Aging Condos in a Financial Bind That Could Doom Them

'Washington Post' looks at growing problem
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2016 12:40 PM CDT
Scores of condo complexes in the red around Washington, DC, are shuttering pools and other amenities. This is a file photo of a pool at a condo in British Columbia.   (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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(Newser) – For the fifth straight summer, children could only gaze at the expansive pool at their condo complex in Maryland through a chain-link fence. A dirty tarp covers the in-ground pool at the 60-year-old Grand Bel II complex in Silver Spring, which has no money to run it or fix the weed-infested tennis court, the Washington Post reports. "I feel for the children," says one condo owner. "Every year, they ask me, 'Is the pool going to be open?'" The problems aren't unique to the Grand Bel II—and they are far worse than just a closed pool, with structural problems posing grave dangers to residents. The Post reports on a crisis at aging condo complexes ringing Washington, DC—even as new trendy buildings rise—as monthly fees have skyrocketed to cover the costs of repairs. Owners, many working class, have struggled to pay the fees or have stopped altogether, worsening the cycle.

Their crumbling buildings "are mired in a recession that never ended," writes Bill Turque. Although national foreclosure rates have leveled off, condo owners are still disproportionately feeling the effects of the subprime crisis. In Alexandria, Va., condos comprise 47% of residences and 63% of foreclosures. "You have people who should not have been given loans because they couldn't afford to pay the loans and associated expenses," says one attorney. The complexes have also been hurt by tighter FHA guidelines that make loans to potential buyers tougher to get, which makes for longer vacancies. Legislation signed by President Obama eased some of those standards, but experts say more needs to be done. "Without significant changes, you're going to have cities and states condemning and taking over these properties," says one consultant. (Read the full story.)

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