What are the costs of owning a condo vs. owning a house? I thought I would break this down, since it’s a decision many young buyers and downsizers are debating.

In the case of young buyers, do you wait to save the downpayment for a house or get yourself into the housing market by purchasing a condo? And even if you have saved enough for a house, what are the pros & cons of purchasing a condo instead?

Investment

The average detached home prices went up 19.9% from spring 2015 to spring 2016, with the high demand and low supply for low-rise homes in Toronto. Condo prices increased 7.7% during the same period, so demand is very strong for Toronto condos as well. Having equity in a condo can help in keeping up with the quickly increasing prices, and enables owners to move up into a house before they know it.

The general public seems to be more concerned about the condo market because of the amount of new buildings going up, but the demand is there, especially in popular neighbourhoods. I discuss the condo market further in a previous blog post, “Why Toronto Prices Continue to Grow“. Toronto is a growing city, so you can’t go wrong with owning in a popular area, whether a condo or a house.

Maintenance Costs

Maintenance fees are one of the biggest turnoffs for buyers considering condo living. However, an obvious point to keep in mind is that maintenance fees eliminate expensive exterior maintenance costs of a house. Roofs, landscaping, eavestroughs, and general upkeep are not cheap.

The average maintenance fee in Toronto is $0.59/sq.ft. (according to a study by Condos.ca). Low maintenance fees are $0.45/sq.ft. (10th%) and high maintenance fees are $0.73/sq.ft. (90th %).

A common fear among buyers is that condo fees are going to skyrocket once they own in the building. It is a myth that condo fees always go up; they do typically increase, but the condo board is in control. Many condos are doing audits of their expenses and reducing their maintenance fees. I recently received the status papers of a condo complex that had reduced its maintenance fees by 25% that year, and the Condos.ca study mentions that the Toy Factory recently reduced their fees by 30%.

New condos have 12.8% lower maintenance fees than market average, but within 9 years they are at par. New condo fees increase significantly faster over the first few years as they figure out their expenses and reserve fund for repairs, etc.

The study by Condos.ca breaks down condo maintenance fees in more detail, view it HERE.

The benefit of owning a house is that you have full control of how much maintenance you want to do and what contractors you want to use.

Utility Costs

Utilities typically included in condo maintenance fees are water, heat & A/C. Sometimes hydro & is included, but this is less common. In our experience, typical hydro bills for a 1-2 bedroom condo are $40-$100/month. New condos are quite well insulated and more environmentally friendly, so this also helps keep hydro costs down. As much as 60% of your annual electricity costs go to heating & cooling your home (according to Toronto Hydro).

Typical hydro bills for a 3-4 bedroom Toronto house are approximately $150-200/month, and gas bills are approximately $150/month. In a house you have more control over your furnace & air conditioning options, and high efficiency systems are becoming more common. You can get up to $650 in rebates by installing these. Find out more HERE.

I hope this provided you with some valuable information. If you have any other questions about homeownership, please call us anytime!

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