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Understanding Condo Fees

Every time I talk to a new buyer deciding what to buy the conversation inevitably turns to the topic of condos and the associated condo fees.


Some buyers think of condo fees as just another monthly bill with nothing to show for it. Others see the fees as the monthly cost for no maintenance living. Others yet see condo fees as a single bill that covers all of your other bills each month. The fact is, none of these descriptions are right and none of them are wrong because each condo fees is unique.

Condo fees are by definition: A monthly fee assessed by an association of the owners of condominiums to cover the cost of maintenance, repairs and other collective costs. The amount of the fee is determined by the association and usually represents a proportionate share of total expenses based on the size or value of the condominium unit.

This can but does not always include:

Major Costs: Replacing roofs, replacing windows, repairing and upgrading elevators, repaving driveways and maintenance of other major condominium elements.

Ongoing Maintenance Costs: Removing snow, replacing light bulbs, cleaning common areas, landscaping and ect.

Collective Costs: Building insurance, caretakers, management fees, recreation facilities, as well as upkeep and heating/cooling of common areas.

Unexpected Cost: Water damage, foundation damage, broken furnaces or electrical problems.

Usage Costs: Water, heating, air conditioning, electricity, cable or satellite, Internet.

The problem is that each condominium corporation is free to set fees that cover as many or as few of these expenses that it sees fit. Some condos will only cover the collective, ongoing and maintenance costs while others, even in the same neighbourhood, will cover significantly more costs. What buyers have to be aware as much as the amount of the fee is which of the above costs or any others are covered by monthly condo fees.

$500 per month may sound high for condo fees but not if it includes your heat(est: $125/m), hydro (est: $50/m), water (est: $50/m), and a gym (est: $50/m) or pool on top of typically building management, insurance, landscaping, and looking after the major elements of the condo. On the other hand $300/m may sound reasonable but if all it includes is basic building management and insurance the value may not be as good as it first appears.

Condo fees are the cost of no maintenance living and the no hassle lifestyle that they create has really changed the real estate market over the last 20 years. Just be sure that you understand what it is that you are buying into, what it will cost you and what value you will be receiving. If you do not understand a buildings condo fees be sure to inquire with your agent or lawyer to ensure that the condo that you are buying into is the best fit for you.

If you have questions about condo fees, or the cost and coverage of the condo fees in a particular building please fill out the Ottawa Real Estate Sales Contact Form and I would be happy to answer some of your questions.


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