How Much Does It Cost to Live in a Condo? Your Complete Guide to Condo Fees
For the city dweller, finding a home up in the sky where you can see the city lights is a wonderful milestone. Condo living is the modern Canadian dream, and it suits every inch of your modern lifestyle. With everything you need and all the spots you frequent just around the block, there’s nothing like living in Toronto’s bustling districts and enjoying everything that the city has to offer.
Like any homeowner, a condo resident knows a great deal about paying the bills and making mortgage payments. But the similarities end there, because unlike regular homeowners, condo residents pay specific monthly dues on top of other bills. So whether you’re looking to score a place in a hip and happening part of Toronto, or you’re already moved in and living the dream, it’s important to know where every penny of your dues go. Here’s a guide to condo fees and how a real estate services company can help you navigate the process of being a condo owner:
Condo Fees in a Nutshell
Unlike moving into a detached or semi-detached house in Toronto, living in a condominium means making payments toward the management and upkeep of the building, in addition to the typical mortgage payments and utility bills.
Condo fees are regular, non-negotiable payments made toward building management and upkeep. This fee is calculated based on your share of the building space — that is, residents of a two-bedroom unit have higher dues than a bachelor pad owner. This fee is also adjusted annually based on the operating budget of the condominium. Condo building management companies determine this maintenance budget and the resulting fees that condo residents have to pay. Through dedicated real estate services, your REALTOR® can keep you up to speed about how these fees work and show you where every penny you pay up goes.
What Are Condo Fees Used for?
Sometimes, wrapping your head around why you need to pay condo fees can be tough. You’ve already paid for and moved into your unit, so why does it feel like you have to keep paying more to live in it?
Condo fees are actually essential to a pleasant living experience in the heart of Toronto. For urban dwellers like yourself, this means keeping the building in tiptop condition, so you can continue enjoying the perks of city living, such as convenient transit, shopping, work and play within a small radius. More importantly, paying your dues also allows the condo building management to ensure that the amenities you love function properly, and the sleek, modern aesthetic of the building complements the fast-paced, bustling city living in Toronto.
Every Penny Counts: The Specifics of Condo Fee Allocations
In a nutshell, condo fees go towards the services that make condo living possible. These include utilities, amenities in common areas and the reserve fund. If you’ve just been writing cheques or seeing pre-authorized debits go through without actually knowing what exactly it is you’re paying for, it’s time to get acquainted with the services that your condo fees are used for:
- Utilities and maintenance: the most basic aspect of condo fees, a chunk of what you pay for goes towards the essentials. These can include water, heat, and depending on the building, hydro. By having basic utilities incorporated in your monthly dues, you actually have one less thing to worry about by the time bills roll around! Plus, on the off-chance that you encounter problems with heating, cooling, gas, plumbing and even the elevators, you won’t have to worry about calling a plumber or electrician to get you out of that jam. Your condo fees are designed to take care of those problems.
- Upkeep of common areas: when we say that condo living means having everything you need within a small radius, we weren’t lying. Add to being walking distance to transit, grocery stores, leisure and even your workplace, condo living also means enjoying other lifestyle perks right in the comfort of your building. From the pool and the gym to party rooms, rooftop gardens and assigned parking spaces, condo fees are designed to pay for the maintenance of these amenities that make you feel right at home.
- Exterior maintenance: unlike owning a detached house, condo owners never have to worry about maintaining the exteriors of the building. These include fences, walls, window cleaning, landscaping, garbage removal and seasonal expenses like snow removal. Condo fees cover these services, so you won’t have to deal with the nitty-gritty of taking care of the building.
- Security: perhaps one of the greatest benefits of condo living is 24/7 security, especially in a busy urban center like Toronto. However, that also means that the cost of paying the guards, CCTV cameras and system for buzzing in guests has to come from somewhere. These services are paid for by your monthly condo fees.
- Building insurance: as a homeowner, it’s important to protect yourself and your investment from the damage that can occur as a result of natural disasters and other emergencies. The good news is, most condo fees already include a homeowner’s insurance policy that covers exteriors and common areas, so you’ll only have to put up a smaller fraction of the cost for insuring the interior of your home.
- Reserve fund: in addition to building maintenance and utilities, a portion of the condo fees you pay also go toward a reserve fund. This refers to a savings account that every condo board must maintain for large emergency expenses that may arise. For instance, if your building requires a roof replacement or a massive heating system repair, a reserve or contingency fund would be particularly useful for financing these large expenses. Most condo boards set aside at least 25% of all monthly condo fees for the reserve fund.
What is a Special Assessment?
In some cases, the reserve fund cannot adequately cover large emergency expenses, the condo board may have to charge a special assessment. This extra fee that condo owners will have to pay is proportionate with the size of their unit and is spread out over several payments.
Ask Your REALTOR®: Real Estate Services Can Help
As a new condo owner, there is a lot to consider financially when moving into your new place. Aside from the affordability of condos in an urban hotspot like Toronto, you also have to consider the affordability of actually living in the building. Before signing the papers, it helps to make sure that your REALTOR® has thoroughly explained to you the fees that you will have to put up monthly. As well, making use of real estate services such as getting a copy of the condo’s status certificate helps you stay informed of the building management’s financial status, so you can easily prepare for a hike in monthly dues or special assessments in case the reserve fund has been spent on a major repair or upgrade.
Ready to take city living to the next level? Our real estate services are designed to support budding condo owners find the home of their dreams right at the heart of Toronto, at a cost they can comfortably afford. We’re here to make condo living a true urban dream. Get in touch with us today to speak with an agent or call us at 416-736-6500.