UNDERSTAND CONDO FEES
The good news about condos is you'll never have to worry about replacing the roof or tinkering with the furnace again. But that convenience comes at a hefty price: monthly condo fees. As a condo dweller, you own the inside of your unit. The outside of your unit and the land surrounding the building are owned collectively by you and all other building residents. The general maintenance and insurance for these"common elements' are covered by everyone's monthly fees, as are some--but not necessarily all--utilities. A portion of your condo fees also go into a reserve fund, which is set aside for major repair and replacement costs that occur as a building gets older.
Of course, the more amenities your condo development boasts--24 hour concierge, upscale fitness centre, valet parking--the more you'll have to pay. As well, the larger the unit, the higher the fees.
Builders guarantee that the maintenace fees on pre construction units will not increase for one year after your purchase. After that, don't be surprised if they go up substantially.
Before buying, find out exactly what your condo fees include: some buildings include utilities in maintenance fee, while other buildgs have the individual owners pay some of the utilities directly. With a pre owned condo, determine how much the fees have increased annually since the building went up. In many cases, it's about 2% to 5% a year, but the increases can be higher, especially in older buildings.
A word of warning: watch out for rock-bottom fees in pre-owned condos. They often signal that little maintenance has been done, so those expenses may come up shortly. Walk through the the building; Is the paint chipping? Are tiles peeling off the walls of the common areas? If so, those will probably need to be repaired and your condo fees will rise to accommodate that.