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-Many would feel the squeeze if condo fees associated with the low-maintenance lifestyle increased, according to annual TD Canada Trust Condo Poll -

CALGARY, April 18, 2012 /CNW/ - Calgarian condo buyers are the most likely in the country to prefer condos over houses because they involve less upkeep, but this maintenance-free lifestyle comes at a price as condo fees can fluctuate. The 2012 TD Canada Trust Condo Poll, which surveyed Calgarians who recently bought or intend to buy a condo found that 41% of Calgarians would need to look for a new place to live if their fees increased unexpectedly.

"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. You can also explore flexible mortgage options that allow you to pay more towards your mortgage when you can, then, upon an approved application, ease off on payments when you need to. This can be a useful feature in the first few months of transition to a fee increase."

The good news is that some Calgary condo buyers understand that monthly fees can increase at any time and have a plan: 24% have a buffer built into their current budget and 35% say they could cut back in other areas in the event of an increase. Drawn to condos because they require less maintenance (68%), are more affordable (40%), and are a good investment (27%), nearly three-in-ten (28%) Calgary condo buyers are willing to pay up to $200 per month in condo fees, 56% would pay up to $400 and 11% would pay up to $600.

"Managing your housing expenses is about prioritizing your needs and budgeting accordingly. It's clear that the convenience of condo living is important to many Calgarians, and they are willing to pay the monthly fees that come with owning a condo," says Bilodeau.

Top features Calgary residents look for in condos

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

  1. Good building security (95%)
  2. Low condo fees (94%)
  3. A balcony (93%)
  4. Energy efficient building features (92%) and parking (92%)
  5. Attractive interior design (91%)

Nationally, women are more likely than men to look for a building with a balcony (92% versus 87% of men) and environmentally-friendly features (86% versus 79% of men), while men are more likely to say finding a brand new condo - not a resale (56% versus 46% of women) - is important to them.

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.

"Purchasing a condo allows you to build equity rather than continuing to pay rent as you save for a house," says Bilodeau. "At the same time, it's important you talk to a mortgage expert, because it's not just a straight comparison of your monthly rent and some utilities to a monthly mortgage payment and condo fees.

Condos as investments

Twenty-seven percent of Calgary condo buyers say the main reason for their condo purchase is that it is a good investment.

Of those who are buying condos that will not be their primary residence, 42% think they are a good investment to buy and sell at a profit when prices have gone up. But - that is not the only way Calgarians see a condo purchase as an investment. More than half (53%) see them as a long-term source of rental income and 43% see them as a source of rental income for now that they will move into later when they are ready to downsize.

TD hosts an online community for homebuyers at The online community allows home buyers to learn from each other's experiences, share stories on a wide range of home financing topics and pose questions to TD expert, Farhaneh Haque, Director of Mortgage Advice.

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.

About TD Canada Trust

TD Canada Trust offers personal and business banking to more than 11.5 million customers. We provide a wide range of products and services from chequing and savings accounts, to credit cards, mortgages and business banking, to credit protection and travel medical insurance, as well as advice on managing everyday finances. TD Canada Trust makes banking comfortable with award-winning service and convenience through 24/7 mobile, internet, telephone and ATM banking, as well as in over 1,100 branches, with convenient hours to serve customers better. For more information, please visit: TD Canada Trust is the Canadian retail bank of TD Bank Group, the sixth largest bank in North America.

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