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Toby Tobin: Go Toby
Palm Coast Friday, Feb. 11, 2011 8 years ago

Anatomy of a real estate decision

by: Toby Tobin Contributing Writer

Downsizing made sense. The next step was comparing costs and benefits of moving out of Grand Haven and into Tidelands.

My wife, Shirley, and I decided to downsize. We’ve lived in Grand Haven for 11 enjoyable years, but being 11 years older changes one’s lifestyle. Reducing living expenses and maintenance duties were our primary goals.

We purchased a condo in Tidelands, trading a four-bedroom, two-bath house with a pool overlooking a lake and the Grand Haven golf course for a three-bed, three-bath condo overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.

Tidelands condominiums were built by Centex. The majority of the units were sold just before the housing market’s collapse. Our unit was purchased in December 2006 for $587,500. Because of the number of units either in foreclosure or delinquent on property-owners-association assessments, it is difficult to get traditional buyer financing. Consequently, prices are well below even today’s depressed market levels. Our short-sale purchase price was $170,000.

My first concern was with the financial viability of the association. I found that it was in much better shape than anticipated. They are covering their expenses, fulfilling their maintenance and insurance obligations and have cash on hand. More importantly, the situation improves slightly each month as foreclosed and short-sale units change hands, and delinquent assessments are brought current.

While both Grand Haven and Tidelands have property-owners associations, their assessment structures are dissimilar, making side-by-side comparisons difficult. On the surface, Tidelands’ combined annual association and club assessments totaling $6,468 seemed excessive compared to Grand Haven’s community-development district, property-owners association and Colbert Lane assessments. They totaled only $2,015.40 in 2010.

But the condo assessment includes many items that we currently pay separately.

Some of our estimated savings are because the condominium is smaller than our house (1,858 square feet vs. 2,447) and because of the difference in assessed values ($180,600 vs. $245,400). Most of our projected savings are realized because of the many expenses covered by the condominium association.

In addition to the obvious concern about the financial stability of the association, I uncovered three additional potential problems:

1. A lawsuit is pending between the condo association and phase-one homeowners over cost sharing.

2. The clubhouse and pools are owned by the developer rather than the association.

3. Additional condominiums or apartments can be constructed under the existing planned unit development.

Balanced analysis: Most importantly, Tidelands suits our needs perfectly. The expense savings plus Tidelands’ greater potential for future value appreciation are well worth the risks.

TOBY TOBIN publishes real estate news at


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