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April, Home Buyer in

Does anyone know about the Horizon House buildings in Fort Lee. Some apartments have been on the market for a

Asked by April, Wed Aug 27, 2008

while and are priced very low, while others are priced much higher. I have been staying away from co-ops but because of the price ranges and location, I'm starting to wonder if I should consider it. Any information or advice would be much appreciated, as I am a first time buyer and very afraid to make a mistake.

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Due to his history of successful litigation, the board (and their legal counsel) never pursue any of the many complaints against this guy. They want to avoid getting sued by him. So, while HH doesn't provide much security for the residents, the Fort Lee Police does fill in the gap.

The problem with the collapsing terraces has finally been corrected, so I'm happy to report that the terraces are now safe again. The mid-rise terraces all need a new paint job but, since the terraces don't belong to the residents but, rather, to the association, we will have to wait for them to paint the terraces. Some of us are trying to get permission to paint the terraces (particularly the decaying wood railings) ourselves.

Because it's a coop, there is an overlying mortgage on the building. This is why the maintenance is higher than on condos. On the other hand, you get a bigger tax deduction. This also keeps the purchase price below that of a condo. The maintenance goes up and down depending on whatever projects the board have in place. In addition, the board recently refinanced part of the mortgage in order to get some cash flow, so this increased the interest component of the buildings mortgage.

So it comes down to whether you want to own your own home (condo or house) and have some control (and ownership) over your living space (condo or rental), or if you are OK with letting an association own and control your space (coop). And it comes down to a paying a lower price to buy in, initially, but paying higher maintenance going forward (with no control over the ups and downs of the maintenance fee) or paying a higher price for the unit (and also actually owning it) but lower maintenance going forward.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 16, 2010
I was dissapointed after moving in an living here for a while. There are a lot of amenities like the pool and the playground for the kids. But there the environment is not very good. The people who run the place (the "board") have no interest in the residents. They make arbitrary rules and they only focus on financial stuff. Yes, finances is a major part of the board's job, but it's not the only job. What about safety issues around the premises or our privacy inside our apartments.

The board pretends to know nothing whenever an employee misbehaves or breaks the law. When you complain, the board's lawyers send you a nasty letter denying everything and threatening if you continue to complain.

The playground is nice for the kids, but I don't feel comfortable with my kids playing there during the day with that creepy guy who is supposed to be responsible for landscaping and the security patrol. We're not the first parents who have had a problem with this.

I've only lived here for a short time but, if it wasn't for the terrible real estate market, I'd sell and move into a condo or a rental.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 26, 2010
Keep in mind that HH is a coop and not a condo. You do not own your apartment. It belongs to the association. Unlike owning a home, owning a condo apartment or renting an apartment, the space inside your apartment belongs to the association and is under the control of the board of directors. The rules pertaining to your privacy are closer to that of a hotel room than a rental. Employees can enter your apartment without permission. Usually they won't do that without a technical reason (broken pipe in the wall or cement falling from the terrace onto the parking lot). However, sometimes they just come in for no reason, just to take a look at your apartment. There have been documented cases of this happening. The board simply, officially, denies when this happens in order to cover themselves, legally.

The property, itself, is a very nice, middle-tier, apartment complex. The mid-rises are about 50 years old with the 2 high-rise building much newer than the mid-rises. There are two pools. Membership is a few hundred dollars for a family for the season. Guests can be brought in for $6 on weekdays, $12 on weekends and $18 when there are pool parties. A new feature is free admission for a guest on Wednesdays. Most of the buildings have a gym in the lobby $120/yr membership. There is also a tennis court and a playground for the kids.

Because the entire complex is on a single pipe system the A/C is on part of the year, then a week of no A/C or heat, followed by turning on the heat for the winter season. Western ("sunset view") apartments in the mid-rises get very, very hot in the afternoons, summer and winter, so you need good window coverings. The high-rises have thermostats. The mid-rises have manual settings, not set by temperature. In winter, the two settings are OFF and SAHARA DESERT. In the summer the two settings are OFF and ANTARCTIC WINTERLAND. Utilities are included in the maintenance, so many of us just use space heaters all day in the winter and keep the building heaters OFF or on the lowest fan setting.

Since ownership is in the hands of the association (1266 Apt. Corp), and not the residents, all decisions and rule setting is in the hands of the board of directors. Basically, the chairman of the board makes any rules and the rest of the board rubber stamps it. Some of the rules can be very arbitrary, such as, 2 years ago, out of the blue, the doormen were not allowed to hold more than three packages in the package room at a time per apartment, and not for more than 3 days (unless you get permission from the board -- for example, when you are on vacation for a week, so your deliveries may sit in the package room for up to a week). Another rule was, when you are out-of-town, and don't need your parking space, you are not allowed to tell the doorman that he can use the spot for guest parking for your neighbors. Since parking is very scarce on the property, it would be nice to be able to share your, unused, spot for guest parking for your neighbors' use. Fortunately, the chairman of the board is not very well respected by the residents (to put it politely and in an understated way), so the residents usually just ignore her arbitrary rules.

Security on the property is basically handled by the local, Fort Lee Police. There is an internal, HH, security department, but their job is basically enforcement of the rules, which, as mentioned above, are set by the board of directors. There was an accident in the parking lot once and when my neighbor called the security office to report it and ask to see the video surveillance of the accident, she was told that it wasn't the concern of the security department -- "just call the police" and "we don't provide the video surveillance to residents." Another time, a vandal was vandalizing some cars. The security office was called -- as it was happening. The employee who runs the security office told the resident not to bother him and if he had a problem just call the police. The Fort Lee Police is aware of this policy, thought they probably are not happy with it. The man who works in the security office is a former member of the Roseland Police who had to leave the force in shame. He had to discharge his weapon during the pursuit of a criminal and, apparently got spooked. He then sued the police for assigning him to "hazardous duty." Although his suit had no merit, the cost of defending it would have exceeded the cost of just settling, so the town settled. The former cop then used the money he won to start a landscaping business, but had to no skills with landscaping or with running a business. He tried to sue the police again, blaming his failure on them, but lost. Ironically, not only is this guy the head clerical person for HH security, he asked to be put in charge of HH's landscaping, as well. Due to his history of successful litigation, the board (and their legal counsel) never pursue any of the many complaints against this guy. They want to avoid getting
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 16, 2010
Stay away-trust me on this one..
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 27, 2015
Have you finally purchased any unit in this co-op?
How do you like it?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 27, 2013
April, you need to know, if you buy a co-op, it is not the same thing as buying a condo, or a house. In co-op, you don't own it, you buy shares. Everything is subject to a board approval including your living there. And if you want to rent afterwards (after residing in a place for a year), your tenants will also have to be subject to approval of a board. I hope, this helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 27, 2008
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