For most homebuyers, especially on the mainland, many look at purchasing a single family home versus buying a condominium. But living in Hawaii, specifically in Honolulu, a lot more buyers are turning towards condo-living. In fact in Honolulu 50% more residents have chosen to buy and live in condominiums versus a single family home--in 2017 just last year, 5,824 condos were sold compared to only 3,908 single family homes.

Some choose to purchase a single family home because perhaps, they have always lived in a single family home and are more comfortable with the lifestyle or they are concerned with the amount the HOA or homeowners’ association maintenance fees may cost them monthly. So how do the monthly HOA fees in terms of owning a condo compare to the type of costs a buyer may face when purchasing a single family home? Let’s compare the two below.

What Are HOA Fees & What’s the Average Cost in Oahu?

Condominium HOA fees are costs that are paid to the homeowners’ association whose job it is to maintain the community’s common areas. Common areas include landscaping, parks, recreation area, swimming pools, and clubhouses, just to name a few. For some condos, HOA fees may also include sewage, water, security and on some occasions, cable, electricity and Internet.

Condo fees are set by the HOA and are mandatory to the residents staying in the building. Though for some homebuyers the cost of condo HOA fees may be a concern, as they don’t want the extra monthly costs tied to their mortgage. But there is added value in the fees as mentioned above, maintenance for common grounds are what HOA fees cover for condo communities, but typically HOA fees will also include a building’s flood, fire and hurricane insurance.

HOA fees in Honolulu will run between ~$0.60 to ~$1.50 per square foot and depending on the size of the condo can cost around $350 to $1,000 per month. Though a condo owner will have less control over their residence compared to buying a single family home, the maintenance of common areas, building amenities and added insurance coverage can be a more appealing choice.

What Are the Costs of Owning A Single Family Home in Oahu?

Single family homes in Oahu do not have HOA fees unless the house is located in a private community and according to Oahu Real Estate Report now have a median cost of around $778,000. Instead of having monthly HOA fees that take care of maintenance, a single family home will require its own maintenance.

A single family home will allow a homebuyer the most freedom and control over their home, but on top of the monthly mortgage payment, the costs of maintaining the home is left solely on the homeowner. These types of regular maintenances include things like painting the home every ten years (shorter if living by the ocean), re-roofing around 25 years, pool resurfacing in ten years, landscaping, pool maintenance and homeowner’s insurance, which over the years can average in the thousands and require the owner to either put in the work themselves or pay professionals for services, which would cost more.

On top of these types of maintenances, a homeowner is also responsible for the monthly costs of utilities such as sewer, water, electricity, cable, internet services and security alarm services, which can average over $100 to $250 a month per utility paid directly to the company offering the service, which can add up quickly to over $1000+ per month just for utilities. Owners of single family homes are also required to have money budgeted in case of repairs needed to the exterior of the home.

The bottom line is, that though having a single family home affords a homeowner more freedom with their home, the costs of maintaining a single family home adds up in the separate fees that come monthly along with the owner doing the maintenance work on their own or having to hire professionals to complete the work.

In comparison to living in a condominium community, the monthly HOA fees that will average between $350 to $1,000 will cover the professional maintenance of the building exterior grounds, common areas, amenities, monthly utilities and even homeowners insurance and may be an appealing trade-off for a little less control and a lot more savings and much less headache to the owner in the long run.