By Condo Culture
Are you starting to think about selling your condo either shortly or down the road and want some tips and information to help you navigate the process? If so, we have put together our condo sellers guide to give you some insights and ideas for how to best position your condo to maximize offers on it and ultimately attract the highest price.
__Our Top 5 Condo Renovation Tips __
Before you sell your unit, there are a few things you can do to help your condo look as good as possible in the eyes of potential buyers. These aren’t major renovations by any means, but they can make a huge visual and functional impact, and the investments can pay huge dividends with regards to the final sale price.
The power of paint
It’s so easy to put marks, scuffs, and stains on your condo’s walls, and they tend to get more dinged up over time, especially white surfaces. It’s incredible what a fresh coat of paint can do to make walls look brand new again, and it really doesn’t take a ton of time or money. Brighten up your condo with white or another light neutral colour of paint so that potential buyers can either keep them as is, or can easily paint over them if they want a specific colour palette.
You can either do the painting yourself or hire one or two people to do it relatively inexpensively. If you decide to go it alone, be sure to get quality paint, painter's tape, and a variety of sizes of brushes and rollers so that it comes out looking fantastic - the devil is in the details.
Make it clean and tidy
It’s really quite surprising how much better a condo looks when it has been scrubbed down from top to bottom. The last thing you want is for potential buyers to walk into your unit for a tour, see it, and walk right out because it’s dirty or messy. Also, remove any garbage, personal items, clutter, and anything else that takes away from the general beauty of your unit.
You want people envisioning themselves living in your condo as soon as they open the door, and seeing a space that’s spotless will go a long way. If deep cleaning really isn’t your thing, then you can always pay a professional to work their magic, so that every square inch sparkles. Note that in between viewings you may need to do cleaning touch-ups, to the floor especially, but that’s minimal effort on your or your agent’s part.
Light it up
Effective use of lighting in condos is important since it sets the tone and character for each space in the home. You may want brighter lights in the kitchen and washrooms, while softer lighting in the living room and bedrooms may help to add warmth and comfort. You need to think about not only how the lighting shines down on each particular space, but also what the lighting hardware will look like.
Lights have gotten really trendy over the past few years and there are so many dazzling options to explore including pot lights that go directly into ceilings which provide a nice, clean aesthetic, there are all sorts of sophisticated and more casual chandeliers, pendant lights are very popular now and come in a multitude of designs, track lights installed in ceilings allow you to point the light exactly where you want it to shine, wall sconces are great solutions for hallways, floor lights are versatile products, and there are many other lighting products to explore. Be sure your condo’s lighting looks great, especially for those who are touring your place at night time since this element will be a key focus, so have everything lit up well throughout.
Appliances can make a big impact
Kitchens are a key focus for many condo buyers since a lot of time is spent in them throughout each day cooking, cleaning, eating, and visiting with family and friends. Some of the main appliances in a condo include a fridge/freezer, stove, microwave, dishwasher, and a washer and dryer. It’s interesting how potential buyers tend to gravitate towards the kitchen very early into a condo viewing, so you will want to make sure that your appliances look nice and are functional, have sufficient space for storing and cooking food, and appear to be a natural design fit with the other elements around them. Stainless steel is a very popular choice for today’s modern appliances, and when they are shined up, they do look impressive and instantly give people a feeling of trust in the products. Washers and dryers in condos tend to be tucked away in a closet, so don’t forget about cleaning them up, and make sure that the washing machine smells good and doesn’t have a musty or other foul odour resonating from it when it’s opened.
Pay attention to your fixtures
A fixture in a home is any object that’s permanently attached to a property through the use of screws, bolts, nails, glue, cement, or other means. These can include elements such as light fixtures, cabinet and drawer handles, towel racks, built-in bookshelves, window blinds, and others. You can inexpensively add value to your place by getting new fixtures installed - beautiful handles and knobs in the kitchen are one such example to quickly and inexpensively perk up your cabinets and drawers.
You have to be obsessively detail-oriented when it comes to selling your condo, and everything has to work cohesively together. You want your condo’s pictures and video tour (if one is produced) to look spectacular to attract as many prospective buyers to your property as possible, and then when they visit in person, they should be even more impressed as the small things stand out.
Renovations make a statement
You need to put yourself in every buyer's shoes and be super critical of every square inch, since one thing that may seem minor to you, could be a major thing to a potential buyer and can make or break how many offers are ultimately submitted. Small renovation investments can make a huge impact on how well your condo is presented, and how much it gets sold for. Remember that potential buyers will make a gut decision on whether or not they want to submit an offer on your condo - you want them to say “this feels like home” and be inspired and motivated to offer top dollar. Positioning your condo to be the very best version of itself is how you will realize the most profit, and small tweaks and updates can add thousands more to your bank account.
Get your real estate team in place
Once you feel comfortable with your condo as an asset to sell, then you will want to turn your attention to partnering with a real estate brokerage and an agent. We recommend working with a company and rep who has deep condo expertise since there’s so much value you can leverage including a network of buyers and investors who are currently in the market and actively searching for their ideal condo property.
You want to find a perfect fit and collaborate with people who have YOUR BEST INTERESTS IN MIND and aren’t just thinking about their potential commission once the deal closes. If you’re selling your condo to buy another home then you need to make the numbers and time-frames work - this is where you really need to lean on your agent to come up with a comprehensive strategy that takes your selling and buying needs into account, and can provide a crystal clear path forward to achieve success on both fronts.
Some potential questions to ask agents before hiring one:
Assemble a marketing plan and define your target buyers
A key piece to the condo marketing approach is the listing price. Every brokerage and agent have their own strategies in place, but each listing is unique and should be managed as such. You as a condo seller have a lot of influence on the listing price, but you really need to make clear what you would like to see in a number when all of the dust settles. Do you want the selling price to land on $500,000? Or maybe a better way to think about this is what do you want to see in profit? If your mortgage’s principal currently sits at $250,000 and closing costs will be approximately $xx,xxx then what dollar amount does your condo need to sell for in order for your profit to be $200,000, for example? This is especially important if you plan on buying another home, because if your mortgage budget from a bank or another lender is $500K and you want to buy something in the $700K to $800K range, then you will need $200K to $300K of your own money, and a big portion of it will likely come from your condo’s sale. Everything in your condo’s marketing plan has to be taken into consideration including your target market, and an agent can break down all of the numbers for you to ensure your future plans post-sale are realistic and attainable.
Local condos and townhomes have increased a ton over the past few months and years. For a detailed condo appreciation breakdown between Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, and Cambridge, read this data-driven article. Curious about your condo’s value? Then be sure to get a free condo evaluation to discover what your unit is worth.
One of the biggest benefits of working with a top-tier real estate brokerage and agent is for the marketing lift they can provide to condo listings. At Condo Culture, we are focused on offering a wide collection of value-added services that help to position a unit for success, even before the listing goes live. We have an in-house photographer and videographer who capture stunning images and videos, and through our high-quality content, marketing strategy and materials, we are able to effectively showcase condos for sale so their visuals and stories are presented in the most compelling ways possible. You want your condo to really capture the imaginations of potential buyers when they see photos and videos, and get them thinking about how they would actually use the space.
Empty or occupied
A key aspect of selling a condo is will it be lived in at the time or will it be empty? If your condo will be empty while it’s being sold, then you may want to have it beautifully staged to demonstrate how each square foot can be well utilized. Speak to your agent about this topic to get their take and determine if the investment makes sense. If staging will cost $2,000 but it could potentially land a sales price that’s $10,000 or more versus an empty unit, then it’s likely money well spent. If your unit will be lived in by you or a tenant, be sure it’s kept clean, smells good, and shows well to potential buyers. There are pros and cons to selling a condo with or without residents in a unit, and you can lean on your agent to provide some perspective to determine which direction you would like to go.
Get digitally and socially plugged in
Digital and social media channels are increasingly critical to real estate success, and your condo’s marketing strategy should incorporate both. Be sure to work with an agency that has a strong foundation between digital and social to leverage your listing. We have thousands of email subscribers and social media followers thanks to ongoing efforts from our in-house marketing team, and it really helps to drive visibility to our client’s condo listing pages. Younger buyers, in particular, turn to the Internet and social media platforms to discover new condos for sale, so your listing needs significant exposure in these quickly evolving destinations. The messaging and visuals all need to be put together in such a way that clearly communicates the outstanding value of your condo, and why buyers should set up a private tour.
You will want your listing to be seen by as many potential buyers as possible, and that’s where the MLS can help. Your condo, when listed on the MLS can bring in exposure and help to drive more eyeballs, offers, and help to increase the final selling price. In addition to MLS there’s a huge benefit to also advertising your property on top local condo search sites as explored below.
Condo Culture’s unique approach to condo marketing
We have Waterloo Region’s most extensive local condo website that now receives more than 50,000 page views per month from active buyers who are looking for new homes and to invest in properties. We provide numerous condo marketing value-added services including driving significant web traffic to listings, gorgeous photography, virtual video tours and 3D/360-degree interactive experiences, social media posts and stories, newsletter exposure, blog articles, window displays at our Condo Culture Waterloo store, plus our team has deep condo market and local industry knowledge. In fact, our agents each average 42 condos sold per year, whereas agents at brokerages with non-specialized expertise average under 2 annually. We also have an extensive CRM database with tens of thousands of contacts that we leverage to help our clients successfully sell, buy, lease, and invest in condos.
Going it alone or using a limited services brokerage
Have you considered marketing and selling your condo on your own or going through a limited services brokerage? These are two alternatives to traditional real estate brokerages, but what should likely matter most to you is making as much profit as possible on your condo. We do know that brokerages tend to sell an average home for approximately 13% more than private sellers do for similar properties, and that interesting stat should weigh heavily in your representation decision.
If you decide to do all of the marketing and selling yourself, you should know that it’s a huge undertaking and time commitment. If you work a full-time job and have household and family responsibilities, your time is already stretched, so dedicating yourself to promote and sell a large product in the hundreds of thousands is a daunting task. You are essentially beginning from scratch, so getting started with the marketing aspect alone is challenging. Then once your listing is live you will have to manage communications with agents, do all of the showings, handle negotiations, manage paperwork, and many other tedious tasks. There are very good reasons why most homeowners decide to partner with brokerages, and most of the time it’s a wise decision. Even in today’s hot real estate market, you might be able to sell your own condo, but odds are you aren’t maximizing your sale and profit numbers and there will be challenges all along the way.
Discount brokerages typically charge a fee when a home sells - around $4,000 plus taxes, and the buying agent typically receives a 2% to 3% commission. There are several issues for working with companies such as these, most notably, they aren’t motivated to make you as much profit as possible since they don’t receive commissions, so their end goal is to sell your place as quickly as possible and move on to the next customer.
For most homeowners, their house is one of their biggest assets. To protect that asset, goals need to be closely aligned between condo sellers, brokerages, and agents, and it’s important to have the most professional, skilled team in your corner to help you achieve your goals.
Examine Offers and Close a Deal
As you can see, there is a ton to do well before your condo even gets listed and is ready to have potential buyers in. Once your condo is ready to be toured and marketed, the fun part really begins as your agent gets all of the sales materials in place and the marketing strategy is executed upon. Requests to view your condo will be made and your sales agent will align with buying agents to ensure their clients can get in to physically experience the space.
There are a couple of main ways that agents and their selling clients deal with offers - either take in offers right away or hold off on offers for a few days so they can all be viewed at the same time. If offers are being held, there are times where bully offers can be made - these are typically offers that are a lot higher than a listing price and usually come with few or no conditions. Ideally, with a strong go-to-market strategy, your condo will have multiple offers on it to help increase the final sale price.
Agents are especially valuable when it comes to having to negotiate a sale, especially when several parties are vying to purchase a condo because they can optimize to truly get the most money possible. Your agent should be constantly communicating with you during the tour and offer stage until a deal gets completed with your approval. We advise you to have a bottom-line number that you want to see and that your agent is comfortable with getting to, and put your agent to work until he or she achieves it. Before a firm deal is reached, you need to be happy with it, so it’s vitally important that your agent knows how you’re feeling about everything all along the way, and don’t be shy to over-communicate so everyone is always on the same page.
Work Through the Closing Period and Costs
Congratulations, together with your agent you have sold your condo as the deal is firm and the process is close to wrapping up. Conditional offers are common and usually take a week or so to firm up, this allows all parties to do some final due diligence and be comfortable with the deal as a whole. Next up is working through the closing details and costs with your team. It typically takes a month or two before a deal officially closes and expect to budget roughly 5% to 7% of your condo’s selling price to put towards closing costs.
Condo closing costs typically include:
Distribute the Keys and Fobs
Before the closing period has wrapped up, your condo’s keys and fobs need to be given to your lawyer or agent, so one of them can take care of getting the keys and fobs to the new owner’s lawyer or agent. You may have a parking garage fob or remote, mail keys, building keys, keys to amenity spaces, locker room keys, your actual unit’s keys and fobs, and other devices, as well. This is when things really get real in that your condo no longer belongs to you, and it’s always a bit bitter-sweet when the time comes to start a new chapter in your life within a new home. Reflect on all of the good times in your condo, the lifelong memories created, and be especially proud of making a tremendous financial investment. Cheers to your condo selling success, and thanks for reading our 2022 condo sellers guide!
We absolutely love selling condos for our clients throughout Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, Cambridge, and beyond, and would be honoured to represent you and your property. If you own a condo and have intentions of selling it sometime soon or further down the line, then let’s connect and discuss your options. Visit us at our Condo Culture Waterloo store at 191 King Street South, or send us a message - our friendly team looks forward to hearing from you and helping you to achieve all of your amazing condo goals.