Home buying has risks even when buying a condominium with a homeowners association.

Q: I’m in the process of purchasing a condominium and there’s a wooden deck near the porch with drainage under it. The Homeowners Association (HOA) says that the wooden deck is the responsibility of the owner while the drainage is the HOA’s responsibility.

So, if repairs are needed to the drainage, the deck will have to be removed for access. Do you think I should try to negotiate something with the seller now to pay me for the deck for the deck removal/replacement? If so, what is the most foolproof way of including this in an agreement?

A: Owning a home has its own costs, duties and responsibilities. You can’t have your seller guarantee that you will never have expenses relating to repairs to your condominium. You need to deal with the facts as they exist now not with a situation as it may develop in the future.

If the deck is in good shape and the drainage is working properly, the seller is not responsible for future wear and tear or maintenance issues that may arise in the future. You have to factor the possibility of having these expenses into the cost of owning the condominium for the many years you may live there.

If the deck has a problem now or there is an issue with the drainage, you can address that in the purchase process and have the seller repair the deck now or remove the deck, have repairs made to the drainage by the association and then have the seller replace the deck.

If you are in the process of buying the home and had an inspection that revealed problems with the deck and drainage, it would be prudent to negotiate a repair of those issues now, before you close on the home.

You want to make sure the repairs get done prior to your closing and settlement. If the work can’t get done by closing, you have several options to protect yourself. One of those choices is to get a few estimates as to what it will cost to make the repairs and have those funds plus a bit extra held back from the seller at closing to insure that the work gets done and the cost is covered. Those funds should be held by an unbiased third party to make sure they don’t get paid to the seller without the work having been completed.

Once the work has been completed, the third party holding the repair funds can use those funds to pay for the work and if there are any funds remaining, those funds can go back to the seller.

All of this should be documented in the contract. Your real estate attorney can provide some language to put into your contract that will acceptable to the seller that can meet with some minimum protections under real estate law in your area.