You’ve probably heard it before: buying a condo is less expensive than buying a home. At face value, it might seem to be the case; after all, living in a condo means you don’t have to worry about most maintenance, you don’t have to worry about shovelling or landscaping, and condos typically have a smaller footprint than a home. If you haven’t done the side-by-side numbers, let’s go through them together. Then you’ll know once and for all if condo living is less expensive than homeownership.
In 2018, the CBC provided an analysis that showed 6,500 condo units being built in Calgary that year. While there was a condo building boom, developers were building for future demand. The analysis also detailed the diversity in newer builds that were meant to appeal to buyers from all walks of life. In March of 2022, the cost of a condo apartment increased 11% from March 2021 but was still less than $300,000. The cost of a semi-detached home saw a 20% increase over the past year and sits at $585,000.
While it probably comes as no surprise to learn that the initial purchase of a condo is less expensive, everyone knows that homeownership goes beyond the purchase. Let’s take a look at fees now. Condo fees typically cover heat, water, insurance (structural), reserve funds, management company fees, landscaping/snow removal, exterior maintenance, and sometimes live-in managers or security personnel. The last two are only as required. Some condo buildings might not have that kind of staff in place.
Fees are calculated per square foot and at a minimum, you should expect to pay $0.50 per square foot. A typical 2- or 3-bedroom condo would have around 1000 square feet. That would mean, at minimum condo fees would be $500/month. Keep in mind that luxury condos will have more expensive monthly fees. This means your average monthly payment of $1,744.81 (based on a $300,000 mortgage) will increase at a minimum to $2,244.81. That is still more than $1,000 less than what an average monthly mortgage would be on a home purchased at $585,000.
Furnishing Your Home
Let’s talk now about furnishing your home. Some semi-detached homes can be as large as 1,676 square feet, compared to the 1,000 square foot size of a condo. Buying the furniture needed to fill a larger space invariably costs more.
As mentioned previously, condo fees give peace of mind, especially when it comes to maintenance. Paying that monthly fee means residents don’t have to worry about shingling a roof, exterior walls, or any large-scale projects that a house may encounter. However, condo owners may have to deal with what’s known as a special assessment. This is an added fee for condo owners and for some who have heard it uttered in the past may feel more than a little concern about its possibility. A portion of your condo fees goes to the board or association’s reserve fund. This is for the larger expenses such as roofing, paving, replacing boilers, or common area flooring. But what happens if a roof were to give out? What happens if Calgary gets another large hail storm that causes significant damage to the exterior of the building and the insurance or the reserve fund isn’t full enough to pay for the full cost of repair and/or replacement? Then residents can expect a special assessment. This can come in the form of increased monthly condo fees or a large one-time lump sum. While this is no different than a homeowner needing to come up with the money to shingle their own roof, it can seem extra daunting due to the fact you’ve already been paying fees.
Seeing all these facts lined up though, the answer is pretty clear. While you may be giving up certain elements that homeownership provides, at the end of the day, buying a condo in Calgary is less expensive than homeownership.
Contact a Fully-licensed Real Estate Agent
Looking for an experienced REALTOR® who specializes in real estate across Calgary? At Royal LePage Benchmark we are here to help you.