It Shouldn't be this Hard to Buy a Cheap Condo These Days

Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977

It really shouldn't be this hard to buy a cheap condo in this market.

Granted there are lots of short sales and REOs, especially when you are looking under $100K in North San Diego County (yes, you CAN buy a condo in this price range in America's Finest City these days). Can you believe even a 2-bedroom one? 

Well, you can, but it ain't easy.

Here are the most recent examples just today. 

Short sale home for saleScenario 1- vacant condo on lockbox per the MLS. Got to the unit. No lockbox but keys lying in the entry. Nope, they did not work. Per the agent later - "Oh, yeah, I had to take the lockbox to SANDICOR because of a problem. I guess I'd better change the MLS". They have a full price cash offer and 2 back-ups. Guess she doesn't need to worry. Short sale


Short sale home for saleScenario 2 (less than 10 minutes later) - got by the rather nasty looking dog on the first floor. Opened the lock box, then the door. Fortunately, as I have learned, I said Hello loudly since this unit was NOT vacant, even though it says so specifically in the MLS. A sleepy-eye woman appeared, looking a bit bewildered. Turns out she is the tenant and has not been told by her landlord, who is continuing to collect rent, that the unit is for sale and is a short sale. She very nicely let us in. Called the agent but no call back yet. He'll "respond to emails within 24 hours." Short sale


Short sale home for saleScenario 3 (a short time later) - got to the first floor unit, which is "mostly vacant" since the seller is not living there but is still moving out per the MLS. And the unit is mostly not accessible, for no lockbox was to be found. Interior looked nice from what we could see. Per the agent later on "Yeah, I have a weird situation there. So I took the lock box off." I politely suggested she change the showing instructions. Short sale.

These are not unusual situations in the short sale real estate market, and no doubt many readers have encountered similar, or worse. It still rankles. And with the limited inventory at the lower price points in many areas, and lots of competition, buyers are understandably frustrated. I hate to think that you have to call and verify EVERYTHING in the MLS ebfore even taking an interested and qualified buyer to see the property.

Coupled with the difficulties involved in getting short sale approvals, banks making decisions on REOs, and obtaining loans, it's not easy buying a condo these days. Even a cheap one. 

Did I mention FHA issues?


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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Jeff, situations like that make it hard not to mutter an expletive - even if the client is there.  Glad Fang was friendly!

Jan 03, 2010 10:47 AM #1
Diane Osowiecki
Diane O and Friends - Benchmark Realty - Franklin, TN
Greater Nashville Real Estate

It never ceases to amaze me how unprofessional some Realtors are.  It is not rocket science to update the MLS and have the correct information in.  There is nothing more embarrassing then coming into a "vacant" house after ringing the doorbell to find someone in the bathroom.  When I called the agent he said, "sorry the guy wasn't rude was he?

Jan 03, 2010 10:57 AM #2
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jeffjust wait.  Once you do find a Condo that your Buyer makes an offer on, have fun getting a loan on one given the new FHA and Fannie Mae Guidelines for Condo's :)

Jan 03, 2010 11:19 AM #3
Elizabeth Bolton
RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA - Cambridge, MA
Cambridge MA Realtor

Hi Jeff  ~ Especially a cheap one it seems. I hate tours like that.  Ugh.  It's the dark side of real estate today.


Jan 03, 2010 12:34 PM #4
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Jeff, Please come to Baltimore. I will personally take you to all my condos.

They are all easy to access. Just one phone call to me.

Jan 03, 2010 02:26 PM #5
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

I wonder of these agents will be around when the market changes back to a more traditional one where they have to actually service the seller.

Jan 03, 2010 09:06 PM #6
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

I am not sure why but it seems that a lot of agents that handle short sale listings just do not pay attention to things. It is almost like their client gets swept under a rug with marginal service.

Jan 03, 2010 11:21 PM #7
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

It's super frustrating when people do not use the MLS correctly. The other problem that we are encountering at the lower end is with the FHA condo buyers. So many of the condo complexes are not qualifying for FHA these days. Have you found that as well?

Jan 05, 2010 01:10 PM #8
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Jeff Dowler, CRS

The Southern California Relocation Dude
What's my Carlsbad CA Area Home Worth??
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