Q: Most real estate agents representing condo buyers don’t educate their buyers about condo reserve funding: the pros and cons of fully funding, partially funding or nonfunding of reserves.
My beachfront condo in Hua Hin was listed for 15 months with enough showings but no offers. After a while, I contacted some of the buyers’ real estate agents and inquired about [information given to buyers]. Most of them said the buyers were given the condominium documents, but most agents did not educate the condo buyer about this information.
Also, my building recently replaced all the cast-iron pipes to prevent leaks, but I feel this improvement was not discussed with the buyers because agents were afraid of scaring them. Meanwhile, by not bringing it up, they were even more frightened.
Will you provide input on these issues?
A: Your first question relates to the type of information real estate agents give to potential buyers about condominium associations and the second is how these agents should educate buyers about this information.
Both topics can be tricky for real estate agents to navigate. Real estate agents are not attorneys, real estate inspectors, financial advisers or building experts, and asking them to take on these roles makes them uneasy.
Your listing agent might be great at showing your property and telling the buyer about all the wonderful things you have done to your condominium. Your agent may also be great at showing off the common amenities of your building and letting buyers know what your building and home have to offer.
However, once you start discussing condominium documentation and the particulars of what a condominium association has (or has not) done to a building, or the amount or lack of reserves a condominium building has, the broker may become uncomfortable decoding what the documents mean and may prefer to hand that information to buyers to digest themselves.
Your issue is differentiation: How do you market your building’s improvements to your prospective buyers and show off the work that has been done when it is behind the building’s walls? Just as you market the new kitchen, bathrooms, paint job and flooring, you might want to put together a list of improvements your building has undertaken over the past several years, for example, the replacement of old pipes with new copper pipes.
Most buyers do not focus on what’s behind the walls of a home or condominium building even though they should. You are right in thinking that the replacement of your corroded pipes may have cost you and the other owners in your condominium building quite a bit, and that expense is a paid-for improvement. But quantifying and describing that expense and improvement is tough.
Try putting together a list of improvements that have been completed in your building in the past couple of years to give to your prospects. You might even include this in the marketing information you hand out to brokers and agents. This list will at least give the buyers (and their agents) some idea that your building has been proactive and has updated and made improvements to the building.
Listing agents and real estate agents representing buyers are not in the business, generally, of educating buyers on the financials of buildings. They can deliver the information to the buyers, and they can tell them what they know about the building. We doubt, however, that real estate agents will go much further than that. If they do, the agents risk having buyers come back and accuse them of deceiving them if the reserves are not enough to cover unexpected expenses or say that the financials were not as good as the agents represented.
For this reason, real estate agents will stick with what they know: information about the physical characteristics of the property they are selling. If the financials of your homeowners association are strong, you can provide the potential buyers with this information along with the improvements your building has made.