An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Published January 10, 2012


And if the business fails, there goes your life-savings.


Many owners plainly don't realize what they are getting into when buying a Home/Condo in a community association. The disclosure made to prospective buyers lacks serious facts and many owners only realize that they invested their money in a business -- when they just intended to buy a home for their family -- when it's much too late.


What buyers are usually told is that the association will protect their property values by stopping neighbors from painting their homes in outrageous colors or avoiding rusted-through pick-up trucks being stored on the neighbor's lawn. They are being told that their monthly fees are used for the upkeep, maintenance and beautification of their neighborhood. Or some similar schmooze!




What sellers -- especially developers -- fail to disclose are the many downsides of these community associations -- and I am sure many potential buyers would have second thoughts if they had been told the real facts before closing on their DREAM HOME/CONDO:

  • Your Home/Condo will be part of a business. 

  • Your Home/Condo will be collateral for any debts incurred by the association.

  • You will be liable for any deficits caused by the failure of your neighbors to pay their monthly dues.

  • In many associations, more than 50% of the budget is being spent on management and legal fees, not on maintenance and/or beautification.

  • If too many of your neighbors fail to pay their dues and the association is unable to pay the utility bills, you and your family will be kicked out of your home, even if you paid all of the agreed upon monthly fees, your property taxes and your mortgage on time.

  • If you dare to annoy the association board members by asking too many questions, these "neighbors" can fine you for trumped-up charges and place a lien your home -- and foreclose on it.

  • If the association you are investing in is mismanaged, you pay for the cost of mismanagement.

  • You actually don't buy a Home/Condo for your family; you invest your life-savings in a risky business.

  • By buying into a community association you lose many of your Constitutional Rights!

I wonder how many people would still be willing to risk their life-savings, if these facts had been prominently displayed on a disclosure form given ahead of time to potential buyers?


I know that many service providers -- association attorneys and management companies -- will oppose my evaluation of the risks of buying a home/condo in a community association. But even Susan Raphan from the KGB law firm in her latest Sun Sentinel Blog [Community associations: are they businesses?] makes it abundantly clear that community associations are nothing but a business. And you can be very sure that Raphan wouldn't write something like that without prior approval of Donna Berger, her boss. Raphan makes the argument for a different reason, namely to squeeze in some free advertising for the firm that pays her salary, but:  BUSINESS is BUSINESS.


Anybody who plans to invest his/her life-savings in some business like a community association might be much better off -- and get a much better return on the investment -- by putting his/her money in a real business, a business that is run by professionals with the intention to make profits for the investors.  Please remember these facts:  When you buy into a community association, you are putting your life-savings into a homeowners' association or condominium association run by untrained people, guided by professionals that are out to fill their own pockets, often surrounded by fellow-investors that didn't have the money to invest in the first place.


Many families that invested their money in this kind of business have already regretted the moment when they signed on the dotted line. Many families lost their life-savings without fault of their own, because they were bankrupted by a system that is very profitable for the service providers, but detrimental for the finances of the families that were under the impression that they bought a nice home/condo.  They found out that they invested their money in a business that definitely doesn’t keep the promises made at closing!