For most of you who have owned single-family homes, buying a condo is a new experience. This type of ownership gives all owners the opportunity to influence core decisions on management and maintenance of their jointly owned building.
Recently a wise man told me that most professionals who had worked all their lives and followed a career path intensely, want to relax and not treat their retirement or second home as a “business.” Many times, my friend said, he wanted to turn over any decision making to his wife and to stay out of the business side of the home ownership, and this especially applied to condo ownership.
The Responsibility of Joint Ownership
There are differences in how people respond to owning and sharing the responsibility of joint ownership. The value of your condo is affected by not only its physical attributes, but by the stability and maturity of your condominium association.
Here are some thoughts to consider:
- A good start begins with learning what laws affect real estate ownership in the home country of your property. This may sound basic, but over the years I have seen many problems caused by lack of knowledge or misunderstanding of procedures, laws, and customs. Understanding how the meetings should be held, what topics the board can rule upon and what decisions involve the general membership, is very important.
- Be prepared to compromise and negotiate for the common good. Meeting other owners or holding some informal parties or get-togethers is not necessary, but it can be valuable to understanding your peers. Appreciating your co-owners’ background and experience can go a long way to successfully running a building.
- The type of ownership you share is as substantial a part of the property as is its location and physical attributes. Happy, well-run associations improve the value of everyone’s property.
- A checklist before purchasing a condo may include:
- Do I want to have to “work” at negotiation/compromise when it comes to my home?
- Will I want to serve on committees or as an officer?
- Am I more of a loner? Being a loner can be ok, if you are all right with others making decisions. Being a recluse might be harder in a condo. Others can invade your space. Your neighbor’s friend may sometimes park in your parking space. Your co-owners may enjoy their grandchildren at the pool in the summer.
- What are the advantages of owning a condo? You can lock up and go away, knowing there is someone responsible for maintaining the building and taking care of emergencies. You are sharing the cost of the maintenance and have piece of mind that there is some security in a group living in close proximity to each other willing to watch out for each other.
Success Story – Mini Meetings & Cocktail Parties
One of the most successful condo groups I have ever seen is on the south shore of Vallarta. It is a large group with owners in several towers. Perhaps out of necessity, the manager has had to create a smooth way for everyone to have the opportunity to be involved in ownership. The principles he uses, however, apply to any size group.
The day before the owners hold their annual general meeting, they attend smaller meetings on all subjects which will be voted on by the general membership. Some topics may be: budget review or capital improvements, the yearly maintenance schedule, the federal zone, or special projects. The mini meeting agenda is given out in advance, so there is time to attend more than one debriefing and discussion session.
This preparation in advance allows the general meeting to be held with informed owners who don’t have to learn about a topic in the general meeting where it can take hours to come to a consensus. There is more understanding and cooperation among the owners when there is sharing of information in advance.
After the mini sessions and the night before the general meeting, a cocktail party is held for all the owners. The cocktails don’t last long, but are a time to socialize and get to dinner in town before it gets too late in the evening.
The next day, after the general meeting, there is a luncheon served to everyone. It is organized by the administration. Some buildings may prefer holding an old-fashioned covered dish luncheon, organized by the social committee.
There are two days devoted to the meetings and social activities.
Many benefits to the owners and to the real estate itself come from this approach to condo ownership.
This article is based upon Flex MLS reporting, legal opinions, current practices and my personal experiences in the Puerto Vallarta-Bahia de Banderas areas. I recommend that each potential buyer or seller of Mexican real estate conduct his own due diligence and review. If you have any other questions, contact me through my website.Harriet Murray