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Can Seller Get Delayed Special Assessment Back?

RE Q&A: A condo owner paid a special assessment for a project that’s now delayed for at least a year. If she sells, can she get that unspent money back?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: We were specially assessed for a project for our condominium. We paid almost the entire assessment at his point, but we need to sell our unit and move due to an opportunity. The board postponed the project for at least a year if not more. Are we entitled to get our money back when we sell before the project even begins? – Donna

Answer: When a community association needs extra money for a specific project, such as replacing a roof or making unexpected repairs, it can “specially assess” the unit owners to get the necessary funds. Like regular assessments the association collects to maintain the community, special assessments must be paid to avoid collection or foreclosure.

Special assessments have special rules. The money can be used only for the specific purpose for which it was passed. If there are surplus funds after the project is completed, the funds are transferred to the common account and can either be returned to the unit owners or held and credited to future assessments.

Unfortunately, delays happen for a variety of reasons. You and your neighbors must continue paying the special assessment despite the delay. The money you paid has been credited to your unit and will pass to whoever you sell your apartment to.

You can still, in effect, get the money back – but from your buyer, not your association.

Having the special assessment paid off will make your home more attractive to prospective buyers. Because the assessment is paid off, the new owner will not need to make monthly payments, and people buy the most new home they can afford.

Mortgage lenders determine how much a borrower can afford by matching their income to the monthly cost of the new home. If the monthly assessment is less, the buyer should be able to buy more.

Because of this, you should be able to sell your home for more money than one of your neighbors who did not pay off the assessment. In this way you’re effectively getting the money back.

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