For home buyers, gaining a better understanding of the body managing their housing complex is extremely important, says Sonal Sachdev

More often than not, whom you live with is of greater importance than the structure you live in. With the growing trend of apartment living in urban centres, the risk to property appreciation and comfortable living from Housing Societies managing the affairs of these urban dwellings has increased. Once the builder is done with the development of the property, he hands over charge to a society formed by the residents. In some cities these are called Residents Welfare Associations. However, the welfare of all residents is not always at the heart of these bodies and many a times they lack the resources to deliver. This has lasting and telling impact on residents and their homes.

The recent Campa Cola Society fracas was also in some measure caused by the failure of the society to ensure that all development was legal and all clearances and certificates had been obtained. In many apartment complexes issues like sale of open spaces for car parking by the builder, unauthorised construction, leakages and infrastructure loopholes and cooked books of accounts are not uncommon. The builder leaving the society with little resources when handing over also often leads to the inability of the collective to deliver on upkeep and maintenance. While this leads to unhappiness and resentment all around, it often also spells high maintenance charges—a recurring monthly expense.

For home buyers looking to buy ready-to-move in homes in the secondary market, gaining a better understanding of the body managing the housing complex is extremely important. Ideally, you should meet members of the body before making a purchase. The upkeep, hygiene and security in the complex also give you a sense of how well it is maintained. Evaluate this in the context of the maintenance charges and compare it with other options on your radar.

I have witnessed two apartment complexes developed by the same builder, commanding different realty values many years after moving under the management of a housing society. That tells you the value of good management. You thought about It while buying shares in the stock market, now think about it while buying a home.