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Jul 7, 2013
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I'm new to all this and about to make an offer on a $400K condo. Assuming $80K downpayment, how much money do I really need to set aside for all of this? Do you even recommend 20% down, given the low interest rates? Coworkers are telling me to just put 5-10% if possible and invest the rest in stocks - I know nothing about stocks lol.

Any lawyer or agent recommendations? I heard fees are higher for assignments? Do I even need an agent to look after the purchase (assuming I do all the condo hunting). Currently I get daily auto-dumps of listings from an agent... if I forgo their services after I find a place, can that be used to negotiate lower asking price from the seller, since he only needs to pay commission to seller agent only?

Sorry for all the noob questions!
What do you think is involved in making an offer? Do you think you just call them up and tell them the price you want to pay, and that's it? You're being naive - if you have to ask if an agent is necessary, then by virtue of how little you know, the answer is YES, you need an agent. The only people that don't need an agent are the ones who don't have to ask that question. Get an agent. You can't possibly run your own comps and know what a good offer is, nor can you possibly know what a good offering strategy is, if you don't even ask those questions.

How much you should put down is entirely a function of what your borrowing terms are, how long you're going to own the property, how much you have in the bank (and what you can afford as carrying costs on a monthly basis), and what kind of investments you have access to. Once again... get an agent. A good one will help you work all of these numbers and determine the best strategy for you. It's a no-brainer as a first-time buyer.
This thread is 5 days old, so since then I've gotten an agent and made an offer on a place, which seller has accepted conditional to builder approval.

I would say the agent has only been useful for doing my paperwork. It was I who found the listing, searched all the comparables, future obstructions to views, etc to build reasons for seller to lower his price even more. Afterall why would I trust anyone else to get me the absolute best deal? The only comparables that my agent found are the ones that make my deal look amazing - while I show him deals equal to mine (that appear better psf-wise – not mentioning how badly those units are situated in the building).

Reacting to my $15K below-asking offer, seller said “ok, don’t bother”. First, my agent implored me several times that no number below asking is possible since it’s already well below that of identical units in the building and less than the pre-sale value from 4 years ago plus inflation; then when seller agreed to $5K below asking (showing us a previous offer for that amount, which another buyer ended up unable to finance), my agent said that that’s the absolute lowest it can go “He’s already losing money! Would you want to lose money?” I insisted on waiting until well past the expiration of the offer, betting that the seller might be willing to lose more money.

Seller crawls back to me with $9k below asking, while his agent takes a $3k cut to his commission to pay for part of it. I bet that the final price would’ve been even lower if my agent didn’t pre-emptively approach them without my consent with $10k below asking. I guess he could do this because I said I was ok with full price from the very beginning.

And the only conversation I’ve ever had with him about financing went like this:
Him: “what’s your budget?”
Me: “whatever the best possible deal is”
Him (after we make the offer): “Make sure you have x amount by this date and 4% for closing”
Me: “Mom and dad will cover the shortfall if any”
Sorry man, it sounds like you had a bad agent. How many did you meet with before choosing this person? Were they really the best of the bunch?
It was very rushed because of the deadline for assignments on the building, so I had no time to find another realtor. He was hardworking, and very accessible, just inexperienced it seems. It was really me negotiating with the seller, with my realtor being the messenger. Anyway, other than possibly better competence and less mistakes on the offer agreement for me to correct, I’m not sure how it would be different with any other agent. What incentive do they have to find me a better deal than what I believe is possible? I can't imagine trusting anyone other than myself to locate that perfect home. The rest is just technicalities.
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