North Carolina Logo

Back

Finding the Right Condo: An Interview with Josh Lindgren of Community Focus of NC Inc.

By Josh Lindgren

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

My company, Community Focus of NC Inc, was founded by my me and my wife in 2008. Our business model was created to serve only local community associations in order to offer the best quality of service in the industry. Buying a home is the biggest financial decision that most of us will ever make in our life. When making this monumental decision, a buyer should expect to have a full understanding of what they are buying into and what their obligations are. Although there are unknown factors inherent in the ownership of any property, we make every effort to arm the buyers and owners with the best information available, so that those factors are significantly limited. When owners and buyers fully understand the present and future expectations of ownership in a community association, their quality of life and security in their investment are greatly improved. With excellent communication and full transparency in the operations and management of community associations, management companies like ours will begin changing the HOA Industry. We want to see bumper stickers that say "I HEART MY HOA!"

Five questions to ask your realtor before seeing a condo:

  1. Does this condo association has a reserve study in place?
    • If a condo association has a reserve study in place and it is accessible to a buyer, then chances are they have a plan for maintenance over the next twenty years or so and a plan to structure dues accordingly to meet those maintenance needs. Simply comparing the rate of monthly dues is not enough. A condo that may have dues listed higher than comparative properties, but also has a plan in place which would keep that rate static over the next twenty years is a much better option than a condo that has lower dues, but no plan for the future. A buyer may be a year (or less) away from a large Special Assessment if there is no reserve study in place.
  2. When was the last renovation for repairs, painting, paving and roofing completed?
    • Especially if there is no reserve study in place, this information will give a buyer an understanding of the likely upcoming expenses that will be on the horizon for the association.
  3. Is this condo association responsible for repair of the roads in the community?
    • Roads may not say "private" on the sign, but that does not mean that the association is not responsible for their maintenance. Road repair is a huge expense that needs to be planned for. Many associations spend thousands of dollars to patch bad roads, just to prolong the inevitable. Hopefully the association has a plan in place - find out if they do.
  4. What is the financial health of this condo association?
    • Management companies are not allowed to hand out financial information (financial statements and budgets) to the public, but they can give that information to the owner (or the owners agent), who has the right to share this information. If they are not willing to share the information, it may be a red flag.
  5. What is the owner occupancy rate here?
    • Will you be moving into a community where your neighbor is likely to have the same interest in maintaining the long-term value of the property? Or is this primarily an investment community where the majority of occupants are undergraduate college students renting for a year or two? Most association management companies can give you at least a general idea of the owner occupancy rate.

What's the best way to find prospective condos?

The best way to search for condominiums is to talk to a local Realtor with experience in the community. Find the general area that you want to live in and then do your research and ask for an agent with knowledge of the area. Find out who the specific manager of a community is and ask them - they should be familiar with the agents who have recently bought and sold in the community. Even if they are not your agent, it is in their best interest to give you good information. Maybe you'll end up using them in the future.

Do you have any advice for someone who has never owned a condo before?

If you have never owned a condo before, be certain to do your research. If you find a condo you like, knock on some doors in the community before you buy. Talk to owners and renters to see how they like living there. Find and read the governing documents (bylaws, covenants, rules & regulations). These documents set forth the specific obligations that an owner will have and the areas of maintenance that should be covered by the association.

What influences whether or not it's a quality condo?

There are so many variable that determine what makes a good condo association as opposed to a bad condo association. Understanding your financial obligations for the future will be the most helpful piece of information that a buyer can have. An active reserve study would provide that detail, but not all condo associations have one and in some cases they may have one, but are not following it directly. An older condo association may have high dues and multiple upcoming repairs. A new condo association may have dues that were set very low to attract buyers without regard to the future obligations for maintenance. The best advice we can give is that you take the time to gather as much detail as you can about the long-term physical and financial health of the association. A good management company can help you and your agent gather this information and set you on a course to happy home ownership in a condo association.

What are some of the services your company provides?

With continuing advances in technology, management companies like ours can offer associations real-time access to financial data, long-term tracking of maintenance, immediate response times and a host of other services to meet the specific needs of each association. Several banking institutions offer integrated banking and excellent resources to management companies with almost no fees attached. There are now several authorities in the industry, such as Community Associations Institute (www.caionline.org), which offer unlimited resources, certification training, seminars and legal updates to management companies and association boards. These organizations empower boards, owners and management companies with accurate information and a full understanding of the best practice standards which, in many cases, they are required to adhere to.

Contact Info:

  • Email: Info@communityfocusnc.com
  • Phone: (919) 564-9134 Fax: (919) 490-4449 Web:
Share this:

Comments

Leave a comment:

* Login in order to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join for Free



About The Author

Become an Expert Contributor

Have some knowledge to share, and want easy and effective exposure to our audience? Get your articles or guides featured on North Carolina Homes today! Learn more about being an expert contributor.

Learn More