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Old 03-18-2015, 10:29 AM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
14,018 posts, read 17,737,509 times
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This has been a wonderful thread featuring lots of information as well as different points of view. I hope the OP has also found it so, although he hasn't yet been back to post again. I wish I had had a similar thread to read when I was in the market to purchase a home and had decided to focus on townhouses about 13 years ago. (I had not yet discovered City-Data). I was nave about what actually goes on, although I knew there were rules and made sure to read them carefully.

One interesting facet of all this is the different situations - small complexes, large complexes; no amenities, a few amenities, or lots of amenities; management companies or self-managed; role of the management company if there is one; various dynamics on the board of directors; financial issues; maintenance issues; and more.
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Old 03-18-2015, 10:53 AM
 
4,539 posts, read 4,834,074 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Escort Rider View Post
As for knowing who lives in a given unit, our CC&R's require that the board be given that information. And no, we don't have any gated entry or parking permit. A unit cannot be sold without the escrow checking in with our management company, so we always know when a unit is in escrow. The management company can check who is on the title at our request. It's required information, otherwise how would we know who is eligible to vote for the board members at the annual election at the annual meeting? Only OWNERS can vote.
I know who buys units I am treasurer, after that building starts to loose track. Some folks have owned units for 30 plus years. For instance an investor just bought unit below me for cash. He lives near building in a million dollar home. He did not move in as he has a big house, but someone moved in and he is under no obligation to tell me name of tenant or rent. I assume it is a tenant, maybe it is his friend or brother, I don't know.

I think building went down a no-tell- ho-tell approach. Kinda hard 35 years in to start asking too many questions as many folks in building bought into condo because we keep to ourself.
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Old 03-18-2015, 12:28 PM
 
8,849 posts, read 5,132,953 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SandyJet View Post
I know who buys units I am treasurer, after that building starts to loose track. Some folks have owned units for 30 plus years. For instance an investor just bought unit below me for cash. He lives near building in a million dollar home. He did not move in as he has a big house, but someone moved in and he is under no obligation to tell me name of tenant or rent. I assume it is a tenant, maybe it is his friend or brother, I don't know.

I think building went down a no-tell- ho-tell approach. Kinda hard 35 years in to start asking too many questions as many folks in building bought into condo because we keep to ourself.
If the tenant violates rules, does the HOA not address the matter with the tenant?

In the townhouse I owned, if the unit was non-owner occupied, both the owner and tenant would be notified of any violation. The owner was financially responsible for the violation, of course.
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Old 03-18-2015, 02:04 PM
 
4,539 posts, read 4,834,074 times
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Originally Posted by Petunia 100 View Post
If the tenant violates rules, does the HOA not address the matter with the tenant?

In the townhouse I owned, if the unit was non-owner occupied, both the owner and tenant would be notified of any violation. The owner was financially responsible for the violation, of course.
The Managing Agent will send a letter addressed to unit and whatever owner address we have on file. We just did one for a barking dog this week.

However, I have no authority to fine anyone. In our original offering plan we did not have fines. Only thing we can do is chase arrears and tow cars illegally parked.

However in my case I instructed tenant never to contact managing agent and for managing agent never to contact my tenant. Any issue goes through me.

Honestly, owners are much much worse than tenants.
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Old 03-19-2015, 09:09 PM
 
Location: Florida Gulf Coast
4,404 posts, read 5,925,325 times
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Well, I'm hesitant to write much because the OP hasn't been back, but -- I agree with all of the cautions above and can add a few more:

$140/mo. sounds extremely low. You need to find out exactly what it covers. Also, is it new-construction? Sometimes (usually always) developers' budget estimates are way low, for example when they under-estimate landscape fees because their own people are doing the landscaping until the association is turned over.

Soundproofing can be a problem in any attached dwelling. The older sections of our 351-unit complex have a real soundproofing problem; I would hate to live in any of those buildings.

Sometimes in a community with a majority of "seniors", kids aren't exactly welcomed in the pool. When we have grandkids visiting for spring break, you can see some of the old folks cringing as their hair gets splashed and the kids make a ruckus. And there's no jumping or diving into the pool. Check that out, since it's important for you to have the grandkids over.

As others have said, ask about the rental situation and also foreclosures. Our association has 11 separate sections, and the sections with foreclosures have to eat the cost of the condo fees for those units. And the new owner isn't obligated to pay the back fees.

Get a copy of the condo docs and financials and review them carefully; ask someone for help (preferably an attorney experienced with condos) because they can be daunting and overwhelming. Make sure you know all the rules/restrictions; don't be one of those people who says, "I had no idea I couldn't paint my door purple....".

If they have a newsletter or website, check them out. Once I was reading meeting minutes that were posted on a community's website and learned that they are involved in a lawsuit with the developer -- not a good sign.
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Old 03-19-2015, 10:18 PM
 
14,260 posts, read 23,991,339 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avalon08 View Post
Well, I'm hesitant to write much because the OP hasn't been back, but -- I agree with all of the cautions above and can add a few more:

$140/mo. sounds extremely low. You need to find out exactly what it covers. Also, is it new-construction? Sometimes (usually always) developers' budget estimates are way low, for example when they under-estimate landscape fees because their own people are doing the landscaping until the association is turned over.

...

As others have said, ask about the rental situation and also foreclosures. Our association has 11 separate sections, and the sections with foreclosures have to eat the cost of the condo fees for those units. And the new owner isn't obligated to pay the back fees.

Get a copy of the condo docs and financials and review them carefully; ask someone for help (preferably an attorney experienced with condos) because they can be daunting and overwhelming. Make sure you know all the rules/restrictions; don't be one of those people who says, "I had no idea I couldn't paint my door purple....".

If they have a newsletter or website, check them out. Once I was reading meeting minutes that were posted on a community's website and learned that they are involved in a lawsuit with the developer -- not a good sign.

Several points.

Unless you have the CCRs in front of you, you really cannot judge whether the condo fees sound reasonable or not. Our current HOA charges $180 per YEAR. However, they are responsible for ONLY the streets, maintaining the desert landscaping in the common areas, and the lighting.

The last HOA we belonged to was $155/ yr and included a lot of snow removal trash removal, and maintenance of common elements including roofs and sidings.

ALL condo associations have different rules. One local HOA charges $240/ month but they also maintain the HVAC and swimming pools. The key point is that you need to read the rules.

Second, HOA rules are generally regulated by each of the individual states. For example, in IL, HOAs can collet the HOA fees from the bank who has position of the house. In addition to that, they can also take possession of the property for unpaid HOA fees. About the only way to get out of paying the fees is to file for personal bankruptcy.
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Old 03-19-2015, 10:30 PM
 
104 posts, read 137,075 times
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Quote:
Lets play that game. I don't know whose names are on the majority of deeds. People are under no obligation to tell condo when title changes hands in a cash deal. It is real property.
That is very much dependent where you live. Where I live, you always need the consent of the strata before a transfer of the unit takes place, cash, mortgage or whatever.
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Old 03-21-2015, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Grove City, Ohio
10,133 posts, read 12,385,819 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avalon08 View Post
Well, I'm hesitant to write much because the OP hasn't been back, but -- I agree with all of the cautions above and can add a few more:

$140/mo. sounds extremely low. You need to find out exactly what it covers. Also, is it new-construction? Sometimes (usually always) developers' budget estimates are way low, for example when they under-estimate landscape fees because their own people are doing the landscaping until the association is turned over.
$140 does seem low especially if they take care of the exterior of the condo. I live in a house and spent more than that now for lawn services.

But I learned there are lots of questions to ask and that is what I am looking for. The unit has a swimming pool, looks very clean and I very much like the idea of no through traffic... one way in and one way out.

Quote:
Soundproofing can be a problem in any attached dwelling. The older sections of our 351-unit complex have a real soundproofing problem; I would hate to live in any of those buildings.
These units are side by side.. two units in one building sort of say.

Quote:
Sometimes in a community with a majority of "seniors", kids aren't exactly welcomed in the pool. When we have grandkids visiting for spring break, you can see some of the old folks cringing as their hair gets splashed and the kids make a ruckus. And there's no jumping or diving into the pool. Check that out, since it's important for you to have the grandkids over.

As others have said, ask about the rental situation and also foreclosures. Our association has 11 separate sections, and the sections with foreclosures have to eat the cost of the condo fees for those units. And the new owner isn't obligated to pay the back fees.
Yep, while the new owner isn't obligated to pay he'll pay with lower standards of care.

Quote:
Get a copy of the condo docs and financials and review them carefully; ask someone for help (preferably an attorney experienced with condos) because they can be daunting and overwhelming. Make sure you know all the rules/restrictions; don't be one of those people who says, "I had no idea I couldn't paint my door purple....".
I am lucky here, my son-in-law is an attorney for the state attorney generals office and he knows all the questions to ask and documents that need seeing.

Quote:
If they have a newsletter or website, check them out. Once I was reading meeting minutes that were posted on a community's website and learned that they are involved in a lawsuit with the developer -- not a good sign.
But lots of bad things can happen in housing too. We've all had neighbors we wish we didn't have even in affluent neighborhoods. I had one in particular which I will call the neighbor from hell. He lasted three months and was operating a car repair business in the back yard... and from here it all went downhill. Luckily he decided to move... was his mothers house and she rented it to him... from what I hear his mother evicted him so there you go.

But in the right condo with the right people I see condo living as the way to go for me.
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Old 03-21-2015, 04:20 PM
 
Location: Whereever we have our RV parked
8,786 posts, read 7,704,486 times
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The wife and I are outdoors type folks, fresh air, sunshine, etc. My mother had a condo, and I didn't even like visiting. It felt closed in dull, nothing going on, no people around, boring. I've found my ideal, but it wouldn't work with family responsibilities. But my ideal was a mobile home community, with a community pool, activities etc.

You could make as little or as much outdoors work as you wanted. But I liked it because they had rules you have to live by that you don't have in a typical subdivision. Barking and vicious dogs not allowed. It was gated and very hard for crooks to get in our out so it was very safe. So if I can find something similar some day, it may be that would be our new home.
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Old 03-22-2015, 11:42 AM
 
5,822 posts, read 13,317,177 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Escort Rider View Post
First, here in California if the condo does not have neighbors either above you or below you, but only to one or both sides, we call them townhouses. Legally they are still condos but in real estate parlance they are townhouses.

Thirteen years ago, three and a half years before I retired, I bought a townhouse because I noticed that they were cheaper than single family homes for the equivalent living space. I like mine, I like my neighborhood, and I like my neighbors in the other townhouses. Where to start?

1. Read the rules before even making an offer! Be sure that you can live with them. Not all condos have the same rules.

2. Look into the finances of the HOA (home owners' association). Do they have adequate reserves? Do the outsides of the units look well-maintained? Ask how long the monthly fees have been at their current level. If it's a long time, an increase may be in the cards sooner rather than later.

3. Talk to some other owners, preferably both board of director members and non-board members. Ask about the atmosphere and how rules are enforced. Some places are pleasant and others are contentious. Ask about whether there is good sound insulation if you share common walls. I share a common wall on both sides (but not above or below) and we can't hear anything from neighbors unless windows are open.

4. How old are the units? If there is a lot of exterior wood and if the units are older, there will be expenses involved in repainting, repairing wood rot, and so on.

5. If one of your great loves is gardening, a condo may not be for you. I have no interest in it and I'm glad the association pays for a gardener to come once a week.

6. We have 26 units. The board of directors consists of five members, elected annually by the homeowners. (In Calif. there are very strict laws regarding the transparency of elections and homeowner rights via a vis the board.)

I have been on the board almost since I bought and moved in (not many people wish to serve), so over that period of 13 years I have learned a thing or two. I finally became president of the board about 8 months ago and I've learned an additional thing or two since then.

We had two women who had a Nazi-like approach to rules. The more picayune the rules were, the more they loved them. I fought them for years, arguing for a more relaxed and more reasonable stance. Finally there was a homeowners' revolt, and people actually organized to pool their votes and put forward new candidates. Two old members were voted out, two new members were voted in, and I was elected president. (The board elects its own officers). I can now count on a majority of four votes on most matters and things have become much more pleasant.

But that doesn't mean there aren't rules, and that rules aren't enforced. If you want bright pink curtains or shades (I mean the color showing on the outside), that will not fly here. We feel it would make the place look like a shanty town and would adversely affect property values.

We have a pool, and our buildings are 33 years old. Both those factors tend to make for high monthly fees, as the association is responsible for all exterior maintenance. We pay $325 a month, which includes trash pick-up, water, gardening, pool maintenance, insurance on the exterior of the buildings, and the biggie - exterior maintenance.

My townhouse has two bedrooms plus a loft, two and a half baths, a combined living room/dining room, and a smallish kitchen with built-ins. It has a two-car garage and laundry area. It is on four levels: garage and laundry area on the bottom, living/dining/kitchen/half bath on the main level, both bedrooms, each with a full bath, above the main level, and the loft on the "fourth floor" (or third floor if you don't count the garage). The master bedroom has a cathedral ceiling which slopes up to the loft and which give the master bedroom a very spacious feeling.

There are pluses and minuses to condo living. I love being able to make arrangements for the mail and the newspaper, lock the doors, and take off for an indeterminate amount of time.

Bottom line - do your homework before even making an offer!
I agree with everything Escort Rider has stated. We lived in a townhouse (HOA community) for 13 years before retiring. NEVER AGAIN. The board was run by people who had never owned a home. They were referred to as Nazis. Every plant in a window box had to be approved by the board, holiday lights had to be white and only the door decorated, because they had no idea about keeping money in escrow, we were reassessed several times for a few thousand dollars. A fire broke out from a cigarette of one of the workmen and people lost their homes for over a year. I could go on and on, but this was my experience. When we retired we bought a house with 3 acres and have been very happy for 10 years. We love to work outside and would be bored silly in a condo. We have wonderful neighbors who look after our home while we are gone in the winter. IF we reach a point where we have difficulty caring for the house, we will pay someone to fix things and take care of the outside. At the point everything is basically limited maintenance, due to improvements made.
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