, but the plunge in real estate is punishing condominium owners like her anyway.
Four years ago, she bought her first condo in a glassy new Miami tower when the building was filling up. Now nearly one in six residents in the 43-story building is battling foreclosure and their contributions to the building association are shrinking. Each of the remaining owners has had to chip in an extra $1,000 assessment and $50 more a month for cable and Internet. That is on top of Ms. Sanz’s $450 monthly maintenance fee.
Even though she pays more, her building has broken washers and dryers and unusable exercise equipment, and her hallway is spotted with mold.
“It’s not fair,” said Ms. Sanz, a 32-year-old event planner. “The first two years, I enjoyed all of the benefits of living in a condo. I’m disappointed now. I hate the way the building looks.”
When people buy condos, they expect their monthly fees will cover many of the responsibilities that they would otherwise have as owners of single-family homes, like cutting the grass and paying the water bills. Now many find themselves nagging each other in the hallways to pay their assessments and adding special fees while haggling over chores. In Miami, Chicago and San Diego, condo owners are adjusting to the economic woes, sometimes by mowing themselves and working shifts for building security — all while lamenting their lost community.
The pain in the condo market, mostly in urban areas, may not only be deeper than in the rest of the housing market during this downturn but more prolonged. Bargain hunters say they are reluctant to buy into a building even when the upfront cost seems low because they might have to pay unexpected fees as distressed neighbors default on their mortgages or just stop paying the association fees that cover everything from taxes to pool maintenance to air-conditioning repair.
“We have not even approached the bottom and will not approach the bottom until 2009,” said Hessam Nadji, managing director of research services at Marcus & Millichap.
“Nobody knows if the worst is yet to come,” he said. “Nobody knows how much prices will continue to drop.”
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