There are so many benefits to condo living. Fewer responsibilities, more amenities, and a real sense of community are just a few reasons why people decide on a condo. However, you’ve probably heard skeptics say, "yeah, but there's always those condo fees." Yes, condo fees are something to take into consideration but they are not the big disadvantage they’re made out to be. Let’s dispel some of the confusion surrounding these particular fees.
How Do Condo Fees Work?
Condo fees, or association fees, are a monthly payment paid to the condominium community, which is the corporate entity that finances the community. You pay the monthly flat fee in return for an array of attractive community benefits.
What Are They Used For?
Landscaping maintenance. A landscaping crew will mow the grass, plant bushes and flowers seasonally, maintain all trees on the property, and cover all snow and ice removal from walkways and parking areas.
Some utilities. Select basic utilities are also included in the association fees. Utilities like gas, water, sewer, trash, and even heat are common services included.
Operation and maintenance of common areas. Built-in amenities are plentiful in most condo communities. Your particular complex may come equipped with a pool, sauna, full gym or fitness center, clubhouse, tennis courts etc. Condo fees cover all operation and maintenance costs of these facilities.
Unit maintenance and repairs. Because you will own the unit much of the interior maintenance will be your responsibility but it some cases, individual unit maintenance and repairs are covered under the condo fees. Such inclusions may be the roof, deck, walkways, and exterior siding.
Community security measures. Many condo communities have several security measures in place that are paid for and maintained by condo fees. Perhaps your community is gated and staffed with security personnel. Your individual unit may come equipped with personalized electronic keys and exterior security cameras.
Reserve fund contribution. All condominium communities are required to have a reserve fund set up and sustained by association fees. You can think of a reserve fund as a kind of emergency account that is used for any major or unforeseen repairs within the community.
How Are They Beneficial To You?
Fewer maintenance and repair responsibilities. One of the most obvious benefits of condo fees and condo living, in general, is it allows you more leisure time without the stress of maintenance, repair time, and cost. No more weekends spent mowing a huge lawn, stressing about calling a landscaper to cut down a tree, or hurting your back shovelling snow.
Association fees are predictable. When you own a traditional home, the maintenance and repairs can be unpredictable and significant costs can come up out of nowhere. The whole point of condo fees is to stay ahead of that. Although condo fees may increase from time to time, overall, they will remain predictable.
Access to community amenities. The amenities that many condo communities provide are well beyond what you may be able to afford on your own. How many of us can really afford to have a pool, sauna, full gym, and outfitted clubhouse on our own property? Condo fees allow you to have access to all of the community's amenities for a much more affordable monthly fee and with none of the maintenance and repair responsibilities.
High-tech (and low-tech) security features. Many communities have high-tech security features like electronically keyed gates, security personnel, or community security lights and cameras. The other more "low-tech" security component of condo communities are close neighbours. Because everyone is considered part of the governing body of the community, they have a stake in keeping your property safe too.
You have a say in your community. As a paying member of the community, you become part of the governing entity of the association. There is a board of directors of the community, and you become a voting member that helps to make decisions about the community, its maintenance, and necessary upgrades or repairs.
Do Your Research Ahead of Time
Once you have decided that condo living is the best fit for you, it's time to do some additional research on the condo community itself so that you know how your condo fees will be used. Each condo association is required to have and be able to produce a status certificate which outlines elements of the association like how much money is currently in the reserve fund and when was it last used, when was the last association fee increase and when is the next planned increase, as well as any special assessments and inspections.
Doing this research will help you to understand how much your condo fees will be, if they’re expected to change in the future, and what they’re being used for. Then, you will have a better idea of the total cost of condo living and you’ll know how much you need to budget for.