DC Condo Fees: From $100 to $1,000

by Michele Lerner

4200 Massachusetts Avenue

Condo fees in DC vary significantly from building to building and neighborhood to neighborhood. That being the case, buyers should carefully compare monthly fees when they are shopping for a unit to make sure they know what costs are covered.

“When you are looking at condos, you can almost predict which buildings will have higher fees,” Bruce Majors, a Realtor with RE/MAX Supreme said. “Those with an elevator, a swimming pool, front desk staff or a 24-hour doorman are likely going to have higher fees than those that don’t.”

Majors noted that, in addition to these amenities, most condo fees in the DC area include payments for a reserve fund (a fund for major repairs or improvements for the building), a master insurance policy, snow and trash removal and water. Buildings that are decades old can also have high fees as they have gradually increased over time.

For example, this two-bedroom condo is in a building at 1954 Columbia Road in Kalorama that was built in 1927. The monthly fee of $791 covers common area maintenance, heat, water and snow and trash removal. To put this fee in perspective relative to the age of the building, there is a unit a few blocks away at 1923 Belmont Road that just came on the market in a building that was built in 1998. The monthly fee is $314, and while that does not include a fee for a front desk, it is less than half of the fee mentioned above.

Of course, condo fees are part of the budget voted on by condo association members, so it is technically possible for the owners to vote to reduce fees. However, this rarely occurs.

1954 Columbia Road

“Sometimes it is simply inertia that keeps condo boards from making changes to their budget and fees,” Majors told UrbanTurf. “For example, in my building we have a full-time building engineer and a cleaning staff that vacuums all the carpets in the hallways every single day. We may not need those full-time services, but so far we haven’t tried to cut them out of the budget.”

One area in DC that is notorious for low-priced condos with extraordinarily high fees is the neighborhood of Wesley Heights that sits across Wisconsin Avenue from the National Cathedral. For example, this one-bedroom unit on the market in The Foxhall at 4200 Massachusetts Avenue NW has a monthly condo fee of $1,112. Exorbitant to most, there are buyers out there that will like the fact that this fee covers almost everything including air conditioning, cable TV, electricity, lawn maintenance, management, a master insurance policy, parking, reserve funds, security, snow removal, water as well as upkeep of the building’s indoor pool and tennis courts, and doorman and concierge services.

However, most buyers these days would gladly do away with these aforementioned luxuries to pay less in monthly fees, and DC certainly has units that fit the bill for such a buyer. This one-bedroom unit at 1421 Columbia Road NW in Columbia Heights has a monthly condo fee of just $123. This fee includes custodial services, maintenance, exterior building maintenance, lawn care, management, snow removal, trash removal and water.

The bottom line is that fees range from low to high depending on a building’s age, location and the amenities that are offered, and buyers should figure out what they want from their fee before making a purchase.

See other articles related to: editors choice, dclofts, dc condos, condo fees, condo board

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc_condo_fees_from_100_to_1000/1738


  1. Matt said at 2:29 pm on Tuesday February 2, 2010:

    I’m looking into Yale Lofts right now and the condo fees are starting around $500.  Does that mean I should expect a $700+ fee within 10 years?  I’m more concerned about this for resale purposes.  Is there an average condo fee per square foot to benchmark these fees against?

  1. LookingtoBuy said at 2:41 pm on Tuesday February 2, 2010:


    It is hard to gauge where your fees will be in ten years. What makes sense is to compare the fees in Yale to other developments in the area and do an analysis of what their fee covers versus others. Yale probably also has a ratio breakdown of condo fee versus square footage. I would asks the sales agent.

  1. RS said at 7:35 pm on Tuesday February 2, 2010:

    I love my $286 fee for 750 sq. feet 1 BR down in Southwest.  And that’s for a pool, concierge, security, 2 fitness rooms, and the water utility. Plus, I lease my parking space for $180/mo, so effectively I pay $100/mo.

    There are buildings in the neighborhood where I looked where the fee tops $700 for a similarly sized unit.  Has a lot to do with the age of the building and the general efficiency of shared utilities.

  1. Will Smith said at 7:39 pm on Tuesday February 2, 2010:

    RS, what building are you in?

  1. RS said at 7:43 pm on Tuesday February 2, 2010:

    Potomac Place - the newer buildings, not the renovated older one (although the fees aren’t too bad over there, a bit higher, but also include more utilities).

  1. bone said at 7:44 pm on Tuesday February 2, 2010:

    One thing to look at is special assessments.  Some buildings have low condo fees but rely on special assessments to cover the cost of certain repairs such as a new roof.  Other buildings will have higher fees to increase the reserve fund to cover an event such as a roof replacement.  And then there are the buildings that have high condo fees AND special assessments.

  1. Freeman said at 8:28 am on Wednesday February 3, 2010:

    For me, low condo fees were one of the most appealing aspects of the Coronado (profiled last year on UrbanTurf), where I bought a 660-sq ft 1BR. My monthly fee is $120, including water, gas (cooking only), and a master insurance policy that covers the entire condo as I purchased it (essentially no need for separate homeowner’s insurance). No way would I ever buy in a building where the fees started at $500.

  1. Juliet Zucker said at 1:44 pm on Wednesday February 3, 2010:

    RE: homeowner’s insurance - the condo’s master insurance policy covers the building and common areas, usually including plumbing pipes in the walls, etc.  However, it doesn’t cover your possessions - your appliances, furniture, your plumbing fixtures (should they leak/overflow and end up causing damage to a neighboring unit), etc.  You should still check into obtaining condo owner insurance.

  1. Felicity said at 2:20 pm on Wednesday February 3, 2010:

    Interesting article. It’s worth noting that some buildings’ condo fees are calculated per square footage of the unit. A friend who lives in a smaller unit at 1954 Columbia has a much more manageable monthly condo fee.  Her condo fee there also covers gas, which is a huge consideration these days. Re: ” it is technically possible for the owners to vote to reduce fees,” - technically, but many condos struggle with non-resident owners’ lack of participation in annual meetings and absence in urgent voting matters, and therefore some things never change. High condo fees are also related to owner occupied units becoming rentals; when a condo fee is so high that the owner cannot sell the unit, it becomes a rental, and the building then suffers from regular turnover.

  1. Citi said at 3:42 pm on Wednesday February 3, 2010:

    While closing on my condo in NW last Spring,it was discovered our property mgmt had stolen thousands of dollars of our condo fees. Individually, each unit in our building had gone into foreclosure roughly two years ago, which left the property vulnerable to a shady management office. With all new owners and a new property manager, we are on the road to recovery. Our condo board is in the process of trying to sue to recover some of the stolen funds, so of course the laywer and legal fees will come from our monthly fees. Our board is also trying to realign our condo fees to correspond with the square footage of the units, which is another legal process.  In the past the largest unit fees were much less than smaller units.  Our fees vary between $200 to $360 monthy.  It is feasible to think we could lower our fees in the future, once we are operation in the black, and have a reserve fund.

  1. Eric said at 4:52 pm on Wednesday February 3, 2010:

    On a somewhat related note, I live in a relatively small building and we are looking for a new management company. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  1. Dave said at 12:44 am on Sunday February 7, 2010:

    Do condo fees affect unit pricing?  One could imagine two similar units in the same neighborhood, one with very high fees, say $800; and the other with very low, say $200.  Everything else being equal, will the high-fee unit tend to have a lower purchase price?  Are fees factored into the appraisal or pricing?

  1. JO said at 9:10 pm on Saturday February 20, 2010:

    What RO neglected to mention is that while the complex has low condo fees, the facilities are not being well maintained with regular maintenance.  The are frequent false alarms of the fire alarm/sprinkler system.  I would gladly pay more fees to not be awaken at 4 AM to the piercing sound of a false alarm.

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