Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Indecision '07, Part II

I think the official logo for our condo association should be an ostrich with its head in the sand.

Because that seems to be the manner that some of my fellow board members choose to deal with association business.

I sent an e-mail last week to the board concerning the pack rat like habits of our handyman and a few suggestions to make sure this topic doesn’t become an issue in the future.

Do you know how many board members sent a response?


One person out of four took the time out of her day to lodge her opinions and concerns about the safety and security of our home.

That’s just pitiful.

But I decided to take the high road. I decided to send out a second e-mail concerning the subject last weekend and still have yet to hear back from the three who did not respond.

Now we’ve gone from pitiful to trifling.

One of two things is going on: Either I’m held in such low regard that I can’t even get a return e-mail or these three people are just so busy with their lives that they just can’t manage to squeak out an e-mail concerning association business.

But I’ll bet they’ll be the first to piss and moan the minute someone gets broken into.

Or the first to wonder, “How’d that happen” when someone accesses our building with a random front door key or code given out by a former renter.

Like I said---they’re a reactive bunch.

So what do you do when ¾ of your association ducks any type of responsibility for their home and the ones that serve on the board are lazy or so burned out that they don’t give a flying fuck?


The North Coast said...

Sounds like a typical condo or co-op association.

I've always heard it said that in any volunteer organization, that 95% of the work and responsibility is borne by 1 or 2 people while everyone else shirks.

A certain large, famous vintage north lakefront co-op had a building full of shirkers in combo with a very closed, tight, and secretive co-op board (the first condition enables the second), and for forty years nobody questioned why the monthly assessment was so low. Everyone was really happy about that and didn't want to question it because it made the place desirable to new buyers.

Well, a few years ago, the stucco started to delaminate, and an inspection revealed that 40 years of deferred maintenance had caught up the 300-unit complex, which suddenly required repairs to the stucco, roof, swim pool, garage, windows, plumbing, and other items that totaled many, many MILLIONS of dollars.

The story of this well-known bldg was told to me and others in my city condo-buying class, as an illustration of the pitfalls that await unwary condo and co-op buyers and negligent owners. The ultimate hit to owner-residents, after a state, city, and federal bailout of the historic building, was about $40K. Were it not for a(morally questionable)tax-funded bailout, the hit per unit on average would have been more like $120K.

Which, of course, it should have been. Who is bailing out me and you?

Trouble is, condos and co-ops attract large numbers of people who really basically hate home ownership and the work and responsibility that goes with it. They are renters at heart, and they take "renter" attitudes that expect constant service and for someone else to deal with the responsibility and management of the place. Many of these people only bought because they were sick of being run out of beloved rentals by condo conversions.

The Woodlawn Wonder said...

Funny, I think I know the building you're speaking of. As a matter of fact, (If I'm correct) I almost bought into the pink palace.

The failing stucco & the windows was the dead giveaway.

While I adore the building, I'm glad that I now have this information. Nonetheless the moral of the story is do your homework BEFORE moving into a condo or a co-op.

My slacker neighbors still suck though.

The North Coast said...

I love the Edgewater Beach, too, Woodie, and I remember being struck by how low the assessments were. They must have wonderful money management in here, I thought, and having 300 units helps.

Little did I know. Now the assessments are around $1200 for a one bed unit, which is really more like it when you consider the private park and garage and 24-hour service and individual garden plots and pool and library and grand lobby.

You have to do not only your homework but some extra detective work, too, because no matter how many disclosures they make, there are things that you won't know until you either get into the place, or talk to people there.

Like, one woman told me her Edgewater hirise had a $400K heating bill for the winter. I looked at the place,and noticed the 60s vintage steel-framed plate glass that was leaking all the heat out of the place.

Another place has an internecine squabble of operetic proportions for every unit in the place. That is why it still has an 85-year-old converted coal burner-because the owners can't get together on anything because of all the personal vendettas.

Yet another is a half-empty illegal conversion that will be in the courts for the next 10 years.

Yet another is full of renters, including 2 registered sex offenders.

And on and on.

I like the architecture and security and ease of a condo or co-op, but SF houses do have the unassailable advantage of allowing you complete control of your property.