We have a client right now who has been searching for freehold townhouses with NO CONDO FEES.

“There’s no way I would EVER pay condo fees.  What a rip-off!”

We hear that language all the time.  But if you examine what condo fees include – exterior maintenance, including roofs and windows in some cases, road maintenance, lawn care and monthly water bills – it doesn’t seem as bad.  Right?

But still… most people have an aversion to the condo fees.

Let’s have a look at the costs.  Right now, you can buy a freehold townhouse for about $600,000.  The equivalent value for a condo townhouse might float around the $440,000 range with an average of $350/month in fees in Milton.  Both houses would provide three-bedrooms, similar size, a functional basement and a smallish backyard.

Let’s have a closer look at the two expenses that REALLY matter:  how much you need UPFRONT, and how much ONGOING, and we’ll see where that takes us.

FREEHOLD $750,000


Downpayment:  $150,000 (assuming 20% down, although you could buy with 5% down)
Mortgage payment:  $2,688/month (2.5% interest rate)
Taxes:  $320/month
Condo fees:  $0/month

TOTAL PER MONTH:  $3,008 + utilities
TOTAL UP FRONT:  $165,000 (with 2% budget for closing costs)

Now let’s look at the condo townhouse option…



Downpayment:  $124,000 (assuming 20% down, although you could buy with 5% down)
Mortgage payment:  $2,222/month (2.5% interest rate)
Taxes:  $260/month
Condo fees:  $350/month (includes water, exterior maintenance and building insurance)

TOTAL PER MONTH:  $2,832 + utilities
TOTAL UP FRONT:  $139,000

Now we’re talking!  You save a total of $26,000 in up-front day one expenses, and $176 per month by buying a condo townhouse.  Over the next 25 years, you would SAVE $52,800 by choosing the condo option, including all those extra monthly condo fees.

Plus, for some condos like the one in the picture, you wouldn’t be paying for building insurance, exterior maintenance or your water bill.  If your roof needs replacing, the condo takes care of it.  A new roof might be $6,000 ($400 per year for 15 years), so about $30 per month needs to be saved so that you have enough for that roof.

People don’t think about homeownership in a freehold that way, but that’s how condos budget for their expenses.

So really, the condo option would likely save you an additional $150-200 per month if the monthly maintenance includes any of these items.

That certainly makes it worth considering, don’t you think?


  1. Hi Chuck,

    Very well explained, however, the monthly condo fees increases 2%-3% every year (never stays the same) so the $350 monthly would go up to $500.00 monthly in no time, also the fees are sometimes misused by the property managements, that is the draw back. In freeholds (no condo fees) you don’t have to worry about that.

    • Hi Shawn, I’ve seen some condo corporations freeze increases for multiple years, and others have increased by large amounts year over year. Despite that, the 2-3% increase is somewhat normal because the cost of everything increases over time – hydro, gas, salaries, supplies and materials.

      Before buying, it’s always a good idea to request a Status Certificate, which shows the rules and the budget of the condo… and have a lawyer look at it. There are many great & well-managed condos, and some that you should avoid at all costs.

      Thanks for the great reply!

  2. I think condo fee increase first few years then after you expect very few changes per year, that’s what I have been told.

    • Hi Kumar, the reason for this is because the condominium corporations are brand new, and often they under-budget in the early years. They realize after a few years that they weren’t collecting enough money, and the fees can go up 10-30%.

      Good corporations will start to normalize after this time. A healthy range of fees, depending on what they include, for a condo apartment building are anywhere between $0.50 to $0.80 cents per square foot. For condo townhouses, we use a slightly different formula based on the total number of units and what’s included in the fees.

      Also, putting a condition on review of the Status Certificate will allow your lawyer to examine the financial health of the condominium you’re buying.

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