Sara Benson


They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I often see cartoons when I read the horror stories and see the abuses that take place in a residential association.  Unfortunately what my mind “sees”, my hand can’t seem to draw so others can also take advantage of the “picture” in my mind.  I have to use the thousand words to get you to see and feel what I see and feel when these stories come pouring out.  So bear with me.

One of the many images that readily comes to the forefront of my mind when thinking of the hundreds of heartbreaking stories is a tsunami  One small puff of air in the shape of a pudgy pooch or window blinds that are the wrong shade of white and off we go.  The HOA huffs and it puffs and it gathers up strength and speed and then it rolls across the oceans, demolishing everything in its wake. When the oceans unleash their fury and come inland it is called a “disaster”.  When an HOA bulldozes a member why don’t we recognize it as a disaster?  All of these horrors and abuses are slowly but surely destroying any sense of community and ” belonging” we have.  

Sara Benson joins us On The Commons.  Sara is a longtime real estate broker in Chicago where condos and co-ops abound.  Her hands-on and intimate knowledge of the residential association regime led her to co author a book called “Escaping the Condo Jail – The Keys to navigating Risks and surviving perils of the “Carefree” Community Lifestyle.”  The book has been out for a couple of years now and anytime a book, a blog, an article or even a radio show is available to the public, it acts as a lifeline to homeowners drowning in the abuses of their HOAs.  We talk to Sara about her book and follow up on some of the feedback she has received.  Keep the image of a tsunami rolling across the angry oceans, looking for a place to land as you listen to the show and you will get an idea of how well Escaping Condo Jail is doing. 



One thought on “Sara Benson”

  1. Great interview with Sara, Shu! I’m still working on reading book number one but I’m looking forward to book number two.

    I do feel the credit for the Realtors recognition and current focus on HOAs at this time goes to Judy Thomas of the Kansas City Star. Her HOA Hell series has been printed in newspapers all across America and the topic of HOAs is being discussed now more than ever thanks to her efforts to expose the truth about HOAs and condo associations. She is hearing from hundreds of homeowners by email and voicemail.

    When I wrote my synopsis of HOAs over three years ago, I stated then we needed laws that required every single real estate agent showing a property to have a document with the following signed BEFORE showing the property to the potential buyer. It is and always has been deceptive to sell someone a property and they do not realize that the roof over their head is nothing more than collateral for their investment in the HOA.

    In my opinion, the buyers should be required to sign a document that states the following:

    Should you decide to purchase the property at XXXXXX Lane, that property is under the control of ABC123 Homeowners Association. The results of purchasing that property are:

    1) You are signing away your Constitutional Rights

    2) You are becoming business partners in a non-profit corporation with all of your new neighbors

    3) You are promising that you shall be held responsible for payment on all debts, loans, lawsuits, settlements, liabilities, construction defects, and disaster rebuilds for the entire HOA.

    If you do not sign this document you cannot be shown this property.

    As Shu has stated many times the purchase of a home or condo is an emotional purchase. Before the buyer becomes emotional about anything they will have read and signed the document that clearly states their obligations and sacrifices or they will not see that property. Deception is therefore eliminated before it starts.

    If the public is signing waivers to skydive, bungee jump, or have major surgery, they should be alerted to the dangers of buying into an HOA as well.

    Obama did sign HR 3700 on July 29, 2016. This will no doubt bury more people into an HOA situation that will result in their homelessness.

    Hillary Clinton is proposing to build a massive number of condos for affordable housing for low income people if she is elected president. That will result in more homeless people as well.

    Common interest ownership housing DOES NOT AND NEVER WILL WORK.

    Those who wish to never paint, clean gutters, mow grass, or trim their bushes are far better off in an apartment where the landlord is responsible for those projects!

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