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February 7, 2008

Monthly Fees for Philadelphia Condominiums – Can they be lowered?

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 12:23 pm

Of course each condominium association here in Center City sets their own condo fees. These fees are contingent upon a number of items, generally encompassing the amount of services provided- doorman, elevator, parking garage, roof deck, utilities, etc. I am often asked if any given Center City condo building/association can lower their fees. And the answer is a resounding maybe. Here is what I would do if I were sitting on your condo board, and wanted to see if fees could be lowered:

1) I would shop my master insurance policy for the entire building, to four (4) or more new insurers. Check your liability amount, your deductible, and see if you are overpaying for your current policy

2) Shop around for a new management company for your Center City condo building. For instance, is your current management company charging for move-ins and move-outs, and NOT giving that money to the association? Are they charging you for services you really don’t need? I would think about getting some competitive bids, as a lower management fee is going to lower your condo fees. Also, it is not uncommon to see low-rise four to six unit buildings do the management internally, and not hire an outside contractor to manage the building

3) Make sure that there is a two month capital contribution to each new buyer on every sale for every unit in your building. This fee is equivalent to two (2) month condo fees, and that goes straight into your “condo pot”. VERY common on about half the Philadelphia condo buildings I have come across in the past number of years. If your association isn’t collecting this fee, perhaps they should be.

4) Change hallway light bulbs to the new “spiral fluorescent” bulbs- they can save a lot of dough through a year’s time.

5) Implement a special assessment to change all toilets to 1.6 gallon per flush models. Not a popular idea, but a good one none the less

6) Implement a special assessment to have individually water meters installed in each unit, instead of your current “one meter” system. You may save a few dollars per year if you pay water outside of condo fees (if you are not a water hog, that is…though that idea probably will go over like a lead balloon at your next condo meeting

So there you have it. Yes, you can probably lower your condo fees, and probably make some enemies in the condo association at the same time, as most of these ideas are going to be “shot down” by the masses at any given condo association meeting. Leave me a comment and let me know how everything works out.  Good luck with that….

Mark Wade
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106 

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