I’ve heard countless buyers say to me that they feel maintenance fees are a complete waste of money. While there are some condos in the city that are poorly managed and have very high maintenance fees as a result, I don’t believe maintenance fees are as bad as some people may think, especially when taking into account a longer term perspective.
Condo fees are one of the most misunderstood aspects of condo ownership. Some feel that it can turn an outright purchase into what feels like a rental, with monthly payments to budget for as long as you live there.
If you have never paid condo fees before, here is what they cover:
• The costs of keeping shared spaces, such as the elevators, outdoor gardens, parking garage, lobbies and hallways, in clean and good working order.
• The maintenance of the building amenities such as the gym, swimming pool, games room, party and theatre room - the facilities that initially attracted you to the condo.
• Snow removal, balcony, window and roof repair
* Building insurance
* Security and concierge services
How much should you pay in maintenance fees?
This is a difficult question to answer as amenities, the age of a building, location are all significant factors. In Toronto today, the average the rate per square foot is around 70 cents a square foot, or $560 a month on a 800-square foot condo.
The first step is you must consider the amenities offered at the condo and whether you will make use of them. For example, if you can cancel your gym membership and dine out less and use your condo’s rooftop patio, that can help justify a portion of the monthly cost.
When you think about the actual costs of maintaining the exterior of a single family home, including landscaping, paving, fertilizer, cutting grass, snow removal etc., most homeowners would spend more than $120 a month, on average. Also, if you factor in eventual larger maintenance items such as a roof ($8,000-$10,000) and furnace or air conditioning replacement ($5,000), and condo fees can be justified since it has the convenience of living a carefree lifestyle.