Real Estate Watch: Looking to buy or sell condo or co-op?

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Real Estate Watch: Looking to buy or sell condo or co-op?

Funny thing, I had one of my readers call me in my car, last Tuesday, Nov. 31, on the way to the West Village Halloween Parade with my wife, to ask me a few questions about who is responsible for a leak underneath the sink in her co-op apartment.  
I could have sent her call to voicemail, but, that’s not my style.  I always say, “nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care!”  
So, I then proceeded to ask her, was it coming from inside her wall or inside her apartment, directly under her sink?  She said under her sink.  
However, she hired one of the employees inside her development to fix it figuring she would potentially save money, instead of hiring at least a qualified plumber or expert handyman.  
Well, you guessed it, the job was done improperly and the repair guy wouldn’t come back.   
Excessive leaks occurred  and then she had to spend over a $1,000 to fix what she thought would have been originally rectified for a small fee; but she also had work done in her bathroom too.  
My feeling was she overpaid for work that probably should have cost her $300 to $500; to change a pipe and new float in her bathroom, based on what she had conveyed to me on the phone.  
She obviously didn’t know and was naïve to what the costs were and unfortunately was taken of advantage of, which I call a real  “rip off.”  
She should have called her management company before doing any work and maybe they would have recommended someone within or outside the development to do the work correctly while being more economically priced.  
You always need to get two to three estimates for any repairs inside your unit, but more importantly, call your management company first to see (and you can also review your offering plan and amendments, that you should have gotten back from your attorney when you bought), to see what is legally included in your monthly maintenance fees.   
Therefore some repairs might be the responsibility of the co-op corporation.  
However, from my knowledge, usually, anything inside the walls, electrical, plumbing and heating, are the sole responsibility of the coop or condo corporation.   
But read or inquire for your specific building or development, since amendments to the offering plan could possibly have made a change to what is included and not included, if allowed by law.  
I felt real bad for her and told her what to do next time.  It’s expensive education, and unfortunately, some will always learn the hard way! 
If you were to do a renovation or upgrade on your unit you will also potentially need permits and also make sure that your contractors and subcontractors have the proper insurance.  
I was at the condo and co-op council monthly meeting last week and two very knowledgeable attorneys came in to talk about insurance for co-ops and condos and what the required and necessary insurance would be needed from those working within the building and your apartment.  
It was a real rude awakening to many that attended to understand how insurance companies could opt out of paying a multitude of claims if there were a fire, flood, improper construction or any other type of mishap causing a lawsuit or physical or personal damage to people and property; just because of improper insurance coverage or limits of liability or specific phrases or clauses left out purposely to minimize or eliminate culpability and liability on the insured.  
It is key to make sure you talk with your management company, insurance company and/or attorney to be absolutely positive that the coverage your contractors and subcontractors, if hired by your general contractor have all the required important and necessary insurance in the event of any situation that would cause a lawsuit or worse harm to the inhabitants or physical damage to the contents of their apartment or home or homeowner association.  
The amount of liability and completed operations coverage should always be a minimum of $1 million dollars or more, but I always suggest you speak with your insurance broker and your management, to determine your specific requirements and needs, based on the scope of your project.  
You will need a certificate of insurance with you or whomever owns your unit (or home) and your building’s corporation as an amended insured.  
All these certificates and proof of insurance should be presented before any work is even begun to make sure you are completely “bullet proof” and covered.
Lastly, if you are planning to sell, again, be especially careful of whom you hire, because if there are items that must be addressed and repaired you surely do not want to have “red flags” pop up when it comes to the walk through and the work wasn’t done properly.  
Sometimes, it is better to give a credit for the work to be done and let the purchaser do what needs to be done to their satisfaction, as long as the credit that they are asking for is reasonable and fair.  
Talk to your agent and your attorney for advice (or call me!).  
Hire someone or a company that is licensed and with the proper insurance coverage and knows what they are doing!  Get recommendations from people they did work for five to 10 years ago as well as recently, to get a feel as to their reliability and the quality of their completed projects.  
Lastly, calling Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau in your County to make sure they are licensed and insured and to see if there are any fines or issues previously or pending against your contractor or subcontractors, before you hire them.  This will go a long way in minimizing your stress, worry and the lousy job that might be done, before you consider hiring them.
The value of your condo, home owner association or co-op can and will depend on what your place looks like after a major or even a minor renovation.   
So be smart do it right the first time, because you won’t get a second chance at a first impression from your purchasers, if work that was performed, fell short of the quality and workmanship that you expected and paid for recently or way back when.
The old adage is: sometimes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  And, “Cheap is expensive and expensive is cheap!”
Bonus Information for our Readers:
If you would like to receive a digital copy of “Unlocking the Secrets of Real Estate’s New Market Reality”,  or “Our Seller’s Guide for “Things to Consider When Selling Your Home” just email me with your name, email and cell number.
Phil is the owner of Turn Key Real Estate at 7 Bond St. in Great Neck.   He can be reached by email: [email protected] or by cell (516) 647-4289 to answer any of your questions.  To search for any type of properties  or to see what your home is worth or homes that have sold in your area, go to WWW.Li-RealEstate.Com  or if you desire a free, no strings attached customized comparative market analysis to see today’s market value, just call me for an appointment.

By Philip A. Raices

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