Mind blowing

There's a mind-blowing amount of info to absorb about Washington DC co-ops, but don't worry, we've complied a page of 'must know' information, along with resources and links you can use when the time is right. Reach out when you have a question, or you're ready to get started on your DC cooperative purchase!

  • A Washington DC cooperative, or c-oop, is housing that is collectively owned and managed by its occupants. Members do not own their individual units, instead they own shares in a non-profit corporation which holds title to the property and grants proprietary leases to unit occupants;
  • The lease grants permanent right to occupy the unit and to use the common elements of the property according to the cooperative bylaws, rules and regulations;
  • The number of shares owned is dictated by the size of the unit. Owners actively participate in decision making and share the work involved in running the co-op. Co-ops pay a lower tax rate due to their non-profit status;
  • You’ll pay association dues and abide by the rules and restrictions set forth in the CC&Rs.
For a quicker review, review this synopsis: Synopsis of 2014 DC Condo act Amendment WP Also, in 2014, the DC Condo Act was amended. Amendment to the DC Condo Act

Washington DC’s first cooperative building, The Concord, appeared in 1891, whereas DC’s first condominium didn’t arrive until 1962-63. Though cooperatives preceded condominiums in Washington DC by more than forty years, condominiums have multiplied at a much faster rate and are more widely understood than cooperatives. One possible reason for this is familiarity among buyers with condominiums due to saturation in suburban areas. Most cooperative projects are located in high-density housing areas of large cities such as New York, Chicago and Washington DC, while condominiums are built and sold in many suburban areas across the United States. Go with what you know, in other words. That’s not to say that cooperatives aren’t a great concept. Edmund Flynn thought so. He helped developed the first housing cooperatives in the District of Columbia, beginning in 1920, while he was employed with the Allen E. Walker firm (the first real estate brokerage to specialize in co-ops). Soon afterwards, Flynn founded the Edmund J. Flynn Company, which has developed and converted more than sixty DC market rate cooperatives. Most early cooperatives were so-called “luxury cooperatives”, which allowed renting for profit, and which typically had high monthly carrying costs. Instead, Flynn pioneered what he called the “100% cooperative ownership” plan. It required high down payments, low monthly carrying charges and a 100% owner occupancy rate. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, many “luxury” cooperatives folded when owners could not find renters or buyers who could afford the high monthly rates, but Flynn’s “100%” organizations were spared collapse due to his sensible structure. Flynn’s have also historically been the most economically diverse group of cooperatives nationwide, offering high end “best address” buildings to DC’s first moderate income garden-style complex, as well as self-sustaining low-cost cooperatives. Early DC cooperative buildings include The Concord (demolished in 1962), 2852 Ontario (“The Ontario”; still standing) the Porter, the Westmoreland (built 1905 and converted 1948), Presidential, and the Broadmoor. There are approximately 120 co-op buildings in Washington DC today. If you’re shopping for a condo, have 10% or more for a down payment, and may benefit from some of the tax perks associated with co-ops, you owe it to yourself to investigate further.

Thumbs up on that
  • Typically, Washington DC co-ops have a lower price per square foot than condos
  • Co-op maintenance fees (the equivalent of condo dues) include property taxes and some or all utilities. Some or all of the fees are tax deductible and property taxes are geerally lower for co-ops due to their non-profit status
  • Co-ops offer shareholders a degree of control over how their investment is managed and who their neighbors are
  • The cooperative maintenance team often handles repairs condo owners would have to contract for on their own
  • There are likely to be fewer investor units in co-ops projects than in condominium projects since Washington DC cooperatives encourage owner-occupancy
  • Closing costs for Washington DC co-ops are similar to a condo purchase. In the past, because it is a stock purchase and not a transfer of real estate, there was no transfer or recordation cost applied to the transaction, but in late 2009, the District withdrew that exemption and now demands the same transfer and recordation charges as a condo real property transfer. Cooperative share purchasers do save on title fees and insurance, and escrows for property taxes
  • Some of the most beautiful 'best address' buildings in Washington DC are cooperatives
  • Washington DC Cooperatives may be less likely to be severely affected by market downturns due to their owner-occupancy rules and other requirements.
Thumbs down on that
  • When it’s time for a co-op shareholder to sell their shares, they may find that the bylaws dictate who they can sell to. There may be requirements about buyers’ income and other financials, employment history and background. A prospective buyer will be vetted by the board of directors, who must comply with all DC Equal Housing laws;
  • Sub-letting of a shareholder’s leased unit will have similar restrictions and there can be limits on how many shareholders can sublet at a time. Read the cooperative bylaws, rules and restrictions carefully before purchasing;
  • There may be restrictions on renovation or remodeling of cooperative units. Co-op owners may not be able to install a new bathroom, update the unit’s kitchen or reconfigure the space as a condo owner might, though many simply require similar approval to that required by a condo board;
  • Financing interest rates and down-payment may be slightly higher for cop-ops than for condominiums;
  • Co-op fees appear higher, so buyers and agents unfamiliar with co-ops often shy away unnecessarily. This can lead to longer Days On Market on resale. Unlike condos, cooperatives include property taxes and, typically, some or all utilities in the monthly fee. Maintenance of mechanicals or low cost repair options may also be included. To compare fees, divide the annual property tax on a condo by 12 and add that amount to the condo association fee. Now add an monthly average for utilities. This gives you an apples-to-apples comparison with a monthly co-op fee. They’re not always higher;
  • Co-op owners don’t get the DC Homestead Deduction. That goes to the association;
  • Shares in a co-op association are considered intangible personal property, which is why co-op financing requires a special lending process. This means lines of credit or home equity loans probably aren't an option.
  • The financial condition of the association or corporation managing the property. Ask for the latest financial statements and budgets, the investor ratio (how many owner-occupied units and how many rented units), maintenance fee increases, and recent sales
  • How long have the units listed for sale been on market? What are the challenges in re-selling a unit in the cooperative?
  • The cooperative association may require its own inspection before listing and just prior to settlement and if association required repairs are not made by the current share owner, they will become the responsibility of the new owner. Buyers should hire an independent inspector to check the non-common elements of the unit as well. Association inspections cover only very specific items and an independent buyer’s inspection will be more comprehensive.
  • Unlike condos, DC co-ops include property taxes and, typically, some or all utilities in their monthly fee. Maintenance of mechanicals or low cost repair options may also be included. To compare fees, divide the annual property tax on a condo by 12 and add that amount to the condo association fee. Now add an monthly average for utilities. This gives you an apples-to-apples comparison with a monthly co-op fee. Remember that co-op owners don’t get the DC Homestead Deduction. That goes to the association.

Instead of a conventional mortgage obtained to purchase a condominium unit for which the unit itself is collateral, co-op purchasers typically obtain a “share loan,” with their membership certificate or stock share and occupancy agreement as collateral.

Financing for cooperative shares can be obtained from banks or other institutional lenders, similarly to obtaining a condominiums or fee simple mortgage, however many lenders do not finance co-ops and individual co-op boards have recognition agreements lenders must enter into to provide financing.  These agreements define the relationship between the lender, co-op and borrower, and create the priority for claims if the borrower falls into arrears on fees or the mortgage.

The owners/members of a cooperative may decide to mortgage the co-op to fund major building improvements. This differs from fund-raising methods used by condominiums, where fee increases and/or special assessments are utilized to raise funds for unforeseen expenses. The co-op version is called such a “blanket” or “master” mortgage. A portion is allocated to each unit, assumed by the purchaser, and deducted from the seller’s proceeds at the time of settlement.

Real estate taxes and interest on blanket mortgages are paid by the cooperative, then allocated to owners/members. They are tax-deductible.

Co-ops may carry an underlying mortgage. which is the initial mortgage taken to establish a cooperative. A good number of DC’s cooperatives have underlying mortgages. When renters and/or developer decide to create a cooperative, shares in the new entity are sold to owners, who sell the building(s) by transferring its debt to the corporation. If there is a mortgage needed to supplement share sales, the cooperative obtains the loan and all shareholders service the debt. Even co-ops that can afford to pay off their underlying mortgages may not want to do so because the shareholders receive a tax benefit from their shares of the monthly interest payments. It’s important to have an expert evaluate the financials of a Washington DC co-op before purchasing shares. Your lender will also want to review them to determine percentage of maintenance represented by debt service and underlying debt per unit compared to average unit sales price, among other factors. A reasonable quantity of debt is not unhealthy for a cooperative. According to experts, debt lower than $15,000. per unit is acceptable and debt above $30,000. per unit is seen as an issue. It is important to note that each situation is different and debt guidelines change.

FHA financing is not available for DC co-ops. At one time the FHA 203N mortgage loan was offered for the purchase of cooperative shares, but it is not currently among the products available from the Federal Housing Administration.

When an individual cooperative loan is fully paid, the lender will return the original stock and lease to the purchaser and forward a “UCC-3 Termination Statement” filed by the borrower in order to terminate the bank’s security interest.

deck inspection

The shortlist, in layman's terms:

  • Current budget and financial condition, reserve funds
  • Current Bylaws, architectural guidelines and CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) that define the rules and regulations for co-op shareholders
  • Association Fee Breakdown
  • Master Insurance Policy coverage
  • Occupation limitations (number of people who may occupy a unit)
  • Statement of unpaid fee assessments, special assessments, and/or upcoming assessments
  • Records of any pending legal action or judgements by or against the association
  • Certification of filing for the association’s annual report to state board (some associations exempt)
  • Records of approved alterations to the unit
  • Violation notices to current unit shareholder(s)
From the DC Condo Act: Section 42-1904.04. Public offering statement; form prescribed by Mayor; contents; use in promotions; material change in information and amendment of statement. (a) A public offering statement shall disclose fully and accurately the characteristics of the condominium and the units therein offered and shall make known to prospective purchasers all unusual and material circumstances or features affecting the condominium. The proposed public offering statement submitted to the Mayor shall be in a form prescribed by his rules and shall include: (1) The name and principal address of the declarant and the condominium; (2) The applicant’s name, address, and the form, date, and jurisdiction of organization, the address of each of its offices in the District of Columbia, the names and addresses of all general partners if applicant is a partnership, and all directors and owners of 10 percent or more of the beneficial interest in the stock of applicant if applicant is a corporation; (3) To the extent that such information is reasonably available to applicant, the names and addresses of the attorney primarily responsible for the preparation of the condominium documents, the general contractor, if any, all contractors who are primarily responsible for the construction, reconstruction or renovation of the electrical, plumbing or mechanical systems or the roof of the condominium, and the architect and engineer primarily responsible for the design, construction or renovation of the condominium; (4) A general narrative description of the condominium stating the total number of units in the offering; the total number of units planned to be sold and the number of units to be rented; the total number of units that may be included in the condominium by reason of future expansion or merger of the project by the declarant; (5) A copy of the condominium instruments, with a brief narrative statement describing each and including: (A) Information on declarant control; (B) A projected budget for at least the first year of the condominium’s operation (including projected common expense assessments for each unit); (C) Provisions for enforcement of liens for assessments; (D) A statement of the amount, or a statement that there is no amount, included in the projected budget as a reserve for repairs and replacement; (E) The estimated amount of any initial or special condominium fee due from the purchaser on or before settlement of the purchase contract and the basis of such fees; (F) A description of any restraints on alienation; and (G) A description of any service not reflected in the proposed budget that the declarant shall provide or expenses that he or she shall pay, and that he or she expects may become, at any subsequent time, a common expense of the unit owners’ association, and the projected common expense assessment attributable to each of those services or expenses for the association and for each type of unit; (6) Copies of the deed that shall be delivered to a purchaser to evidence his or her interest in the unit and of the contract of sale that a purchaser shall be required to sign; (7) A copy of any management contract, lease of recreational areas, and any other contract or agreement substantially affecting the use or maintenance of, or access to all or any part of the condominium with a brief narrative statement of the effect of each such agreement upon a purchaser, the condominium unit owners and the condominium, and a statement of the relationship, if any, between the declarant and the managing agent or firm; (8) A general statement of: (A) The status of construction; (B) The project’s compliance with zoning, site plan and building permit regulations; (C) Source of financing available and the estimated amount necessary to complete all improvements shown on the plats and plans as “not yet completed” or “not yet begun” which declarant is obligated to complete; and (D) The projected date of completion of construction or renovation of the major amenities of the condominium; (9) The significant terms of any encumbrances, easements, liens and matters of title affecting the condominium; (10) The significant terms of any financing offered by or through the declarant to purchasers of units in the condominium; (11) The provisions and any significant limitations of any warranties provided by the declarant on the units and the common elements, other than the warranty prescribed by Section 42-1903.07(b); (12) A statement that the contract purchaser of a condominium unit may, prior to conveyance, cancel the purchase transaction within 15 days following the date of execution of the contract by the purchaser or the receipt of a current public offering statement, whichever is later; (13) A statement as to whether or not the condominium satisfies, or is expected to satisfy, the special requirements pertaining to condominiums established by federal, federally chartered or District of Columbia institutions which insure, guarantee or maintain a secondary market for condominium unit mortgages; and (14) Additional information required by the Mayor to assure full and fair disclosure to prospective purchasers. (15) Repealed. (a-1) If the declaration provides that ownership or occupancy of the units are or may be owned in time-shares, the public offering statement shall disclose in addition to the information required by subsection (a) of this section: (1) The total number of units in which time-share estates may be created; (2) The total number of time-share estates that may be created in the condominium; (3) The projected common expense assessment for each time-share estate and whether the assessment may vary seasonally; (4) A statement that shall include: (A) Any service that the declarant shall provide or any expense that the declarant shall pay, if the service or expense is not reflected in the budget and the declarant expects that the expense or service may later become a common expense of the unit owners’ association; and (B) The projected common expense assessment attributable to any expense or service listed pursuant to subparagraph (A) of this paragraph for each time-share estate; (5) Repealed; (6) The extent to which the time-share owners of a unit are jointly and severally liable for the payment of real estate taxes and all assessments and other charges levied against the unit; (7) The extent to which a suit for partition may be maintained against a unit owned in time-share estates; and (8) The extent to which a time-share estate may become subject to a tax or other lien that arises out of claims against other time-share owners of the same unit. (b) The public offering statement shall not be used for any promotional purposes before registration of the condominium project and afterwards only if it is used in its entirety. No person may advertise or represent that the Mayor approves or recommends the condominium or disposition thereof. No portion of the public offering statement may be underscored, italicized, or printed in larger or heavier or different color type than the remainder of the statement if such emphasis is intended to mislead the prospective purchaser or to otherwise conceal material facts, except that there may be a cover sheet for such public offering statement using such design, pictures and words as the Mayor may deem reasonable. The form, content, and layout of the public offering statement shall be subject to approval by the Mayor. (c) The declarant shall file with the Mayor a statement of any material change in the information contained in the public offering statement. Such statement shall be filed within 15 days after the date on which the declarant knows or should have known about the change. The Mayor may require the declarant to amend the public offering statement if necessary to assure full and fair disclosure to prospective purchasers. A public offering statement is not current unless any necessary amendments are incorporated therein or attached thereto. Such amendments must be mailed by United States registered mail, return receipt requested. Such receipt shall be kept on file for review. (d) The provisions of this section shall be deemed to be compliedwith if the public offering statement filed pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (9) of subsection (a) of this section is for offers of units currently registered as securities with the Securities and Exchange Commission. (e) In the case of a condominium situated wholly outside the District of Columbia, an application for registration or a proposed public offering statement filed with the Mayor, which has been approved by an agency in the state where the condominium is located and substantially complies with the requirements of this chapter, may not be rejected by the Mayor on the grounds of noncompliance with any different or additional requirements imposed by this chapter or by rules and regulations issued by the Mayor pursuant to this chapter. The Mayor may require additional documents or information in a particular case to assure adequate and accurate disclosure to prospective purchasers. Section 42-1904.08. Conversion condominiums; additional contents of public offering statement; notice of intent to convert; tenant’s and subtenant’s right to purchase; notice to vacate. (a) Any declarant of a conversion condominium shall include in hispublic offering statement, in addition to the requirements of Section 42-1904.04: (1) Repealed. (2)(A) A statement by the declarant based upon a report of a qualified architect or engineer as to the present condition of all structural components and major utility installations in the condominium. The statement shall include: (i) The approximate dates of construction, installation, and major repairs of structural components and major utility installations and a general description of each installed system as particularly suitable or unsuitable for use in a conversion condominium; (ii) An evaluation of the adequacy of each system to perform its intended function both before and after completion of the condominium conversion; and (iii) The estimated life of the system components, and the estimated cost (in current dollars) of replacing each component that has a rated life that is evaluated to be less than the rated life of the entire structure. (B) The architect’s or engineer’s report upon which the statement required by this subsection is based shall be filed with the Mayor as a part of the application for registration. (b) In the case of a conversion condominium: (1) The declarant shall give each of the tenants or subtenants of the building or buildings which the declarant submits to the provisions of this chapter at least 120 days notice of the conversion before any such tenant or subtenant may be served with notice to vacate. Such notice of conversion shall be given no sooner than 10 days after the date the declarant’s application for registration of the condominium units is approved. The notice shall be in such form as the Mayor may require and shall set forth generally the rights of tenants and subtenants pursuant to this section. Such notice shall be hand – delivered or sent by United States mail, return receipt requested. Such notice shall contain a statement indicating that such notice shall not be construed as abrogating any rights any tenant may have under a valid existing written lease; (2)During the first 60 days of the 120-day notice period, each of the tenants who entered into an agreement with declarant or declarant’s predecessor in interest to lease the apartment unit shall have the exclusive right to contract for the purchase of such apartment unit. If the tenants do not contract for the purchase of their apartment unit, during the second 60 days of such 120-day period, each of the subtenants, if any, who occupy the apartment unit under an agreement with the tenants shall have the exclusive right to contract for the purchase of such apartment unit. The exclusive right to contract for the purchase of such apartment units shall be on terms and conditions at least as favorable to the tenants or subtenants as those being offered by declarant to the general public. The right to contract for purchase granted to the tenants and subtenants, if any, of an apartment unit shall be granted only where the tenant or subtenant has remained, and on the date of the notice is, in substantial compliance with the terms of the lease or sublease agreement, and if such apartment unit is to be retained in the conversion condominium without substantial renovation or alteration in its physical layout. If there is more than 1 tenant, then each such tenant shall be entitled to contract for the purchase of a proportionate share of the apartment unit and of a proportionate share of the share of any tenant who elects not to purchase. If the tenants do not contract for the purchase of the apartment unit and if there is more than 1 subtenant occupying the apartment unit, then each such subtenant shall be entitled to contract for the purchase of a proportionate share of the apartment unit occupied, and of a proportionate share of the share of any subtenant who elects not to purchase. In no case shall this subsection be deemed to authorize the purchase of less than the entire interest in the apartment unit to be conveyed; (3) If the notice of conversion specifies a date by which the apartment unit shall be vacated, then such notice shall constitute and be the equivalent of a valid statutory notice to vacate. Otherwise, the declarant shall give the tenant or subtenant occupying the apartment unit to be vacated the statutory notice to vacate where required by law in compliance with the requirements applicable thereto. (c) Each declarant of a conversion condominium shall assure that the budget established for the unit owners’ association and upon which common expense assessments are made shall include an adequate provision for reasonable reserves to cover future maintenance, repair, or replacement costs associated with the common elements.
Resale Requirements Section 42-1904.11. Resale by unit owner; seller to obtain appropriate statements from association and furnish to purchaser; scope of provisions. (a) In the event of a resale of a condominium unit by a unit owner other than the declarant, the unit owner shall obtain from the unit owners’ association and furnish to the purchaser, on or prior to the 10th business day following the date of execution of the contract of sale by the purchaser, a copy of the condominium instruments and a certificate setting forth the following: (1) Appropriate statements pursuant to Section 42-1903.13(h) and, if applicable, Section 42-1903.15, which need not to be in recordable form; (2) A statement of any capital expenditures anticipated by the unit owners’ association within the current or succeeding 2 fiscal years; (3) A statement of the status and amount of any reserves for capital expenditures, contingencies, and improvements, and any portion of such reserves earmarked for any specified project by the executive board; (4) A copy of the statement of financial condition for the unit owners’ association for the then most recent fiscal year for which such statement is available and the current operating budget, if any; (5) A statement of the status of any pending suits or any judgments to which the unit owners’ association is a party; (6) A statement setting forth what insurance coverage is provided for all unit owners by the unit owners’ association and a statement whether such coverage includes public liability, loss or damage, or fire and extended coverage insurance with respect to the unit and its contents; (7) A statement that any improvements or alterations made to the unit, or the limited common elements assigned thereto, by the prior unit owner are not in violation of the condominium instruments; (8) A statement of the remaining term of any leasehold estate affecting the condominium or the condominium unit and the provisions governing any extension or renewal thereof; and (9) The date of issuance of the certificate. (a-1) (1) If the condominium instruments and certificate prescribed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section are not furnished to the purchaser on or prior to the 10th business day following the date of execution of the contract of sale by the purchaser, the purchaser shall have the right to cancel the contract by giving notice in writing to the seller prior to receipt of the condominium instruments and certificate, but not after conveyance under the contract. (2) Except as provided pursuant to paragraph (5) of this subsection, the purchaser shall have the right for a period of 3 business daysfollowing the purchaser’s receipt of the condominium instruments and certificate prescribed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, whether or not such receipt occurs within the time period described in subsection (a) of this section, to cancel the contract by giving notice in writing and returning the condominium instruments and certificate to the seller, provided that the purchaser may not so cancel the contract after conveyance under the contract. (3) If the purchaser cancels the contract pursuant to paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection, the purchaser shall receive back any earnest money or other deposit without delay or deduction. (4) From and after the earlier of (i) the expiration of the 3 business-day period for review prescribed pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection, or an extension of the 3 business-day period agreed to by the parties in a signed writing, or (ii) conveyance under the contract, if the purchaser has not exercised the right to cancel, the contract shall not be cancellable by the purchaser under this subsection. (5) If the condominium instruments and certificate are furnished to the purchaser on or prior to execution of the contract of sale by the purchaser, the 3 business-day period for review prescribed pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection shall commence when the contract is executed by the purchaser. (b) The principal officer of the unit owners’ association or suchother officer or officers as the condominium instruments may specify, shall furnish the certificate prescribed by subsection (a) of this section upon the written request of any unit owner or purchaser within 10 days of the receipt of such request. (c) Subject to the provisions of Section 42-1904.01, but notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the provisions and requirements of this section shall apply to any such resale of a condominium unit created under the provisions of Chapter 20 of this title.

Smaller associations and self-managed associations may not offer the same packages as larger, professionally managed associations.


Is the current unit owner in compliance with the rules of the association, has he/she any outstanding fines, dues, underlying mortgage payments or special assessment payments?  If so, make sure you stipulate that these be brought current at the seller’s expense and shown as such on your settlement statement, or you will likely become liable for them. Ask if any improvements or alterations have been made to the unit and if they are in compliance with board/association regulations and standards, obtained the proper permitting if required and were inspected, if required. You will inherit violations and associated fines/penalties if not.

Important Questions

It is always important to ask the association or management representative in writing if the association is involved in any planned, pending or unresolved litigation. This can affect the ability of mortgage lenders to lend against the property. It is also important to ask about the association’s investor ratio (ratio of renters vs owners), the square footage  percentage of commercial property associated with the association (retail components) and percentage of delinquent dues by owners (as well as the length of time they are delinquent). All are subject to percentage caps that can render a building unwarrantable (unlendable). You’ll also want to verify that the current owner is up-todate on dues and learn the percentage of owners delinquent on dues. Ask about planned or levied special assessments as well as major improvements being discussed for the next one to three years. Other questions include restrictions for pets, rentals and smoking, as well as the rental cap, if any, and waiting list length. Check to see what the policies and fees are for move-ins and ask about the amount of capital contribution, if any.

Special Assessments

This disclosure should be included in your purchase agreement provisions and your agent likely checked the box that says the seller will be responsible, but make sure. Your lender will request a Condo Questionnaire that should pose this question, also. Ask your lender for a copy. Surprisingly, condo owners are not always aware that there are special assessments pending, so even if they answered ‘no’ to the question on your purchase agreement, it’s important to read the resale certificate package and the condo questionnaire. These are “official” responses. Liens and Judgements During the contract process your agent should have specifically asked about liens and judgements. At any given time, there are a number of developer marketed properties with mechanics liens against them, and privately-owned properties can have these, too. If there are liens against the association and unit, it could make it difficult or impossible to get financing and the payoff of liens and judgements can result in higher condo fees and special assessments. Be sure to get all documentation if there are liens, and take it to your selected title company and lender for review.


Examine expenditures in the budget, and volume of reserves. New condos often haven’t built up large reserves just from capital contributions, developers often are supressing the condo dues while they’re selling, as well as keeping the budget lean until the homeowners take over the association. There are many reasons for this, but the bottom line is that it’s important to realize that expenses and condo dues are likely to increase-sometimes significantly-when the unit owners take control of the association. This typically occurs when the project is 70% to 75% sold.  Check to see if the condo dues have increased, how often, and by how much. Is there an annual cap on raises? In older communities the reserves may have been depleted by costly repairs, unpaid dues, and community expense increases as amenities age and staff and services become more expensive over time. When reserves are low and major repairs are needed, the unit owners are typically assessed for the costs in shares based on the unit size. Does the association have sufficient reserves for repairs? Especially in older condo buildings, this is important. Lawsuits or judgments pending against or involving the condo association can also be a source of condo fee increases and special assessments. Ask for copies of association meeting minutes for the past 6 meetings. Review them for discussions of expenditures, repairs, legal proceedings and other issues that might shed light on the association’s future spending and assessment plans.