Home Buying in 02215>Question Details

Jane, Home Buyer in Boston, MA

Found problems with common area in inspection

Asked by Jane, Boston, MA Mon Mar 21, 2011

So I just finished my inspection. The inspector found that the boiler is super old, there is ballooning on the roof, there is strong sewage smell in the basement that he suspected a leak...Sounds pretty horrible. What should I do? I can't obviously ask the seller to fix it since it's the common area. And at this stage I have no right to the apartment yet so I can't really talk to the board...

Also, the doors inside my apartment doesn't close very well, and should I ask for a credit from seller? And how could I find out how much to ask for before even fixing it myself....?

Confused...please help!

Help the community by answering this question:


if HOA hasn't fixed by now, then it is highly likely HOA is not going to fix it based your purchase. If you can't live with these existing conditions then move on ... don't waste your time.

ps: doors some time expand or contract based on the weather and it is a DIY type of project (real easy or not that expensive to fix). I think of it like a pair of tight jean, you wanna fix it before or after dinner ? :)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 21, 2011
You have to decide what type of condo management you want. A frugal management style typically has the benefit of lower monthly fees at the trade-off cost of using excessively worn materials. An immediate response management style has the benefit of resolving minor issues quickly at the trade-off cost of higher monthly fees and replacing materials before they are worn-out.
The condo unit maintenance will be your direct responsibility. A swelled door or worn hinge is a simple repair. A door not closing properly due to structural settlement is not a simple repair. As you probably already know, a Massachusetts home inspector license prohibits the home inspector from providing repair cost estimates. You may be able to discuss whether or not the inspector believes there is any concealed structural damage.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 16, 2011
You are running into a bad HOA or condo association, if you buy it you would have more headache living there, and a lot more trying to sell it. Turn the other way and move on.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 15, 2011
I don't understand why you are having an inspection for renting an apartment. Are you buying an apartment building, a condo or what? Because if you are a tenant, none of the above matters unless you signed a lease.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 22, 2011

You are right you have no way prior to closing to ensure the fixes of the common areas of the condominium.

More importantly, it gives you a good look at how the condominium is run. If they haven't fixed these major issues at this point. The likelihood of them fixing them because you ask are slim to none. Address the issues with the seller and see if the association has any future plans to address these issue and how they are going to be paid for.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 22, 2011
Your agent should be helping to guide you through these concerns. If you are not working with an agent you should as it can save you potentially thousands of dollars in this scenario. You are talking about some very expensive repairs on this property that the HOA would be responsible for. Not sure the size of the property you are in contract on but, the first thing to figure out is the reserves for these types of repairs. If there is not enough money to make the repairs then there could be a special assessment to the owners to obtain the funds to make the repairs. (Check the CCR's). I think you need to ask yourself do you want to live in a place where the maintenance is not being addressed as it should for the safety, health and well being of the occupants?

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 21, 2011
Hi Jane,
You are right to be nervous about the issues uncovered in the common area during your home inspection. The condo association has the responsibility to maintain and repair these. Have your buyer's agent request the condo association's financial statements to see what their financial health is (ie: reserves set aside for repairs, upcoming special assessments, scheduled repairs, etc.) You definitely need a clear picture of the health of the association as well as the building.

Your buyer's agent should also report the swerage smell to the seller's agent for the condo association to follow up on. It may lead to more repairs being needed.

Concerning anything inside the condo itself, yes, you should ask the seller to repair the doors or ask for a credit to have them repaired yourself. You might want to talk to handymen that you or friends or family have used in the past to determine what this might cost.

Definitely review your concerns with your buyer's agent so that they can best represent you. Be prepared to continue looking if these matters are not resolved to your satisfaction.

Hope you find this useful and good luck!

Melody Bohl
Realtor, Accredited Buyers Representative (ABR),
Carpe Diem Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 21, 2011
Hello Jane,

It sounds like there are a number of important issues to address, but also appears that you still like the Condo enough to move forward.
Are you working with a Buyer’s Agent for this transaction? I ask this because these are the typical questions/issues which your Agent can help you work through.

The next question is if you have a Home Inspection Contingency with your Offer, and does it specify an “opt out” for defects (or value to repair such defects)?

If yes, you or your Agent should approach the Seller and outline these defects; he might have influence over the Condo Assoc to identify and address these issues with the common area/utilities.
And yes, you CAN ask the Seller to address these issues himself if he’s motivated to sell his unit; he can always so no.

The Seller may ask to see the Home Inspection report and this may also be useful information for the other Condo Owners. If this property is in need of serious repairs, the other unit Owners may not be fully aware of this; it would be in their best interest to address these problems and apply appropriate remedies before the problem gets any worse. These problems affect their own unit values too. You can always get quotes from licensed/insured contractors to get an idea of the repair costs.

Bottom line, know your risks going forward and communicate with your Buyer’s Agent and Buyer’s Attorney.

Kind Regards,
Norman D. Hodson
Email: normanhodson@kw.com
Direct Line: 617-861-3630
Cellular: 617-818-2101
Direct Fax: 617-315-7544

Keller Williams Realty
Boston – Metro
607 Boylston Street, 5th floor
Boston, MA. 02116
Office: 617-542-0012
Fax: 617-542-0016
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 21, 2011
Hi Jane,

Re: sewage smell. Definitely an issue the building needs to take care of immediately -- the listing agent should report it to the Seller who should report it to the Association. The older boiler is something you'll have to live with. Ballooning on the roof -- not sure what exactly you mean, but if it's a rubber roof that's bubbling and the bubbles are affecting its ability to function properly, again, an issue for the Seller to address with the Association.

If there are strong reserves in the condo fund, and if they are not already earmarked for other major projects, you will have a higher degree of comfort for any upcoming big projects, such as roof and boiler.

The plumbing issue, on the other hand, needs to be addressed immediately. It's up to your buyer agent, if you have one, to inform the seller agent. Then it's up to the Seller to inform the association or foolishly ignore your inspector's findings and move on to the next buyer, who will, more than likely, have an inspector who uncovers the same issues.

If there are not strong reserves in a building that sounds to be on the older side, discuss it with your agent and think twice before moving forward.

Hope this is helpful.

Linda Burnett, Keller Williams Boston-Metro
(617) 335-2824
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 21, 2011
Hi Jane,

Are you represented by a Buyer Agent? If so, he/she will be able to counsel you on how to move forward.

If you are not working with an agent, you will have to negotiate on your own behalf. Even if you are able to get the seller to reduce the price, you have to make sure your lender will be on board with the CONDITION of the house, assuming you are financing the purchase.

Good luck!

Judy Boyle,
RE/MAX Signature Properties
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 21, 2011
Jane, I am not sure why you are not addressing this questionto your Buyer Agent. The condo Assoc should be called to determine if these items are on a "to do" list by the association. No the seller cannot commit to the associations responsibility. I would at least ask to fix the closet doors but that is not the big issue here.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 21, 2011
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