It is highly unlikely that the seller (or the Association) will collect $17,000 in past due assessments. This is due to a 2007 amendment to the Illinois Condominium Act.
Under this amendment, a condominium association may collect up to six months' past due assessments from the purchaser of a "Real Estate Owned (REO)" property, that is, one that has been obtained through a foreclosure sale by the lender. The Association must file an action in court prior to any foreclosure to protect its rights to collect.
Take a look at these links for several explanations:
According to the Clerk of the Circuit Court, the Drexel Parc Lofts Condo Association did file such an action, for $2038.21, back in April of 2009. Subsequently, Bank of America filed a foreclosure action in June of 2009 on the property, and obtained possession in June of last year, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.
The property you asked about has a monthly assessment of $354, according to its listing broker.
So, under the law, the amount due would more likely be in the range of $3,000, not $17,000, including legal fees to the Association's lawyer. Of course, if there was a special assessment in those last six months, it's also collectable from the purchaser. Since this is a relatively new development, this is also unlikely.
The listing broker should have done some investigation into this by now; the property has been on the market for 93 days. If you are interested in it, call the broker and request a full accounting of the claim against the property -- you are entitled to this information as a purchaser, and the broker certainly knows that no one will make an offer without it.
Don Pasek, CIPS, TRC, ADPR
Omniterra Real Properties