Why Does It Take So Long for a Buyer to Obtain the Condominium Documents to Review?

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Most states condominium law allows the association and or its management company 14 days to provide the documents that are required under state law, to the prospective buyer.

These laws are ancient and out of date, and were passed years ago when technology prevented a speedy delivery of the documents. It used to be that when a buyer went under contract for the purchase of a condominium, the managing agent or the board member in charge of the documents, would have to find a copier, copy all three to four hundred pages of documents, make sure they were complete and collated, put them in an overnight envelope, and send them to the escrow or closing agent. This was an expensive, time consumptive process that is no longer necessary.

Now, because of email and the internet, the documents now reside in pdf format on the property manager or board member’s desktop, and should be easily obtainable and sent within the first couple days of a purchase. A few slick associations even have their documents posted on a third party ASP, whereby the documents can be downloaded immediately (for a fee of course).

It is very common for the association to take longer than the fourteen days allowed by law, in no small part because a buyer’s needs, who is not a current owner in the association, is of little importance to the managing agent or board member.

In today’s purchase environment, buyers have very little time to kick the tires and complete their due diligence to review the property condition (inspection), the value (appraisal), title (title report), and to review the condominium documents before the contingency periods expire and the earnest money deposit forfeited.

If a buyer has a 14 day due diligence contingency period, and the documents do not make it to the closing agent until day 14, the buyer has no opportunity to review, or have reviewed, the entirely of the association documents to identify problems, deficiencies, insurance coverage, or compliance with the myriad of state laws that govern condominiums.

This little fun fact is another example of the rigged game against the buyer. If you give him no time to review the documents, he can’t find anything wrong with them, which is the only explainable reason why this amount of time is still granted to the association.

These documents need to be made available on day one or two, before a buyer spends money on inspection or appraisal. When the condominium has substantial issues, and the buyer and seller cannot come to an agreement for the deficiencies discovered, then ordering an inspection or appraisal is wasting the precious money of the condominium buyer. Informed agents and buyers need to request the documents to be expedited to ensure the prevention of wasting a buyers money on a purchase that is not going forward.