Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Condominium Conversions: Old Apartment or New Product?

Does Caveat Emptor apply to Conversions?

The spate of conversion of old apartments to condominiums has finally abated largely due to the failed economy. For many reasons which we have previously noted, buyers prefer new construction and only buy conversions when the housing market is in a selling frenzy. Nevertheless, thousands were sold and owner claims have arisen which range from minor issues with the unit itself to major waterproofing and structural failures in the buildings which will require very expensive reconstruction for which no funding was provided by the converter.

These claims are often defended by developers with the argument that since what was purchased was not new, the owners cannot expect that the converter should pay the cost of rehabilitation. That the conversions are not new construction is not usually hidden from buyers. Everyone buying into a converted apartment project did or should know that the buildings were more than just a few years old and that deterioration can be expected.

But what most buyers do not know and should not have to expect is that the maintenance and repair funding plan which was coupled with the sale of the unit was inadequate for the eventual repair of the buildings. And why is this important? Because a condominium conversion is not just a used apartment alone. It is a new product assembled from several important pieces.

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