Are Calgary Condo Buyers Budget Conscious?

The 2012 TD Canada Trust Condo Poll surveyed Canadians who recently bought or intend to buy a condo.

Surprisingly, when it came to the amount of those who had a buffer built into their current budget for unexpected fee increases, Calgarians were below the Canadian average and less prudent than buyers from other cities:

Calgary: 24%
Vancouver: 28%
Toronto: 29%
Montreal: 37%
Canada: 29%

“For condo dwellers, the possibility of a fee increase can be a little unnerving,” says Jessy Bilodeau, Mobile Mortgage Specialist, TD Canada Trust. “While there’s no way to ‘lock-in’ to a monthly fee like you can with a mortgage, you can prepare for a fee increase by building a buffer into your monthly housing budget. That way if fees go up, it won’t be a major shock to your cash flow. If they don’t increase, you have extra money to put aside in savings or towards your mortgage.”

The survey also found that 41% of Calgarians would need to look for a new place to live if their fees increased unexpectedly.

The amount condo owners were willing to spend on condo fees varied across the country, with Montrealers being the most budget conscious.

28% willing to pay up to $200 per month in condo fees
56% would pay up to $400
11% would pay up to $600

By comparison, 59% of Montrealers would not pay more than $200/month. The national average was 35%.

On the other end of the spectrum, 17% of Toronto condo owners were willing to spend more than $600/month on fees compared to the national average of 10%.

According to the poll, Calgary condo buyers think the most important features when deciding on a condo to buy are:

  • Good building security (95%)
  • Low condo fees (94%)
  • A balcony (93%)
  • Energy efficient building features (92%)
  • parking (92%)
  • Attractive interior design (91%)

Condos as stepping stone to home ownership

Many condo buyers see condos as an affordable alternative to renting: 24% say owning a condo is cheaper than paying rent. But, one-quarter (26%) say paying condo fees still feels like paying rent so they are saving up to buy another place where they won’t pay monthly fees.

Condos as investments

Nationally, 32% said the main reason for their condo purchase is that it is a good investment.  Below is the breakdown by city:

Calgary: 27%
Vancouver:  31%
Toronto : 34%
Montreal: 37%

Of those who are buying condos that will not be their primary residence, Vancouver residents were the least likely to think they are a good investment to buy and sell at a profit when prices have gone up.

Calgary: 42%
Vancouver: 39%
Toronto: 44%
Montreal:  42%

When it came to seeing condos as a long-term source of rental income, Calgary ranked second just behind Vancouver.

Calgary: 53%
Vancouver: 55%
Toronto: 39%
Montreal:  35%

About the TD Canada Trust Condo Poll
TD Bank Group commissioned Environics Research Group to conduct a custom, online survey of 1,453 Canadians, 18 years of age or older in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. Among those Canadians surveyed, 801 bought a condo in the past 24 months or are considering buying one in the next 24 months, including 200 surveyed in Calgary. Responses were collected between January 23- February 2, 2012.

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