By Scott Shoji, May 27, 2020
By Scott Shoji, May 27, 2020
Not all transactions are smooth. It helps when you have an agent that is working towards the same goal on the other side of you, but sometimes a property, or in this case, a condo, can be a venture into information digging and fact finding.
My client Andy was familiar with condos, as I had helped him sell his Atwater Place condo in the South Waterfront many years back. He had been renting on the westside and recently reached back out to me to help him find a new place. His criteria was a ground level condo or single family home with no stairs, with close proximity to a Max Stop on the Westside of the Greater Portland Metro Area. This limited to a few things, especially at the price point he wanted to stay within. We looked at a number of properties, but he kept coming back to a few ground level condos in the Orenco Station area. We were focusing on a very specific property, that had built out to the specifications for wheelchair access, which he did not need, when the COVID-19 crisis arrived. He decided to stay home and wait for things to settle down, which took a few months. By that time, the property he had in mind had since gone under contract and closed, so we moved on to a few others in the same complex. The one he found himself drawn to hit all his criteria. 2 Bedroom+, under $400k, ground level, no stairs, walking distance to the Max. This one looked like it was in fairly good condition, so we offered. Andy was a cash buyer, so we were able to negotiate to an agreeable price, with some favorable closing terms for the Seller, and we found ourselves in contract.
Andy was my first Buyer client since the scare of COVID-19 became our new normal. Thankfully the inspectors I recommended, and contractors who came out, all adhered to safe practices in wearing masks, gloves, keeping appropriate distancing and being overly communicative on information that was discovered. We discovered this owner had only owned it for a few months, had never lived in it, and was an investor who took over the property as it was entering pre-foreclosure proceedings. As such, the Property Disclosures were minimal, and the knowledge of the property and HOA was extremely limited. It fell to us to do some digging and find out what we could. This property had 2 HOA’s, one for the condos themselves, and another Master Association that dealt with some of the amenities. Each HOA also had their own set up Condo Docs, as we discovered on the last day of what we assume was our review period. We were also under the impression each had their HOA dues and what was represented to us is what we took as fact. When the Settlement Statement arrived, it did not match up with what was on RMLS (The property disclosure portion for HOA dues was left blank), and even the Listing Agent was confused by the extra amount. After all of us did some fact digging, we discovered there was indeed an extra $80/month HOA increase for the Master Association, which was roughly an extra $1,000 a year. There was also a special assessment for plumbing work, that was added on as an extra line item for monthly HOA dues, which was about 1/2 through it’s 15 year term for repayment. Add this to the fact that we had some issues with the Sewer Line, that we wanted to make sure that the HOA assumed responsibility for fixing, and it added up to a lot of things that some Buyer’s would walk away from.
I wanted to make sure Andy understood what he was getting into. I asked him if he wanted to negotiate the Special Assessment to be paid off, I said he was within his right to walk away from this. But he seemed to really wanted this property. We got some paperwork completed from all parties to clarify the actual HOA amount, and Andy performed what he needed to and closed on the property.
One of the joys of my job is meeting my clients and handing them keys. With Covid-19, agents have had to become safer (and creative about doing so), but I still wanted to do it in person. So when all was official and we got notice, we set a time to meet. My inquiry to the listing agent about all remaining access items was met with, “I’ll check with the Seller”. When we got there, I popped the key from the lockbox, went inside, wiped the key with a Clorox wipe and placed it on the counter. Andy met me shortly after and we began to look for any other access items. Nothing. The response I got from the listing agent was that her transaction coordinator would look into it.
We were told that the current owner had nothing else. No Mailbox Key. No garage door opener. No keys for the other doors that lead to the deck area and no key for the storage room. No key or FOB for the HOA’s common spaces. Nothing. We had 1 key for the front door and that was that. There is nothing more deflating than the look of a new owner that realizes they have now have to try and get this all taken care of, so that they can even enjoy their personal space. My inquiries to the listing agent’s team was, we tried, we don’t have anything, sorry. Good luck. Professionalism comes in all forms and I am not here to disparage another agent, but it left a sour taste in my mouth, as well as my client’s and I was determined not to leave it like that.
I started bombarding the Property Manager for the HOA with questions. I got a locksmith scheduled for coming out to change out locks. We contacted the Post Office for procedures on rekeying the mailbox. I swung by Home Depot for new Garage Door Openers as a part of Andy’s unplanned closing gift. It took 2 days, but when all was said and done, the entire home was rekeyed thanks to Lee at Portland Locksmith & Garage Doors who came out and had everything completed within an hour, with a smile behind his mask and a friendly and gracious attitude. Andy made a trip to the Post Office to get that situated and within a day he had his keys. The Fob for the Common Areas, which were currently closed due to Covid-19 since they were public spaces, were going to be delivered once those opened again again. And those garage doors? Programmed by yours truly as evidenced by the picture. Keys were now in hand and Andy could finally relax and get settled into his home. I have always prided myself on being service oriented, both in work and in life. I will continue to do so, even after those keys are safely in the hands of my clients.