With the Boston condominium market currently at its hottest level, many of the listings prospective buyers can expect to run into are probably being offered by condo flippers. Cable television networks like TLC and HGTV are once again getting good ratings from shows such as Flip This House and Trading Spaces, which means hopeful flippers are once again looking at ways to profit from the red-hot housing market.
What the flipping trend means for Boston condo buyers is that they should be evaluating properties with a more critical eye. The concern with flippers is that many of them jump into the market with a get-rich-quick mentality that can be detrimental to buyers. If you suspect a downtown Boston condo listing you plan on visiting is being offered by a flipper, you should look for the following 7 things.
1. Home Inspection Reports
If the seller shows you a recent copy of an inspection report, you should accept it graciously without taking it for granted. Boston condo buyers should always retain their own home inspectors and ask for referrals from their Boston real estate agents.
Inexperienced flippers will likely allocate their expenses toward cosmetic improvements without checking on the interior state of home features such as cabinets. Cabinets often get the attention of home inspectors because this is where mold and infestations are often found.
3. Water Heater
Boston condo flippers who are in a rush to sell often skip over this important and expensive home feature. Most water heater tanks have a label or small plaque located in a visible spot that shows the manufacturing date and should not have been removed. If the tank has been cleaned spotless and the label is missing, the flipper may not want you to know it is more than 15 years old.
4. Quality of Contracted Work
Stingy flippers are known to retain inexperienced contractors who bid the lowest and are not expected to perform high-quality work. One of the easiest ways to determine if cheap contractors were hired to fix a listed condo is to look at the paint lines where the walls meet the ceilings and baseboards. If they are all over the place, you should start taking a closer look at the rest of the property.
5. Air Conditioning
Listings that command a very high price can be negotiated if the air conditioning unit is not working properly. Likewise, improvement prior to closing can be a contingency on the purchase contract.
When a condo has been improved with Ralph Lauren paint and Aubusson carpeting, you should expect some level of sophistication with regard to the appliances. If you see an old and moldy Frigidaire that seems out of place, there is a chance the flipper removed the original appliances.
7. Association Issues
Your real estate agent should research the status of the homeowners association for you, particularly if the seller seems to be in a rush to sell and is too willing to accept your offers and conditions.
For more information call me at 617-720-5454.
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