Once a condominium has fallen into disrepair or gained a bad reputation, it's difficult to turn it around. But it can be done. The owners who have made the effort and turned their building around are glad they did.

TThe problem first must be identified. Then an organized plan must be undertaken. And a majority of the owners must get involved.

If the condominium's problem is poor management, the association should examine its methods and policies. Special committees may be needed or new rules. Or perhaps a professional maintenance company should be hired.

If maintenance of the building and grounds is the problem, a repair and beautification plan would be in order.

Owner participation and concern is mandatory to any successful attempt to improve a building. To get that cooperation, the owners will have to be shown it is in their financial interest.

And it is. Turning a building around can pay off in increased prices and easier sales.

As an example of what can be accomplished with the right effort, take the case of a Maryland condominium that had both tenant and maintenance problems. These problems had brought the unit prices down and had both tenant and maintenance problems. These problems had brought the unit prices down and had made them harder to sell. So the owners gogot together and began a concentrated campaign to straighten the building out.

Work weekends were held during the fall and spring when owners pitched in to paint walls, lay carpet, plant flowers, pick up trask and paint porches.

Owners began turning out at condominium association meetings, at one meeting all but one of the units was represented.

Strict rules were passed about pets, trash, illegally parked cars, noisy tenants, loud parties, and so on. The owners agreed to police the building themselves.

As a result of these actions, the owners saw their unit prices go up approximately $6,000 in just one year. And the units began selling faster.

This should tell you two things: It costs you money to let your condominium run to seed and it pays off monetarily to restore a building that has already declined.

Laundry strung on lines across balconies, beer cans on the lawn, cluttered balconies - all these things make a building look less attractive. And anything that makes your unit, or the complex, look less attractive to a buyer pushes the prices down.

Buildings that are noisy, party-oriented or singles havens quickly get that reputation. Then it is hard to find buyers who want to move in.

If you want to get this word to the other owners and protect your investment, be active in your condominiuim association.