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Condo fees: Are they worth it?

Ginger Dean

May 7, 2014

By: Ginger Dean, Home Finance Specialist

In: Finance and Legal

Condos offer a smaller space than a single family home with (presumably) a lower purchase cost enticing enough to make them a popular option in many parts of the country. But after you add in the additional cost of monthly condo fess, is the lower asking price still a good deal?

To some people the extra monthly cost of condo fees is worth the advantages of cohabitating - they mean not having to cut grass, not having to shovel snow, and not being responsible for the maintenance and cleanliness of common areas. That's the beauty of condo fees, after all. They make your life maintenance free. But it comes at a cost.

What is included in monthly condo fees?

There are two types of condo fees - utilities and maintenance. Depending on your lifestyle, these fees may make you walk away from the deal or go running toward it. For utilities, many consider it an advantage of living in a condo to only have to pay the one monthly bill. The second major advantage of condo living is that building maintenance costs are shared amongst all homeowners in the building. When you own a home, all maintenance, repairs, and other associated costs come at your own expense. It's up to you and only you to pay for any damage and upgrades. This is not the case with condo fees.

If it's so great, why doesn't everyone buy a condo?

The truth is condo living can be very convenient because it's low maintenance living. Living in a condo is also presumably safer than living in a single family home. There are fewer points of entry and there is usually just one secure entrance into the building. Depending on your lifestyle and needs, the cost of monthly condo fees can be worth it because the trade off is security and convenience.

So why do condo fees get such a bad rep? It's because sometimes you pay for things that you don't necessarily use. For instance, if your building has a beautifully maintained pool area and lawn, but you never spend any time there, you'll still be the one paying for their upkeep (at least in part).

Condo fees are kind of like an insurance policy. You pay in advance for any mishaps that may happen in the future. So though homeowners might pay for things in the building that they don't necessarily use, the cost of any potential damage is also shared. When you combine that with the convenience of having one utility bill each month and the security factor, it could makes condo living worth checking out.

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