Severing an existing lot, hidden condo fees?


Dear David,

I’m thinking of buying a run-down residential home on a half-acre lot. I would like to sever it into two lots, sell one of them, and renovate the home. What’s involved and is this advisable? – BIG PLANS

DEAR PLANS: The short answer is that you’ll need to do your homework, starting at City Hall. First, check with the city to see if current zoning on the property would allow for a severance and the creation of a new lot. The location of the property might be a defining factor: if it’s in the city, the minimum requirements with regards to lot size and frontage will be smaller than if it’s rural and would likely require a septic system.

When it comes to zoning, you’ll also want to think about the type of buyer you can see purchasing the severed lot and building on it. In doing so, you may conclude that it’s better to build the second house (or duplex, or semi-detached) yourself.

Of course, these considerations are only a starting point. Before proceeding, you’ll want to take a hard look at the full scope of the project, including your timeline, financial investment, financing options and profitability. If you were my client, I would advise you to “surround yourself with professionals.” Gather all the information you can, and when the right opportunity presents itself, you can move ahead with confidence. Good Luck!


Dear David,

We are considering downsizing to a condominium and would like to know why condo fees are seldom mentioned in listings, especially since they can be quite high? – DETAILS GUY

DEAR DETAILS: If you’re searching for condominium listings on the MLS system (found on the Kitchener-Waterloo board and our surrounding real estate boards do typically list the condo fees.

Each real estate board has its own stipulations about what information must be provided. With this in mind, I searched the MLS system as far away as Milton, and I found there to be fees posted for the condominiums there as well (referred to as “maintenance fees” in the Details section).

If you’re finding that information is limited, I suspect you may be searching listings posted on individual Realtor sites, rather than on Sometimes Realtor sites are set up in such a way that they display limited MLS information, in hopes that you’ll be inspired to call for details.

Head to in your search and I expect you’ll find what you are looking for.