Many folks think condos and townhomes are like po-tay-toe and po-tah-toe. They’re pretty much the same. When actually, they’re more like potato and tomato.

Just because the property sits on the ground and looks like an attached house, doesn’t make it a townhouse. And a condominium doesn’t always look like an apartment. There are condos that look like townhomes and vice versa. The appearance or physical description is not a true verification of the type of property. 

Townhouses and condominiums have subtle but distinct differences. The defining characteristic of a property type lies in the ownership, rather than the design. What you own, what you are responsible for maintaining, and what spaces you must share differentiates condos from townhomes.

Both types of properties are attached to another residence and are part of a larger property with shared or community spaces. They both have homeowners associations with dues assessed to owners. While there is a legal definition for each, allow me to add the stipulation that these characteristics are “typical and usual.” There are always a few communities that like to create their own unique ownership rules, restrictions, and covenants.

(more…)

Source: Coalition for Community Housing Policy in the Public Interest

Source: Coalition for Community Housing Policy in the Public Interest

Hiring outside professionals to assess the systems and structure of a condominium is often scoffed at by HOAs because of the expense.  It’s as shortsighted as complaining about the cost of toothpaste. Condominiums are larger and definitely more complex than single-family homes. It’s negligent not to have plans in place that understand the current condition of the overall building coupled with a plan for regular maintenance that stretches out as far as the longest-lived components.

It’s also critical that reserve studies are performed by outsiders.  HOAs and management companies may either lack the expertise required or want to soft-pedal the truth to avoid uncomfortable conversations with residents.  We are generally “shoot the messenger” kind of people.

Another reason for using an outsider can be managing companies that also have their own staff contracted to perform repairs.  If they’re the ones doing the capital reserve studies, isn’t that a whopping conflict of interest? Didn’t Fair Park teach us that competitive bidding is best?

(more…)

You will love this story written by my colleague Sherree Curry about Miss Pamela Anderson, and how, when a guy doesn’t deliver what he promises to deliver when he says he’s gonna deliver it, well, you go to court!