Whether buying or selling, here are some basic questions we recommend you run by prospective agents:
1. Do you have a Product Specialty?
Typically you will discover most agents will do just about anything that comes along… While there is nothing wrong with this, the end result is they simply can’t have in-depth knowledge on everything. If you’re buying or selling a condominium, don’t pick an agent who rarely sells condos.
2. Do you have a geographic area that you focus on?
Here you will almost certainly get a YES answer, but the key is to probe a bit deeper. You will find many that focus on “The East Bay” which means anything between Berkeley and Brentwood, Pleasant Hill to Pleasanton. Finding a neighborhood expert is especially important. An agent who specializes in a neighborhood may also be in touch with buyers who are looking for a home just like yours or sellers who haven’t put their home on the market yet. It’s really a very local business and you’re really best off to find someone who works in Walnut Creek exclusively.
3. What is the typical price of the properties you represent?
What if the agent doesn’t usually work with buyers in your price range. Some agents work with homes of all types in a specific area. But if you’re looking for a $400,000 home, you are unlikely to get much attention from an agent who mostly handles $2 million listings. The truth is most condos sell for less money than single family homes. They are also more complex, so more work. So asking them to represent you in a condo is asking them to work harder and make less money. They will do it, but you will not be the focus of their attention.
4. How many Condos or Townhouses have you sold in your career?
The majority of condos and townhouses are represented by people who do a condo transaction only once every THREE years. (We’ve got the data… )
You are better served by a Certified Condo Specialist who’s knowledge and experience you can trust. There are a lot more “moving parts” to a condo transaction. Financing is different. HOA’s add a level complexity.
Just some of the unique issues with a condo purchase:
- Why do some condo projects not qualify for FHA financing?
- Why should I read the meeting minutes?
- What are condo financial statements?
- What is a reserve study?
- What is Condo Master Insurance?
- What does the condo management company do?
- What exactly is included in the condo dues?