01 / 02 / 2020
See how your monthly strata maintenance fee compares to other Vancouver condo buildings
A beautiful part of condo living is that we have a Strata Council that looks after common components. When we go on vacation, we simply lock our door and forget about it. While away, we won’t receive an email from neighbours innocently suggesting our lawn is too long.
Properly maintaining your condo building is important for your enjoyment and to protect your investment. Recently, it became even more critical in light of insurance changes (read more). To fund this work, each owner pays a monthly maintenance fee based on the interior square footage of their condo. If a project requires more money, a special assessment may be issued requiring a lump sum payment from owners. Greater detail on how Strata Corporations finance building maintenance and repairs can be read here.
All buildings require maintenance. Your two overarching options are to pay slow-and-steady through higher monthly maintenance fees, or lump sums through special assessments.
I created the above graph showing the maintenance fees of select Vancouver condo buildings through a deep dive into publicly available MLS data. When a range of values resulted for a particular building, I used my best judgement to select the reported figure. I welcome your input to improve the accuracy of the data.
If your building isn’t on the list, to determine your comparable figure, divide your monthly maintenance fee by your interior square footage (this excludes balconies, parking stalls, and storage lockers). Your Strata Corporation will use the sqft as per the strata plan. Feel free to reach out to me if you’d like help with the calculation. Your Strata Manager will know the rate as well.
Example: You pay a monthly maintenance fee of $650 for your condo that has 1100 sqft of interior living space.
$650 ÷ 1100 sqft = $0.59/sqft
Considerations when buying a condo
Please keep in mind that the monthly maintenance fee is just one part of the picture. A low fee doesn’t mean the building is not as well maintained as one with a higher fee. Some highly maintained buildings have low fees, which may indicate they rely upon special assessments.
In my experience, in general, owners more readily support proactive repairs when it requires no or only a modest special assessment.
To gain a holistic view of a particular building, your realtor should put the monthly maintenance fee into context with the:
- Level of luxury – more luxurious buildings tend to cost more to maintain.
- Building amenities – amenities raise maintenance fees, particularly pools and concierges.
- Building systems – some buildings have unique systems. For instance, there’s a monthly fee at Jameson House for the maintenance of the auto-valet system (the parking fee is excluded from the value in the graph as it can’t be included and still result in a definitive $/sqft due to condos being differently sized).
- Utilities – some buildings include utilities in the monthly fee. For instance, geothermal heating and cooling can be included in monthly maintenance fees.
- Building condition – need to know what work they have done and what work they have upcoming.
- Maintenance funding strategy – the Strata Council should have an idea as to whether they’ll raise monthly maintenance fees and/or require special assessments in the future.
Ongoing considerations while you own your condo
Your Strata Council should be following an annual and long-term maintenance plan and know how the regular and large projects will be funded. I strongly suggest you read the strata meeting minutes and attend your Annual General Meetings and any Special General Meetings so you understand what’s happening in your building and to vote on building matters.
If you’re a past client, I’m happy to attend your AGMs and SGMs with you or on your behalf, especially those with snacks. Connect with me and we’ll figure it out.
If the strata fee for your building is low compared to similar buildings, you may choose to encourage your Strata to increase its monthly fees. It can be as simple as, ‘with our current monthly fees, we’ll pay large special assessments in the future. What do you think about increasing our monthly fees to be in line with similar buildings?’ To avoid a shock, any increase could be staged over a period of years.
Trevor Boddy and I are working through building reviews to show how the buildings fit within Vancouver and, where appropriate, internationally. The reviews completed to date that relate to this graph can be found via the below links.
I hope this helps ensure you’re well-protected. Please contact me if you have questions or comments email or phone/text.
604.314.7138 [email protected]