Revising Condominium Documents Before the Closing--Be careful what you wish for!!!

By
Real Estate Services with Topkins & Bevans-etopkins@topbev.com

Recently, an engagement representing a young couple purchasing one Unit of a two unit condominium in the process of being converted from a two-family home, presented a unique situation for my firm. Because the documents had not been recorded, we could comment on their content and make sure that all aspects of the documents were consistent with Massachusetts condominium law and the understandings of the parties.

Initially, this exercise proceeded on a course which was positive. Our careful review of the documents reviewed some internal inconsistencies, some typographical errors and an inconsistency between the floor plans and the language of the Master Deed. With the cooperation of the woman who drafted the documents, we made the necessary changes to the documents, and we believed we were in a position to close on the Unit in question a few weeks ago.

Here is where the "be careful what you wish for" comes in. Our clients, a nice couple with good intentions, seized on certain aspects of the Condominium rules, no less, to make the review controversial. They had real concerns about where people could smoke, and they wanted assurances about the fact that they could have a fenced in area in the rear of their unit for their dog to exercise in. They had other issues of this type which are just now getting resolved, after literally hours of extra work, which could well have been obviated once the second Unit owner purchased his, her or their Unit, and the two unit owners sat down to work things out between themselves.

I am inclined the next time this "opportunity" arises, to suggest that the developer record the Condominium Documents prior to our entering into Purchase and Sale Agreement negotiations. Giving first-time unit owners a blank check on document changes is not always wise. I am starting to think the better course is to let the Unit Owners work things out by themselves. Whatever the unilateral decision may be, trying to live together as basically partners in a living enterprise will always be more important. Putting one Unit Owner at an apparent advantage at the onset cannot undercut that obvious fact.

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Rainmaker
915,913
Conrad Allen
Webster, Ma, Realtor
Re/Max Professional Asociates

Hi Elliot - So this was intentionally not recorded so the two owners could design their own condo docs.  A recipe for disaster.  Fortunately they had your counsel to guide them.  How can you "afford" to do all that work?

February 26, 2011 07:03 AM
Rainmaker
231,805
Elliott S. Topkins
Massachusetts Real Estate and Title Atty
Topkins & Bevans-etopkins@topbev.com

Conrad--In a way, it is worse than that. My guys are first in. They are loading the dice for themselves. They still will need to live next door to the other owners. I have tried to explain that to them, but they are sure the new Buyers will be impossible to deal with. Not a sound opening premise.

February 26, 2011 07:12 AM
Rainmaker
647,221
Barbara Hensley
Homes for Sale in Rockwall County, Texas
RE/MAX Properties

Ugh, indeed it is a recipe for disaster!  HOAs, at best, are difficult enough without someone starting from the get go with a selfish agenda. 

February 26, 2011 07:42 AM
Ambassador
418,619
Larry Lawfer
"It's all about you. I listen for a living."
YourStories Realty

Elliott, you are such a good story teller, and sadly this one is instructive.  Again, things outside your control bushwacked the deal, it seems not enough these days to just be great at your job, but you also need to look deep into the eyes of the person hiring you to understand their motivation. The client does not always stand with you as you work for them, do they?

February 26, 2011 08:27 AM
Rainer
148,540
Virginia Gardner
Realtor, Charlottesville, Serving Central Virginia
Roy Wheeler Realty Co.

Very interesting.  Give people an inch.....

February 26, 2011 10:04 AM
Anonymous
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Rainmaker
231,805

Elliott S. Topkins

Massachusetts Real Estate and Title Atty
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Additional Information

Realtor's Resource Blog is dedicated to furnishing current strategy and information to the Massachusetts real estate community of professionals and to out of state realtors and REO and relocation companies who need excellent representation in Massachusetts. My law firm, Topkins & Bevans, can cover the entire state of Massachusetts. I hope to use my 40 years of hands-on real estate experience to assist you and your Massachusetts Buyers and Sellers.