I have, for several years, avoided writing on the subject of how I lost my money. I did okay in tv and film. It wasn’t that. Frankly, I was a single widowed mum who could afford good child care, lessons for the child and buy a condo / townhouse worth $432,000 in 2007.
Then the truth came out about that townhouse, none of which was in the Minutes I reviewed or were flagged by the ‘Inspector’ I hired.
But recently, there’s a great article on the Vancouver Sun site which explains how it happens that a strata has way more upcoming maintenance than it can afford. Ours had a strata council that, at best, was getting senile and, at worst may have been outright lying about the condition and whitewashing minutes.
This article also predicts that I & the 3 other families caught by 2893’s problems won’t be the last ones!
Barbara Yaffe: B.C. strata councils in ‘critical’ funding state
Owners ‘just don’t have the money’ for proper contingency funds
By Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun
In a nutshell, the lack of available funds to fix my townhome caused great financial damage as this article predicts will become more common here in Vancouver.
Although 2893 West 41 Avenue (my townhome) had to have multiple floods before a building engineering report was done. Oh, and the old strata council’s minutes included praise for the management and president so that at least 4 of us bought in in 2007 when they should have been fixing it. Instead, we bought in, letting some of the old guard out. So we took the financial hit. But when a 19 unit place needs close to $4 million of fixes, it causes forced sales (mine and others).
So financial troubles came to me, not from writing – it wasn’t a big film on my credit card as it has been with some of my film friends – it was a Vancouver real estate buy! Shocking in a town where they say you can’t go wrong. Admittedly, due to the uprising market, it was mitigated a little by the time I sold, but I’ll carry debt due to this until I die.
There was no legal recourse. Legal fees for just being able to hang onto the condo until I sold it were $12,000 from my lawyer. It was close to criminal, but not – as in, the strata’s lying would have to be proved in court – but I and the other ‘new’ owners didn’t have another 50k$ to go there. One of my co-victims tried to get lawyers on pro bono, but they refused. All the case law is apparently in favour of the building and it did need to be fixed. New roof, exteriors, windows, doors, garbage area, front entrance, and it is now rainscreened (but it’s not perfect yet – the garage awaits).
It’s a terrible situation all around for those who experienced it and it looks like there will be lots more of this heartache to come!
So why is this on my writing blog? To warn you that the pundits are often wrong. You can go wrong with platinum level real estate in a city where the prices do nothing but go up! (And admittedly, I lost less due to this factor). But you can lose the forever home you thought you were raising your child in! And, I probably could have made a movie of the week for the money I lost (okay, very low budget)…. but it’s a thought….