Condo/townhouse fees.

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bb49
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Condo/townhouse fees.

Post by bb49 »

My wife and I are starting to talk about downsizing in the next one to five years.

We're giving some thought to a townhouse/condo but have no experience with them. We are aware of the many downsides compared to a large house on a large lot, but one question we have is regarding the maintenance fees.
What do these usually include?

This comes up now because I pulled up a listing of a condo, beautiful place, third floor of a three story building, built in 1995, almost 1500 s.f., vaulted ceiling, large windows, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, etc., great view and all that good stuff.

The maintenance fees are $436.00 a month. That seems a little steep for me, but is it?
Btw, annual property taxes are $2400, almost $1,000 less than what we pay now.
So, would the annual taxes be included in the fees?

One more thing, it's listed at $415,000.
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GordonH
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Re: Condo/townhouse fees.

Post by GordonH »

Maintenance fees & taxes are 2 different things.
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vegas1500
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Re: Condo/townhouse fees.

Post by vegas1500 »

Condo fees do not include property taxes. The few I’m involved with I am responsible for utilities except water (may vary from building to building). Also only responsible for the walls inward so you can save on insurance. Fees can add up but it’s nice to have no outside maintenance, yard maintenance, snow shoveling, possibly free gym, pools, hot tub, rec Centre heated parking etc. biggest advice I could give is to review the meeting minutes and financials of the building. I’ve seen people purchase and then Get hit with a 50K special assessment.
Even Steven
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Re: Condo/townhouse fees.

Post by Even Steven »

bb49 wrote:So, would the annual taxes be included in the fees?

It really depends on how everything is set up.

It almost always covers things like maintenance of the amenities, insurance for the structure (but you still need to have content insurance which is very cheap), upkeep of the driveways, etc. They typically also include landscaping, snow removal, cleaning of common property, etc. Some upscale places have door people/concierge.

No, it doesn't include your taxes. It might include water (it was covered in one of my buildings in the past).

$400 ain't this bad. Especially right now when the insurance costs have been climbing and as a result condo fees needed to be raised. But don't kid yourself, they always go up, year after year, anywhere between 5% and 10% with inflation. They never go down or stay flat.

When you make an offer on the place, you always put the revision of strata documents as a condition. They'll give you 2 years worth of and you can go through them to see what's been happening with the place - whether or not there are maintenance issues, financial shortfalls, special assessments coming. By the way, check if condo fees are about to be raised drastically - right now they might still have 2020 fees, with the 2021 budget being set up, and - who knows - maybe a huge increase coming for them because of insurance. Ours for example will be raised but not until AGM later this year, so we're still paying old ones.
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oneh2obabe
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Re: Condo/townhouse fees.

Post by oneh2obabe »

bb49, check your PM
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Re: Condo/townhouse fees.

Post by LANDM »

As others have said, no the taxes are not included in the strata fees.
As a summary, the strata fees are simply calculated yearly by taking the budget to maintain the common property of the strata for the upcoming year, and dividing it amongst the owners according to the entitlement of their share of the strata. If the costs go up, the strata fees rise, and if the costs go down, the fees lower.
There is no allowance for "profit". If there is an excess, it can be applied to the following years operations, put in the contingency fund, or returned to the owners.
Higher fees can result from a higher level of amenities (pool, recreation etc), or because of upcoming large repair or maintenance items (roof, building envelope etc), or because of unanticipated large cost increases to normal line items (insurance, waste removal etc.).
A realistic range of strata fees for what you describe would be $200-500/ month. The one you mentioned would be on the high end but not abnormal.
The best thing to do is get the precious two or three years strata info, scour it in detail, and determine what the health of the strata is currently. Red flags would be a low contingency fund, quarrelling council, signs of mismanagement, and neglected maintenance.

There is no magic to it and the fees merely represent a shared cost of having someone else take care of property that is commonly owned and outside of your walls.
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Queen K
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Re: Condo/townhouse fees.

Post by Queen K »

bb49 wrote:My wife and I are starting to talk about downsizing in the next one to five years.

We're giving some thought to a townhouse/condo but have no experience with them. We are aware of the many downsides compared to a large house on a large lot, but one question we have is regarding the maintenance fees.
What do these usually include?

This comes up now because I pulled up a listing of a condo, beautiful place, third floor of a three story building, built in 1995, almost 1500 s.f., vaulted ceiling, large windows, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, etc., great view and all that good stuff.

The maintenance fees are $436.00 a month. That seems a little steep for me, but is it?
Btw, annual property taxes are $2400, almost $1,000 less than what we pay now.
So, would the annual taxes be included in the fees?

One more thing, it's listed at $415,000.
Okay, I've been there. Owned a townhouse. Condo unit won't be that much different.

Strata fees generally increase annually..

There is the dreaded Strata Council and the people on it may or may not be believe in strict adherence to the rules.
Read and re-read the rules. Take nothing for granted. There are strata rules here in Kelowna which forbid any growing of vegetables on the patio. It is specified. Even though tomatoes are a fruit, my client got turned into the Strata, err, reported. Is there something about the front entrance you don't like? Don't take it for granted you can change it without approval. Know how it's done and who you suck up to get anything done. Some love the power to withold approval.

Know that a strata council gets to decide how your money is spent. We had one who wanted to remedy black mould with the Mickey Mouse version and one who wanted it done the right way. Mickey won. Is there some on the strata reverting back to the Great Depression years and some who have no problem spending money? <This is the in-fighting clause LANDM cited. Read those minutes! Re-read them if you have to.

Know what you can live with and can't.

There are many benefits to living in a condo, one is that your utilities are generally lower. Pay attention to how the townhouse is heated and if wood stoves are forbidden, you may never have an option for independent heat again. Lock and go. That's another one. Need to have people over? There may be three spots for visitors to park at, or four! Due to pet restrictions your neighbour can't have five dogs. Neither can you. Maybe pets are not allowed, period.

Is the condo building fenced? Fences have become big business due to rising crime. The type and maintanence of a fence can be costly. Take a look at any fencing around the place, is it compromised? Because if it's like any of the fences I see in Kelowna, your Strata may be asked for a replacement fence and then the discussion will revolve around what type. My Strata replaced four foot chainlink with 10 foot chainlink for security reasons along Lawrence Ave. Pay attention to all the security around where you want to live, does it need increased? Strengthened? Fencing can cause big bills.

These places turn into Payton Place.

Throw yourself off the bridge now if you are still considering moving into a strata unit. J/K, some people love it and getting away from yard maintenance is a life saver, unless your strata is saving money by asking people to volunteer to do work around the place unpaid. Which is how my mom's place was run until they all aged in place and couldn't do it anymore.

Good luck, sorry for the Debbie Downer stuff but it's more of a reality than you know.
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