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I usually don't list or sell many condos and I'm so glad that I don't. I've had a few condo listing experiences that really have made be think hard about ever buying a condo. Huge special assessments could be lurking in the wings with no readily available way to know about them, at least the way things are currently in Georgia.
We had a listing a few years ago in a condo complex where the HOA was considering making a $15,000 assessement against each owner in order to correct some siding issues. The units had an average value of around $160,000. The HOA was divided. Some wanted to go forward while others wanted to hold off and try to make repairs for less. After a year of going back and forth, it was finally voted down by a small margin. While this was on the table, it was almost impossible to sell these units.
Once the measure was voted down, we were under no obligation to disclose that there was such a large assessment that got voted down. If a prospective buyer called the president of the HOA they would get the same story, there is no currently pending assessments. If they called the management company they would also be told that there is no currently pending assessments.
The problem wasn't going away and was going to have to be addressed sooner or later. But if you were a buyer, you wouldn't know that there was a major problem with the siding on many of the buildings. You would get an inspection of your unit but you would never inspect every building in the complex even though you would be sharing in the expense of repairs for any other building in the complex. The situation was finally taken care of through an increase in the monthly fee. But it could have been the $15,000 lump sum.
I just sold a condo in a small community for around $500,000 and they had just voted down an assessment of $40,000 to repair siding. That's $40,000/unit! It was a very close vote so it might have a chance next time around. My seller and I thought it best to disclose this fact but we were under no legal obligation to do so. Any prospective buyer would be told that there is no currently pending assessment. Wouldn't that be a big surprise after you move in to your new condo.
I really think that there should be a law that requires the minutes to the last year's HOA meetings to be disclosed to any prospective buyer. To me, it is such a pertinent fact that I would want to know if I were a buyer.
When you are buying a condo, you are buying a piece of all the problems throughout the community. Make sure you do your due diligence. Make sure you talk with several current owners too. If you are lucky, you just might be able to get the real scoop and avoid any major surprises.
Tim Maitski has been a full time real estate agent in the Atlanta area since 1999.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.