I.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We have an opportunity to buy some common area from our condo association to add to our condo. The common area available for sale is a back staircase. We are wondering if there is a commonly accepted rule for the price per square foot of such area. What we are thinking of offering is the market price for our area minus the cost of adding floor and ceiling to make a livable space from a staircase. Does this make sense? Thank you.
Mister Condo replies:
I.M., in my experience, it is extremely rare for a condominium to sell off any of its common area. Additionally, if the staircase services only your unit and is for your exclusive use, it is a limited common element and there would be no need for you to purchase the staircase. It sounds like what you are talking about doing is actually putting an addition on to your condo, which you will need written permission from the Board to do before you even consider purchasing the extra land from the association to do so. Finally, there is the question of the association’s existing by-laws giving the power to the Board to offer the land for sale. It would not be unusual for such a sale to require a full vote of the association as it is selling off an association asset. My best advice to you is that you speak with an attorney who is verse in such transactions before you enter into any agreement. It is entirely possible that you could spend a great deal of money improving the property only to find out the association didn’t have the authority to sell it to you in the first place. As for the selling price of the actual property, market price makes sense but I wonder how you would determine what the market price is. Unless your association has a history of selling off bits of the common area in the past. If that is the case, I would look at the previous sale records for an indication of what you should pay. Good luck!