If you want a low maintenance lifestyle without the hassle of keeping up a large home and lawn, you’ll find huge benefits in condo living. A condo gives you the sense of community and amenities you want without the responsibility of a single-family home.
While condo fees are something to consider as you search for your new home, don’t write off a community because of these monthly dues. Think of condo or association fees as payment for the many benefits you can enjoy, including basic utilities, security, maintenance, landscaping and added amenities.
How Condo Fees Work
First-time condo buyers are often confused by the monthly fee charged by a condo association. Along with a mortgage payment and taxes, condo fees may represent a significant share of your total housing costs.
Condo maintenance fees are basically your share of the cost to run and manage the building and its facilities. These fees are not just another cost on top of the mortgage: they also equate to many of the expenses you would have anyway with a single-family home, including utilities, maintenance, repairs, and lawn care/snow removal.
Many factors determine how much your monthly condo fees will be, including the size of the building (a larger building has more owners to share the cost), the age of the building (newer buildings may have lower fees), the amenities building owners enjoy, and the neighbourhood.
What Condo Fees Cover
Condo association fees cover a wide range of benefits that you will enjoy every day, for example:
Association fees may include some basic utilities, including heat, gas, water, sewer, and trash. That means fewer bills to worry about each month.
Your condo fees pay for a landscaping crew who mows grass, plants landscaping every year, maintains trees, and handles ice and snow removal from the parking areas and walkways.
As a condo owner, most interior maintenance is your responsibility, but condo fees do cover some repairs and maintenance of your unit. This usually includes things such as building siding, decks, the roof, and walkways.
Condo fees allow the building to provide security measures for owners, including gates, electronic keys, and security cameras.
Common Area Maintenance
Most condo communities offer a wide range of amenities — all of which are paid for with association fees. These communities may include a fitness centre, car wash, pool, sauna, outdoor space, and more.
A portion of your association fees go into a reserve fund or an emergency savings account the association can use for unexpected or major repairs like a new roof.
Think Condo Fees Are a Waste? Think Again
Don’t think of condo fees as yet another expense of buying a home; think of them instead as a way to enjoy the low maintenance lifestyle you want. You can sit back and enjoy your new home without worrying about shovelling the walkway in the winter or setting aside money to cover maintenance and repairs. By paying condo fees, you avoid the hassle and cost of maintaining landscaping and a home on your own which means more time to focus on what’s important to you.
Along with cutting back on the maintenance, stress, and expense of keeping up a home, condo fees are a predictable monthly expense. This is not something you can enjoy as a single family homeowner with repairs and maintenance costs that can be very unpredictable and significant.
Finally, contributing to your community with association fees means you are part of the community with a say in what happens. You become a voting member who will help make decisions regarding maintenance, upgrades, and more. Just remember that not all condo communities are equal. Don’t forget to do your research about the community, how much fees will be, and how association fees will be used to make the best decision for you.