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The hidden costs of condos and how to manage them

(NC) Condo ownership has surged in recent decades. For a growing number of Canadians, owning a condo is one of the most significant investments of their lives.

Condos can be an attractive option based on cost, convenience, amenities and location. One advantage is that you share risk and the burden of maintenance and repair with the owners of other units. You even have a say in how the condo is run.

As they age, buildings and infrastructure will deteriorate and require attention. This is normal. Condo fees generally go toward an operating fund to cover ongoing expenses and maintenance, and a reserve fund to cover major expenses in the future. Having a solid reserve fund is critical.

While monthly fees are predictable – usually – some risks can lead to unexpected costs.

As risk assessment professionals who often advise on things like government policy on insurance, actuaries can identify and quantify potential risks, which can help condo communities invest enough in reserve funds to be ready.

Some risks are economic, including financial mismanagement by condo boards, rising interest rates and inflation. Others are even more unpredictable, like climate change. Not all condos were built to withstand the increasingly extreme conditions that are driving rising insurance and repair costs.

So, what can you do about it?

Actuaries advise owners to:

  • Be proactive in learning about the financial health of your condo association
  • Get to know your condo community and engage with your condo board
  • Ask questions – it’s your right
  • Use your vote to ensure board leadership members understand finances and will put condo owners’ interests first
  • Where possible, support repairing, renewing and replacing shared things like roofs, pools, elevators and parking lots in a timely fashion, before they become emergencies

Also, encourage the board to seek expert advice to help them make decisions. Maintenance experts can help prevent unexpected costs by recommending the right preventative measures ahead of time. Financial experts can help ensure proper planning so there is enough money set aside to cover these ongoing costs, as well as any unforeseen maintenance costs that come up. They can also recommend specific actions to help ensure the condo’s reserve fund is sufficient and stable.

You can learn more about Canada’s actuaries and how they address risk at

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