Nancy Martínez, Senior Executive Associate, Virginia Cook, Realtors
Realtor, GRI, ABR, GREEN

Cell: 469.951.2646
Voice: 972.381.6705
Email: NMartinez@VirginiaCook.com

Nancy Knows Highrises

Tips for buying a Dallas high-rise home

Having lived in a high-rise for many years and worked not quite as long helping clients buy and sell them, I have gained a great deal of experience with the various considerations of owning a high-rise. Here are a number of them.
Location. Location. Location. Of course, I have to mention this trite but true consideration first. And that's because it is important. The good news is that Dallas high-rise residential properties are in only a few locations so you can take time to check them all out. This website is a good place to start.
Views. The most striking aspect of high-rise living is generally what you see looking out your window or standing on your own terrace. Here many factors enter in. Although higher floors and ones with downtown or park views are usually preferred, some homeowners like a treetop view or want to avoid a summer-sweltering southwest exposure. Are you an early riser and want to see the sunrise, or would you rather enjoy a romantic sunset? The view from each unit significantly influences the price you will pay, so your preferences on views need to be carefully balanced with cost. It also might be prudent to find out whether another building might eventually block your views.
Lobby staff. Of course, high-rises have lots of back-of-the-house staff like managers, porters, and security personnel. And they're important. But it's the lobby staff I look at. Is the front desk staffed 24x7? Is valet parking available around the clock, only part of the day, or not at all? Is a concierge available to help with getting a cab or make some reservations? By the way, some buildings refer to the individual who sits behind the front desk a “concierge” because they provide some concierge services.

Personnel costs, including lobby staff, are the largest controllable component of HOA dues. So you're paying for it. Some high-rises have no lobby staff because their residents prefer to park their own cars, keep the outside doors locked, and buzz in their own guests. Others prefer seeing a uniformed officer on site 24x7, stepping out of their car under a porte-cochere, having their groceries carried to their room, and knowing their guests will be graciously greeted in the lobby and their cars safely parked. And there is all kinds of in between. What I now see a lot of are front desk personnel trained as both a safety officers and concierges.
Pets. If you have a pet, you will need to check the pet policy. I know of two buildings with a “no pet” policy while the others have some limitation on number and size. Rules may be different for owners and tenants. I would put the specific policies on my website, but they can change with the whim of the board. Some buildings have a pet fee.
Guest Suites. The high-rises I work in have anywhere from zero to four guest suites, which are available for a daily fee to resident's guests. If you expect periodic guests and aren't near a hotel, these are very convenient. Plus they're a good “out” in case a visitor might presume they're staying with you to avoid the cost of a pricey hotel. Although high-rises owned or managed by hotels seldom have guest suites (gee, I wonder why), they usually arrange preferred pricing to resident's guests.
Fitness centers. Nearly every Dallas high-rise has access to a fitness center, and, truly, most describe their own as ”state-of-the art.” I'm no judge of fitness centers, so you'll have to evaluate them yourself. I've tried including a photograph each building's fitness center, but they are not photogenic. And you usually can't make the lights very bright, presumably out of respect for those of us who prefer to work out in the shadows.
Pools. Nearly every high-rise offers a pool in some fashion, from large swimming pool to small lap pool. The pool generally anchors the outdoor amenities such as sun deck, grilling area, hot tub, outdoor dining areas, etc. and is generally near the fitness center and sauna, if the building has one.
Garage Parking. Your ownership of a high-rise condo in Dallas will come with rights to a specific number of garage parking places, which are usually assigned. If you require more than what is specified, you might be able to rent one from another resident.
Storage areas. Who couldn't use more storage? But when you're paying $100s for each square foot, it definitely comes at a premium.
Other common areas. High-rises now have caterer-friendly party rooms with wet bars, libraries, billiard rooms, dog runs, business centers with Wi-Fi, wine cellars, and theaters. There seems to be no end to the features you might find. I've tried to list all of the special common areas in the various high-rises I work, but am sure to have missed some.
HOA Dues. What's in and what's out? High-rises are run by the board of a homeowners' association in which each homeowner has voting power. It's the board, with the approval of the homeowners, who collect dues from homeowners to pay for building insurance, common area utilities and maintenance, trash collection, employee compensation, fees to management companies hired by the HOA, etc. In buildings constructed before an energy crises made individual electricity meters popular, the HOA pays the cost of electricity, meaning your HOA dues are commensurately larger.

A portion of HOA dues will also be set aside in a reserve fund to pay for future major expenditures such as new equipment, renovations, common area upgrades, etc. Consequently, HOA dues may seem large until you factor this in. Before you purchase a condo, you will have the opportunity to evaluate the reserves.

Sometimes you will find a bonus in the HOA like free washers and dryers or cable TV. Although listing agents will reveal some of what is in the HOA, it's prudent to check the details closely. HOA dues vary widely and can be substantial, so it's important to count them in the overall cost of high-rise home ownership and evaluate what you are getting for them.
HOA Assessments. When an HOA has insufficient reserves to cover major expenditures, whether anticipated or unanticipated, HOAs can make a special assessment to cover the costs. Although the building must inform a buyer of outstanding assessments it would be prudent to look at the building from the perspective of potential upcoming assessments. I suggest visiting with the HOA president.
Other fees. While I'm talking about money, many buildings have some form of fee when a residence in the building is transferred, which can be substantial, and perhaps a fee for a background/credit check. And be prepared to pay a move-in fee to reimburse the building for configuring an elevator for your use. Of course, you'll pay a move-out fee on the way out.
Pest control. Even 20 floor up, there's no escaping insects. This is one useful service generally included in HOA dues. But check anyway.
Security. Since its own residents call the shots in a building, you should expect every high-rise to have good security measures like access controls and monitored video cameras. I don't disclose security measures on this website since buildings like to keep it to themselves.
Hotel amenities. The new trend in Dallas high-rise condominiums is to associate them with hotels. For example, Mansion Residences and Plaza Turtle Creek I and II are managed, although not owned, by the nearby Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. 

Residents of Residences at the Stoneleigh will enjoy the amenities of the Stoneleigh Hotel, and the amenities of The Ritz-Carleton Hotel are available to the residents of Residences at Ritz-Carlton I and II. The Residences of Hotel Palomar are adjacent to that hotel and W Hotel is home to W Dallas Victory Residences. If you are looking for the ultimate in high-rise condominium amenities, start with these.

  

  
Nancy Martínez, Realtor, GRI, ABR, GREEN, is an agent and senior executive associate of Virginia Cook, Realtors, LLC.
5950 Sherry Lane, Suite 110, Dallas, TX 75225
She is licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission.
Last updated September 8, 2018
 
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