Among the main reasons people choose to live in condominiums are the freedom and convenience this lifestyle offers. Having access to amenities without having to leave home is fabulous, and when you do go away, the appeal of simply shutting the door and not worrying about snow shovelling and lawn mowing provides an added level of comfort. Why is it, then, that potential condo purchasers often object to maintenance fees, or pass up fantastic opportunities because there is a monthly maintenance expense involved?
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The old saying “you get what you pay for” is especially true in condominiums. Condo owners may not have to clean windows, handle pest control, make major building repairs or clean common areas — but someone does. And remember that many people who live in freehold homes pay others to do this work for them as well.
Maintenance fees in condominium corporations ensure that the funds are there to take care of these costs. There is something called the reserve fund comprised of a portion of the fees (usually just under 10 per cent) that serves as an automatic savings plan to be used for this purpose. I always say that the reserve fund takes the worry out of the things that people who move to condos don’t want to worry about anymore.
When you look at maintenance fees, compare apples and apples. You may not be paying any more than you are now. For example, realize that approximately 37 to 45 per cent of condo maintenance fees cover utilities water, hydro and gas, which in a freehold home cost you over and above your mortgage and taxes. Insurance costs for a condo can run around two per cent of the budget — but this is something you have to pay regardless of where you live.
Let’s look at security — another big factor in condominium decisions, especially for single women. In today’s condos, round-the-clock monitoring by professional staff at the front entrance and other safety measures can represent up to 14 to 17 per cent of condo maintenance fees. If you live in a freehold residence and install a security system, you pay for installation and monitoring. And unless you’re independently wealthy, you probably won’t have a security person on duty all day, every day.
Another objection I often hear from potential condo purchasers has to do with maintaining amenities, particularly pools. In fact, the cost to service and maintain a pool and whirlpool is only about one per cent of the annual condo budget. Maybe you don’t intend to use the pool, but your guests might, and the amenities can increase the resale value of your suite.
The bottom line is, you might get more for your money in a condo, even factoring in maintenance fees. When you compare, be fair!
Linda Mitchell is VP of marketing, high-rise for Monarch Corporation. In 2005, Linda was presented with the OHBA SAMMY (Sales and Marketing Member of the Year) award. In 2003, she received the Riley Brethour Award acknowledging outstanding and consistent professional achievement in residential sales and marketing.