UPDATE: The developer of Towne Lake has informed me that their Foundation Fee is currently only 0.25% and will never be more than 0.5%. I have updated this article accordingly.
With all of the amenities offered in today’s master-planned communities, the money to pay for these amenities has to come from somewhere. The choices for the home owner association (HOA) are to either raise the fees for everybody OR add transaction fees to buyers and sellers in these neighborhoods.
Towne Lake and Bridgeland, two of the newest master-planned communities in Cypress, TX, have opted to keep their annual HOA fees relatively reasonable but tack on transaction fees to help pay for the cost to build and support the great amenities and events these neighborhoods offer.
If you are selling a house in Bridgeland, you will have to pay a $125 transfer fee plus a 1/2% “Enhancement Fee” to the Bridgeland HOA.
If you are selling a house in Towne Lake, you will have to pay a $215 transfer fee plus a
1% 0.25% “Foundation Fee” to the Towne Lake HOA. Towne Lake also charges an extra $840 “HOA CAP FEE” when you buy a house in Towne Lake.
Say you purchased a house in Towne Lake or Bridgeland and sell that house in 5 years for $300,000. How much money will you pay to the HOA over that period of time? Let’s see.
- Purchase Transfer Fee: $125
- Purchase HOA Cap Fee: $0
- HOA Fees for 5 years at $890/year: $4450
- Seller’s Enhancement Fee (1/2%): $1500
- TOTAL HOA FEES: $6075
- Purchase Transfer Fee: $215
- Purchase HOA Cap Fee: $840
- HOA Fees for 5 years at $850/year: $4250
- Seller’s Foundation Fee (0.25%): $750
- TOTAL HOA FEES: $6055
In summary, to live in a $300k house and enjoy all of the amenities of these communities will cost you at a minimum $1215/year in Bridgeland or $1211/year in Towne Lake. I say “at a minimum” because most HOA’s raise their fees annually. Our fees in Coles Crossing started at $400/year when we moved here in 1999. They are now $900/year.
So why transaction fees? Because these fees are (1) hidden and (2) much easier to swallow for a seller when it just shows up as another line-item in the HUD statement of a home closing.
If Towne Lake decided to not charge these transaction fees but raise the annual HOA dues to $1500/year, for example, a typical buyer would mostly likely do a double take before purchasing out there. The thought process would be something like: “I really love all of the amenities in Towne Lake, but I really do not want to pay $1500/year to the HOA just for the privilege to live there?”
On the other hand, these hidden “transaction” allows Towne Lake and Bridgeland to keep its fees more in-line with other neighborhoods in the area with less amenities. Because of this, many buyers will have a mind-set such as: “The amenities in Towne Lake are amazing. I cannot believe the annual HOA dues are less than the dues in Coles Crossing!” (Coles Crossing does not have any “Enhancement” or “Foundation” fees when you sell.)
I have no problem with Towne Lake and Bridgeland raising fees like this. It costs a lot of money to offer amenities such as theme-park like pool areas, fitness centers, paddle boats, canoes, the 4th largest lake in the Houston area (Towne Lake), seasonal events, landscaping, etc. I just think that the consumer needs to be aware that they will eventually pay for these amenities and not be shocked when they show up at the closing table to sell their house and see that extra $750 “Foundation Fee” line-item on the HUD.
If you are thinking about buying or selling in Towne Lake, Bridgeland, or anywhere else in Cypress and have questions, please call me to discuss! 832-303-1018