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Buying a Condo: We Do It

Okay so Chez Us are going condo. It's all very exciting. We've gotten the mortgage pre-approval and now we're onto the finding a new joint part of the dealio. Anyone who has done this before PLEASE ADVISE. Do we actually need a buyer's agent or is that for people who don't know how to Just-Fucking-Google-It like us smartasses? All other pieces of advise are also much appreciated as well.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 16th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
I cannot even TELL you how great and helpful it's been to have a buyers agent. Can I pimp ours to you??? He's been able to do all sorts of legwork and get all sorts of information that we would not have been able to procur on our own.
Apr. 16th, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
If we wind up using one, we actually have a friend of a friend that we will probably be using, but we're unclear on exactly what their function is. What did they give you that you couldn't find out yourself?
Apr. 16th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
He's been able to make calls to other agents (listing agents, usually) who would not always take our calls - finding out information about the properties. He's also been able to deal with a lot of other entities - listing agents, bank agents, lawyers, on our behalf. Besides all this, he's also just a big fount of wisdom and knowledge - despite all the homebuying seminars and research we've done, we're still n00bs.

It makes it so that homebuying is sort of a one-stop-shop - where all information etc. goes and comes through the buyers agent, rather than juggling multiple sources.
Apr. 16th, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC)
If you don't mind me asking, how did you pay for his services, was it a percent of the buying price of the property?
Apr. 16th, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC)
It's a percent of the property. Ours is a tricky situation with multiple people getting a cut, so I think he winds up with about 2-3% in total?

I don't know if the seller pays it always, - but there are a bunch of people that get cuts out of the house price and closing costs, and the buyers agent is one of them. I have not heard of one that wanted separate payment or payment up front.
Apr. 16th, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
The internet says that the buyer's commission is paid by the seller of the property, almost universally... does that jive with your experience?
Apr. 16th, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
p.s. I also have the Ilya Glink book recommended below...it's a good one. Very helpful.
Apr. 16th, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)
sometimes they can also find out about listings that are ultra new to the market through word of mouth. when stuff hits the MLS, they may have already been listed a little while exclusively with specific companies.

they're there to be your representatives. they have the experience to ask all sorts of questions and make sure your interests are covered. their commission, if i understand correctly, comes out of the sale commission, not from you specifically.

when i was looking (back before the real estate madness and while i still had a job!) i picked up a book called "100 questions every first time home buyer should ask" 2nd ed. by ilyce r. glink. it was published in 2000, and had lots of info for what to look for and a good section on why to get an agent/broker. i have no idea if it's been updated.

the market went nutz so there was no way for me to buy at that time, and now that it's a buyer's market i've not the fundage! dammit. :p

good luck!!!

Edited at 2008-04-16 02:45 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 16th, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC)
looking all over cambridge/somerville/boston at this point. we'll see. :)
Apr. 16th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
condo process
this looks like a great time to buy.
before we bought our place, we took a condo buying class through the cambridge center for adult education. the class helped a lot with understanding what we could afford and what to look for. we also signed up with an MLS newsletter thing that send us listings everyday that fit critieria we had given. we chose the price range, the number of bedrooms, and the towns.
we didn't have a buyer's agent, and in retrospect i think we should have. we didn't want to have someone try to talk us into a more expensive place, but what ended up happening was the seller's agent worked as a joint agent. it seems there is buyer paperwork that has to be drawn up by a real estate agent. there's an internet real estate company that gives you back a percentage of their fee. if i were doing it over again, i would have brought that company in when we were ready to make an offer.
we had a great lawyer, who wasn't very expensive. if you want to go out for coffee and compare notes, I've available.
Apr. 16th, 2008 04:42 pm (UTC)
Re: condo process
Okay that's very informative and exactly what I needed to know. Thanks for hitting me back with your experience! I may ask you a few questions in coming weeks. :)
Apr. 16th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
I recommend Zip Reality... i have bought once on my own and once through Zip Reality (they are buyer's agents) and Zip Reality is the way to go... if only because they give you 20% of their commission in form of a check mailed 2 - 3 weeks after the sale, which is a nice chunk of change that can easily cover condo fees for a month or two, or some moving expense...

Be careful with condos in this day of foreclosures... make sure you are not liable for condo fees for units that may go under... find out about all assessments and future assessments (like new roofs cost me an additional $1000 a year for 7 years at my first place). And all that crap.

Good Luck and happy searching!
Apr. 16th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
Rule #1, do NOT get into a condo association where one person owns a 50% share. We made this mistake where the guy who did the conversion retained 50% of the units as rental properties and he has been a nightmare to deal with. He's absentee and we can't get anything done without his approval.

You'll want to make sure the association is fully established as well, not so easy with newly converted buildings. As long as all the condos are completed, I'm sure the developer will be anxious to sell the rest off and get out of your life. Very important to have the developer out of the association, can't stress that enough.

We never had a buyer's agent and couldn't get one. We found the property on our own via open house and the seller's agent assumed both roles. We tried to get a buyer's agent after finding the property but were not allowed to. So we just hired a lawyer who was great to have at closing. There were certain items that still weren't finished at closing and having the lawyer there to draw up an agreement and hold money in escrow was a lifesaver. Plus the lawyer was great to have to review the condo documents, you'll probably want one regardless.

Oh, and stay the hell away from Quicken Loans, formerly Sallie Mae. I think I ranted recently about them and their shady psuedo-legal business practices.
Apr. 16th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
We're (hopefully) a year away from this process. Please ramble extensively in your journal.
Apr. 18th, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)
We bought a condo a couple of years ago. Definately need an agent. Especially since you don't pay for them and they help you get the best price. It is a pretty unethical agent who does both sides of a deal and gets paid for both.

I recommend a free first time buyers program. I went through one and the government threw in $5000 no strings towards my down payment for the effort.

Feel free to call if you want info on it. I think I still have the docs they handed out to us too.
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