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September 15, 2014

So you have Three looney tunes, one nutbag on your condo board? Shocking….

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:27 am


Listen, I get it…everyone’s favorite punching bag is his or her condo board. Often maligned, and more often than not, the criticism is not just or warranted. It is a thankless job- just be happy someone is doing it, and doing it for free. Here is what I would make sure is happening in order to preserve my value as a Center City condo owner, and member of the association, just in case. These are huge. You might want to take notes:
1) Make Sure The Building Stays At Least say 66% Owner Occupied
by restricting an over abundance of rentals. 75% is even better.
2) Make Sure The Building is FHA Approved- this is easy and shouldn’t be overlooked. I am amazed when I see how many condos around town AREN’T FHA approved…(FHA approved condos really open up the building to first time buyers who may not have the usual 10% down or more needed to buy a condo).
3) Put 10% of monthly condo fees into a reserve for improvements beyond
just the day to day and month to month expenditures.
4) Make Sure the Building is being maintained. Do not hesitate to spend. Spending on cleanliness of the building will provide your best return. Think…exterior paint, hallways, foyer, etc., especially for smaller associations.
Visual presentation is HUGE for resale.
5) Larger associations should have a website that highlights the building, amenities, and give as much info as possible to the buying public. They have nothing to hide…so highlight the information for perspective buyers. Take a look at Society Hill Towers website…a great example.
Value retention is an elusive trait in the hands of amateurs. And I am not aware of any qualifications needed to sit on a condo board- beyond basic ownership in a given building.  Most associations around town do a fairly good job, but some fall prey to the pitfalls that can lead to a fairly rapid decline in condominium values in specific buildings. Best to keep your eye on the signs that may point to a downward spiral in condo values within your building. The above list is written as a guide, one that it may be advantageous to follow. I am not suggesting that your values are going to spiral if one of these points is ignored…rather a combo
of events can lead to downward values.
Here is what I have seen in simplified terms:
Condo board runs amok of rules that keeps the building easy to finance (FANNIE MAE WARRANT-ABLE). New buyers have to then put  30% down or more to buy. This cuts the resale market in MANY buildings. Units then don’t sell, sellers start to compete with each other, prices fall, and more owners begin to rent their condo out. This downward spiral is difficult to reverse.  By having a board aware of these pitfalls, your building should easily be able to remain warrantable and easy to finance. And IF your building has a fair share of condos that might sell under $420,000 then there is NO excuse for the building not being FHA approved.
So here is the moral of this story:
It is indeed your money- You paid for the condo, and that investment is just that- an investment.  You should be standing up and saying something if you see your board veering off the course of a clear path to value and value retention.
Invite me to your next condo board meeting-
 I’ll give them the “what for”
Or if you are a board member of your association,
give me a call and let’s chat about how you can
implement some of these guidelines if you like…
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