To answer your question a little more generally, all condo associations are individual. They are all governed by the same laws in Illinois, and generally speaking they follow the same rules. However all associations are different, and thus they may have different requirements of new buyers.
While most condo associations in this particular market have not been exercising their "right of first refusal" a surprising number of condominium associations still have that right. It is surprisingly only because that particular "right" in a condominium's declaration has historically been used (though not always or by all associations) as a way to discriminate against new buyers in ways that violate Federal Fair Housing laws. As a result many newer condo associations have removed that provision from their declarations. And while most of the answers here did not state why a condo association might want to exercise this right, let me offer one scenario that I've seen a few times.
Assume that you have a condo association that has been around for 25 years, and as a result of good planning and fiscal discipline has a substantial reserve amount of cash on hand. The condo association might want to lower the amount of assessments that it charges owners on a monthly basis. One way to do this would be for the condo association to purchase a unit that is up for sale with some of the available cash on hand. The association could then rent out that unit and forward the monthly rental amount directly to their reserves.
The association could then reduce the amount of each owner's monthly assessment by the corresponding amount of rent that is being paid in to the association by the rental property. While this scenario makes most sense with condo associations that have large cash reserves, other younger condo associations might want to take similar steps for different reasons (i.e. tax benefits).
Given that most condo associations do not take particularly hard looks at the financial wherewithal of their owners (as opposed to cooperative associations), I would not bee too concerned if I were you about the buyer approval process. I've also seen associations who just want to meet and greet their new neighbors call board meetings with new potential owners. And as innocuous as that sounds, I would still suggest only going to the meetings that you are required to go to to get yourself approved by the board.
If you have any other questions or need any additional assistance, then feel free to contact me at any time.
Broker Associate, Sudler Sothebyâ€™s International Realty
1634 E. 53rd St. 2nd Floor Chicago, IL 60615
773-418-0640 (mobile) 312-577-0985 (fax)