Buying a condo essentially means buying into a low maintenance way of living. Condos can be an affordable and stress free way to live as each month the owner pays a maintenance fee to cover certain common costs of the building. While having a low maintenance fee is ideal there are other factors to consider such as what is included in the monthly maintenance fee and the financial health of the buildings condo corporation.
Maintenance fees are paid to the condo corporation each month to cover common expenses in the building such as pool maintenance, security guards, grounds maintenance, etc. Maintenance fees are usually based on the size of the condo unit (square feet) therefore the larger the unit, the more the owner is contributing towards paying the common building expenses. Each year maintenance fees usually increase, as features of the building begin to wear out and need to be replaced and service contracts increase. This is why older condo buildings usually have a higher maintenance fee than newer ones. In addition, the more amenities a condo building offers its residents, such as a swimming pool, also contributes to a higher maintenance fee.
Many times I have buyer clients asking me to find them a condo with low maintenance fees. It’s not so black and white. You have to ask yourself a few other questions like what expenses do the monthly maintenance fee include? Does it include Heat, Hydro, Water, central air and building insurance? Each condo is different so make sure to find out exactly what is included. One condo may offer a low maintenance fee but utilities are not included whereas another condo may have a higher fee but you don’t have to worry about added utility bills.
Another thing to consider is the financial health of the condo building. Check with the property management to see if the monthly maintenance fees have been increased lately or if there is an increase scheduled for the near future. Special assessments are also important to take into account. Large repairs such as replacing the roof, are big ticket items. Depending on the situation of the condo corporation, they may choose to bill each unit owner their portion of the cost of the repair. The owner maybe required to pay in one lump sum or may be able to pay for it monthly for a certain time period. This cost is in addition to the monthly maintenance fee.
So next time you are looking for a condo with low maintenance fees make sure you take these other factors into consideration. Have your lawyer review the financial situation of the condo and only then you can decide if the maintenance fees are truly ideal.