Home Selling in Portland>Question Details

Janet, Home Seller in Portland, OR

I am looking to sell my condo in San Francisco. Why am I asking realtors in Portland for advice?

Asked by Janet, Portland, OR Wed May 30, 2012

I want good information from a 3rd party source that will give me solid advice on how to select the best agent to sell my condo. (not just someone that wants my condo listing) What should I look for? What questions should I ask?

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Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner ~ Exclusive Buyers Agent ~ ABR, CEBA’s answer
Janet -- if there's any consideration with you moving up to the great Pacific NW area -- particularly the Portland Metro area -- don't hesitate to contact me.

I heard the San Francisco market is doing well, so you shouldn't have a problem at all. Make sure that you review and see ALL the marketing your listing agent does in your behalf. Have them show you prior listings -- look for the manner in which the photos are displayed, take, how well the property presents online. Do ask questions but also be proactive in the marketing. What is the listing agent offering in their co-op fee split to cooperating brokers?

Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner
EBA Portland, LLC
Exclusive Buyer Agency Since 1999
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 5, 2012
I am guessing that because you are here asking, you have not gotten a good referral from friends or family? Selling a condo is a specialized task and in making a selection of choosing a real estate agent, I would go with someone who specializes with selling condos. While there may be many very good real estate agents who may be trying to get your listing...here are some facts to consider:
A condo specialist knows the market! A specialist is in the market everyday and will really understand pricing. With that said, pricing is very important! Do not be tempted by the agent who gives you the highest market value of your unit. Again, a condo specialist should have his/her pricing pretty dialed in and be fairly accurate. One of the most important things to look at is the marketing the agent will do to get your condo sold! Remember, a person who specializes in condos has marketing that is geared torwards condo buyers everyday. While an agent who works in Atherton may be a good agent, their marketing does not target condo buyers everyday. Not only is it important to find someone who specializes with condos, it is equally important to find that condo specialist who understands how to market your condo on the internet. You do not have yards signs in condo buildings! 93% of condo buyers begin their search on the internet ( a higher percentage than home buyers). Make sure that the agent you select has a strong presence on the internet so that your listing gets much exposure!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
As someone that loves listing properties, it's interesting that 95% of agents don't have a sales and marketing background. I believe that you must do a great job of marketing, especially when you have a difficult listing. A condo that backs to the freeway, for example, will not be any easy sell. (unless it is priced way too low, and if that is the case...anybody could sell it!) Marvin made some very good comments below, especially his comments about contracts as many agents don't spend the time neccessary to REALLY understand them. I do disagree about his comments about marketing being easy. (sorry Marvin) Bad marketing is easy. Good marketing takes effort, creativity and hard work! Today, almost every agent will say they will market your condo/home on the internet. What does that mean? Putting it on Realtor.com, Trulia and a few others that don't take much effort? I believe that good marketing can make a difference, especially when you have a difficult listing...like one backing to a freeway, especially when you are pushing the pricing to the high end of a range. At any given time there can be hundreds of condos in the market. How will your agent make yours stand out?
Janet, there have been some very good comments here from the agents that have participated here. I think you will be able to pull some good value from each and be confident in selecting the right agent.
Good Luck

Brad Golik
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu May 31, 2012
All very good advice but I think some of the marketing questions---especially list/close ratio---may not give a true portrayal of an agents ability. In some markets heavy and proper marketing is worth a lot and in others all you have to do is stick a sign on it. One neednt know very much of anything to 'sell' a lot in a good market. I would choose an agent based on knowledge, ESPECIALLY contracts and real estate law.

Like to hear it or not---we dont usually 'sell' property. All it has to do is be seen, and the great majority of buyers are finding properties through the net, magazines, etc. Few rely on being taxied around. Many of my clients have called me to ask about something they found. That doesnt mean I sit back and am not proactive. Its a matter of pride and my job to be the one who find the treasure for them.

If I were selling a condo, which is the most problematic of residential sales IMHO, Id look for someone who knows enough to check out the HOA and also see if the units qualify for financing of all possible types. Id assume the thread author bought it with a loan and knows about this but you know what happens if one 'assumes', lol

So we are advertisers first then the hard part comes into play. Starting a successful transaction and getting it closed with no problems. No hidden monsters. Of course there are selling specialists who like marketing only condos but again---the chances of it being bought by someone with their own buyers agent is much greater than being sold 'in house'. Any agent can slap it into the MLS. As others said, if its priced correctly anything will sell. You want your listing agent to be knowledgeable so that when offers come in,he/she can ferret out the good from the rubbish and protect your interest. I do not often list homes. I prefer working with buyers. I have years of experience and loved learning real estate contract law. If you assumed me not to be a candidate to list your property simply because Ive only listed a couple houses in a year---you would be very incorrect.

So how does one find a really good real estate agent? Is it by number of transactions? NO WAY. The highest selling agents I know rarely even meet with their clients. They have 'underlings' do it. They manage to talk many sellers into listing and wait for others to sell them. One can only give personal service to so many clients in a given period. I knew a man in Monterey CA who was the top lister in the county. He had a gift of gab and out listed all other offices combined for a while. I saw some of the contracts he wrote for purchasers and was horrified. Looked like a third grader did them with a paint brush. He was sued every so often but made so much money he didnt care. So, if you saw that he was the number one lister (and therefore could say he 'sold' more property than anyone else) would you say he was the best choice? He retired and his son still runs the same joint in the Salinas area, by the way.

Its hard to assess someones ability and knowledge. Its hard to find referrals. Call the Calif Dept of Real to check for actions against them. How long in the business? Of course there are some brilliant newbies so length of time is not a total answer.

Id first call and say you are selling a condo. See if they talk about your Home Owners Association. They will want to know if its healthy. Are there suits against it? How many units are owner occupied? Was it FNMA approved? What type of legal setup is it---are you on ground or in higher stories? Have trhem do a market analysis to determine its value and give you a report of whats sold and whjats for sale within 1 or 2 miles. Appraisers want within 1/2 mil;e but its a tough market. See if he/she also looks at different areas upto possdibly10-15 miloes away that are very similar in statistics. Is your condoin an area that ownerswant ? Commute distance good? Is it in a vacation type area? I used to sell in Santa Cruz and Monterey. One year we researched and found that over half the homes within a mile of the beaches were owned by out of state people as vacation homes. Now how would you market to those people? Your agent needs to know the TARGET BUYERS. Thats how you market. Sorry for being so verbose!

Just remember marketing is easy. Proper contracts and easy transactions take knowledge and experience.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
Hi Janet,

While I cannot give you specific advice on the San Francisco and Portland markets, I can show you Trulia's guide on "How to Hire the Right Real Estate Agent For You".

I think it could answer a lot of your questions regarding how to find the right real estate pro, and comes from an unbiased source, us!

Here's the link: http://www.trulia.com/guide/home_buying/build_the_right_team…

Let me know if there's anything else I can do to help you,

Community Manager, Trulia Voices
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
The overwhelming majority of agent/client problems are tied to communication, so after you've qualified them on the basics (they know your area, they understand your property and know how to get it financed, they're full-time agents who have time to take you on), the most important thing is how well you communicate with each other.

With condos especially, it is essential that the agent knows how to get the prospective buyer financed. Whenever I take a condo listing, I'm looking for FHA approval, owner-occupancy rates, commercial and live/work units, pending lawsuits, reserve studies, right of first refusal - things that will affect the amount of down payment a lender will require.

So: an agent that knows your area, understands the property, works full-time, has time to take you on, and communicates well with you.

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 3, 2012

I used to live in San Francisco, and am now a licensed broker in Portland, Oregon. If I were buying or selling any type of property in San Francisco, my first call would be to BJ Droubi, of Coldwell Banker. Her number is 415-401-6300. Her website can be found at http://www.droubiteam.com.

Bj is the best in the business. You will love her!

Good luck to you.

Best regards,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 3, 2012
I should have elaborated---I didnt mean to say all marketing is easy. You must admit that for standard properties which are properly priced, its pretty much just enabling the buying public to find them. Special needs require special marketing techniques. I went easy on the marketing aspect to make a harder point about our training and that we only have this job because lawyers wont taxi people around. We are about the only profession semi or fully practicing law without a license. Vary from your standard 'fill in the blanks' contract and you are practicing law. This aint rocket science but its sure fraught with pitfalls if one doesnt have the knowledge and/or experience to either ask the correct questions or know that there is more they should check on. Sorry, Ive taken this thing a little off subject.

Its just da**ed hard to try and find a good (insert ANY occupation here) without knowing what to look for and what questions to ask them. How can you know the questions if you are not in the business? I dont know how to decide on choosing one of three doctors for a surgery, for example. Its all referral. Who did my own general practice doc suggest? How about any friends oir family etc who have used one of them?

I closed my mortgage business after 25 years. I certainly know that business but its very hard to give advice on how to choose a mortgage broker. I know bad and good brokers and can refer but I cant teach a borrower all I know so that they can tell if a broker knows his/her stuff. Hey--maybe there is a new industry here! Experts in a given field can call potential service providers on the clients behalf and question them at length. Then I guiess we would have to worry about the liability of choosing a smooth talking crook. Ahhh ya cant win.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 31, 2012
Correction, I meant to say, as another did, FHA approved complex
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
Hello! My thoughts and advice. The condo market in general has been severely hurt by the economic downturn and you want to make sure that your Broker/Realtor really knows the condo market.

1) How many condos have you listed in the last 12 months?
2) How many of those listings have sold and closed?
3) How do you market your condo listings - what is your specific strategy?
4) What is your list to sell price? (what you list it for and what you ultimately sell it for)
5) What are the condo stats for the area where my unit is?
a) How many are currently listed, and pended?
b) What is the average days on the market?
c) What can you tell me about financing available for my condo complex (is it FHA approved, etc)

How you can help your Realtor.

1) Stage the home - declutter, paint neutral color, take everything OFF of your fridge - yes all your kids drawings, the magnets, the photos of you and your friends, etc.
2) Clean the home - pay close attention to your kitchen and bath!!!!!! De-clutter your countertops
3) Organize and straighten up your closets.
4) Try to see the home from the buyer's perspective and accentuate the positive
5) Get a copy of the current budget including reserves - know what your complex is spending and how
6) Talk to the HOA and find out percentage of owner vs. investor is in your complex. This is something that lenders will want to know and many have a specific ratio they will not lend on if there are too many investor/rental units
7) Find out percentage of delinquent owners who have not paid their HOA dues - this can impact a buyer if the delinquency rate is too high and there is a chance the dues will go up

Hope this helps!!! If you want to know more, please feel free to email me at jlgrounds56@gmail.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
Hi Janet,

You hire a Realtor to market your property to find a buyer period. 80% of marketing is the price you set for the property. If it's priced too high I don't care how much marketing your agent does and does well it will be a hard sell if at all unless the market is really moving up and it will eventually catch up to the price. Like others have said condos have other items that effect price too which need to be address when looking at comparable properties to help price your property.

Questions to ask even if referred to an agent:

What is your sold to list ratio? Determines how successful they are at selling their listings. Looking at our MLS data on average less than 60% of the properties listed get sold.

What is your sold price to list price ratio? Tells you how well they price their listings. Again our data shows that for most price points this on average ranges from 96 to 92%

So you want a Realtor that can analyze the market so you are priced correctly, has a sold to list ratio > 90% and has a sold price to list price ratio > 96%.

That gets you on the market with a great chance to get an offer. But what happens when an offer comes in? How does this agent keep the transaction going through negotiations until it closes? What have they done in the past to facilitate challenges in the transaction? Do they negotiate win/win deals or a win for you? What resources (escrow, lenders, contractors, programs) do they have? Do they only represent you, no dual agency?

Additionally How and how often do they communicate? How easy are they to get in touch with, return calls and messages? How much follow up do they do with buyer inquires or do they have buyer agents? Do they have a team of professionals to help you through to closing.

Good luck with your search.

Kevin Sucher
Principal Broker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
My son lives in SF and the market there is really on fire, so it sounds like you will do well with your sale.

I am sure you have received referrals from friends/family and looked at who is selling condo's in your neighborhood. Beyond the obvious technicalities, I have a couple of suggestions:)

First, select someone that really believes in the value of your home and can communicate that to the other Realtors and their buyers. Do not go with the person that says they have a buyer for it, even though you might think you will make more money because they will cut their commission a little, you likely won't, but they will. Also, I think it is good to have a little bit of a contrarian approach and select someone that does not have every listing in your building. I always wonder whose home they push the hardest.

In the end, go with your gut as it generally serves us all well. If you know anyone moving to the Portland Metro area, please pass on my name. I love introducing our wonderful city to those relocating. Happy Selling.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
Looks like you are getting some good feedback from my fellow PDX Realtors. If you would like a referral to a very good condo agent in San Francisco ( and no... I won't be getting a referral fee for this suggestion!) I would suggest that you add Mark Choey to your list of agents to interview. Mark is with Climb Real Estate...they specialize with urban properties. Mark is one of the top agents for high rise condos like The Infinity and One Rincon. He has some very good recomondations on Trulia, Yelp etc.
Good luck! Hope this helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
On fourth thought---she answered her own question within the question. Wow we should all have caught that, considering we look at contracts all the time.

Condos are an enigma in this market. I dint even suggest buying them at all for almost any reason. That said, you need someone who REALLLLLY knows condos. Its a fickle market. The HOA must be healthy. The complex must fit guidelines for conforming financing. You
ir chosen real estate pro must know the market and who is buying your area and type of property. The agent doesnt have to be the all-knowing, all-seeing type as long as they have broker support who does. A real estate office is like a hive of bees---they all communicate and share info/schooling/etc.

Your agent should know how to come up with the potential problems of condo sellinmg and make sure those (if any) issues are taken care of NOW and not mid escrow.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
Guys and gals---I think the answer is that she wasn't in the correct category, which can easily happen in this site if you don't watch where you are being directed. It probably just occurred to her that she asked us instead of a local relitter. (Common mispronunciation,lol)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
Guys and gals---I think the answer is that she wasn't in the correct category, which can easily happen in this site if you don't watch where you are being directed. It probably just occurred to her that she asked us instead of a local relitter. (Common mispronunciation,lol)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
We cant spell, however,lol
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
Becasue we are smater. better looking and just a great geoup of humans in general??? Am I close?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
I'll tell you the same thing I tell my own clients and my friends when they ask this question: Choosing a realtor is a lot like choosing a therapist. If you don't get a good feeling about how the two of you are going to communicate, and whether the agent "gets" you, say thanks but no thanks, no matter whether she's highly recommended by three gazillion people in their testimonials or is a megabroker, or whatever. Nothing replaces that personal relationship.

After that, what you should look for is pretty straightforward. Pretty much every realtor gets his postings on the multiple listing service and the Web and on a variety of sites, so that isn't so special any more. First, does he know your neighborhood? Either he should have a fair number of transactions in the 'hood, or live in the 'hood, or be able to show a good working knowledge of the area in some other way. Next, look at how she markets her properties. What is the description like? Are the photos appealing, or did she try to save a hundred measly dollars on taking her own poorly lit pics where you can't tell the frig from the back door in the kitchen shots? THEN look at the testimonials. Are the things clients saying the thngs that are important to you?

This should give you a good start in finding a realtor that'll do the job for you without causing too many sleepless nights. Good luck to you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
I would recommend that you first ask for some referrals from people you trust. From there I would research the agents that are knowledgeable and active in your neighborhood then set up listing appointments with a few of the top agents.

They should provide you with a solid market analysis on your condo to determine the appropriate listing price. Ask them to show you their specific marketing plan to promote your home both on-line and off-line.

Hope that helps!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
Because it says"SELLING IN PORTLAND"
that's why!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
If you have any friends in San Francisco to ask, I would ask them if they have had a good experience with any Realtors they have used. The most important question to ask is how are they going to market your condo and also if they have experience selling condos. I hope this helps you out.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
Janet, if you have access, look at who is selling condos in your building. Ideally, you have someone familiar with the features of your building, understands the HOA and the HOA's finances etc. Also, I'd look at the agents marketing and how they have presented other listings, not just in your building, but their other listings as well. Do they take high quality photos, do they put effort into the marketing remarks, do they BELIEVE in your property, is there spark or passion for what they do? What type of negotiator are they and are they willing to WORK for you? Are they ego centric or focused on you and your needs? Experience is nice, but experience without marketing and negotiating skills adds up to zero for me. A passionate agent, who likes their job, cares about your end result and who can negotiate for YOU is a win all the way around. Best of luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 30, 2012
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