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Real Estate Weekly reported on: When is it a good idea to purchase a home with lots of extras – and when are you better off with a local fitness centre membership? 



If you’ve purchased a fancy gym membership for 2015 and are already finding it hard to stick to your new regime, you may have wasted a lot of cash. But what if your fitness centre was in your building – would you get better value?


Amenities in today’s new condo market have reached new heights, with full-size fitness centres, pools, rooftop patios with barbecues, lounges with chef’s kitchens, guest suites and other common-use areas expanding your home beyond its four walls. Developers are selling more than just homes – they’re selling a lifestyle.


But amenities don’t come for free – they can add to your purchase price and strata fees. So when is it a good idea to purchase a home with lots of extras and when are you better off sticking with that local fitness centre membership?


Hani Lammam with Cressey Development Group advises buyers to purchase homes where there are as many amenities as possible – provided they can afford the asking price and the associated strata fees.


“There is a maintenance cost associated with amenities,” he said, “but they can also protect your resale value. The vast majority of developers today are including amenities in some form, but the extent to which, for instance, a fitness centre is equipped is what sets them apart. It’s the attention to detail that distinguishes buildings.”


Cressey is just a few weeks away from presales on Beverley in White Rock, which will include a two-storey club featuring a fitness centre, whirlpool, steam room and lap pool. The condo development also includes a patio, lounge, guest suite, garden, barbecue area and playground.


“It’s difficult to say how much the fitness centre adds to the [purchase] cost of each unit at Beverley,” said Lammam, “but it’s a very small percentage because that cost is spread out among all the owners. It’s likely less than five per cent. In terms of what a fitness centre adds to your monthly maintenance fees, it depends on what’s included in the facility. ‘Wet’ amenities, such as hot tubs and pools, can add an extra 15 per cent to your strata fees. Pools will last a lifetime if properly maintained. And, the commercial grade equipment at the Beverley’s fitness centre should last about 20 years.”


With the price of a high-end gym membership running around $1,000 a year, taking the extra hit instead to your monthly maintenance fees can be a good investment according to Katie Dunsworth-Reiach, a personal finances expert and co-founder of Smart Cookies. Annual strata fees for larger units run around $5,300 a year, with 15 per cent (about $800) paying for the gym, pool, sauna and steam room. That’s substantially less than belonging to a private club. With an estimated 60 per cent of annual gym memberships purchased in January going unused by mid-February, Dunsworth-Reiach notes it is also important to consider long-term value. 


You can read the full article here.


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