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Coinciding with cherry blossom season, I received a note from a reader in Japan (Candy covers the world!). The writer, an American school teacher is contemplating relocating back to the US in a couple of years. She’s specifically looking at midrise and highrise buildings in Dallas with a view. Her idea of “view” could be a tree-lined street or a sweeping panorama.

She’s never lived in Texas, but has relatives and friends in the Metroplex and San Antonio. This isn’t her first foray into remote-control real estate, having purchased a rental home in San Antonio during the depth of the housing crash. That said, she’s not keen to settle in San Antonio as “… it seems like one big suburb. At least Dallas has art, music, a real international airport, and restaurants beyond Olive Garden.”

Ouch.

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This woman could be the reason why some HOAs are dysfunctional.

HOA Boards are better than anything playing at the Winspear. What should be the stuff of banality and tedium are often filled with grade-school antics. Since posting the sharewithjon@candysdirt.com email address, a few readers have supplied their own stories to add to my own. Here’s a sample…

Imaginary Degrees and Intimidation
One reader spoke of a “fancy” building where in order to get her way, one resident pretended to be a lawyer in order to intimidate and bully fellow neighbors. Turns out there was a code violation (because codes change over time) that the HOA board (rightly) wanted to bring it up to code. This faux lawyer was part of a cadre of pitch-fork wielding villagers telling the HOA that the item was grandfathered in – this even after the City of Dallas inspectors cited the complex for the code violation. “The legal advice she gave when demanding her way was incorrect and caused turmoil and mass hysteria, thus stopping the board from getting things done.” Several HOA board members resigned because of the “hateful, personal attacks at Board meetings and via phone calls and emails” instigated by this woman and her bamboozled followers.

Later, when a neighborhood-changing issue was raised, this same self-accredited “lawyer” sharpened her pitchfork and became one of the most vocal critics. Resurrecting her battle tactics, she again sent out “crazy, long winded emails … to cause worry and fear among the residents.”

While one person can certainly cause a ruckus, this HOA apparently had a history of refusing to keep the building up to snuff with shabby lobbies and hallways with old/smelly carpeting. This writer also spoke of years of mismanaging funds. Some of this can be explained by complacent owners and a history of closed-door HOA board meetings (in complete violation of Texas law). Complacency and exclusion are a recipe for disaster – like leaving a 15-year-old in a mall with a credit card.

Jump for more!

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Preston Tower - Small

Want to renovate an older highrise unit? Planning and lists are your friends, says Jon Anderson.

By Jon Anderson
Special Contributor

Over the past few weeks you’ve read my bias towards buying and rehabilitating older high-rise condos. They’re cheaper, generally larger, and (in voce real estate-o) full of potential. But renovating is a bit of a headache no matter where it’s being done. So once you’ve settled on your location, location, location, it’s time to start planning, planning, planning.

Many of you may be thinking, “Heck, I’m not doing this, it’s my contractor/designer/architect’s problem,” which may be true.  But understanding these things will help you, your design, and securing more accurate quotes.  Many contractors haven’t worked in high-rises and so these nuances will not be discovered until the job is underway, opening you to surprise add-on charges (wallet-based surprises are rarely good).  Ultimately the total costs may not change, but wouldn’t you rather know up front and plan, versus being surprised in the middle?  I thought so.  Read on…

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