How to Understand and Challenge Special Assessments in Colorado

Filed Under (Real Estate) on 17-01-2012

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Check your governing documents, see the paperwork, and be nice to board members.

Almost all community associations regularly assess their members—usually monthly—for the budgeted expenses of operating the association and maintaining any common property. Occasionally, associations also levy what is called a “special assessment.”

What is a “special assessment”?

As the name suggests, a special assessment is out of the ordinary and is levied for an unbudgeted expense. The money goes to either fund a particular project or meet a budget shortfall. Special assessments can be in the thousands of dollars and generate considerable community controversy.

Colorado law sets no specific limitations on the governing board’s ability to levy special assessments. However, the governing documents often incorporate restrictions on special assessments. These restrictions may limit the purposes for which a special assessment may be levied and may also prescribe procedures for levying the assessment including that any assessment be approved by a vote—sometimes a super-majority vote—of the association members.

Step 1: Learn the Rules Continue reading “How to Understand and Challenge Special Assessments in Colorado” »

Five Questions to Ask Before Buying a Colorado Condominium

Filed Under (Real Estate) on 01-12-2011

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Right now, savvy buyers can find tremendous opportunities in the condominium market. But condos may come with hidden strings attached. Without doing your homework, you might find yourself paying far more in association dues than expected or suffering under onerous rules. Here are some questions to ask before making an offer:

1. Is it really a condominium? The form a community takes is important. There are three types of communities in Colorado: condominiums, cooperatives, and planned communities. It is not always apparent which is which. Distinguishing among them is important because each type of community brings unit owners different property rights. When you buy a condominium unit, you receive an ownership interest in the unit as well as an undivided interest in all the common elements. However, when you buy an interest in a cooperative, you own no real property. The association owns all the property, including all the units, and you get a right to occupy a designated unit.

Remember that just because units are attached does not mean that a project is a condominium. Attached townhomes could be developed as condominiums or a “planned community” governed by a homeowners association. A high-rise is probably a condominium, but could be a cooperative. Also, just because a salesperson refers to a development as a condominium does not mean that it is. There is only one way to tell if the project is a condominium: read the association’s governing documents. Colorado law requires declarations to state whether a community is a condominium, cooperative, or planned community. Continue reading “Five Questions to Ask Before Buying a Colorado Condominium” »

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