Over the years, I’ve met many people who say they find the idea of condominium living appealing, except for … and then they go on to mention some misconception or other. They may be passing up what could be the best move of their lives because they’ve opted to believe rumour over reality. There are persistent myths that need regular debunking.
The first is that maintenance fees are wasted money, when in fact these fees contribute to maintaining the building and the lifestyle condo purchasers want. The basic items covered by maintenance fees such as gas, hydro and water collectively represent approximately 40 per cent of what you pay. Even if you opt for a freehold residence, you face these costs over and above your mortgage and taxes. And security, which is one of the primary reasons some people prefer condo living, can eat up 14 to 17 per cent of maintenance fees.
Just like low-rise homes, condos need repairs over time, and there have to be contingency funds in place. Usually just under 10 per cent of condo fees goes to the reserve fund, which is used toward keeping the building running smoothly. Then there are common condo expenses to cover lawn mowing, snow removal, landscape maintenance, etc.
People also assume that amenities such as swimming pools and exercise facilities constitute a major portion of the fees, but in fact it usually amounts to under one per cent — a small price to pay for the enjoyment they bring and the retail potential they enhance. And remember that with amenities such as fitness equipment and a pool right in the building, you save the club fees associated with an off-site facility.
There are other myths about condos, including that pets aren’t allowed. Most condo corporations allow pets but place a limit on size, which is understandable. Encountering a 100-pound dog on an elevator can be intimidating. Other potential condo purchasers worry about having restrictions on what they can do in the way of décor. Limiting the types of items that can be kept on balconies helps to preserve the exterior building aesthetic, and requesting that signs and door knockers not be installed on suite entries maintains the integrity of the hallways.
These rules benefit everyone in the condo by enhancing the comfort and safety of residents and guests, and by protecting owners’ financial investment for years to come. If you’re thinking about making the move to a condo, do your homework and decide based on research rather than hearsay.