5 Costly Mistakes Condo Buyers Make

Having worked with numerous Boston condo buyers & sellers the past 25 years, I’ve seen these five common mistakes Boston condos buyers make. Sometimes they are costly and sometimes they result in the buyer missing their dream condo. Fortunately, all of them can be avoided.

1. Offering the wrong amount

Notice I didn’t say offer too much or too little, because it all depends on the situation.

Some buyers will offer too much because they:

Buy on emotion. When a buyer falls in love with a condo and ‘has to have it’, they tend to pay too much.

Use the wrong comps when deriving a price and fail to notice important differences. In some buildings, a one-floor difference can be the difference between staring into a building across the street or at one floor higher, a beautiful view of the Boston skyline.

misinterpreting  the competition when there isn’t any. A lot of traffic at an open house doesn’t always mean multiple offers on the Boston condo.

Some Boston condo buyers will offer too little and regret it later when they lose out because they:

Use the wrong comps to come up with their price. Sometimes the condo you are making an offer on, seems identical to the last sale, but really is worth $10,000 more.

Have this idea that you should always offer X percentage below list price. No, sometimes the seller will purposely price their Boston condo too low and other buyers will see that and offer more.

Make a low-ball offer that insults the seller so much that they simply won’t deal with that buyer again.

How do you know how much to offer? Make sure you are comparing apples to apples and do your homework. Also, have your Boston real estate agent do a comparative market analysis before you write that offer.

2. Not learning what is important to the seller

The most important term of the offer is not always the price. The seller might need a quick settlement because they are moving out of the country or they are closing on a new home and they need the money from the sale. Or they need a short rent back until their new home is ready. Or they are out of the area and can’t be bothered with any home inspection repairs. How do you know? You ask or better yet, have your agent ask. A good agent will know the right questions to ask and how to interpret the answers.

3. Failing to get pre-approved for financing.

Not getting pre-approved can hurt you in several ways. If you start your condo search in a higher price bracket and visit a number of condos, you will be sorely disappointed when you have to look at a price range much lower than you anticipated. Not being pre-approved can also hurt you when you make an offer. Many sellers won’t respond to an offer without a pre-approval letter and if you are competing against other buyers, you put yourself at a disadvantage. Getting pre-approved can also uncover some bad credit marks you were not aware and/or give you tips to improve your credit score. Getting pre-approved is relatively easy and no reason not to do it early in the process.

4. Not reading the condo docs

There is a reason why most states give condo buyers a review period to read the condo docs – because there can be really important information in the documents that you might not be aware of and would cause you not to buy the condo. Are the reserves sufficient? Are there special assessments being discussed in the board minutes? Can you live with the pet policy? Are there condo violations on the unit you are purchasing that the seller needs to correct if asked?

5. Not paying attention to the condo fee

The price of the Boston condo is obviously important, but don’t become so focused on that to the exclusion of the condo fee. I always help my client understand what their monthly payment is – the sum of your mortgage payment (Principle + Interest) + Taxes + Insurance + Condo Fees. When they are trying to decide between several different condos, they are sometimes surprised to find they have a lower monthly payment in the higher priced condo they are considering. There are many factors that determine the condo fee, including, the age of the building, the amenities offered, the number of units in the building, how well-run the building is and more. It is also important to look at whether any utilities are included in the fee. In most new buildings, the owner is responsible for all the utilities, including water. In some older buildings, all utilities are included.

If you have any questions regarding the Boston condo market please feel free to contact me at 617-595-3712.

Author Profile

John Ford
John Ford

Over the course of 20 years in the Boston downtown real estate market, John represented and sold numerous, condominiums, investment and development properties in Greater Boston and in the surrounding suburbs

In addition to representing Boston condo buyers and sellers, John is currently one of the most recognized Boston condo blog writers regarding Boston condominiums and residential real estate markets. John's insights and observations about the Boston condo market have been seen in a wide variety of the most established local & national media outlets including; Banker and Tradesman, Boston Magazine The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and NewsWeek and Fortune magazine, among others.


For over 24 years, John Ford, of Ford Realty Inc., has been actively involved in the real estate industry. He started his career in commercial real estate with a national firm Spaulding & Slye and quickly realized that he had a passion for residential properties. In 1999, John entered the residential real estate market, and in 2000 John Started his own firm Ford Realty Inc. As a broker, his clients have come to love his fun, vivacious, and friendly attitude. He prides himself on bringing honesty and integrity to the entire home buying and selling process. In addition to helping buyers and sellers, he also works with rental clients. Whether you’re looking to purchase a new Boston condo or rent an apartment, you’ll quickly learn why John has a 97% closing rate.


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John Ford and his staff can be reached at 617-595-3712 or 617-720-5454. Please feel free to stop by John's Boston Beacon Hill office located at 137 Charles Street.

John Ford
Ford Realty Inc
137 Charles Street
Boston, Ma 02114



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