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The Pitfalls of Manual Condo Reviews: A Comprehensive Analysis

Condo Review, Lenders,
Published: Feb 29, 2024
  by Editorial team

Condo reviews are no walk in the park. Ensuring regulatory compliance and making sound lending decisions require extensive and careful analysis.

That analysis, however, involves figuring out legal and financial information, like the HOA’s health, and dealing with insurance and liability matters. The point is manual checks take time and often need double-checking. 

So how can lenders make confident and reliable decisions and not invest a disproportionately long time in each and every condo review? 

One way is to become the unrivaled experts in manual condo reviews. But for those who don’t have the time or patience to do so, you can refer to this article as your guide to avoiding the pitfalls of manual condo reviews. 

Let’s begin. 

Condo Reviews and the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Requirements

annexation in real estate Greek architectural building

Condo reviews are closely related to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through their condominium project approval guidelines. Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have specific requirements that condominium projects must meet to be eligible for financing through their programs. 

These guidelines are crucial when doing condo reviews because they set the eligibility criteria (legal, operational, and financial) for condominium projects to qualify for financing. And since lenders rely on the approval of these two institutions to guarantee their investment is protected in case of default, following their guidelines makes all the sense. 

Here are a few of the eligibility criteria. 

Fannie Mae Criteria for Condo Reviews

When evaluating condominium projects, Fannie Mae considers a range of criteria including but not limited to:

  1. Financial Viability
  2. Residential Nature of the Project
  3. Ownership Structure
  4. Project Budgets, Financial Statements, and Reserve Studies
  5. Project Construction Plans
  6. Completion Reports
  7. Project Marketing Plans
  8. Environmental Hazard Reports
  9. Appraisal Reports
  10. Evidence of Insurance Policies and Related Documentation
  11. Condominium Project Questionnaires
  12. Legal and Recorded Documents

Freddie Mac Criteria for Condo Reviews

Freddie Mac’s criteria for evaluating condominium projects include considerations such as:

  1. Determining Project Eligibility Requirements
  2. Exempt From Review or Project Certified Status
  3. Streamlined Reviews for Established Projects
  4. Established Condominium Project Reviews
  5. New Condominium Project Reviews
  6. Reciprocal Project Review
  7. Documentation Retention
  8. Condominium Project Questionnaire
  9. Project Types and Identification Criteria
  10. Project Documentation Requirements

It’s important to note that the condo review requirements from both Fannie and Freddie change often. Lenders who process these documents need to make sure they coordinate their work with the latest versions of the guidelines. 

The Manual Condo Review Process

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The manual condo review process requires a comprehensive understanding of various areas, including real estate laws and financial analysis, to effectively assess the eligibility of condominium projects for financing. 

Along with that, it’s important to organize the work in straightforward, easy-to-follow steps. 

The Intensive Data Collection Phase

The first step in a manual condo review is the collection of necessary project documents. These may include the project’s declaration, bylaws, budget, insurance policies, and other relevant records. This phase can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, particularly for larger projects with extensive documentation.

The Rigorous Data Analysis Phase

After acquiring all the necessary documents, the next step is a rigorous analysis of the data. This involves scrutinizing the project’s financial statements, evaluating the adequacy of its insurance coverage, assessing the condition of the property, and reviewing the project’s legal standing. This phase demands a high level of expertise and can be prone to errors if not executed meticulously.

While requiring specific expertise and considerable time, the evaluation of the legal, financial, and operational aspects of condominium projects helps lenders make well-informed financing decisions.

The Pitfalls of Manual Condo Reviews

beige facade building with baby blue window trims and balconies with plants-types of liens article

Conducting manual condo reviews, like any other manual work, comes with issues. For the condo reviews, shortcomings in the data gathering and evaluation process could wreck decision-making.

Let’s look at a few potential pitfalls of the manual condo review process.

The “Spaghetti Infrastructure” Dilemma

One of the significant challenges in manual condo reviews is the lack of a centralized database or platform for data storage and management. This can lead to a “spaghetti infrastructure” scenario, where data is scattered across various channels, making it difficult to track and analyze.

Picture a labyrinth of documents, financial statements, and legal records dispersed across various platforms. This fragmented scenario not only hampers productivity but also poses a genuine risk of critical information slipping through the cracks. 

This “bawl of spaghetti” urgently calls for a cohesive and consolidated data management solution. 

The “Single-User Dependency” Issue

Manual condo reviews often rely heavily on a single expert or a small team. This dependence on a select few can pose risks, particularly if the key personnel leave the organization or are unavailable during crucial periods.

Similar to walking a tightrope without a safety net, depending solely on a limited number of individuals puts lenders in a dicey position. 

The “single-user dependency” issue highlights the importance of a more resilient and collaborative approach that accounts for the continuity and reliability of the condo review process.

The Hidden Costs

While manual condo reviews may appear cost-effective initially, they often have hidden costs. These may stem from inconsistencies in the process, errors leading to rework, and extensive time and resources required to conduct the reviews.

These hidden costs pose the question of whether manual reviews are the better choice when lenders are looking to optimize productivity.  

Operational Inefficiency

Manual processes inherently lack efficiency, especially when compared to automated solutions. Time-consuming, labor-intensive, and prone to human errors, these manual operational issues can delay the review process and reduce its overall effectiveness.

Manual condo reviews might not be the most effective way to go about hitting KPIs when it comes to the number of evaluated investment opportunities. 

Difficulty in Scaling

Manual condo reviews do not scale well. As the volume of data increases with the growth of the business, manual processes become increasingly cumbersome. The inability to scale effectively can limit the organization’s growth and responsiveness to market changes.

Struggling to scale because of the excessive work your organization puts into manual condo reviews might be a sign that it’s time to look into more effective streamlining options. 

Inadequate Documentation

Manual condo reviews often suffer from inadequate or inconsistent documentation. Tracking and requesting all necessary documentation when the real estate industry lacks centralized databases is no easy task. 

Finding and verifying data turns the manual review process into an even more cumbersome task. 

When it’s hard to validate information, the eligibility of a condo project is also at risk. 

How to Review Condo Project Documents Effectively

condo buildings dark blue and orange, terraces, condo vs hoa fees

Given the pitfalls associated with manual condo reviews, it’s crucial to adopt strategies that enhance its effectiveness.

Adopting a Structured Approach

Having a structured approach to condo reviews can significantly improve the process. This involves defining clear procedures for data collection and analysis, establishing guidelines for document review, and setting standards for data reporting.

Ensuring Adequate Training

Proper training is essential for conducting effective condo reviews. This involves not only training on the technical aspects of the review process but also on the legal and financial aspects of condominium projects.

Fostering Collaboration

Condo reviews should not be an isolated process. Instead, they should involve collaboration between various stakeholders, including the review team, property managers, legal advisors, financial analysts, and other relevant parties.

Leveraging Technology

Technology can play a crucial role in enhancing the accuracy of condo reviews. Tech tools help automate various aspects of the review process, reducing the reliance on manual work and minimizing the risk of errors.

Is There a More Effective Way? How Technology Can Help You Streamline Condo Reviews 

incorrect property records

The short answer is “Yes, there is.” If your goal is to optimize and error-proof your condo review projects, then you should look into tech-enabled solutions. 

Technology can revolutionize the review process. And that’s a fact. By enhancing thoroughness, accuracy, and collaboration, technology delivers statistically more productive processes.

Rexera, for example, has built a comprehensive platform that offers a range of solutions to simplify the condo review process. Consolidating AI technology and a team of real estate professionals help us optimize the review process and offer faster turnaround times and more reliable solutions. 

Here’s how the process works. 

  1. Your manual efforts and errors are reduced. A combination of automation tools and real estate professionals’ input helps us gather and organize a comprehensive database of condo documentation
  2. You don’t have to sift through hundreds of pages of documents to make accurate assessments. AND you don’t need to deal with scanned PDF documents. Our platform’s capabilities help us create extensive reports where we analyze all condo documents, provide summaries, and highlight potential eligibility issues. 
  3. You have full control. Our customer service team has the quickest response time so that your deadlines are prioritized and you get updates at every stage of the condo review process
  4. Your condo review workflows are standardized. Rexera’s AI algorithms, supported by real estate professionals, create standardized and consistent workflows and summaries of approval/denial. We ensure that you receive clear and uniform information to help you expedite the decision-making process.
  5. Your condo reviews are always on time. With the combination of automated workflows and real estate experts’ input, we’re able to reduce the clear-to-close timeline by 40%. 


orange and black building purtruding balconies- types of liens

The future of a condo project significantly hinges on the outcome of condo reviews, as these evaluations determine the project’s eligibility for financing and affect its appeal to both buyers and investors. Successful reviews can lead to increased marketability, higher investor confidence, and better financing options.

But if you’ve been tasked with reviewing condo projects, you have no doubt experienced some of the manual process downsides. Taking considerable time, prone to mistakes, lacking essential documentation, and being hard to organize, these reviews are not an easy undertaking. 

To adapt to the challenges of manual reviews, lenders have to employ a structured, collaborative approach and ensure adequate training. These are resources that require considerable investment. 

Or take advantage of tech-driven solutions. Tools that make things faster and more accurate while reducing errors. 

If option two sounds like something you would look into, we can help. Here you can find more about Rexera’s condo project review. 

In the meantime, stay tuned to everything condo reviews, HOA management, and HOA document acquisition by signing up for our blog. 

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