2008 Mar 13th

Learn The Little Known Dangers Of Small Hoboken Condo Buildings

Would You Buy a Condo in A Building With Only 3 Units?

If so, you better keep reading. Hoboken has very few co-ops. Most units in Hoboken are condos. A condo building is run by the condo association. The condo association is made up of the unit owners. Each unit owner has a vote. Sometimes, that vote is proportional in relation to the size of the unit owned. Other times, it is 1 vote per unit. So what’s the problem with that, you ask?

Hoboken has many older 3 and 4 story homes that have been converted into 3 and 4 unit condos. Let’s say you’re about to purchase a unit in one of these 3 unit buildings. You would own 24% of the total square footage of the building, your upstairs neighbor owns 24% and the family downstairs in the duplex has 52% of the total. So your vote is worth 24%, the upstairs vote is worth 24% and guess who controls the building? Or the same owner owns two floors and now the third floor unit is for sale. Each condo unit gets one vote. Again, your soon to be neighbor makes all the decisions.

Why Should You Care?

Hobokens Best DogsLiving in a condo building requires cooperation among unit owners. It also requires decisions to be made that effect everyone. Think about who decides how much the reserve fund should be, whether special assessments will be imposed or whether maintenance fees ought to be increased, and if pets are allowed. When one unit owner has a controlling interest, all these decisions can be made by that owner. What if you prefer to live in a well maintained, clean building but your neighbor could care less? If they decide how the condo fees are spent they may not be willing to repair the roof, paint the common areas, clean the hallways or install new lightings. Owning property requires maintenance and upkeep. Improving property costs money. If you’re not on the same page as the neighbor with the controlling vote, you have no recourse except to make improvements and repairs at your own expense. Or you may have a really difficult time selling when your building looks like a money pit.

Even Under The Best Circumstances, How Big Is Your Safety Net?

If you and your neighbors all get along famously and agree on exactly how your condo should be kept and financed there is one more thing to consider. When you purchase in a condo building with 10 or more units, not only is the governance of the condo association likely to be more of a democratic and participatory process but there are more unit owners chipping in to handle maintenance costs and repairs when needed. Many small Hoboken condo buildings have very meager reserve funds. Often, they are no more than a few thousand dollars. Smaller buildings are more commonly self managed. They tend not to have regular meetings, don’t keep minutes, and sometimes have no budget. Of course, these are all items your attorney should be checking into during attorney review. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked.

3 Unit Hoboken CondoHow to Protect Yourself

Are all small Hoboken condo buildings to be avoided? No – some of them are fine. They have attentive owners who run the association properly or pay a management company to do much of the work. There are condos in Hoboken with smart unit owners who have established adequate reserves and prepared a realistic budget. The voting rights in some small Hoboken condo buildings are allocated 1 vote per unit specifically so that no one unit owner controls everything. This is set out in the condo documents – the certificate of incorporation and the bylaws. The important lesson is that you ask the right questions before deciding to make an offer on a condo unit in a small building. Know what you’re getting into before you buy.

Posted by Lori Turoff | Currently No Comments »

2007 Oct 16th

What Everybody Ought To Know About Home Inspections

Home Inspectors Are Not All Created Equal

An important part of buying a condo and, especially a house, is the home inspection. Most sales contracts give the buyer a right to have the property examined by a home inspector. You should be there during the inspection and should take notes. There is much valuable information a home buyer, especially a first time home owner, can learn during the inspection process.

There are some big companies in the home inspection business who operate in the Hoboken area. Housemasters is one of them. They do the inspection and give you a nice, fancy package afterward with your report and information on general maintenance of your home. There are a number of individuals who are inspectors as well. Some of them are excellent. Before you choose one, ask for references. See if other buyers have been satisfied with their services. Many realtors will attend the home inspection along with the buyer. So they’ve been through many inspections and can recommend a few competent inspectors to you. Regardless of who you choose you should know that –

Inspectors do not check most things that they cannot see

If there is mold behind the sheet rock, or a problem with the electrical system only on hot days when the a/c is running full blast the inspector may not find the problem. What they will do is test all the appliances, look at the plumbing and check for obvious leaks or signs of water damage, run the heating and cooling systems, test the electrical sockets and look at the circuit boards, examine the windows and a few other things. If the condo you are buying is new construction, you are probably covered by a new homeowners warranty should you move in and find out that something isn’t working properly. The older the property, the more likely there are to be problems from wear and tear.

Inspectors don’t typically check the common areas in condo buildings.

Since you own from the skin of the walls inward, most inspectors are not going to include problems in the hallway or with the roof as part of the scope of their inspection. Common elements are the responsibility of the condominium association. Problems in the common areas affect you only in so far as the cost of repairs comes from the buildings reserve fund and your maintenance payments.

Inspectors are not structural or building engineers

If you’re buying a 100 year old house or have some other reason for concern it might be worth it to have an engineer perform your inspection. While it may cost more you may avoid a costly issue down the road.

If problems are discovered the seller may have to repair or pay to repair them

Even though your purchase price has been agreed upon, in many instances when problems arise during the home inpection process, the buyer will go to the seller through their attorneys or realtors and request that repairs be made at the sellers expense or that a monetary credit be given the buyer to pay for the needed work. Most buyers prefer to do the work themselves and will take the payment rather than the repair. If the work is not done or an amount cannot be agreed upon between you and the buyer you may have the right to cancel the contract and get your money back. You should know what your contract says about home inspection so ask your lawyer.

Posted by Lori Turoff | Currently 4 Comments »

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