Given what we know now (i.e. that home values do NOT always go up as in recent years) we would not have bought our condo - as much as we love it - had we known these would have been the consequences/circumstances.
Most likely, the reason that no one has an exact amount of the special assessment is because it has not yet been presented or approved by the Association Membership. As homeowners associations, we are obligated to disclose both to the buyer as well as to the mortgage company any pending possible special assessments--even if those assessments have yet to be approved by the membership. Especially special assessments that may materially affect the buyer's ability to maintain payments on the home.
At this time, since the project is in the beginning planning stages, and there is no true amount yet determined for the special assessment, it's difficult to ask the seller to pay for the fees or to lower the price to compensate for an unknown amount of assessment. Further, you haven't any idea how this repair is likely to be scheduled--all at once or one building per year--and this definitely affects the amount of the special assessment and the funding. In this case, if the prospect of $100,000 to $500,000 of repairs is more than you can afford to pay based on your apportionate share, then I would tend to agree with your boyfriend that you should walk away. It makes little sense to buy the home or condo of your dreams, only to find that the special assessments price you out of house and home.
While I understand that you have come to love this home, you must--first and foremost--buy a home that you can afford to maintain. Perhaps there are not any other homes on the market that you like so much right now, but the list of available homes changes constantly, and I would not be surprised if another, equally nice home were to become available sometime this year.
Give your decision some thought, and make certain that you can afford to pay the special assessment without jeopardizing your ability to pay for the mortgage!
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
San Jose, CA