April 17, 2021

Home Buyers, Beware: ‘Views Are Not Guaranteed’

He said years ago that a condominium on Third Avenue in Manhattan — some four blocks from the East River — had tried to argue in court filings that its views were guaranteed. The court dismissed the motion. “Views are not guaranteed,” he said.

People buying into a large condo building should look at the offering documents to understand just what types of businesses can go into retail space in the building and who is paying the fees for upkeep, said Deborah Friedland, managing director in the real estate group at EisnerAmper, an accounting firm.

“There may be a Whole Foods there, but can someone come in and build a very low-end use for that commercial space?” she asked. “You want to understand how the fees are split between the condos and the retail unit. Are members responsible for a lot of the fees and common charges?”

Ms. Friedland added that buyers in an older building needed to understand the plans for the lobby and common areas, because renovating them can cost millions. When it comes to disputes among residents, “it’s always about the common area,” she said. “The charges can be tremendous.”

The same holds true for structures like docks, particularly those that have been there a while. Environmental rules for waterways have changed considerably, so what was once allowable may no longer be. There is no problem as long as the dock is in good repair, but if a storm knocks it out, the new owner may not be able to replace it.

“If you’re buying the property, you have to see if the dock is permitted,” Mr. Goldberg said. “If it’s not permitted and it gets washed away, you’re never going to rebuild that dock. If it is permitted, you at least have hope, if you can build it in whatever environmentally sensitive way is required.”

In Mr. Tracy’s case, the economic and environmental reasons for change aren’t straightforward. A desert preserve would not generate the revenue that a golf course does, and the city still has many more years of $1 million annual bond payments to make from when it renovated Tahquitz some two decades ago. There’s also the possibility of desert sand blowing through the neighborhood.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/26/your-money/house-buying-pandemic.html

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