A Trulia study which used American Community Survey records, found monthly HOA fees averaged $331 a month in 2015. Averages ranged from a low of $218 month in Warren, Mich., to a high of $571 in New York City. Trulia found dues to be generally higher in older buildings and complexes with more units overall.3
The number and size of the development’s amenities also affect rates, according to Nate Martinez, a real estate agent atRE/MAX Professionals in Glendale, Ariz. For example, a development that’s guarded by a gate, and has a clubhouse and golf course is likely to levy higher fees than one that offers minimal security and only a modest common area.
Fees can differ even within a development, due to variations in square footage, location, and orientation, all of which can affect how much upkeep the property will require.
Most multiple listing services (MLSs) include HOA fees in the property listing. That should ensure you can access the information through REMAX.com, Zillow.com, Realtor.com, and other listing sites, according to Martinez.
You should also find out how often fees have increased over time, and by how much. If you can, obtain a printed history of HOA dues by year for the past 10 years. Martinez says that the fees for an HOA are typically increased no more than annually. In Martinez’s experience, HOA increases are customarily mapped out three to five years in advance, using estimates of the future costs of utilities, labor, maintenance, and more.
Examine these projections if they’re available. Since they’re only estimates, Martinez suggests you also check the amount by which fees are permitted to increase every year under the HOA’s bylaws. In a new complex, that research can help determine whether initial HOA fees have been attractively, even artificially, underpriced in order to attract homeowners and are liable to increase significantly over time to cover the gap between revenue and costs.
Alternatively, the opposite can also be the case—that is, HOA fees for new development may actually go down slightly over time as more homes are added to the development and more homeowners are available to share the HOA’s fixed costs.