DEAR BOB: I live in a condo complex where I recently received a $265 bill to pay for the fire insurance on the building. I have my own condo owner’s insurance for my furnishings. But it seems to me the condo homeowner’s association should pay for the building fire insurance premium out of our monthly association dues. Am I right or wrong? – Arlene C.
DEAR ARLENE: You are right. The association is wrong to bill the individual condo owners for their share of the fire insurance premium.
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The homeowner’s association is responsible for maintaining and insuring the condo building. That includes carrying adequate fire and liability insurance. The premiums should be paid from the monthly assessments, which each condo owner pays to the association.
Unless your condo homeowner’s association is encountering financial hardship, perhaps due to an unexpected major expense, it should not be billing the individual condo owners for a proportionate share of the fire insurance cost.
Something is wrong. I suggest you and your neighbors attend all the condo homeowner’s association monthly meetings to find out why your association can’t pay the fire insurance premium from its operating budget, as it should.
To make individual special assessments to pay the insurance bill for a condo association is very unusual. However, don’t become a complainer. Attend the meetings to learn and make polite constructive suggestions, such as having the association pay the insurance bill.
CAN HOMEOWNER BE FORCED TO SELL AT ORAL SALES PRICE?
DEAR BOB: I own a house in a very nice “bread and butter” working-class neighborhood. Nothing fancy. Good location. Low crime. Good schools. Highly desirable. A few weeks ago on Sunday, I was out front working on my rose bushes (which aren’t doing too well). A nice couple stopped by to ask if I knew of any houses for sale in the neighborhood. I didn’t know of any. They asked if I might like to sell my home for cash. As my three-bedroom house is too big for me alone, after my husband died last year, I said I might be interested in selling “if the price is right.” After we chatted a while, they offered me a price, which I thought was very high. I jokingly said “sure.” To my surprise, the husband whipped out his checkbook and wrote me a $10,000 deposit check (the next day, I called his bank and the manager said it is “very good”). I told the couple I would think about selling. Four days later, I received a phone call from their lawyer asking if he could stop by so I could sign the papers. I explained I didn’t cash the check and am still thinking about the pros and cons of selling. Can he force me to sell? – Millie P.
DEAR MILLIE: No. The Statute of Frauds requires real estate sales contracts to be in writing to be enforceable. Even if the buyer wrote the sales terms on the check–unless you cashed it to indicate acceptance–that is not a binding contract.
However, if it is an acceptable cash purchase offer and if you might like to sell with no real estate sales commission, perhaps you should seriously consider that offer. Please consult your real estate attorney for details.
IS THERE ANY RISK IN ACCEPTING A TIMESHARE GIFT?
DEAR BOB: I know you often tell readers to never buy a vacation timeshare, except with money they will never need to see again. But my situation is my elderly parents own a Las Vegas timeshare, which they are no longer able to use (due to declining health). They offered to transfer it to my wife and me. However, my parents have complained about the drastically rising annual fee. Is there any risk if my wife and I accept this gift? – Maury W.
DEAR MAURY: Your risk is that after the timeshare is transferred to your name, then you become obligated to pay the increasing annual fee. If I were in your situation, I would leave the timeshare in your parents’ names but pay their annual payments without assuming the legal obligation to do so.
Then you and your wife can enjoy the timeshare benefits without the legal obligation to make the payments. If the costs become too burdensome, after your parents pass away, you could just stop making the annual timeshare payments without any personal obligation or harm to your credit.
The new Robert Bruss special report, “Secrets of Buying Your Home or Investment Property for Virtually No Cash,” is now available for $4 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet download at www.bobbruss.com.
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