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Old 03-16-2015, 07:48 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
I have been in friends' condos and the only downside I've seen (heard) is noise from neighbors, sometimes a loud TV or bumps in the wall or voices (and smoke) on adjoining balconies.
This is what would turn us off from buying a condo. Quiet and a sense of privacy are very important to us, we simply cannot tolerate any kind of tobacco smoke, and one can never be sure of neighbors. Even if your start off with great neighbors, there is nothing to prevent them from moving and obnoxious replacements moving in.

I would definitely consider a detached condo, though -- or a complex with at least one garage separating the units.
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Old 03-16-2015, 08:16 AM
 
4,539 posts, read 4,831,384 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorldKlas View Post
Some more insight into what we did, just for input. We have owned several rental properties that were in HOA and I always attended the annual board meetings. I learned the difference, quickly, between well run and not well run HOA's.
How can you tell a board is well managed from only attending the annual meeting?
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Old 03-16-2015, 08:17 AM
 
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I've lived in/owned condos, townhouses, and Single Family Homes. My first condo was built to resemble a colonial village. Each building had two upstairs condos and two downstairs condos in them. My husband was on the board. There was always a lot of fighting between the unit owners with many wanting rules enforced to the nth degree and others wanting them ignored entirely. One of the problems was that there wasn't enough parking. This is big. You need to make sure that there is enough parking for all units. Another problems (for me) was that all of the buildings had problems with roaches and silverfish. I hired an exterminator to spray our unit but the bugs would go through the wall into the neighbors' homes (who didn't spray) and then would come back into my unit within a day or two. It was disgusting. We finally gave up on condo living and bought a SFH.

After the accident when I had difficulty living on my own, I moved into a townhouse. The neighbor's cats were free-roaming and would urinate on my front entryway making it stink. The units were very expensive so multiple families (against condo rules) would move into one unit and turn all rooms into sleeping areas. They all had cars so there wasn't enough parking spaces, making it impossible to find a place to park. The noise level was very high and people were openly antagonistic. Eventually the management company was replaced with a new one and the new management company stopped mowing the lawns and it was difficult to get them to do maintenance. I was never so happy to sell a place.

I bought an office condo as an investment. I was on the board. You would think that there wouldn't be fighting in a place that people are only at for a defined period during the day and are busy working. But that wasn't the case either. There were fights about parking, fights about signage, fights about noise level, fights about how much garbage people generated, fights about water usage, fights about landscaping. I wanted to resign from being on the board but no one would take my place until I forced my resignation by selling the unit.

You have to figure that people do enjoy living in condos just on the sheer number of buildings that exist. However, you have to know yourself and whether or not you can deal with the rules, the close living, the bugs, and the infighting.
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Old 03-16-2015, 08:19 AM
 
Location: Columbia SC
8,955 posts, read 7,733,997 times
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Over the years we have lived in 5 HOA's. The first was what I call a condo. Meaning it was in a multi unit building with common lobby, common halls, units above, below, and beside yours. One floor, two bedroom, 2 bath. Park in a parking lot with assigned spaces. All outside maintenance (building and landscaping) done by the association. Only amenity was a Tennis Court. More an apartment style living then private home living. Care free living.

Our 2nd and 3rd were multi story townhouses. No one above nor below you. No one in front nor behind you. Onlysimilar units on each side. Sometimes called row homes. Attached garage. Each unit had a private deck. If in an end unit, then no unit on one side. All outside maintenance (building and landscaping) done by the association. Amenities were pool(s) tennis, parks, club house, etc. Care free living.

Our 4th was a standalone 2500sq ft, one level home on 1/2 acre. Large, spread out neighborhood. All maintenance done by the home owner. HOA maintained the common areas and amenities. Amenities were pool(s) tennis, parks, club house, hiking paths, etc. Other then the amenities there was no different then non HOA home ownership. All the house burdens were there. Was not care free living.

Our present HOA is small, individual patio homes. 1500sq ft on a small lot. 3 bedrooms, 2 bath, one level, one car garage. The HOA does all outside maintenance (house and landscaping). We have no amenities and that was an important part of our decision. Amenities can be costly and very argumentative. This is a very care free life style. Our HOA dues are $600 per year.

Monthly fees can vary quite a bit. The more amenities the higher the cost. The more complex (elevators, etc.) the higher the cost. The more things included (water, sewage, etc.) the higher the cost. All will require building a reserve for future repairs like replacing roofs, lining the pool, paving, etc,

I would have no problems with a high rise condo if in a city with all I needed (stores, eating, etc) were close by thus rarely needing a car. If I need a car, then I want a garage to park in and walk into my house from. Thus most high rise condos would not work for my life style.
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Old 03-16-2015, 09:13 AM
 
Location: SoCal
6,064 posts, read 9,526,027 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Escort Rider View Post
One more thing, a very important thing. Following California practice, we board members do not handle money or write checks. We have a bonded management company that does that. We, as a board, hire contractors, approve contracts, and approve payments to vendors - but the management company makes the payments following our instructions. Our monthly fees are sent to (collected by) the management company.

If I were looking at a condo where the board members themselves - who are nothing but fellow homeowners serving as volunteers - actually handle the money and write the checks, I would run like hell.
Our property management company creates the checks, but our board members (specifically, the treasurer) sign the checks. President may also sign them - I don't remember. The payments are reviewed by all board members during the board meetings, and this is during the open part of the meetings so any homeowner could also review them.

I've lived in our condo for over 20 years. We occasionally have neighbors who make noise, but it's mainly on "party" occasions. We do have noise restrictions written into our rules/regs, and they are somewhat enforced.

The list of things ER suggested for condo hunting - I'll second them all.

Another thing to check is whether they were originally built to be condos. If they were converted from apartments, the soundproofing between units may not be as good.

The best defense against a poorly-run HOA is to be on the board yourself. Even if it's only for a few years.

Our monthly HOA fee is $275.00. That includes outside maintenance, landscaping, pool/spa, workout room, and water and trash collection. If I saw an HOA fee as low as $140.00, that would make me even more vigilant to ensure that HOA is keeping adequate reserves!

Last edited by oddstray; 03-16-2015 at 09:28 AM..
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Old 03-16-2015, 09:18 AM
 
Location: SoCal
6,064 posts, read 9,526,027 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DutchessCottonPuff View Post
Thrilled beyond belief .

Age 52 and in great shape and This is our 3rd rented one in 10 years off the farm ( job relocations ). I'll never go back to rural living. I just board our horses and still compete and do OTHER things .. I am FREEEEEEEEEE.

My dishwasher broke the other week and poof the complex brought another one and I didn't have to BUY it YAY !! no taxes , no maintenance , no HOA. 300,000 of renters ins is 19.00 a month.

I probably will not buy again , I am just too busy. Plus the housing prices are such that at this age i would be paying someone for the rest of my life so its more economical for me to rent and get services instead of work.
The difference here is that you're renting instead of buying. If our dishwasher breaks, it's us who get to replace it. Our responsibility, per our rules/regs, is "from the interior paint inward" plus our private-use common areas (balcony and front-door walkway and parking space). Technically, this means the plumbing in the walls is the responsibility of our HOA, but they've been trying to dodge that one since so many folks neglect their plumbing until it breaks.
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Old 03-16-2015, 09:21 AM
 
Location: SoCal
6,064 posts, read 9,526,027 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
Do condos have to provide information and reports up front, and if not, just how would one go about finding out how an HOA is run, who is on the board, who the mgement company is, how bidding and payment is done?
If you're working with a real estate agent, they should be able to get those documents for you. If they can't, dump them and get a better agent.

If you're looking on your own, there may be a notice board somewhere that provides the name of the management company. Ask them for the documents. Some condos are stinky about providing it ... don't buy in those condos.

You probably won't be able to learn the names of board members, until you choose to buy there. To find out the general 'personality' of the board, ask the people who have lived in the complex for a while.

"Outside maintenance" differs from complex to complex. You'd need to look at the documents to see what it includes.
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Old 03-16-2015, 09:34 AM
 
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Dont buy a condo unless you are willing to be on board at some point Reality is at some point something will go wrong and someone has to step up.
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Old 03-16-2015, 10:55 AM
 
8,840 posts, read 5,126,299 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whocares811 View Post
This is what would turn us off from buying a condo. Quiet and a sense of privacy are very important to us, we simply cannot tolerate any kind of tobacco smoke, and one can never be sure of neighbors. Even if your start off with great neighbors, there is nothing to prevent them from moving and obnoxious replacements moving in.

I would definitely consider a detached condo, though -- or a complex with at least one garage separating the units.
This is true. It is true of sfh as well.

I have a sfh now, and the worst neighbor I have ever had to tolerate in 48 years on this planet. He is crazy, enjoys poisoning animals (not only mine), is always hiding behind the hedge watching what we do, if a window is open he lurks on his side of the fence trying to listen, monitors who comes and goes at my house, etc., etc., etc. One day he was throwing rocks at the side of my house, I went outside and told him to knock it off, he called the police and claimed I threatened to have him beat up. It is actually his mother's house, but he lives there with her. He has no job, hobbies, friends, or social life. He does nothing all day but cause problems.

Since I have had security cameras installed, there has been some relief as he focuses his attention more on the unfortunate souls living on the other side of him.
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Old 03-16-2015, 11:03 AM
 
262 posts, read 205,152 times
Reputation: 782
A question for the OP, could you please tell me where you live? Of course, not specifically. I have been thinking of moving for a while. Where I live, the "common charges" are $325.00 a month and there is no pool. Sometimes they raise the common charges for 3-4 months in any given year to over $625.00 a month to fix people's roofs and porches, which they should have done anyway. Between the taxes and the common charges, I don't know how much longer I can live here. Thanks in advance.
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