There is no denying that as buildings get older things break down and they can become more costly to keep up and run, but it is the building management that have the greatest impact on the fees.
There is a common misconception out there that older condos are worse because they have higher maintenance fees. While this reigns true for some buildings, it isn’t something you can actually predict by looking at the age of the building.
There are some old buildings that have had fantastic management over the years, even during the times when property management was the wild west. There were plenty of cases of property managers stealing money from the condo corporation and contracting out maintenance contracts to friends and family at higher than market rates. Over recent years there is much more focus on where the money is going and new laws were created to protect condo owners.
What Can You Do To Make Sure Maintenance Fees Stay Reasonable In Your Building?
If you are a current condo owner I suggest attending your annual meetings, pick your board of directors carefully (as they usually decide where your money goes) and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions.
There are buildings where the money was not managed well over the years and fees have crept up over time, but there are also examples of well-managed buildings where the fees are excellent. For example here is a 27-year-old building where the fees work out to $0.60/sqft which is slightly below average for the city:
This building hasn’t been updated as much as other buildings over the years, but they $775k in the bank and are in good financial state based on their reserve fund studies.
What Really Sends Maintenance Fees Higher?
One of the most important factors though is what the maintenance fees actually cover. Many old buildings include things like hydro and cable TV into the fees which is going to make any condo fee higher.
Like most things with real estate, you need to ask why and do some investigation to find the full story, but my point with this article is old buildings don’t always have higher fees.