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Old 06-03-2009, 01:34 PM
 
Location: Ohio/Sarasota
913 posts, read 2,163,596 times
Reputation: 445

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It's been a roller coaster ride the past 18 months. Some good, mostly bad. We finally closed on our condo last Friday. Of course we actually have not received the keys yet....


If I have time to collect my thoughts I will write down the whole sordid tale.
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Old 06-04-2009, 01:40 AM
 
Location: Alaska
384 posts, read 913,406 times
Reputation: 191
Do tell... please.
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Old 06-04-2009, 05:55 PM
 
51 posts, read 207,068 times
Reputation: 40
Congratulations -- and do tell!
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Old 06-04-2009, 09:56 PM
 
Location: Sarasota
190 posts, read 713,418 times
Reputation: 145
Oh how we love to hear people's sordid tales of misery and woe, lol. Collect your thoughts now and lets hear it all....... Happy for you that you have a new home, and hope it's all sunshine and good times to come.
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Old 06-05-2009, 06:59 AM
 
Location: Ohio/Sarasota
913 posts, read 2,163,596 times
Reputation: 445
So here is our LONG story. Maybe someone will learn something from our experiences and mistakes.

My wife and I are teachers in Ohio and spend a lot of time in Florida. In fact since our daughter was born 8 years ago, we have spent an average of 3 months a year in Florida. We looked at our first condo in Venice, off of Base Ave in December of 2007. Our first realtor was a family friend. We liked the condo but it was very small and the buildings are very tight. It didn’t really jump out at us. We spent the next 5 months researching real estate in Pinellas and Sarasota County. We have family in both counties. Our first offer was in Largo in Bella Vista, a converted apartment complex, with our Pinellas County realtor. Lots of nice amenities and the complex was on the inter coastal water. After our offer was accepted, we began to contact inspectors. The third inspector I contacted, had very intimate knowledge of the complex. Even the particular unit we had a contract on. He had already completed an inspection a few weeks earlier. The buyer had backed out due to an extensive mold problem. It seems the upstairs unit was leaking and the owner refused to repair. The mold was very extensive, but undetectable to casual inspection. The inspector estimated the cost of repair at several thousand dollars and would occur again until the repair was completed. We backed out of the contract. Strike One. We looked at several units around Pinellas County, but none really interested us. We found another unit in Bella Vista that overlooked the water. We put in an offer and it was accepted. We had an inspection and there was no thermostat. We had a thermostat installed to test the HVAC system. Everything worked fine and we began the loan process. After a two months, and several extensions, we were notified the condo would not pass the “condo questionnaire”. It seems the HOA was in a financial mess. Strike Two. We switched our search to Sarasota. We made an offer on a unit in Admiral’s Walk, another conversion. It was not accepted. We looked at a unit in Vintage Grand, another conversion, and really liked the complex. We were too late, an offer had been accepted. In the meantime our Sarasota realtor moved to Orlando and we needed to find another realtor. Enter realtor number three. She was very knowledgeable. I found another foreclosure in Vintage Grand we liked and wanted to make an offer. Our new realtor went to take pictures and the unit had an extensive mold smell. She seemed to have very high standards, which was great. A couple of months later we found another unit in Vintage Grand. In doing more research I found the developer still owned over half the units. Essentially the developer could pass any changes to the by laws or increase the fee at will. We moved on. We found another foreclosed unit at Admiral’s Walk. Made an offer and received a contract. And then found out the HOA had a pending lawsuit. No loan. Strike Three. Our realtor really encouraged us to look at Serenade in Palmer Ranch. Early last December we made an offer for a unit and were out bid. We visited the area over Christmas and found a unit we liked in Las Palmas. A little further north than we really wanted, but we liked the complex. We made an offer and the listing agent never responded. A week later he contacted our agent and said the unit was pending. Our agent then wanted us to look at Mission Lakes in Venice. Nice, older complex with lake views. We really liked the unit, but found out in talking with some residents they do not accept pets. Now we looked at Serenade again. There was a very nice short sale with a great western view. Our agent kinda discouraged getting involved in a short sale, but we had no other options. We decided to put in a bid on the short sale, and maybe keep looking. They accepted our bid, but said we were a back up offer. Another offer had been submitted. We were told it would take 45 days until we heard something. After three weeks we were notified we were now the only offer. And we waited. And waited. 45 days passed... 60 days...75 days...90 days. We had enough. Strike Four. We saw a nice, but smaller, unit in Bella Villino, another conversion. It was listed by the same realtor who ignored our offer to the Las Palmas unit. We submitted an offer. We were told there were multiple offers, and we were to submit our best offer. We did and never heard back from the agent. That was kind of OK with me, as I was not excited about this unit as my wife was. Strike Five. We then decided to make a short trip to the area over Easter. We needed to find a place and quick. We looked at older units. My feeling was the older complexes would be more financially stable. We looked at the Cloisters, Woodside and a unit in Nokomis. We also looked in Venice at Bird Bay and a couple of units off Capris Isle. Nothing really jumped out at us. Then I found a listing of a unit in Crooked Creek, in Sarasota. My realtor had never heard of the complex, but I wanted to take a look. As soon as we drove into the complex we knew it was for us. Located right next to a preserve, it was very private. The unit overlooked the water, but needed updating. We made on offer and it was accepted. No counter offer. Then we began the loan process. We took the advice of our realtor and used a local mortgage broker she had worked with before. Everything started off good, but after a few days the communication between us and the broker stopped. The broker had given us a Good Faith Estimate of 4.875%, but could only work a loan for 25% down. It’s funny, when we started this quest the down payment was 5%. We have been chasing this down payment for over a year. We had made the offer with a down payment of 20%.In order to go with this broker, they had to add an addendum to the contract. This would increase the purchase price to take care of the all the closing costs, about 6% of the loan. It would be a stretch but we could do 25% down if the closing costs were rolled into the loan. I also found a ding on my credit report, when we did the credit pull. It was a mistake and it was cleared up within a week. The broker also thought it to be a good idea to use about $2,000 from the loan to “buy down” the rate. When I asked, I was finally told we could “buy down” about 5/8 of a point. Great, that would mean a rate of around 4.25%. I kept asking the broker when we could decide either to lock or float the rate. I kept asking if they were going to do another credit pull, since my FICO had increase almost 60 points since I had the mistake removed. All I was told was to have patience. My questions went largely unanswered. I mentioned this to my real estate agent and she sort of took the brokers side. I asked about getting extension, so we could find another lender. I was told the seller would not agree to an extension. Unfortunately, we lost our advocate (the realtor) in dealing with the loan process. I’ll be the first to say, I ask alot of questions. I’m an information junkie. There is no such thing as useless information. The first place the broker checked for the loan rejected us because they did not re-pull our credit. They judged us on the lowered FICO score. The broker did not complete the paperwork in time and we received a two week extension. Surprise! The seller agreed to an extension now. FInally, I gave up and let my wife take over the communication with the broker. It was obvious that my need for info was irritating the broker. Things got a little better. I would write an email and my wife would rewrite it and send to the broker. The broker would reply and we would get our answers. We finally convinced the broker to re-pull our credit. I think she was very surprised the FICO had increased 60 points. The broker resubmitted the loan papers and we found a lender. The broker sent me an email on Friday May 22nd stating we had found a lender and our rate would be 4.875%. When my wife asked about the “buy down”, we were told it was included. The broker also said the rate was locked in three weeks prior when the rate had jumped to 5.25%. So the broker locked in the rate without asking us and then we only received a 3/8 point “buy down” for 2 1/2 points of the loan. I was pretty upset. I hate being taken advantage of and I felt the broker was doing this. At this point in the process, I did not know what our options were. It was clear I could not consult my realtor. I felt comfortable we could get another extension if I talked directly with the seller. I did some calculations and the extra $2000 on the loan amount as the “buy down” was only saving us $9 a month. Not really worth it, in my mind. My wife and I discussed our options and decided to proceed with our loan officer. The rate was higher than what I expected, but still within our limits. We essentially paid for a “buy down” we didn’t get. After a last minute flurry of paperwork where (surprise) the broker was late in forwarding the paperwork to the title company, we closed on May 29th. I’m glad it’s done, but I’m not sure I would do it again.

Things we learned: Do research on the HOA’s before making an offer. Are they 55+? Do they take pets? (Important to us) Check the property tax information to see how many units in the complex are owned by one individual or company. Ask the manager what the investor and delinquent rates are. If the manager will not give the information, you may want to move on. They may be hiding something. Stay away from short sales. Talk with residents of the complex. They usually are very honest and forthcoming. Think twice about using your realtors recommendations for a loan officer. It may work for you, but when our loan officer didn’t answer our questions we needed someone to discuss options with. At that point in the process, we were unsure of her ability to give us independent advice. Then again, maybe she was just ready to be done with us! It is quite possible we may have had these issues with any loan officer. I would use the realtor again, but probably not the loan officer. I have not included any names, as it is not my intent to point any fingers. Maybe some one will read this and their journey will be a little smoother.
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Old 06-05-2009, 07:15 AM
 
Location: Ohio
1,217 posts, read 2,520,185 times
Reputation: 2234
Default all condo buyers should read the story above

Thanks for posting your story. It should help those who are less diligent than you. You certainly have tenacity and it paid off. Like you we ask a lot of questions and the people on the other side don't like it (even though it seems like they are working for you--they aren't--they're working for themselves). Better to know in advance what you're buying than finding out too late--after the purchase. I think some realtors deliberately don't want information because then they have to tell you, it's the law. If they "don't know" then they can't be responsible. Getting a good realtor AND a good mortgage broker is like finding a needle in a haystack. Congratulations on doing your own homework. Everyone buying a condo should read your tale. Best wishes on your new home.
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Old 06-05-2009, 12:43 PM
 
Location: Northern NJ
453 posts, read 1,602,786 times
Reputation: 230
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagardener View Post
Everyone buying a condo should read your tale. Best wishes on your new home.
Not only that, but they should read the entire set of condominium documents, which few do. They should then read a book on Florida condominium law, which very few would think to do. At least they would have some some understanding of what a condominium actually is, and what they are actually getting themselves into. Talking to as many current residents as possible is also essential.

Good luck with your new purchase, and thanks for taking the time to post this. It reinforces all of the reasons my wife and I stopped actively looking for a distant condominium rental property and decided to find something much closer to home. You are fortunate that you had the time and ability to look at so many units.

Up here (NJ), the happiest condominium owners seem to be in larger, stable complexes with good, rotating boards and professional management companies. Assessment expenses can be spread widely. The unhappiest are in small, self-managed associations. As a commercial insurance agent writing many of them, I could write a horrific book about what goes wrong as these complexes (and their owners) age.

Rhys
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Old 06-05-2009, 01:09 PM
 
Location: Ohio/Sarasota
913 posts, read 2,163,596 times
Reputation: 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by RhysNJ View Post
Not only that, but they should read the entire set of condominium documents, which few do.

Rhys
The problem is getting those docs. A few places posted them online, such as Admiral's Walk. Most will charge you for a copy. They tend to treat this as a revenue generator. We did not actually look at the docs for the condo we bought until we received the contract. In place of this, we talked with many residents, including board members, prior to making an offer.
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Old 06-05-2009, 04:22 PM
 
51 posts, read 207,068 times
Reputation: 40
-

Last edited by dntw8up; 06-05-2009 at 04:31 PM..
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Old 06-05-2009, 04:30 PM
 
51 posts, read 207,068 times
Reputation: 40
Was the agent you used for the purchase a seller's agent or a buyer's agent? In my experience, unless it is spelled out otherwise, all agents have a fiduciary responsibility to the seller, not the buyer, and may reveal financial and other sensitive information they learn about you to the seller i.e. they've had repeated disappointments with prior contracts, your place is the only one they like of the zillions they've seen, this is the only house they're considering, they want your place very badly, they can afford to make the repairs found by the inspector, they can afford the higher interest rate, etc. I glad to hear you're reasonably pleased with the outcome, but buying real estate is definitely a matter of Caveat Emptor.

Last edited by dntw8up; 06-05-2009 at 04:33 PM.. Reason: Duplicate post
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