Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Covenant of the Condo Lifestyle

All right, the following is not as dramatic as the title might suggest... really, the following little column is just another installment of condo association issues I write about from time to time. After a full day of client showings and hosting an open house, there is nothing I like better than to discuss condo issues. I’ve really made it!

Ahhh, the discussions I have with first time condo buyers... there is alot to know and I think a good agent can really help you become comfortable with moving into a condo building. So, what are the 10 facts potential condo owners should know? There are of course many more than 10 I will discuss with you, but these 10 below kind of encompass the lifestyle of the condo.

Attorney Mark Pearlman was put to this task by a somewhat disgruntled Association Board Member. It wasn’t me I swear…I’m a disgruntled Condo Association Board President… not Board Member. Anyway, Mr. Pearlman writes an excellent Q and A cloumn for the Chicago Tribune... I recommned his works for any condo buyer of Board Member.

Mark Pearlman
Published August 6, 2006 (Chicago Tribune)

Q. I moved into a condominium 10 years ago. The next year I became a board member. Owners in my building think that board members can solve every problem for them. People who move into condos think they live in apartments and board members are landlords. I would appreciate a list for the condo complainers of the top 10 things you need to know to live in a condo.

A. For condominium owners, some of whom complain, but most of whom appreciate the time spent by volunteer board members:
1. Expect assessments to increase annually; years of no assessment increases will lead to a large special assessment for deferred expenses.

2. Be willing to accept decisions made by others, namely the board of directors, in exchange for the convenience of having someone maintain your common property.

3. The association maintains everything outside your unit. Everything inside the drywall is your responsibility.

4. You are responsible for any damage that arises from your unit, regardless of whether you were negligent.

5. You are buying into a system where the rules can be changed by an amendment or board regulation. These changes include leasing and pets.

6. If you live in a multifamily building, do not expect the level of silence of a single-family home. But consider that you have neighbors in proximity of whom you must think.

7. If you own a pet, control it. You don't have a back yard.

8. Assessments include a forced savings account called reserves.

9. The board must maintain a building for the benefit of present and future owners. The attitude that "I will not be here in five years, so why should I pay for it," does not apply.

10. Respect the property manager who must fill the role of engineer, social worker, police officer and financial manager, while attempting to please the board members and the unit owners.

Mark forgot one thing... always bring a bottle of wine (good stuff) to the board meeting.

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