Buying a condo might be one of the largest investments you ever make, so it can be a welcome relief once you’ve closed the deal. But are you aware of all the costs that come with buying a condo, both during and after closing?
When budgeting for the cost of purchasing a new condo, be sure you’re aware of these commonly overlooked expenses.
Land Transfer Tax (x2)
If it’s your first time buying a home it might come as a surprise to find out that your unit has some auxiliary fees. One of these fees is land transfer tax, and in Toronto residents pay two separate land transfer taxes - one provincial and one municipal.
The amount you are eligible to pay for both taxes is determined on a sliding scale based on the property value. Luckily, first-time buyers are eligible for a refund as part of the government’s Land Transfer Tax Refund Program. This won’t take care of the whole expense, but it’ll certainly help.
One of the main selling points of condos is the perks. From party rooms and rooftop terraces to gyms and swimming pools, condominium living can provide everything you need right at your doorstep. But alas, these perks come at a price - known as your condo fees.
Condo fees cover the cost of amenities in the building, as well as maintenance and upkeep of these spaces, and cover the cost of any staffing that may be needed. Condo fees also cover less exciting, but extremely vital things, such as maintenance and utilities.
As a condo owner, you will work alongside other residents in the building to decide how much money will go towards amenities, staffing and maintenance. Usually there is a volunteer board of residents from your building who will get together for monthly meetings. Condo fees can vary depending on the size and age of your condo, but typically the higher quality the amenities are, the more your condo fees will be.
While having home insurance is basically mandatory, and renters insurance is usually optional, it isn’t so black and white when it comes to condos. By law, you are not obliged to invest in an insurance policy; however, it’s the only way to ensure all of your possessions are fully protected. And the building owner you’re looking to buy in might make insurance a term of your tenancy.
Your personal insurance will cover both damage and liability claims within your unit, and it will act as a safety net in case you accidentally cause damage to any surrounding units.
While your insurance covers your personal unit, the condominium association will have their own policy that covers common areas - you will contribute towards this in your monthly condo fees. The association’s declaration and guidelines will show the key points of their shared policy, and detail the parts of the building your contributions protect.
Home inspection fee
Buying a condo over a house means less maintenance is required. However, things aren’t always smooth sailing and there are still things that can go wrong with your unit. Just like you would when purchasing a detached house, you should have your property inspected by a professional who can survey the current state of the unit and predict any potential maintenance problems that may arise in the future.
Most of the common elements should be inspected in the condo, including the electrical system, heating and air conditioning, plumbing, and windows and doors.
These inspections can cost anywhere from $250, going up in price depending on the size and detail of your condo. Occasionally a seller will cover the cost of the inspection, however, it is in your best interest as a buyer to ensure a professional has taken a thorough look.
During the property-buying process you will be required to hire a real estate lawyer who will manage all of the paperwork involved. They are the ones who draw up mortgage contracts and assess any legal property associated with the unit. It’s a task that only a professional should deal with, and naturally it comes with a cost. Lawyer fees can be fairly high and often include HST.
Once all of the paperwork is done with, it’s time to move in! However, the most exciting day doesn’t come without a price tag. You’re going to have to transport all of your furniture and belongings from your old place to the condo building; if you own your own van you’re in luck, but for the majority of us, this means hiring a moving van.
The logistics of a condo building are also a little different than a house, and it's going to be a journey transporting everything from the van to your unit - especially if you’ve bagged the luxurious penthouse suite. There are teams of movers who spend their 9-5 helping people transport their possessions from A to B, and are often on hand to help set your nest up.
You should consider what resources you have available, and whether you will need to source any extra help for the job.
After moving in you’ll need to have internet installed along with any other electronically delivered services, like cable and phone. While you’re already used to the monthly fee, reinstallation in a new location usually carries another one-time fee.