Condominium Amenities

How Do You Value Condominium Amenities?


7 minute read

July 18, 2018

How Do You Value Condominium Amenities?

I would have thought that I’ve re-written this blog over and over, throughout the years, but I combed through the archives and realized the last time I really listed off Toronto’s most common condominium amenities was back in 2012!  And a lot has changed since then.

Without exaggeration, I did not once, ever use the gym in my first condo.  And it wasn’t a bad gym, I just never had occasion to use it.

In my current condo, I run a 5K on the treadmill every Sunday night.  And by “every,” I suppose I mean in my mind, because in practice I probably do it every other week.

Perhaps I workout in my current condo gym, but never did in my previous condo, because of life changes and happenstance.  But either way, I have personally experienced both the value of a condominium amenity, and the waste of the very same one.

Let’s not forget, you do pay for condominium amenities.

One of the very most naive things I ever hear among the buyer pool is, “I feel like I’m getting so much more value when I look at condos with substantial amenities, than with condos without.”

That’s like during the the 2018 Provincial election, when the NDP and the Liberals kept trying to out-do each-other by providing more “free” services to the voters.

In both examples, you’re paying for it, whether you realize it or not.

Some condos in the downtown core have absolutely zero amenities, and some are completely over-done.

So before I give you some examples of the latter, let me show you how I break down condo amenities, at least from a value and functionality standpoint:


  • Gym
  • Concierge
  • Rooftop Deck


  • Party Room
  • Guest Suites
  • Pool
  • Hot Tub/Sauna


  • Games/Billiard Room
  • Tennis/Squash Court
  • Yoga Studio


  • Cinema
  • Dog Wash
  • Car Wash
  • Meeting Room
  • Multimedia/Business Room


  • Bowling Alley
  • Virtual Golf Simulator
  • Baseball Batting Cage
  • Video Game Room
  • Poker Room
  • Library
  • Lounge

Like I said, we could probably argue about this all day long, whether it’s what tier a certain amenity belongs in, or whether one particular amenity is more valuable than another.

I’ve also probably missed a few of the newer amenities offered in downtown condos, but perhaps that’s because some of them are just so crazy that I never knew they existed.  More on that later.

For now, let me briefly run through the amenities above, and why I think they belong in certain tiers.


Concierge – This is, without a doubt, the number-one amenity that people look for, whether it’s for safety, or because they don’t like going to Canada Post to pick up packages.  A 24/7 concierge is becoming automatic in most new condominiums, and that’s primarily because of the popularity.

Gym – This is a close second, in my opinion.  Many of us condo-dwellers, myself included, grew up as gym-rats, and the condo gyms just aren’t “enough” for us.  But many of us have come around on supplementing a gym routine with a quick fix in the condo gym, and then there are scores of buyers who get more than they need from the condo gym, and relish the opportunity to give up a monthly membership.

Rooftop Deck – Whether this has communal BBQ’s or not, I would still put this in Tier #1, as most of my condo buyers are looking for some additional outdoor space, with or without a view, just for extra breathing room.  Especially for those buyers who have only a Juliette balcony, or a small, useless 4 x 6 foot plank.


Party Room – Most people who live in condos have never rented the party room, and yet so many condo-buyers want one.  I think that when you’re contemplating a move into 700, 600, or maybe even 476 square feet, you like the idea of being able to use a much larger space.  It makes the commitment to a small box in the sky a lot easier!

Guest Suites – In the same way that people like the idea of a party room, condo-buyers always seem to think of their “out-of-town guests.”  It’s very sweet of them, and again, in practice, they don’t get a ton of use out of them.

Pool – Many of you will balk at this being in Tier #2, but I get a lot of requests from buyers for a pool.  Certainly more people ask for a pool over a bowling alley, or a wine cellar, or whatever else developers are coming up with these days.

Sauna/Hot Tub – This could debatably go in Tier #3, but with a pool often comes these two features, so I think they go hand-in-hand.


Games/Billiard – Getting into the third tier means these items aren’t necessarily requested by my condo-buyers, but rather I’m gaging their response to the mere presence of these amenities.  A billiard room gets used, and thus it’s the most common of all the “games” in condos.  Spaces like the games room at the Merchandise Lofts – with billiards, ping-pong, foosball, darts et al makes for a much longer stay, even an actual “event” one Saturday night.

Tennis/Squash Courts – This is hardly ever requested, but I know a lot of people who use the tennis courts in the buildings down by the waterfront.

Yoga Studio – You might think, “This is really just a gym, so why isn’t this in the first tier?”  Well, I think a gym has weights and cardio machines.  A yoga studio is a separate, defined, enclosed area strictly for yoga, although in my building people use it for band practice…


Cinema – You might use this once, maybe.  If you’re using this on the regular, then you’re clearly making a point to get your condo fees’ worth!

Dog Wash – You can put this in Tier #3 if you want, and I probably won’t disagree.  There are so many dog-owners in condos these days, but I personally don’t think that means a defined dog washing station is a necessary condo amenity.  I wash my dog once per week in my bathtub, although she’s only eight pounds.

Car Wash – This can be convenient, I’ll give it that.  But as most of you know, the “coin-wash” you get of the do-it-yourself variety is awful compared to the $10 wash you get, even at Esso.  So while this is convenient when you have bird crap on your windshield, you know it’s not the real-deal.

Meeting Room – Now we get into amenities that make some of you ask, “What the hell is that?”  Well, a meeting room is essentially a smaller version of a party room, often that you don’t need to either, a) pay for, b) hire security for.  We have one in my building, one level below the party room.  I had a fantasy football summit a few years ago (don’t ask – it was a meeting after thirteen years of league play with the same ten guys, to discuss rule changes), and I didn’t want to pay for the party room, or bother my wife with the presence of the other nine guys.  This room was perfect.

Multimedia/Business – I know this sounds silly, like the “business centre” of yesteryear, but think of all the students that rent in downtown condos, many of whom rent a 1-plus-den with a roommate and have zero privacy.  Many of them go down to the multimedia room or business centre to study.


Bowling Alley – This feature made its first appearance, at least that I know of, in CityPlace back in the early 2000’s.  At the time, it seemed excessive, and unnecessary.  But as I’ll explain, and perhaps delve into further on Friday, this might have paved the way for far more outlandish features.

Virtual Golf Simulator – This is where you get into the category of, “I guess if it exists in my building, I”ll use it.”  But you would never want something like this if you knew you had to pay for it!  The problem with something like a virtual golf simulator is that the technology changes dramatically from year-to-year.  Ask anybody who has hit a golf club in the simulator at Golf Town this year, and they’ll tell you.  A simulator from 6-years-ago is like firing shots in the dark and making guesses about where they end up.  Not to mention, think about the maintenance and the potential for damage.  Just add alcohol on a Saturday night, and voila!

Baseball Batting Cage – This is getting repetitive, I know…

Video Game Room – These exist, trust me.  About halfway through writing this blog, I figured I’d better provide photo evidence of some of these amenities, so I’ll come back on Friday with a dedicated post.

Poker Room – My mind is reeling with cynical comments; I don’t know where to stat.  Is it BYOSG?  Bring your own sunglasses?  Will residents show up with advertising on their shirts?  “FULL TILT POKER” hats, and the like?  Who decides the buy-ins, the games, the players?  Is the condominium corporation responsible if somebody loses their life savings, and blames it on an illness?

Library – Here’s a return to normalcy, and yet I included this in Tier #5 because for the life of me, I’ve never understood who seeks out the use of a library in a condo.  I understand that some people out there like to turn their front lawn into those “Little Free Libraries;” take a book, leave a book!  But in a condo, I don’t know.  I remember my old stomping grounds at 230 King Street had this odd, almost awkward little area around the corner from the front foyer where there was a small shelf with books, and one chair.  It was so odd!  I had a Halloween party back in 2005 and as we were leaving the condo, somebody stumbled upon it and was like, “Oh wow!  A secret lair!”  My current condo has a library too, which is painfully awkward, since it reeks of retirees who have nothing to do.  On the wall next to the billiard table, there are shelves, clearly installed by a resident, and books – separated into genres!  “Fiction” and “Non-Fiction,” the hand-made signs read!  Hey look, I know I’m making fun here, and many of you reading this will disagree.  But walk up the aisle of an airplane and you’ll see so many older-folks on Kindles and iPads!  I will admit, I read paper books, and I will never change.  I refuse to give up the turning of a page, the placing of a bookmark, and the proud display of an actual book on a shelf, once I’ve completed it………….three times per year.  But I find it odd that as libraries in society are being closed, condominium residents are creating them at home.

Lounge – We’re not talking about party rooms here, nor are we talking about libraries.  Some condos have something called a “lounge,” which is often a party room with no party, or a library with no books.  It’s not a business centre, or a multimedia room.  What the hell is it?  I’m not sure…

Let’s break here for now, and on Friday, I’ll show you some of the more impressive, and/or ludicrous amenities that either already exist, or are being planned…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. Joel

    at 7:43 am

    You can add the PC’s fighting to give tax cuts in response the the Liberals and NDP’s programs as something we are all going to pay for!

    When I lived in a condo I occasionally used the gym and pool, but not enough to necessitate paying the extra. I have played basketball at a friends condo and they had a plethora of amenities that were shared and being used. In places with an under 25 crowd these amenities help in attracting renters.

    I think the biggest benefit to the amenities is when you are selling, or leasing the condo. It’s much easier to sell the condo lifestyle if people believe that they are going to have and use all of the amazing amenities.

    1. Batalha

      at 1:32 pm

      Sorry, Joel. I posted my comment (below) before reading the Comments section, in which case I would have seen that you beat me to the punch re. something “free” that ain’t free (on both sides of the political/social spectrum).

  2. Dan

    at 7:52 am

    Amenities are a fad. Developers are just savvier in terms of how they market new projects.

    I wonder how we’ll look back at personal wine cellars and video game rooms in a decade.

  3. Ralph Cramdown

    at 9:23 am

    This is like one of those old-timey, before-big-data conversations around the cracker barrel about what features the customer wants and how much she is willing to pay. These days, a junior would jump up and scamper off with an “I’ll go check!” and return ten minutes later with a slide deck of charts showing groups of customers and their value preferences… in any other industry.

    Sorry, just me being snarky again.

    1. daniel b

      at 3:39 pm

      there is some focus group data out there on this stuff. Challenge is that you’re relying on peoples stated preferences, as opposed to their revealed preferences. Stated are pretty worthless most of the time. unlike with consumer goods, and most other products, where you can actually look at how things sold, with real estate projects it’s very difficult to effectively adjust for all the relevant variables, particularly time and location, in comparing amenity packages, and therefore hard to gauge revealed preferences.

      on a related note, when registering prospective buyers or renters in a project, they are often asked to say what unit type they’re interested in (number of beds, baths, parking spots, etc). The expressed preference is always for larger units, more parking, etc., which then does not line up with how these same people actually buy or rent a unit. 90% of registrants in a rental building say they want a 2 bed with 2 parking spots. Don’t the studios and 1 beds lease up first at a parking ratio of 0.4 spots per unit. The seemingly obvious point that better costs more is lost on most people.

      Further, there is a clear premium for units with balconies, which i would say almost never get used. So how even where you can get at the value differential, it often has more to do with how people imagine themselves using a unit than their actual usage.

  4. Dan

    at 9:45 am

    I think you pretty much nailed the tiers here, but it is pretty subjective depending on the buyer/end user.

    I hope you mention the the planned private dog park on Friday in corktown.

  5. GinaTo

    at 11:05 am

    For the first (and only) condo I bought, I purposely looked for the fewest possible amenities, as I did not want to pay for them. Did use the small gym regularly. I love swimming, but condo pools are usually too small and too cold to be of any use. Am I the only one who does not really care about having a concierge?

    Regarding “as libraries in society are being closed”… not sure where you got that. The Toronto Public Library is incredibly busy and has so much to offer – my kid and I love spending time there. Check it out. 🙂

    1. Condodweller

      at 11:43 am

      “Am I the only one who does not really care about having a concierge?”

      No you are not. I would actually include security in that. I know good things are easy to get used to and they are not nice to give up. People complain about the expense of the pool. Have they looked at how much 24/7 security costs?

      When I lived in rental buildings I didn’t miss security at all. Some rentals do have security but there is no front desk to staff. It would be interesting to see some new buildings without GASP a front desk. If cost is a concern and the building has no amenities then why have a front desk? Cameras are cheap, and management can monitor them. There is software available that can condense all the day’s action into a few minutes i.e. cut out all the dead times without any movement. Is it really that hard to buzz up your guest? Accepting packages is the only real benefit to having a front desk.

  6. BJA

    at 12:21 pm

    Raptors make blockbuster trade! DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard! What will this mean for RE values in Toronto? Okay, Kawhi may be gone in a year, but who cares about the long term?

  7. Batalha

    at 1:26 pm

    How is providing more “free” services to the voters any different than providing more “free” tax cuts to the voters? You pay for one (in increased taxes or debt) and you pay for the other (in reduced services or reduced quality of services). As David says, “In both examples, you’re paying for it, whether you realize it or not.”

  8. gregoryyyz

    at 2:53 pm

    I appreciate it when real estate agents distinguish between a security guard and concierge at condos

    Whenever my property manager or condo board starts referring to the security guard as concierge I send a note asking what concierge services are available to me.

    There is no one opening the front door, parking my car or making my dinner reservations…

    The guard controls access, monitors security cameras and patrols the building. They do accept my packages (maximum pkg size recently reduced).

    I feel it is misleading when agents advertise units for sale in my building as having access to 24/7 concierge.

  9. Appraiser

    at 6:48 pm

    If it doesn’t have at least a nine-hole golf course – I ain’t buying.

  10. Had Enough Of Amenities

    at 10:43 pm

    I’ve been to a building with a video game room, complete with fancy color lighting and racing chairs. Most of the systems were not functional. Maintaining this takes effort and knowledge and at least in that specific building clearly not enough people used the room to care.

  11. Condodweller

    at 11:13 am

    First off re the site update: I don’t like change for the sake of change. As long as I get the info I look for I don’t really care how it’s presented (grew up on usenet) as long as it’s logically laid out. In this case, the data hub update of course makes it worthwhile. Thank you for restoring order to the universe by making comments top down. One suggestion: put the previous/next article links back, or duplicate them at the old location at the top. This made browsing back and forth really quick and easy. Pet Peeve: I don’t like the scrollable sidebar in the blog section based on hover-over. I use the mouse scroll wheel and anytime it moves over the sidebar it of course switches focus. I know….1st world problems. The site does feel much more responsive.

    I will save my on-topic comment for a separate post.

  12. Condodweller

    at 11:28 am

    I believe the most value a good agent can add to a buyer is knowledge of amenities and corresponding maintenance fees. One would think that the more amenities there are the higher the fees. But this is not always the case. Well managed buildings can keep costs down to a point where you are not paying extra for a pool for instance.

    Yes, technically you are paying for it but if the fee is less vs a building without a pool then not really. I used to live in a building where the builder never had a pool in order to keep costs down. They advertised this fact. Trouble was/is they had very high fees. My current building has a pool and other amenities I might add the old building didn’t, yet my fees are about the same and my unit is over 100sqft larger than the old.

    In my building both the pool and gym are heavily used. Obviously the fees cover their maintenance yet I don’t think of it in terms of paying specifically for the pool. It’s not like party rooms where you have to double pay. If this was a tax, people would be screaming about double taxation and yet we pay for the use of the room even though it is, or should be, covered in the fees. Why not charge for the use of the pool then?

    Looking forward to Friday to see what the new ideas are.

  13. lui

    at 2:58 pm

    From my experience even with amenities its not the best equipment,not well maintained,hours are restricted,and the users are some what suspect aka friends of the condo owner.I’m currently living in a condo that has zero amenities,but do have a
    small office/party/kitchen room and a wonderful BBQ space among the trees in the back.There is no security but we have three layer entry system.Front door,entrance to the elevators,and finally the elevators.All need a card.There are cameras and if security guard is needed for some reason like a wild party happening the property management will send them to write up a report.Zero issues and fees barely moved up the last three years.

  14. Pete

    at 9:27 am

    I will take exception to the car wash station being worse than Esso. I was at Esso this morning for a car wash and the result was so bad I should have complained but I had to get to work. Next time I’m using my building’s car wash station and doing a proper job myself.

  15. Jetsin

    at 10:09 pm

    Now I’m like, well duh! Truly thfaunkl for your help.

  16. Rick Aurora

    at 5:51 pm

    That is very true sometimes we ask for amenities at the time of looking for a condo and at the end of the day we don’t even use them
    Power of Sale Homes in Toronto

  17. Pingback: Outside The Box Condo Design? - Toronto Realty Blog

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