Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Big Money, No Whammies---The Back Story

Our developer’s girlfriend was the legal owner of a unit in our association.

Despite the fact he made sure the assessments were paid, on paper the unit belonged to her. Now it’s not my place to speculate on the nature of their arrangement, but on more than one occasion, our developer referred to himself as “an owner.”

It would definitely lead one to think that he was the defacto owner of the unit. Who knows?

It had been on the market last summer in 2004 and again this summer---eventually, the unit sold.

We were getting new neighbors---the saints be praised.

Unfortunately a small snag occurred after the closing---the association didn’t get a check for the balance of the remaining regular and special assessments. Obviously we weren’t going to let this one go without a fight.

Our new neighbor and her family are lovely people. She started coming to association meetings almost from the time the ink was dry on her closing documents. While everyone welcomed her with open arms, there was that little thing about the outstanding assessments. Scratch that, our biggest concern was the collection of the $4,600 special assessment.

Those porches aren’t gonna get paid for with wishful thinking.

This was turning out to be quite the situation. You just can’t roll up on a sister for a bill she didn’t create like you’re a pimp chastising his independent contractors. Yet we needed to establish a dialogue, map out a plan and get the money in our coffers.

I took the lead (**shocking**) and left a welcome note on our new neighbor’s mat and asked her to call me when she got a free moment. After a few days of telephone tag, we spoke and I asked her about the special assessment money. Apparently our developer put it in an “escrow” account at the title company. Additionally, the money could not be released until our developer said so.

Now that’s a head scratcher.

Kind readers, I’m not sure about how it works where you live but the in the County of Cook, the City of Chicago you’re not supposed to close on any condo transactions without a paid assessment letter. While most title companies know this rule, it sometimes “falls by the wayside” with first time home buyers or with less experienced closers. This situation was shaping up to be no exception.

Our new neighbor understandably was hesitant to get involved in what essentially amounted to debt collection. Unfortunately for her, the assessment was (and is) tied to the property. If one owner doesn’t pay it, the new one will have to. Unless there is a bankruptcy proceeding, back and/or special assessments aren’t discharged they stay with the unit.

She started getting the message when we billed her as due and owing for the special.

Seeing that she was completely new to the process the fact that she got the money released at all was a miracle. Then of course it might have had something to do with the little nugget I dropped in her ear about purchasing title insurance and the closing happened without a paid assessment letter.

Heads have rolled at title companies for far less.

Who knows? It’s none of my business how she made it happen---all I know is that it happened.

Oft times the most effective people are the ones that speaking softly (as our new neighbor does) and carry a big stick.

Rock on Sister Sledge.

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