Have you read the article in Maclean’s this month entitled “Condo Hell?”
It was brought up at our weekly office meeting, by somebody that asked, “Is this stuff true?”
Believe it or not, folks, not everybody has lived in a condo, and not all Realtors have enough experience to know if an exposé like this represents the day-to-day goings-on in a condo, or perhaps some of the worst incidents, all wrapped into a nice tagline.
If you haven’t read the article, do so. It’s lengthy, but it’s worth it.
As for whether or not this is the norm, there’s only one way to find out…
(Read the article on Maclean’s website HERE)
Sooooo……whaddya think, folks?
Is this a great article from a fantastic publication?
Or is this the garbage we would have expected from Toronto Life?
The article itself is great, don’t get me wrong. And I’ve spoken to the columnist a couple times on the phone, and I think she’s a great writer too.
But the cover of this magazine is not what I’d come to expect from Maclean’s.
“WHY CONDOS ARE A LIVING NIGHTMARE”
Then, just for good measure, a photo of Jesus to the left…
This is like the Toronto Sun’s daily headline-play-on-words.
It’s simple-minded, and only serves to catch eyes, and sell magazines.
Would Maclean’s publish their well-respected university-ranking issue and headline:
“WHY UNIVERSITY KIDS WON’T GET JOBS WHEN THEY GET THEIR B.A.”
So, yes, as you can tell, I have an issue with the headline here, and not because I’m a Realtor, but rather, because I’m a condo owner.
I know the drawbacks to condominium living, believe me. Don’t ever accuse me of being a “homer” and pushing my own interests. After all, Toronto Realty Blog does more to expose the pitfalls of condos (and all real estate…) more than any publication I know!
But my problem with this article is that it’s fear-mongering. Or as one blog reader wrote to me, it’s “alarmist.”
It’s telling the absolute worst stories, which I’m willing to bet were accumulated during months and months of research, through court cases, lawsuits, police reports, and after dozens and dozens of interviews with people who were lined up to tell their stories.
It’s that old adage – you’re five times as likely to give negative feedback than positive. If you have a good experience, you usually enjoy it and move on. If you have a bad experience, you can’t wait to share it!
So I have no doubt that spurned-condo-owners were lined up to tell their tales for this story. But I don’t feel like the whole story was told.
Forgive me if I’m being too defensive, but I found the article to present a blatantly-one-sided account of what could happen while living in a condo, under the absolute worst circumstances possible, under exceptionally rare circumstances.
So yeah, I guess THAT is condo hell, and it happens to about 1 in 100,000 people.
The article begins with a story about woman who dealt with loud footwork on the floor located one storey above her, but I believe exaggerates when it reads: “….Dyke’s neighbours moved out and rented their condo to a dancer, who turned the unit into her full-time dance studio.”
Was it in fact a “dance studio” by definition? Is that to be taken literally, as in this person was running a business out of the condominium? Or was it said tongue-and-cheek, like “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse?”
The article doesn’t specify, but my fear is that readers of this piece might be led to believe that a condo-owner CAN turn their unit into a dance studio, or a tattoo parlour, or a motorcycle gang headquarters, or a place where cute puppies are yelled at…
I find the whole article to be exaggerated.
But then again, you can easily accuse my blog of being exaggerated. The only difference is: I make no bones about the fact that I am one Realtor, giving his opinion, which is offered with a little humour, a lot of cynicism, and a fair amount of bias. I’m writing to an audience that is often well-informed about the subject matter. The Maclean’s article will be read by thousands of people who have never lived in a condo, have never had a friend that lived in one, and who take the word of this article as gospel.
As I said at the onset – a Realtor in my office asked aloud, “Is this really what goes on?” She’s an old bird, who has sold upscale houses for forty years. She has no clue what goes on inside a CityPlace building, nor will she ever.
But people who pick up Maclean’s, and read the tagline, “Why Condos Are A Living Nightmare,” might not understand that this has more to do with selling magazines, and less to do with providing a realistic account of condo living.
There are some great parts of this article, don’t get me wrong.
The quote about condo board presidents is priceless:
“Each one has a king. Many of the people who get elected to the boards have time on their hands, and this is the only place in their world where they have power. Unfortunately, that starts to go to their heads.”
I’ve said this time and time again. The condo board president is usually a little 5’4″ lawyer or teacher, who has a Napoleon complex, and who LOVES to hear the sound of his own voice!
But then the article transitions back to more one-off stories about:
“……spraying the words “cow” and “pig” on a car, throwing eggs, dislocating a resident’s thumb and tampering with a scooter.”
Ahhhh…..maybe I’m being unfair.
Maybe this is what people want to read, and the publication just gave it to them.
It’s not like a headline reading, “Condos Can Be Great or Not-So-Great” would sell copies.
All in all, it’s a pretty good read – all 4,000 words of it.
Agree or disagree, I think if you have an interest in real estate, you’ll be intrigued by the anecdotal stories told in the piece.
It’s just the cover of the issue, and the headline I take great issue with.
I’ve written not shortage of blog posts about the troubles I, and my clients, have had with condominium management, concierges, security guards, or condo boards.
But these are usually little items, like your condo board trying to close the gym from 12-1pm every day for cleaning, when that’s the time most people would use the gym – on their lunch!
Every condominium is going to have its troubles, no doubt about it. Human beings were not meant to cohabitate (don’t tell my wife that….), and especially not 500 people in a building, being essentially self-governed. It’s impossible to live in harmony without issues, but 99.9% of the time, these are minor items, that don’t cause any undue stress.
I might bitch and complain about the fact that my concierge no longer allows me to leave packages for non-residents. But the Maclean’s article talks about $60,000 legal judgments like they’re routine.
I guess, in the end, it’s up to the reader to decide on condo living.
Then again, with the way Toronto house prices are going these days, it’s not like most Toronto residents have a choice…