Monday, January 16, 2012

Much More Than Just ‘Maintenance’

Much More Than Just "Maintenance'
Published: January 12, 2012

In New York, the cost of a co-op or condo can seem an impossible hurdle. But alongside the asking price is another figure that can induce sticker shock: the monthly maintenance fee — or, as it’s called in condos, the common charge.
The fee can range from a few hundred dollars a month, for a small condo, to many thousands for an exclusive co-op. And as millions of owners have discovered, it almost never goes down and rarely stays flat. Often, the increases happen yearly.
Potential buyers should be concerned about the fee, not only because it is real money paid out of pocket every month, but because it has a direct impact on property value.

“The market rewards low maintenance and punishes high maintenance,” said Roberta Axelrod, the director of residential sales and rentals for the real estate firm Time Equities, who sits on 10 co-op boards. Apartments with low monthly charges tend to sell for more, and those with higher fees for less. That is not to say that buildings are doing away with amenities. In fact, new condo projects tend to be full of perks like exercise rooms, screening rooms, children’s play areas and even indoor pools. Yet all of these things add expense.

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