Maintenance fees can cover a range of services

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Dear Heather,

I have seen a really cute condo that I am thinking of buying. Can you explain how the maintenance fees work and what they cover?

Buyer

Dear Buyer,

Maintenance fees are charged in most condominium and townhouse complexes, however they vary on what they actually cover.

You should know exactly what you are paying for as each complex can vary from very minimal ie $50 twice a year in freehold subdivisions to cover maintenance on communal roadways and lighting, right up to $1,200 per month for a high-end condo on large acreage or waterfront, with pools and tennis courts.

Most fees are charged on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Fees typically cover ongoing maintenance items — landscaping, pool maintenance, roadways, lighting in communal areas, building insurance, exterior maintenance and painting and sometimes, additional water.

In the case of roofs and walls, homeowners benefit from favourable pricing from contractors looking to do larger jobs and it ensures a uniform look throughout the community.

(Note here: maintenance fees rarely cover change of windows, shutters or exterior doors, all of which must be approved by the condominium board).

The types of expenses covered by maintenance fees vary greatly from development to development; in condominium associations, utilities expenses such as water and sewage removal may even be a part.

These differences make it difficult to make a straight comparison. Even within the same complex, different fees may be charged based on square footage or annual rental value. Even though fees associated with one development may be higher than another, those fees can cover a broader range of services, which means the total household expenditure can work out the same, or cheaper than other complexes.

Special assessments are sometimes required by the homeowners’ association for large repairs or maintenance items that cannot be funded strictly by the monthly fees. Such examples may be the replacement of an old roof structure, termite tenting or upgrades on infrastructure. Researching past special assessments may sometimes, but not always, give an indication of future payments of this kind. For instance, a complex that is over 30 years old, might be due for a large plumbing or electrical overhaul.

Overall, individuals who buy homes in a condominium complex want to ensure that the neighbourhood looks a certain way and is properly maintained.

Particularly if they are younger, working couples who have very little spare time, or are of the older generation who can’t always manage heavy tasks. This, in turn, increases homeowner satisfaction and helps future resale values. If you’re house hunting, be sure to compare the pros and cons of these associations before buying.

I would also advise making a review of the condominium maintenance account a contingency of the contract so that you can be confident that funds are well managed and that residents are up-to-date on their contributions.

A good real estate agent will guide you towards a well-maintained complex and look over the numbers with you, to be sure you are making a solid investment.

Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 28 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Read this article on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate

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Published Nov 28, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 27, 2017 at 11:20 pm)

Maintenance fees can cover a range of services

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