Cautions About Condos From Heloise

guest blog by Nila Ridings

Something about the condo purchasing information in this newspaper column tells me she’s had some first-hand experience. She knows enough to wave the warning flag and sound the alarm, but not enough to know those items are the lesser of the worries in a condo purchase.

I’ve written her a paragraph about my perspective on condo living. If you feel so inclined to help add to her HOA education write her at:

Perhaps it will be a newspaper columnist who impacts the most people in the shortest time period? I don’t know. What I do know is the vast knowledge about HOA and COAs among our readers must be shared far and wide.

Just today, I called an Attorney General’s office for some information as I was investigating another HOA nightmare. She asked me, “What makes you inquire about HOAs?” I proceeded to give her the shortest version I could of the past eight years of my HOA exploration and experience. She said, “You sure called me at the right time!” Our conversation continued with her telling me she is looking to buy her first home. All of her friends have purchased condos!!! She thanked me several times for the information I gave her. I hung up feeling like I had just saved a life! I feel 99.9% sure no real estate agent will get her signature on a contract for an HOA property. And I know she will do the research and read the things I suggested so her level of knowledge will most likely be greater than the Realtor trying to sell her a property.

Education…it’s imperative!



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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

2 thoughts on “Cautions About Condos From Heloise

  1. AngelaB

    I would never buy another condo ever again. If I am going to live in an apartment, I’d rather it just be a straightforward rental apartment. Since I purchased at the wrong time in the “bubble” I’m stuck, but this is what I am dealing with at this point:

    1. A board that does nothing except issue threatening emails and trivial compliance letters to owners. The board neglects the buildings and grounds, which are in disrepair despite increasing monthly fees every year. I don’t know where the money goes.
    2. My complex has no rental cap so we are well over 50% rentals. The community is not what it used to be. Renters don’t follow rules and no one seems to care.
    3. Our property management company is not competent and horribly rude all the time. The board hides behind the property management company and cannot be addressed except through this company. The property management company runs the board meetings (when there is a meeting–most are cancelled).

    I envy the renters in my community because at least they can leave.

  2. Nila Ridings

    Angela B,

    I agreed with you 100%.

    I tell people all the time, if you don’t want to mow grass, shovel snow, or trim the shrubbery, or hire contractors to do the work…rent. Rent an apartment. Rent a duplex. Rent a house. Rent a tent. Do whatever it takes to avoid the things you don’t like because if you buy into a condo you’re risking every thing you have ever worked for. Because of this crappy HOA, I have lost my entire retirement savings. I am too old now to earn that back so I will be working until I take my last breath unless I win the lottery. Had I rented an apartment ten years ago when I moved into this HOA, today I would be able to travel around the world, and live carefree. As it is, every dime of my retirement has been wasted on attorney bills, paying for things the HOA is contracted to take care of, and loss of property value because of poor management. We have the highest number of foreclosures in the entire city! And I’m talking the second largest city in Kansas. We have close to 30% rentals (last I knew, it could be higher now) and I’ve lost track of the number of lawsuits. The only solution to fixing this troubled HOA will be a bulldozer. And I have no doubts that day is coming.

    The other issue with owning a condo is who gets stuck with it when the owner dies? Some inheritance, huh? A massive risk that could wipe out the lives and well-being of children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or a good friend. (I have not been able to confirm this but I was told by a reliable source that charities do not want time shares or condos transferred to them upon death). And some people will inherit these condos and HOA properties without having a word to say about it. Personally, I’d rather inherit $1 than a $300,000. condo on a golf course or the beach or even next door to a salvage yard. Never again to I want any part of this nightmare!


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