In a continuation from last week’s episode, condo sales strategist Uri Vaknin offers a series of real-life stories about challenged buyers who would close on their homes only because his sales team gained an intimate understanding of their financial situations.
In episode 4 of Condo Artist: The Other Side of Real Estate, Uri and his long-time colleagues, Shahn Douglas and Mark Bunton, discuss why it’s critical to have a deep understanding of your buyers’ financial abilities, even if that means having uncomfortable conversations.
Learn which documents and information the team requires from each buyer and buyer’s agent, why it’s ok to research your buyer, and why lenders should have permission to share financial information with the selling agent. They relate these stories back to the T.I.R.E method of qualifying condominium buyers as discussed in Know Your Buyer – Part 1.
Listen as they recount the stories of:
A buyer from California who could not close on his condo until his very successful – but very niche and seasonal – business was sold. Learn what happened when COVID hit and how that impacted both transactions.
A buyer from Indiana whose condo closing was contingent upon the sale of her home. Learn what happened when this buyer was NOT properly qualified using the T.I.R.E. method, and how it could have easily caused the sale to backfire.
A couple buying one of the most expensive condos in the community whose contract was contingent upon sale of one of their (multiple) million dollar homes. The home does not sell… how does Uri get this $800K condo to close?
(Uri’s dog Gypsy makes a special guest appearance – she also gets excited about condo success stories.)
Welcome to the fourth episode of Condo Artist: The Other Side of Real Estate. I’m your host Uri Vaknin, a condo sales strategist who has developed and sold out thousands of condos in Atlanta, Las Vegas, all over Florida, Detroit, Texas, Nashville and all across the United States. Each week I along with my co host and colleagues, Shahn Douglas, hey, and Mark Bunton Hello, we will bring you the latest insights, best practices, and sales techniques to sell out more condos faster no matter what market. At times, we will delve into architecture, design, and even urban planning as they pertain to condos and condo living. I’m an admitted podcast junkie. But in our search for podcasts, about condos, we all realize that there really weren’t any out there. throughout this series, you will get to know more about me, Shahn, Mark, and our 53 years of combined experience in the world of condos. One of the things that has become glaringly obvious to us is that most people, including real estate agents, buyers, architects, and even condo developers, they don’t really understand condos, this podcast will pull back the curtain on the world of condos. Today’s episode know your buyer, part two, it is a continuation of Know Your Buyer from last week. And what we wanted to do in today’s episode was gift some real life examples. And some specific examples of buyers that we really had to get to know. In today’s world with COVID, we really feel that knowing your buyer, actually we don’t really feel we know that knowing your buyer is of paramount importance on due to change in mortgages, people’s employment, and the state of the market. So once you’ve gotten your buyer under contract, your job is not done, you need to make sure you fully know your buyer. And in most cases, when we mean fully know your buyer, we’re really talking about knowing them financially knowing their deepest and darkest financial secrets. Yeah, I know, you think that people aren’t going to share those secrets with you. But guess what? They will, because if they really want to buy your condo, they’re going to open up. The first example we’re going to use is a single guy from California who wanted to buy his dream condo in Las Vegas. He had thought about this for years. And he finally pulled the trigger in the beginning of March 2020. Yeah, this before we really knew about COVID. And one of the things that we’ve always believed in is that when selling condos, most often, you do have to take a contingency to sell their property. Most people like to sell their home before they buy a new condo. Well, I don’t think that’s the best method of buying a new condo. And we’re actually going to have a whole podcast on that. It is the conventional wisdom for most people. But in this case, his story was a little bit different. He actually did not have to sell another condo, he actually had to sell his business, which he had under contract. And he one of the things we also like to do when we do take a contract with a contingency to sell is that we require that the buyer and the buyer’s agent, provide us with the contract or the listing agreement, if it’s on our contract yet, the listing agreement, a competitive market analysis, so we really understand what that market is where they’re coming from, because oftentimes, it’s a market outside of Las Vegas, which we’re not familiar with. So we asked them for a listing agreement with the competitive market analysis and even a marketing plan. So we can understand, you know, did they list it at the right price? How many days are homes, you know, like that typically on the market. So we know this is a realistic deal, and when we can expect to close it. But in this case, this buyer had a contract to close on his business. So we didn’t really think that much of it. Big mistake as we learned. We We did get a copy of the actual contract to sell his business. So we thought we had our ground covered. And then came what COVID and kind of changed everything. And he started getting nervous. And we didn’t really fully understand why, yeah, obviously, the shutdown caused for a lot of economic stress and so forth. But he was in California in a California based business. And so I was speaking to my agent, I said, Do Do we have any information? And he said, Yeah, he probably wants to extend the contract. I said, Okay, why? He said, because their buyer is, you know, because of the lockdown and so forth. They were thinking about, you know, extending the contract, and they weren’t sure what was going on. And I said, well, is the buyer having cold feet? And he said, Well, no, he doesn’t seem to be. And so I said, well, you need to find out more information. We don’t know enough about this contract, the buyer, and so forth. And so, we learned something very fascinating, something that I had never heard of before. So the agent, our agent reached out to the buyer and said, Hey, you know, we would really like to extend your contracts. But we need more information. And this is a key point, when I said, you know, people opening up to their deepest, darkest secrets, if you work with them, you know, they will tell you what’s going on, if they really want the home. And this guy, as I mentioned, this was his dream, to have a condo in Las Vegas. And what he wanted to do is for use it for fun now. But eventually, like most California buyers, he and especially after the sale of his business, he wanted to relocate to California to Las Vegas, due to, you know, all the great in entertainment here all the stuff to do, but also to avoid, you know, state income tax, capital gains tax, and so forth. And so then what we found out was, the company that he was selling was a very, very successful company. And its niche market of label making. And not only just a label making, but a very niche part of label making. Y’all remember what niche part that was?
Shahn Douglas 07:19
Yeah, I do Mark do you do it had to
Mark Bunton 07:23
do a summer camp,
Uri Vaknin 07:24
summer camp. So here is a dude who has a successful company that has that makes labels for kids stuff for summer camp. I mean, guys, when I was young, my mom took a sharpie, or whatever the precursor to a sharpie was printed back then, and wrote our names in the in the back and the tag. And sometimes if the tag wasn’t there, you could see the your name on the on the, on the fabric up by the back of your neck,
Shahn Douglas 07:57
I talked about
Uri Vaknin 07:58
specialized business. It was a specialized business, but it had been doing really well. And what he started getting, you know, reports were that camps, were considering closing for the summer. And so he was like, wow, and so then the buyer was getting cold feet, because the buyer was buying it. And remember, this was March, the buyer was going to close on it in April, and therefore our buyer was going to close on the condo in April. But with all the lock downs, you know, everything was in question. And the buyer wasn’t going to buy the labor making business because in addition to it being a niche business, it was also a seasonal business. And if he didn’t close on it by April, he wouldn’t have gotten any of the seasonal business, which is the entire revenue stream for the year. So he started hearing about all the closings of camps. But then we got some bright news. And we were in almost in daily contact with the buyer. He was actually keeping us updated. Pennsylvania and Texas said that they were not going to close camps. And those were two of his biggest markets. Who knew that Texas and Pennsylvania were such big cat markets. I mean, we really learned a lot. So we talked about know your buyer, we mean know your buyer. And so then, you know we’re going along with this for we extended the contract because we extended it because he was being honest with us, because he was telling us truly what was going on. But then when Pennsylvania cancelled all their summer camps, and then followed by he’s like I we still have hope Texas was still the biggest market. And then Texas canceled their summer camp. And so then the buyer said, You know what, I can’t buy it. Let’s revisit Next year. And so, you know, I tell this story, not because it’s a great story to turn out for us. But if we understood what was going on, and we did try to work with the buyer, the buyer still said it was his dream condo, and he was still wanting to do it. So he looked to get a loan, and not that this guy didn’t make good money. But obviously, though, banks were a little hesitant about loaning money to him when his main source of revenue was from his previously very successful, but very niche and very seasonal business, based on the label making for kids summer camps. So while that didn’t turn out to be, you know, a great story for us, because we did not make the sale, although I do believe that he will come back next year, although I’m sure will be sold out by next year. But it was a really important, you know, illustration of understanding of what knowing your buyer really means. And when I say deepest, darkest secrets, I’m not talking about anything nefarious, but I’m talking about the real deep dark secrets of, of their financial status and financial wherewithal. And, you know, just days before, you know, the COVID, lockdown, this guy was golden. But it’s so important. And while this may be a kind of an exaggerated situation, because of COVID, but it gives you an idea of how much you really need to know your buyers. Once you agree, Shahn.
Shahn Douglas 11:35
Absolutely, or we know time and time again, that the more our agents are aware of the financial situation of our buyers, the better we can help them, you know, come up with solutions, if there’s challenges that maybe they aren’t getting any answers from their listing agent, things like that. So we’re really there to help them say they have to sell a home or whatever the case may be worked with our lender, which I know you’re going to be talking with later on in another episode. But you know, it’s great to have that partnership and be able to help our buyers in any way we can.
Uri Vaknin 12:11
You know, it’s interesting to us here, Shahn, you know, it used to be that the way you knew your buyer was, oh, they were going to use a conventional loan, they were going to put 20% down there, we’re going to close it 45 days, and they didn’t want an interest rate over. You know, nowadays, it’s 3%. You know, back in the day, I remember people writing and 7% boy, things have changed. For me for the better. Oh my God, we have this the absolute lowest interest rates ever in recorded American history. But to get back to the story, so it’s not just knowing those things. And if you know these things in a what I’ll call a regular market, you’re going to do phenomenally much better. But in a market like today, where we had this buyer who was hyper qualified one day, and then completely unqualified The next day, you know, and had we not early on learned enough about this buyer, you know, we would have dragged this out longer and longer than it needed to be. The good news is he had to cancel the contract. And we quickly resold the home to someone who had cash from California. So there is a bright shot a bright spot to that story.
Mark Bunton 13:33
Oh, wow, that certainly is an interesting story and entertaining to listen to Uri, I think what we should really let our listeners know is how we were able to use tire to get to a position where we needed to be to make an informed decision about this particular buyer here he was excited to buy a condo in Las Vegas. He was under contract, everything seemed golden until you know COVID hit then you know we’re hearing from the agent that he’s getting cold feet.
Uri Vaknin 14:02
Mark, can you remind our listeners what tire means in case you didn’t listen to the previous podcast.
Mark Bunton 14:08
Tire T stands for timing I for investment, our four requirements, and E for experience. All together those spelled tire
Uri Vaknin 14:23
tire for our buyer
Shahn Douglas 14:25
tire for our buyer and this is the way we qualify our buyers for those listeners who didn’t hear the previous podcast. It’s a system that we use when we are talking to prospects or buyers and it helps us to qualify them and helps us to get to know their their needs. And it helps us to sell better, but it
Uri Vaknin 14:45
also helps the buyer Don’t forget that we always forget. It helps the buyer get to the point of understanding which condo is the right one for them. But Mark we totally interrupted you. I’m sorry.
Mark Bunton 14:57
So going back I was I was saying that, um, I think this this situation with his California buyer and his business was is a perfect example of how our agents on their own and with our help, were able to really use tire to get to where they needed to be to make an informed decision. You know, he wants to extend, okay, why? And, you know, through through a series of questions that were polite, yet inquisitive, we were able to get that information and actually work with him up until the point where we saw that this was just not going to work out.
Uri Vaknin 15:34
I think, Mark, you’re 100%, right. I mean, you know, guys, you know, to our dear viewers, or listeners who haven’t noticed, I can tell stories all day long. But Mark is the one who knows how to bring it back to methodically to our process and how we do things. And he’s exactly right. You know, if it wasn’t for that, the tire questioning and all that the buyer would never fully opened up to us. And we wouldn’t fully understood how to take this person along. We knew what his timing was, he wanted to close, we knew what the constraints were with the you know, the business and so forth. We knew exactly, he knew exactly how much he could spend, because he knew how much he was getting for his business. But then he also knew that business wouldn’t close, we knew that he was then going to have to use a mortgage, which, sadly, he was gonna be able to get a mortgage. And then the requirements when he wanted to be, you know, in our building because of the proximity to the Raider Stadium, as we’ve talked about before. And then, you know, his experience with he seen all the other condos, and we knew that this was what he really wanted. So we understood fully at every level, you know, his buying decision and everything. And so you’re right mark, you know, having done tire properly, enabled us to work with him. But also like I like to say tires, not just for us tires, also for the buyer, because it helps them think through everything. And so I think it was really great that thanks for bringing that up, Mark.
Mark Bunton 17:06
And I think it’s also important to mention that tire is extremely useful in you know, the first meeting with a buyer, but it doesn’t have to stop there. You continue to use tire through the life of that buyer, the life of that contract all the way up to close to help yourself, get to that close.
Shahn Douglas 17:28
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Uri Vaknin 18:23
Are we ready for another story? Because stories. Okay, so we had another buyer, she quickly went under contract, she was moving from Indiana, it was always her dream to live in Las Vegas. We always love those people. Because usually they figured out how to get here. She was getting a mortgage. And so when I asked our agent, you know, what do you do for a living? Well, I don’t really know, I think she worked for University. She was a writer. It was just a contingency to sell her home. But she said oh the home will sell quickly. And so I was you know, a little concerned about this buyer. And then she said Oh, and I think um, you know, her mother had recently passed away and it was one of the reasons why she was leaving Indiana because she had been waiting fad way, you know until her mother passed away because she’d want to leave Indiana and move to Las Vegas but she’d always dreamed about moving to Las Vegas. You know, I told my agent I said we need to find out more information about this buyer and not to be stalking I said you know you can find out some basic things. One is I want you to obviously to find out you know, where is her house in Indiana. I think you could reach the urge that through the tax records. You could then you know, look at what homes in that area sell for. But I think you know also we definitely need to get a copy of you know, the listing agreement, you know, competitive market analysis from the buyers listing agent in Indiana and so on on our own before we got all that information. We will Tip online that we saw, you know, found out the address of the home on a guy, this is not stalking his informations out there, if someone is going to buy a condo from you, and you don’t have all the information, you have the right to do a little bit of research, hey, the last few times I went on dates that people knew more about me than I could remember about myself, they’d done research online. I didn’t go on second date for those people. So we were able to find out that house that she was selling was worth only $200,000, she was buying a condo from us for just under 400,000. But then we did another little search on her name, and the internet brought up on her own. And it was actually the obituary from her mother. And her mother had passed away several months prior. And she had actually mentioned to our agent to our sales agent, that she had to spend some time getting the house in order to sell it. But in the obituary we can, it was obvious that she was the only child and probably the sole beneficiary of whatever estate she had, within eventually, we did get the market analysis, we got all the information, we felt comfortable about this. And then the buyer kept us informed about what was going on about selling it, but then again, hit COVID. And she said she wasn’t that state still allowed for in person showings and homes. But it did not allow for open houses. And so she was keeping us updated on the showing that she had. And so then she eventually got the home under contract. And so because she’s been given, keeping us informed, and our agent and her were in constant communication, we now knew what that closing date was of the current home. And then we scheduled our closing date, a few days after that giving her time to move, and she was gonna move over stuff previously, and come to Las Vegas. But then we got a phone call from her lender. And her lender said, Hey, guys, I can’t close this right away. And so we were like, wait, what’s going on? Why can’t you close it, he said, Well, a major source of the reason why we’re able to do this mortgage for her is because she’s going to start receiving her pension early. And this was information we didn’t have, all we thought was that we that she was selling this home, and you know, the one in Indiana and buying our home. And so he was like, I need to get her first payment of her pension center her before we could do this closest loan. And that wasn’t going to be for another three weeks. So here is an example of missing a major piece of information about a buyer. We didn’t have the information we had scheduled the closing, all of our, you know, report that we had done for our investors and so forth, was showing that this closing was going to take place by certain date. And using this as an illustration to say, you know, the depth of knowledge that you need to have for your buyer, in today’s world is is is a lot.
Shahn Douglas 23:19
Well let me ask this what what would you have done? Or how would you have trained? You know, obviously, the agent did what she thought she would say need to do? What else more? How could she found that out? Because I don’t have to tell someone about my pension? You know, I don’t know if I’m going to get that in depth with someone right away.
Uri Vaknin 23:39
Shahn and that is an amazing question. And so what that what we now do, because of this incident was when we have a buyer like this, who has got to sell a home who’s moving, you know, we know that there’s some potentially inheritance there or something. But yet they’re still getting a mortgage. And
Mark Bunton 24:03
the first question that comes to mind is does she need a job? And And if not, then how do you plan to support yourself and get yourself a mortgage?
Uri Vaknin 24:11
And the agent asked her out, what are you gonna be doing? And when you’re in Las Vegas for work, and she says, Oh, I I write a bit. Poetry? Yeah, she’s a writer of poetry. You’re right. She was poetry. And I was like, as much as I love poetry. I’m like, unless you’re Maya Angelou. I don’t think you’re gonna be making all that much money off this. But here’s the kicker, here’s what we should have done. And what we do do now is that we, as we tell our buyers, that when we have an interesting circumstance like this, is that you need to give your lender the ability to give us real information about what is going on with your alone, because we could not be surprised at the last minute when we thought we were going to have this closing. And then it then had to be extended again for at least another three weeks. So the lesson for us, and like I said, I always like to say, you know, we’re always still learning, right? The big lesson for us was,
Mark Bunton 25:10
I think that goes hand in hand with, there’s no two deals that are the same.
Uri Vaknin 25:13
You’re right now you’re right, you know, there was a thousands of deals that we’ve done, you know, every time there’s something new, different and oftentimes crazy, that comes off. Especially in Las Vegas, especially in Las Vegas. And so, you know, what we learned out of that is that it’s important for us to work also hand in hand with the mortgage lender and have an obviously the mortgage lender can only give us information that the buyer allows them to give us and the buyer did allow it. later on. When we later on I told the buyer like we need to understand what’s going on, and she let her mortgage lender tell us that later on, but we should have had that information from the beginning. The Great story about this is that she did sell her house, she got her pension payment, she closed on the home. And as she expected, she loves living in Las Vegas, and she loves living at jewel in downtown Las Vegas. So there’s a great outcome to that story.
Shahn Douglas 26:27
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Uri Vaknin 27:18
So that brings me on to another one couple. They were buying at One Las Vegas, and they were buying one of our absolute most expensive condos that is not a penthouse. It was an $800,000 condo. And they came in and they said, you know they, they wanted to buy it, they put under contract, but it was contingent upon the sale of one of their homes. That’s the first thing when I hear one of their homes. That’s that raises, you know, a flag. And at this point, you know, I I’m uncomfortable doing a contingent sale of a home that’s over a million dollars. So I asked our agent I said he really you know, work with this buyer to find out, is there a way they could buy this without, you know, a contingency? And she said Oh no, she was I’ve asked him numerous times, they said they can’t do it that they need to sell the home in order to buy this one. I just didn’t feel like that’s true. Because most of times if you own two homes that are each over a million dollars, and you’re thinking about buying a condo, a beautiful condo, gorgeous condo $800,000, you typically have the ability to pay for something, you’ve got money somewhere, right? So as things progress, their home doesn’t sell, you know, we get the typical stuff, we got the listing agreement, you know, we got the competitive market analysis, we got the marketing plan from their listing agent. The house was priced, you know, according to the comps, so none of that was a problem. So the home did not sell that they were trying to use to buy our home in the timeframe that was allotted for the contract. And as it was an $800,000 sale, we had really counted it in for a quarterly report that we were going to do. And we have certain timeline, certain milestones that we had to reach with sales. And so I really wanted to get this home closed. So I sat with my agent, I said, Have you exhausted every angle? If you really asked him every question about whether or not they could buy this without closing on their other home and she’s like, no, they absolutely couldn’t and so forth. And so she said, Well, they didn’t want a deal. I said, Well, you know, you know we never lower prices,
Shahn Douglas 29:46
Uri why don’t you explain to the viewers why we never lower prices on our condos.
Uri Vaknin 29:50
Well, you know, that could be a whole podcast in itself but you know, lowering pricing on condos. There’s because someone wants a better deal. Is that for many reasons, one We base our pricing on true market pricing, we use our market intelligence, you know, to price each and every single home. So one it is a real price, it is not a price that we’ve made up or it’s not a price that has built in ability to do price reductions to for the buyer, the last thing you want is to buy in a building where pricing is decreasing, the whole concept is you want the value of your home to increase. So if we accept your lower price, and then that’s a publicly recorded sale, then the next person who comes in says, Hey, you sold that for 800,000, we went to buy it for 750,000. So eventually, all you’re seeing is a downward spiral spiral of pricing. So we could talk about pricing in a whole nother podcast. But to let the viewers know, we never reduced pricing. But what we will do, and we did actually talk about this, in our first episode on the pivot is that we will provide incentives. And so in this case, what I said to our agent, I said go back to them and say if they can close cash by the date that they were supposed to close, that we will give them incredible incentive to close and the incentive was going to be prepaid HOA fees. And this is where we will give people you know, a break. And the reason why is the number one objection that people are moving from a single family house to a condo is our HOA fees are there oftentimes they pay an HOA fee to live in their, their community or whatever, they always they don’t fully understand HOA fees, which is an upcoming episode all about HOA fees.
Mark Bunton 31:40
I think this is this whole scenario with this contract as a good example of why conventional wisdom always doesn’t work. And I can think of two off the top of my head is you know, this buyer went under contract with a contingency for a home to sell. And and that’s normal. That’s just what you do. And the second piece of that, you know, everybody wants to negotiate on price. That’s that’s just how it’s done. Buyers come to the table expecting some type of a price reduction. It’s just built in. And like you said, We don’t lower pricing. But we do allow the buyer to get their satisfaction, and their need to negotiate and their need to have some control and power in the in the negotiations by allowing them to have some incentives.
Uri Vaknin 32:29
That is a great point, Mark. And remember, when we first came into this market, everyone said no one is going to go along with your not decreasing pricing, you know, with making deals, all that kind of stuff. And to this day, we have sold almost 1300 condos without ever once reducing pricing. So we’re very proud of that fact, especially in a market like Las Vegas. But in this case, we went to get this deal closed, because it was an $800,000 deal. And it was in all of our projected reports and everything else. And so what we did was I went to the agent, our agent, I said, offer them, you know, tell them if they could close cash, we would be willing to give them a really great incentives Google, what’s the incentive? I said, first find out if they can close cash before I offer an incentive. This is my little test. And so she went to the buyers. And the buyer said, Well, maybe we could pull it off. It really depends on what the incentive is. And so the agent, our agent came back to me, and she told me sir, I said, I knew it. I knew it from the beginning, someone who has over to over $1 million houses and wants to buy an $800,000 condo, they have money somewhere. And so we went back offer them, you know, a pretty good incentive of pre paid HOA fees. And the other great thing about pre paying people’s HOA fees is that unlike a price reduction, when you buy a home, your mortgage interest is tax deductible, up to a $750,000 mortgage. And so, HOA fees are in no way a write off on your taxes. So it is just money that you put out there. You can’t write it off, does another reason why people love to get pre paid HOA fees over some nominal price reduction, which doesn’t impact them any way. And especially right now when interest rates are 2.85% you know it’s nominal. So the people are loving the prepaid HOA fees. But it was interesting so the buyers had to come into the sale. Center in order to sign off on the new document that they were going to close and close cash, the wife walks in and guess what she’s wearing head to toe. Balenciaga well, granted, it was Balenciaga sport, it was full on Balenciaga and looked at my agent. And I said, you know, once the buyers are gone, I said, and you’re telling me that you didn’t know that they could not could have paid cash. So it was a great lesson for all of us. You know, the key to all of this is, we’ve given three examples. Some of them turned out well for us, because in two of the cases, the buyers actually ran up closing and are thrilled, I’m in one of the cases, we moved the buyer from doing a loan to pay in cash. And then in the one case, the buyer couldn’t close. But what we did is we learned throughout the process of how key it is to know your buyer, and not just know your buyer, you know, but also know them financially. And especially in markets, like today, you know, with COVID, and the uncertainty and changes with mortgages, and you know, in the housing market and so forth. So, know your buyer, know your buyer know your buyer. And with that, we want to thank you for joining us for Episode Four, know your buyer part two. And as always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, although I don’t know why I will say concerns, you can email us directly at condo artist, all one word firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time,