Living in a new condo townhouse is a great option. Today’s blog post answers the questions, “Where are the best new condo townhouses in Kitchener Waterloo?” and “Where are the condos with the lowest condo fees”.
When I think about condos, I usually think about high rise, apartment style living. But condos come in another form – townhouses. For those of us who might not want to live in the city centre, do not want to share elevators and hallways with neighbours but want the comfort and convenience of condominium living, buying a new condominium townhouse is a great option.
The problem with condos
The problem with condos is that the fees go up. When the new condo board is first formed, the condo is brand new. Everything is new. All the major maintenance and replacement costs are at least 15 years away 25 years away. What I am talking about is roofs, driveways, windows and doors. The new condo corporation has to budget for them. A reserve fund has to be established. Money has to be saved to take care of future expenses.
When the condo is new and the first owners are moving in, fees are low, usually under $100/month. The new owners naturally like the low fees and want to keep them that way. It is typical not to want to save for a future expense, especially if there is a chance you won’t be around to incur the expense. I mean really. What are the odds that I will still be living here in 25 years when the pavement needs replacing? I’ve been around the real estate for a while now and my experience is that condo fees are too low for the first ten years, about right for the next ten years and then move from silly, to shocking to sick as the decades pile up.
I’m adding another rule to my 365 rules about real estate:
The best time to buy a condo is in its first 10 years.
There are many great condominiums around Kitchener Waterloo that are more than ten years old. There are some cute little two bedroom ones and some luxury four bedroom ones. There are also freehold townhouses. But for this blog post I am only considering the following townhouses:
1) In Kitchener Waterloo
4) 3 bedroom
5) 2 or more bathroom
6) Built (not under construction)
7) Not more than 10 years old
8) Natural gas, forced air furnace
Neighbourhood: 139 Brighton is tucked away behind the Brigdeport Plaza – the one with the Sobeys and Walmart, corner of Bridgeport and Weber. The location of the condo itself is quiet as you must drive though an older neighbourhood of 1950 bungalows to get there, yet you are close to shopping, public transportation and can even walk into Uptown Waterloo or Wilfrid Laurier University.
Price range: The complex is mostly made up by one and two bedroom units so there isn’t a lot of sales data on the three bedroom ones. In fact there have only been 3 units sold through MLS since 2012. The last reported sale was in October 2013 selling for just below $228,000
Size: 1200 – 1300 square feet.
Condo fees: About $300/month
Walk score: 85
Transit score: 62
Positives: Central location, quiet.
Negatives: Quality of interior finish
Outlook: Excellent because of its central location
Neighbourhood: If you are driving west on Ottawa Street, past Fischer-Hallman, you pass the Sunrise Centre on your right. A little further on, your next turn is David Bergey Drive. The condos located off this street are some of the nicest ones in the region. Many of them back onto green space. The condo fees are as low as you can go and they are close to shopping, the Conestoga Parkway and transit. You are also close to quiet country roads, ideal for cycling.
Price range: The three bedroom, two bathroom units usually sell for $260,000 – $270,000
Size: 1200-1400 square feet. In Ontario, we do not include the basement measurements into the calculations of square footage so there is more living space than the square footage indicates.
Condo fees: $100-$120/month
Walk score: 38
Transit score: 34
Positives: Idyllic setting, close to shopping and expressway
Negatives: Lots of neighbourhood traffic
Outlook: Good, better than average
Neighbourhood: The stacked condo units located at the top end of Glasgow, behind the Food Basics plaza on Fischer-Hallman are well situated to transit, and shopping. I think these would be a perfect unit for a parent of a university student to buy as they are in Kitchener so there is no issue with the licensing bylaw. The complex is also located just a short bus ride (free for university students) to the campuses of University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.
Price range: The three bedroom units sell for about $250,000. As this is a stacked condo, there are also one bedroom units that sell for less than $200,000.
Size: The three bedroom units are about 1500 square feet, give or take.
Condo fees: Just below $200/month
Walk score: 67
Transit score: 45
Positives: The complex is in a nice and established neighbourhood of Westvale where there are good schools. Schools are very important to property values. The location is almost midway between The Boardwalk and the universities and not too far from Uptown Waterloo. The plaza can satisfy all of your basic needs: groceries, pizza, Tim Hortons, Pharma Plus, the dollar store.
Negatives: There is not much else.
Outlook: Good unless the students take over which is unlikely as most would want to live much closer to campus.
Neighbourhood: 6 & 7 Upper Mercer are well situated for those who work in Cambridge, Guelph or the GTA. The new bridge provides easy access in that direction. At the same time, downtown Kitchener is an easy drive. There is lots of shopping down Fariway Road and the neighbourhood schools are doing well. If you are a skier, Chicopee is almost within walking distance.
Price range: Until recently the units on Upper Mercer were selling for less than $300,000. There are some that back onto Fairway Road or onto parking that aren’t as nice and private. There are other units that back onto green space or see over the rooftops of those below. Average price $300,000-$320,000.
Size: 1300-1700 square feet
Condo fees: At 6 Upper Mercer the fees are about $140/month. At 7 Upper Mercer the fees are about $80/month.
Walk score: 32
Transit score: 23
Positives: Besides what is mentioned above, there are trails along the Grand River.
Negatives: The drive along Fariway Road, from Manitou onward is packed with cars.
Outlook: Excellent because of the bridge
Neighbourhood: 110 Highland is centrally located near the corner of Highland Road East and Queen Street South, right beside Woodside Park and Harry Class Pool. It is about a 15 minute walk to Kitchener City Hall, less than 1/2 an hour to the Train station. There is grocery shopping along highland and the condo complex is very close to Victoria Park and the Iron Horse Trail.
Price range: There are many sizes and floor plans and the prices reflect this. Last year two units sold for less that $300,000 and two sold for more than $330,000. The bulk of the sales were in the $315,000 to $330,00 range
Size: Like the prices, the units range in size from less than 1400 square feet to over 1800 square feet. The units along the front are set up perfectly for operating a home business.
Condo fees: $80-$90/month
Walk score: 68
Transit score: 61
Positives: Walking distance to everywhere (if you have enough time). Most units have three bathrooms.
Negatives: The surrounding neighbourhood is not the best.
Neighbourhood: Located in the south end of Kitchener, near the 401 interchange and Homer-Watson Boulevard you’ll find 105 Pinnacle Drive. If you would like to be close to Conestoga College or the 401, this might be the best option for you. The condo bylaw states NO STUDENTS. That means you cannot have unrelated individuals living together.
Price range: There were eight sales in the complex last year ranging from $325,000 at the high end to $273,000 at the low end.
Size: 1400-1500 square feet
Condo fees: $110-$120/month
Walk score: 24
Transit score: 40
Positives: Easy access to the 401 and Conestoga College. Low fees
Negatives: You need a car if you live here.
Other new condos to consider include:
30 & 50 Bryan
3 Sims Estate
45 Cedar Hill
10, 42 and 300 Fallowfield
38 and 50 Howe
468 Doon South
619 Wild Ginger
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