Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Read the Condo Docs

I'm paranoid. Not disfunctionally so, but enough that people notice. It's not in every part of my life but it definitely rears its ugly head any time I must shell out big bucks and take on risk. So, you can only imagine how paranoid I was about buying my place. My paranoia paid me back in that I know exactly what I have - the good and the bad, and know more about my property than any of my neighbors. So, one would think with all the problems I wouldn't have bought, but life is about risk. Just because one is paranoid doesn't mean one is risk adverse. It just means everything seems like a risk. Since I'm not afraid to take risks my paranoia doesn't prevent me from having a good life.

So, what does this have to do with Condo Docs? I read them cover to cover, word by word, typo to typo - looking for anything lurking in the text that would screw me. My buyers agent hadn't read the documents, the sellers agent hadn't read the documents, and many of the lawyers for the other residents hadn't read them either. Good thing I did. The docs were a train wreck. My first copy described a landscaped cul-de-sac with racket ball court, balconies, fireplaces, and two parking spots somewhere in the mountains. It even had a snazzy name - Alpine 'something' condominiums. Did I mention the Jacuzzi? My lawyer, who did read them, called me laughing simultaneously appalled and amused. Obviously Mayo lawyers took a doc from some other development and edited it. Unfortunately in their haste and disregard it was a mess. I have a great lawyer. He and I worked to get the docs fixed. They're still not perfect, but it was good enough. There is one line that still bothers me though, but Douglas Jones, my lawyer, didn't seem too concerned so I wasn't either. The line essentially says that as long as the developer owns a unit in the building they have veto power over anything the residents decide for the condominium. Mayo is planning on retaining ownership of the two commercial spaces on the bottom floor. So they may use that as an excuse to exercise veto power. I foresee a long hard fight in the near future over costs to manage the building. They'll want cheap, I'll want quality. Make sure you read the docs for such clauses otherwise when they try to screw you it will be a total surprise. I prefer to know that someone has plans to screw me. Don't be lazy, READ IT!

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