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Old 12-07-2008, 03:56 AM   #21
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The place needs to be kept in good shape because that will affect the property value.

IMO - The benefits of condos and shared property are also their downside.

But it still comes down to the cost. What is the cost of a similar alternative? Identify your alternatives and crunch the numbers. In the end, you have a certain square footage in a location with features and upkeep. The alternatives may be slightly different, but you will find out if your current situation costs more than you should be paying.

In the end... you will have to pay for up keep (or do it yourself).
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Old 12-07-2008, 07:09 AM   #22
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While this is a nice piece of homeowner protection on one hand, on the other it may speak to why a lot of people who would be otherwise great board members refuse to run for the positions. No pay and additional personal liability? No thanks.

My wife served on an HOA board in '05 and '06 in our home association in Houston. Never again. Talk about a thankless job where people are out to ruin and discredit you...
I served on a BOD for 7 years for a pretty large HOA (650 homes). I volunteered; no pay, etc., however, I verified that the E&O Insurance was in place and kept current and covered board member AND committees appointed by the BOD. Worked out fine - but I left because the board was getting to liberal; slack in imposing fines and enforcing covenants.
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Old 12-07-2008, 09:07 AM   #23
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Read a lot of the threads thoroughly and scanned a lot of the rest and I see one thing that is confusing. Seems like y'all started out talking about HOA and then condo associations got thrown into the mix. Two different animals but with the same purpose in mind--protect the value of the associations through maintenance. If your board doesn't do this, you must elect a board that will. Recall the present board if necessary. Tougher in a HOA because the Association doesnt own the "buildings". The maintenance of those is only controlled by the documents, rules and regulations. Ya'all need a good management company and a good attorney. Nothing is better than home or condo owners that want to be involved in maintaining to value of their property.
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Old 12-07-2008, 11:34 AM   #24
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Read a lot of the threads thoroughly and scanned a lot of the rest and I see one thing that is confusing. Seems like y'all started out talking about HOA and then condo associations got thrown into the mix. Two different animals but with the same purpose in mind--protect the value of the associations through maintenance. If your board doesn't do this, you must elect a board that will. Recall the present board if necessary. Tougher in a HOA because the Association doesnt own the "buildings". The maintenance of those is only controlled by the documents, rules and regulations. Ya'all need a good management company and a good attorney. Nothing is better than home or condo owners that want to be involved in maintaining to value of their property.
Gosh, that makes it all sound so simple.

I've served my time in a HOA with only 60 units, and I think that the board's talent gene pool is pretty shallow for anything under 500. We were lucky to have a manager who had the credibility to tell his clients what worked, what didn't, and what lawsuits could be expected. Just the neighborhood's repainting and a developer lawsuit were painful enough without the added distraction of bad reserves and an incompetent board. The "best" solution isn't "you must elect a board that will"-- the best solution is to sell and get the heck out of that situation.

The concept of HOAs is workable with sufficient size & funding. Today we're living in a community of 15,000 homes with one of the state's largest HOAs. Management is professionally run (for the most part) and the largest part of the payroll is grounds maintenance of the common areas. The newsletter attracts enough ad revenue to pay for itself and they even have their own plant nursery to cut down on costs. The board is populated with residents who've lived here for decades-- 30 years or more-- and in some cases their kids & grandkids are in the same community. The "rules" book is pretty thick but it's wielded effectively and the talent pool of serving/prospective board members keeps egos pretty much in check. Enforcement is pretty consistent and the processes are reasonably transparent. At this scale of population, it's pretty easy to slap a lien on a homeowner.

Our rental home is in a smaller community where HOA participation is so low that the board was able ram through a rules change allowing initiatives to pass when "yes" votes outnumber "no" and are at least 35% of the total. No simple majority system here, no anarchy, just apathy. In fact I think some of the board seats would go vacant if the incumbents didn't rotate the presidency among themselves. The only thing saving this HOA from disaster was being able to sell off some extremely valuable land to fund the reserves nearly in perpetuity.

The best validation of our residence's HOA is the higher prices of our larger community compared to adjacent (non-HOA) neighborhoods. Even the crappy HOA at our rental neighborhood is keeping home values above those in the adjacent non-HOA communities.

No, I've never served on the boards or committees of either of our current homes, and I doubt that I ever will.
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Old 12-07-2008, 12:01 PM   #25
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Nords, you are right about the available talent pool.

I became part of a coup, taking control of our small (under 30 unit) coop. Lots of unaddressed problems, major repairs not done, etc...

I like living here, and I had to do it to protect my investment. Johnnie36 truly underestimates what a person is letting themselves in for. I was lucky - 4 smart, like-minded people walked into 2 years of construction-project & reorganization hell with me.

Roof -facade - water tanks - plumbing - {waiting for something else}

Would I do it again - yes. Has it been funfunfun? No.

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Old 12-07-2008, 12:28 PM   #26
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When you own a single family dwelling, you can kid yourself that the paint doesn't need touch-up, and the roof can go another year, and so what if the lawn doesn't get mowed. Most neighborhoods have some of these places. I call them dumps. Sometimes there is an old washer on the front lawn, and a couple of wrecks.

At least in a well-managed condo, you know that there will be money to do what is necessary to have a roof over your head for the long term.
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Old 12-07-2008, 01:03 PM   #27
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"Well managed" is the issue here.

There is nothing to prevent Oldbabe from developing a group of owners who share her concerns and then pushing for what needs to be done to preserve the value of their homes. To run for the HOA Board would be a good start. It takes a thick skin to listen to the naysayers and guide the members to take steps that maintain their quality of life.

It is my understanding the loan requirements have tightened up for condo mortgages, inadequate funding of reserves and assn members in default will make it difficult to sell.

I still contend that if Oldbabe can't forsee a change in maintance practices and reserves she should sell sooner than later.
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:28 PM   #28
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It takes a thick skin to listen to the naysayers and guide the members to take steps that maintain their quality of life.
===

My motto: It's not that I'm cold - I just don't care.

No matter what one does in the situation I am in, generally 1/3 will be happy. 1/3 will be ok, as long as nothing is bothering them, and 1/3 will pick nits and whine and whimper but not offer to help.

In my case - 2 shareholders in particular, and another part-time pain. so that is ten percent grumpy - not so bad... and I don't need to like them, so I just don't care.

Given that break-out, I don't care what people think. I care that the roof is solid, the facade isn't leaking or dropping stuff on people's heads, the plumbing works, and the budget and reserve fund are good.

If we get the work done right, by the time major stuff has to be done again, it won't be MY problem at all.

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Old 12-08-2008, 06:04 PM   #29
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"Well managed" is the issue here.

There is nothing to prevent Oldbabe from developing a group of owners who share her concerns and then pushing for what needs to be done to preserve the value of their homes. To run for the HOA Board would be a good start. It takes a thick skin to listen to the naysayers and guide the members to take steps that maintain their quality of life.

It is my understanding the loan requirements have tightened up for condo mortgages, inadequate funding of reserves and assn members in default will make it difficult to sell.

I still contend that if Oldbabe can't forsee a change in maintance practices and reserves she should sell sooner than later.
I agree, Brat. But HOA management is not the major issue. At this point I'm really scared that the HOA request for builder remedy will fail and the HOA will have to bring suit. If the suit fails the community will be on the hook for $$$$ to fix things. In the meantime, approx 2 years, things go downhill. The reserve is not enough to fix everything that needs it. There's not much room to raise HOA fees either, just did that big time.

So in addition to the above, I need to reduce my housing budget about $400 in order to save more. I really have no choice.

Thanks to all on this thread for helping me think this through. I love you gals/guys!!
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Old 12-08-2008, 07:41 PM   #30
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Oldbabe,

We're in a condo association, too, and I serve on the board. I think only you can really know if the hassle of the association is worth the benefit(s) received. It sounds like you've considered the matter closely.

One thing to keep in mind is that when you go to sell (assuming you are going to), you'll probably be legally required to disclose the builder/structural issues as part of full disclosure. Just something to discuss with your realtor.

And all, it could be worse. A friend of our has a condo that is facing a $95,000 (or more) special assessment due to serious and previously unaddressed structural and maintenance issues. He's on the board now, but the folks who drove the bus into the ditch are long gone, and the aftermath is beyond ugly. As a board member, it makes me want to avoid a special assessment like anything!
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Old 12-09-2008, 09:38 AM   #31
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Westernskies, I am conflicted by the whole idea of volunteer work days,. My complex is 50% home owner occupied, so landlords do not participate in volunteer work days. When I contributed on a landscaping project I really felt a little resentful. In addition some of the units are "affordable," in that they are subsidized by the builder and the city. None of those residents contributed work on that particular day either. At some point, when I have paid market rate for my townhome and am contributing my labor for upkeep, I have to wonder whether I am being a fool.
In my situation, it is a community of primarily second homes. Since most folks are supporting their investment in a second home, we get good turnout on community workdays. Our CC&R's prohibit short-term (vacation) rentals, and less than 5% of the remaining homes are leased to tenants. Our situation may be unique, but it works. Yours doesn't, IMO because so many of the residents are not invested in the community, they just live there. Not an indictment, just an observation.

To the best of my knowledge, not one who has contributed labor at our little community (www.az82.com) has ever felt like they were taken advantage of. We thank those who contribute in the newsletter, and residents can see firsthand what their time investment is doing for their neighbors and themselves. We are running a community of 250 lots with an airstrip and a lodge on $600/year per homeowner. We have a years worth of reserves in the bank, and just installed a new communications system and completed a major paving project. We also take care of a mile of highway cleanup, and host a charity fly-in every year that generates ~$2K for the local community. If we had to pay for all that labor, our assesments would be at least double what we are paying- I know this because because I also own a vacant building lot in an upscale development in CO that charges $1100 and does nothing but line the pockets of the developer and the HOA through "improvement" projects and reserves that seem to always get spent for who- knows- what. The most recent was gating the 150-lot community at a cost of $20K- to serve all three full-time residents and less than a dozen homes...Of course, all of these are owned by HOA board members
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Old 12-09-2008, 04:53 PM   #32
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Oldbabe,

One thing to keep in mind is that when you go to sell (assuming you are going to), you'll probably be legally required to disclose the builder/structural issues as part of full disclosure. Just something to discuss with your realtor.
I will discuss this with my realtor. But there's nothing wrong with my unit or my building. I've read the colo legislation on HOA disclosure law and I believe it's encumbent on the buyer to read the HOA meetings and do the due diligence.

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And all, it could be worse. A friend of our has a condo that is facing a $95,000 (or more) special assessment due to serious and previously unaddressed structural and maintenance issues. !
OMG!!!!!!!! Hearing all these stories makes me scared to ever buy into a HOA community again.
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Old 12-09-2008, 06:01 PM   #33
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I will discuss this with my realtor. But there's nothing wrong with my unit or my building. I've read the colo legislation on HOA disclosure law and I believe it's encumbent on the buyer to read the HOA meetings and do the due diligence.



OMG!!!!!!!! Hearing all these stories makes me scared to ever buy into a HOA community again.
Oldbabe,
Condominium living can be grand, if you pick the right complex and due your homework up front. That means asking for a copy of the last budget and financial statements before you put down earnest money. That can come from the current owner. If the reserves look low, you can walk away before committing.

-- Rita
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Old 12-10-2008, 11:59 AM   #34
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Oldbabe,
Condominium living can be grand, if you pick the right complex and due your homework up front. That means asking for a copy of the last budget and financial statements before you put down earnest money. That can come from the current owner. If the reserves look low, you can walk away before committing.

-- Rita
Rita, I did this. Unfortunately there were defects in the construction that were not evident in any of the budget/financial statements. The reserves were low because the complex was only one year old.

Frankly, I would have needed to attend the HOA meetings before buying in order to find out what problems were developing. Maybe that's necessary. I bought 5 houses in my life but never a condo so my inexperience probably did me in this time.
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Old 12-16-2008, 04:10 PM   #35
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Talked to a realtor and then got "seller's remorse." *Sigh* I really don't want to move. If mortgage rates go down a little more I might refinance. My bank called and told me I could get a refinance right now for 4.85 at 3/4 pt. I don't want to pay any points though.

I wonder if this new Fed rate cut will lower mortgage rates even further?
Here's hoping for 4.5%
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Old 12-16-2008, 04:11 PM   #36
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Another requirement for condo life to be grand: Quiet neighbors sharing your walls. Having noisy neighbors above you or along side you can make it miserable.
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Old 12-16-2008, 05:49 PM   #37
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End unit in a Ranch Style eliminates 75% of that chance and with a decent Concrete Block "party wall/fire wall" at the other point will eliminate 100% of the "noise" problem.
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Old 12-16-2008, 09:07 PM   #38
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End unit in a Ranch Style eliminates 75% of that chance and with a decent Concrete Block "party wall/fire wall" at the other point will eliminate 100% of the "noise" problem.
That makes the solution sound so simple, but most condos around here are high-density living at its finest with your "yard" only six or eight feet from your neighbor's wall. Or from the city bus idling at the sidewalk. So it's not only the shared walls but the lack of buffer.

For bonus points you get to be hostage to an elevator.

I kvetch a lot about yardwork, but I'll do a lifetime of it to avoid noisy neighbors. We live in a cul-de-sac with a wastewater pumping station on one side, a vacant home across the street (owners are still in Japan) and a pretty good family next door. If that family moved, I'd have serious thoughts about buying the place just to have some control over its residents.
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Old 12-17-2008, 09:44 AM   #39
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Low-balling HOA fees by developers in new Condo Associations is a common problem. Likewise low owner occupancy. I have heard that it is difficult to get a loan when the rentals are more than 20% of total units. These are keys to avoid when buying. Unfortunately, Oldbabe is already an owner.

Her best strategy may be to get with the other resident owners, and force changes on the board where necessary. Once a property starts the downward spiral of lots of units for sale/poor maintenance, it can be hard to arrest.

Shoddy condo construction, and the lawsuits that result are another common problem. The lawsuit should be pursued aggressively if only to force the builder to come to the table and begin repairs. If a builder has done lots of properties, there may not be enough resources left within the builder, or his insurance coverage (products insurance) to fix things, so the association that gets their suit going quickly can come out better.
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Old 12-17-2008, 09:04 PM   #40
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SteveL couldn't have said it better!! OldBabe, if you stay get active in the HOA.
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