The next time that you complain about your rising maintenance fees, just think about the folks in these buildings that are paying upwards of $1.22 per square foot!
Suddenly, the 5% yearly increase in your building doesn’t seem so bad…
Remember last summer when I had that bright idea to comb through MLS for hours on end, compile data, make notes, and finally release my list of “Most Over Saturated Buildings in Toronto”?
The response was……mixed, to say the least. I think about 80% of all people who commented supported my thinking that when a third of all units in a building are for sale, perhaps the market is over-saturated. But those that didn’t agree certainly made their feelings known!
Well, I’m at it once again! A combination of events has left me alone for the weekend with nothing to do, and I’ve spent hours going through MLS and compiling data on the highest maintenance fees in the downtown core.
Anybody who lives in these buildings will likely post negative comments, but what am I supposed to do? Never post anything negative about condos? Pfff. That’s for the other 99.9% of Toronto Realtors to do…
I’m not saying that buildings with high fees are all bad, and aren’t worth buying into. I’m just putting the data out there, and it’s up to the buyer pool to make judgements.
I’ve always thought that there are three thresholds for maintenance fees:
Below $0.50 per square foot – these fees are artificially low, and the developer who conned you into buying pre-construction because fees were only $0.41/sqft is going to leave the cupboard bare. Watch out!
$0.50 – $0.59 per square foot – anything in this range is exceptionally low, and I might expect that the building is only 2-3 years old.
$0.60 – $0.69 per square foot – the mid-point of this range is likely the average, but anything in the range is quite fair.
Over $0.70 per square foot – anything over $0.70 per square foot is “high,” in my opinion.
I’ve decided, however, to split this blog post into two separate articles. Most of the buildings on the list of “high maintenance fees” would be hotel/condos, so I’m going to detail those buildings in the first post, and then exclusively the condominiums in the second.
A quick note about the data below – I’ve used MLS listings no more than four months old, where square footage and maintenance fees are both detailed on the listing. I’m going to say that every number stated is “approximate,” since variances might occur.
Here are the buildings with the highest maintenance fees in C01 & C08, aka “The downtown core.”
1 King Street West
Fees in this building are as much as $1.22 per square foot.**
See those asterisks, however? Those are there for a reason.
I’m not sure how the fees in this building are calculated, but the smallest units – the ones in the 400-500 sqft range, have the highest fees per square foot. The larger units have fees around $0.80 per square foot, which is still insane, but not as bad, comparatively.
Many of these condominium units are are part of the “pool” that are rented out on a nightly basis. Look at the photos of these units on MLS – they all look like actual hotel suites!
Nevertheless, paying $525 per month in maintenance fees for a 430 square foot condo is exceptionally steep, no matter how good room service is.
8 Colborne Street – “The Cosmopolitan”
Fees at this hotel-condominium are around $1.05 per square foot.
Maybe that’s why there are currently fourteen units for sale with an average days on the market of 65, but I digress.
In case you’re asking yourself, “What’s the benefit to living in a hotel-condominium and paying such high monthly fees,” the answer is: pool, gym, room service, self-worship, ego-mania, and telling your friends that you live in a hotel.
Sure, having a spa and a restaurant in your building might be ‘cool,’ but who the hell has time to swim and play racquetball every night?
200 Victoria Street – “Pantages”
Why did I choose this picture?
Well in case you’re not aware, when most Realtors go to list a condominium for sale on MLS, they’ll scroll through the MLS archives and find a photo of the exterior of the building that they want to use. The result is that the same 2-3 photos are used for most condos.
When I listed a condo for sale at 205 Frederick Street shortly after the building was registered, I took a photo of the building with my tiny little Canon Powershot. That very photo has been used in a good majority of the listings for units at 205 Frederick in the last three years.
So – back to the photo above at 200 Victoria Street. I chose this one because it appears all over MLS, and it’s an awful photo! That dude is leaning on his Toyota, very proud, as he poses for his wife/girlfriend in front of “Pantages.”
And THAT is the photo most Realtors use when they list condos at 200 Victoria Street.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot – fees in this building are approximately $0.90 per square foot.
It’s less at 210 Victoria Street, but they’re both pricey. Still, I’d rather live in the centre of the city at Pantages than at 8 Colborne Street or in the Soho Hotel…
350 Wellington Street – “Soho Condominiums”
Fees at the “Soho” are about $0.85 per square foot.
The building shares amenities with the Soho Hotel, and residents can “benefit” from the in-house restaurant and gym.
If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a C-list celebrity, such as that guy from that show about those people…
Many of these units are rented as hotel units like 1 King Street West. I remember showing a unit last year and accidentally stumbling upon a piece of paper that detailed the security for every moment of a Hollywood A-list starlet’s visit to Toronto. On another occasion, I found a pile of movie scripts spread out on the bed.
If you guys can think of any others, please let me know!
I think the lesson we can take away from this blog post is that any condominium that is linked to a hotel will undoubtedly have higher monthly maintenance fees.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the condominiums in the downtown core (sans hotel) that have the highest fees. It’s a shame because some of them are truly amazing spaces and in unbeatable locations!
Consider the hard lofts at 71 Front Street that are right next to the St. Lawrence Market! What a location! But can you justify paying $0.83 per square foot in fees when newer buildings up the street like Vu Condominium have fees around $0.49?
There is no right or wrong answer. That’s what makes each individual buyer an “individual”…