Home Buying in 97209>Question Details

CJ, Home Buyer in Portland, OR

I have been thinking about buying a condominium in downtown Portland.

Asked by CJ, Portland, OR Fri Nov 15, 2013

I am a little worried about an article I read about lawsuits with several buildings in town. Should I stay away from those buildings and just look at others? Might also consider a townhome in a nice walkable area.

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Hello CJ,

Buying a condo in downtown can be a fantastic choice for you if you want to be in a very walkable area. The Pearl District is amazing and offers so many great choices. It is also the area that has the most buildings in litigation. To answer your question of whether you should stay away from these buildings, I would say it depends. Right now these buildings are under some pricing pressure due to the lack of available financing. This can actually be a good thing for a buyer as you can make a purchase under the true market value of the unit. In the stock market there is a saying "Buy em when they hate em!". Same can be said with buying a condo with litigation. The Elizabeth is in one of those situations. The HOA has been battling with a company in regards to "alleged" plumbing issues, and I say alleged because I have already been contacted once by the companies attorneys for writing about the issues on my blog.

The company has already made two settlement offers to the HOA that have been turned down. The issue goes to trial in January so I would expect to see at least one more stronger offer made by the company. But because of this, prices are down at the Elizabeth. Cash buyers have been able to go in and buy at some pretty good prices! Don't have cash? Try to get creative if you can, maybe a bridge loan could work in your situation?

I am a condo specialist and the one thing I would say is to make sure that your agent helps you get all the information you need to make a solid decision. Sure it is important to review all of the HOA documents like the Bylaws, meeting minutes, reserve funds etc. It is also important to get a grasp on future assessments that could be involved at a later date. If the settlement does not cover the potential cost of repairs, you could get an assessment down the road. This may be ok if it is something your agent let you know about ahead of time. If you are able to buy a unit that is $30,000 to $40,000 under value because of the lawsuit, and you get a $5,000 assessment in the future that you were planning for... you just made a great investment!

Bottom line is that there are many great options out there to look at. My recommendation as a condo specialist is to get out and look at all of the options. I have had buyers who did not want to look at loft style condos at first fall in love with them. I have had buyers that were set on the Pearl District at first decide to buy in South Waterfront. I am here to help if you need it!
Brad Golik
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 17, 2013
I live in a downtown condo and work frequently with condo buyers and sellers! There are several buildings that are in litigation presently over various defects. I have yet to see one of these projects not resolve the issue. However, in the meantime, it is not possible to get conventional financing while a condo homeowner's association (HOA) is in litigation. So, you have three (possible) choices: a cash offer, the seller carries the contract (if the condo is free and clear) or waiting for the lawsuit to be settled. Even if you had that kind of cash readily available, you would want to do some exhaustive investigation (and, possibly, negotiation with the seller) regarding the possibility of an assessment, should the HOA not prevail or the settlement not cover the entire remediation. Doing due diligence as a condo buyer is always a good idea. Checking the financials, reading the minutes of the meetings, reviewing the by-laws, rules & regs, etc is paramount to a successful condo experience. All that being said, condo living is "easy living"!!! I love it and love the urban environment!!! Call or write for more information.
Janeese Jackson, Principal Broker
Real Estate Resource
Web Reference: http://fabulousportland.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 15, 2013
Hi CJ,

I am sure you have gotten a ton of great advice here, but I am going to pour in my two cents. I have had listings in buildings, complexes with ongoing litigation and they are a challenge to sell based on the lack of financing availability. This drives prices lower for those that absolutely have to sell. Inevitably these issues get resolved and once it does, values typically rebound quickly. This could be a great investment for you if you are able to get the financing or buy with cash.

Good Luck!

Paul Johnson
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 17, 2015
There are several building with the issue you reference, that said each building is handling it a little differently. Some are suing the builder/developer outright and others are working through the plumbing issue with the right to sue if an agreement is not reached. So to answer your question there are many buildings that would be a great option and others that I would be weary of, let me know if I can help!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 13, 2014
Check this out!! It may assist you to make a decision once you have a target property. http://www.crcreport.com/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 12, 2014
Before you take a step and start looking to buy anything. Get pre approved so you know what price range you are in. When you buy a condo the HOA effects how much house you can afford and it is quite different price than a house. Good luck to you. Tom Inglesby, Broker REMAX equity group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 18, 2013
When you want to buy a home without getting ripped off, hire an Exclusive Buyer Agent. EBAs only work with homebuyers and there is never a conflict of interest that will jeopardize your negotiating position. Visit http://www.naeba.org for a referral to an Exclusive Buyer's Agent in your area.

I've written a best selling book called Buying a Home: Don't Let Them Make a Monkey Out of You. It'll teach you how to buy a home without getting ripped off.. Follow the link below.

Best of luck!

Alysse Musgrave
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 17, 2013
I'm really surprised nobody mentioned http://www.portlandareahomesales.com/

You can also freely search all of the Oregon MLS to see condos and townhouses in a map view so you see what works best for you. Also the property information is 'unlocked' so you can view everything about it.

Once you find a condo/townhouse you will want docs from the HOA (home owners association) showing their financial shape, upcoming maintenance/assessments, lawsuits if any, and more before you buy. Sometimes the HOA will have the information online freely available, occasionally it will be on condocerts.com, and my favorite is the seller has already asked the hoa for docs and makes it available. I would just make your real estate person track the info down for you and then review it together.

Its been my experience that if there is a pending lawsuit then typically financing is a no go. It is possible to get a loan but it will be at a higher rate and/or need more down. There are plenty of healthy, stable condos downtown. First step is looking.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 17, 2013
I do give you credit - you have an informative site...
Well done.
Flag Tue Dec 17, 2013
Really - Truthfully?
Why are you surprised? This is your personal website...
Flag Tue Dec 17, 2013
Portland is a great city! The proximity to the beaches, mountains and rivers is fantastic.

Bring an umbrella!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
This is a great area to decide which tower to look at or not look at. The first thing before you move too far along is talk to a lender and see what you can afford? The numbers to buy a condo are quite different than buying a house. When you add in HOA fees of $250-$800 a month when you divide this by what the cost of money is to buy you are looking at $50,000- $160,000 more than the listed price to qualify. I will be getting a condo soon that is not on the market that has been redone 1600 sq ft. Good luck to you. I would love to talk about your plans. Tom Inglesby, Broker, RE/MAX
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 15, 2013
Great choice. Our condos downtown were about the first area to recover from the housing market recession. Being downtown helps keep your values stable and rising. There are some lawsuits out there, but they do get resolved over time. A good agent will walk you through all the necessary due diligence.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 15, 2013
As part of your due diligence period of purchasing a condo you'll be privy to the status of any pending litigation of any HOA/Condo community you area considering. On top of this, if you are financing any part of a condo purchase with a conventional or FHA loan your lender won't loan on a condo property that is in litigation. SO.....between a great Realtor (that is looking out for you and familiar with this market) and your lender, you will probably be advised (or forced) to steer clear of an HOA that is in litigation. It is surprising how many buildings are in litigation; however, there are also many healthy HOA/Condo communities as well.

I sell lots of condo properties and townhome properties and would be happy to have a more in-depth conversation with you.
Good Luck!
Eric Hagstette
Principal Broker, Owner
Inhabit Real Estate Company
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 15, 2013
Great Investment in a wonderful city. Are you in Portland now? Contact me for information on the market place. Jim Loennig 541 499 2953
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 15, 2013
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