Quote: Poor common areas equal poor investments

Syndicated columnist David Myers warns a reader against buying into a development with dilapidated common areas and immediately running for a spot on the condo board to implement improvements:

Don’t ever buy a home in a condo complex (or any other area governed by a homeowners association) with the expectation that you will quickly get elected to the board of directors and can then turn the entire development around. It’s akin to buying a home in the worst part of town with the hope of single-handedly solving the whole neighborhood’s problems. You can’t. The common areas of the condo project you are considering have deteriorated because a majority of its board has allowed them to deteriorate. Maybe the board doesn’t have adequate reserves to make the needed improvements. Or, maybe it has had the courage to suggest raising the monthly dues to cover such expenses, but other residents of the project foolishly voted against it. Either way, the complex is likely to deteriorate further — and there’s nothing you could do by yourself to stop it. Continue looking. You eventually will find a good condo in a complex where the residents realize that keeping their common areas nice adds to their quality of life, not to mention their property values.

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