Searching for real estate in South Carolina - particularly in the Hilton Head Island area? Below is an explanation of what a Regime Fee is, as well as POA fees and the difference between them. This article is meant for general education only.
Regime fees are condominium association costs charged on a monthly basis to the owners of condos. Although HOA and condo association fees are the more widely used terms throughout the states, use of the term “regime fee” is common in southern states, particularly South Carolina.
The Regime Fee is collected monthly. It often includes exterior insurance, structural maintenance, and upkeep of the common area grounds including any amenities (pool, tennis courts, etc) owned by the condo complex. The majority of regime fees also include interior and exterior pest control, as well as garbage pickup.
Why is a regime fee charged only in true condominiums? Because, condominiums - unlike townhomes and SFRs (Single Family Residences) - don't have a stand-alone identity as a structure. Most condos share walls - side by side (if you are not in an end unit) and up and down.This means that condo ownership is only applicable to the inside space of your condo and you share ownership of common areas such as hallways, green spaces, the fitness center (if there is one), and the parking area with the other condo owners.
The initial reaction to a regime fee payment is often “Wow, that’s a lot of money every month!” You may think regime fees costly since this will become an additional expense that must be paid. However, think of the regime fee as factoring in all the costs associated with owning the complex and splitting the cost (based on unit size) between all the owners. These are the same expenses homeowners have to pay out of pocket should they live in a single family home or true townhome. When it comes time to replace the roof or resurface the tennis courts, it may cost the condo owners little or nothing to have it done...the money is oftentimes already there!
Important Note: Some condos will charge insurance assessments on a quarterly or annual basis to cover any increase/difference in the insurance costs without adjusting the monthly regime fee. The insurance assessment (if there is one) may vary from year to year. This cost is passed on directly to owners, based on your unit size and location.
The major upside to purchasing a condo or villa is the lack of attention required by the unit owner. The condo regime takes care of all the irritations outside the four walls of your unit.
Remember, you are solely responsible for the interior of your unit!
It is very important to remember that each condo association has different covenants and restrictions. Like any other homeowners, types of insurance coverage, amount in savings/reserves, and condition of the property vary greatly. A good real estate agent will check to make sure the Regime has sufficient reserves (funds to use in the event of an emergency) and is in good overall health.
An assessment is a fee charged to the condo owners for costs the regime cannot or will not pay from the capital reserve fund (condo’s savings account). Assessments may be charged to help pay for the new roof that’s needed, for instance. Costs can vary GREATLY depending on the work being done and the financial condition of the condo association. Another reason it is very important you research the financial condition of the complex thoroughly!
In closing, be sure to look at what the monthly regime fee includes. Fees are higher the larger the unit, the closer the proximity to the beach, the newer the building...check carefully!
There is also what we call a POA (Property Owners Association) which is charged with the handling of all common properties owned by the private community. A POA refers to the community as a whole - subdivisions, developments, and plantations. The common properties owned and/or managed by the POA generally include, but are not limited to: roads, open spaces, park areas, community centers, swimming pools, tennis courts, garden areas, nature preserves, security, etc. The POA fees are typically paid once yearly and range in price depending on what the POA owns and manages: i.e. private golf course communities would pay a higher rate than a community that doesn’t include golf, or offers public access golfing. POA fees maintain the community as a whole...whereas Regime fees maintain the condo complexes themselves.