Apparently it's Condo Tuesday on Seattle Bubble... A few days ago, Susan Ryan posted an interesting warning over at Seattle Real Estate Professionals about a number of sleazy tactics being used to push condos:
I have two clients looking for new condos, studios or one bedrooms in downtown Seattle, and there is something I've come across so frequently when showing these, it's clearly not just a couple of isolated incidents.Also worth pointing out is Susan's comment below the article, explaining her motivation for making the post:
The listing agent for the project will post only one or two units, out of perhaps dozens, on the multiple listing service, each with reasonable prices—usually under $200k. If you've been following the market, you know that's pretty cheap these days.
So I take a client to the project to look at those listed units, only to be told, inevitably, that they are all "sold." The onsite agent, who is described in their marketing materials as a "buyers agent," (but has been hired by the seller to sit there, so who do you think she really represents?) says she can offer my client this "nicer unit, better spot in the complex" – for considerably more money. Once even in the three hundred thousands — as is, they advertised prices "starting in the $100s, but the only thing they have for sale is upwards of $325,000. I'll then point to their map of "sold" units and ask how much each one sold for, and it turns out that they literally only priced one unit under $250,000. If my client makes a less-than-full-price offer, the builder/seller won't even bother to respond.
The listing on the MLS never goes "STI" or "Pending" (so it is still listed as "Active"), but it's always "sold" when you want to see it. This is a blatant violation of MLS rules and clearly meant to suck buyers in with a low listing price that isn't actually available to purchase. Can you say "Bait and Switch?"
I hope to prevent more buyers from being taken in by posting here and think that is more likely to be effective than by anything else I can do. I quite agree that these salespeople should be drummed out of the biz, and I applaud my blogmates for their posts calling for more stringent education and other requirements to be a real estate agent. I also would like to point out that I have no confidence that the builders have done good work on the construction, so recommend against buying these condos at any price. Given the marketing method they use, I can easily imagine that corners were cut in the building process. There are other projects in town that are selling like mad, without the need to trick, trap, or pressure buyers. And, to beat the drum once more, your best protection is to have a Realtor you trust at your side.I have to wonder... if the market for condos is as hot as Ms. Rhodes would have us believe, why would anyone feel that they need to resort to these type of tactics? And what's going to happen to that "handsome" appreciation if some non-negligable percentage of condos in town start suffering the ill effects of poor construction? Furthermore, since many condo projects only list one unit in the MLS, wouldn't that mean that the MLS statistic of "total active listings" for condos is significantly lower than the real number of condos available?
If anything, it would seem to me that the future of Seattle's condo market is even more murky than the market for residential homes.
(Susan Ryan, Seattle Real Estate Professionals, 07.28.2006)