Condo maintenance fees are your percentage of the total cost of managing and maintaining the condo building that you live in. They typically cover things like common area cleaning, snow and garbage removal, and landscaping. In a well managed condominium, there should also be small monthly deposits coming from the condo fees going into a reserve fund, these are saved for larger long term maintenance projects such as replacing windows, resurfacing the roof, plumbing repairs etc.
Some smaller condos and townhouses that have fewer amenities may tend to have lower fees. In some buildings the fees may be slightly higher if there are additional services and amenities such as security guards, concierge service, pools and hot tubs, or gardens that require extensive landscaping.
Condo fees can fluctuate slightly, increasing when there is a large project in the coming years and decreasing after the job is done. This information can often be found in the condo board meeting minutes with a little looking.
Condo fees should reflect what it would cost to maintain a home, provided you were saving for long term maintenance, and had someone to take care of shovelling your walk, etc. In the end, if the condo fees seem too high there may be a reason for it, and a skilled REALTOR® should be able to help you find out why.