Keri Shull's Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Condo

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Selling Your Condo

If you’re thinking of selling your condo, there are a few things you should know. The Keri Shull team has helped hundreds of people sell their condos all over the DMV area, getting more and more knowledgeable about the process along the way. That’s why we’ve decided to share what we’ve learned with you — our prospective sellers — to prepare you as much as possible before you take your first step. This guide will help you become a successful seller and ensure you cover all of your bases when putting your condo on the market.

Deciding When to Sell Your Condo

Time of year — The real estate industry can certainly have seasonal trends, but the reality is that condos are still bought and sold all year round. A common misconception is that buyers aren’t looking for homes in the fall and winter months, but this could not be less true. Serious buyers will continue to search until they find the home they’re looking for.

Current Competition — Condos are relatively similar from one to the next, especially units in the same building, which is why some buyers see condos are commodities rather than their next dream home. That’s why it’s so important to price your unit appropriately in comparison to your current competition. Comparable Neighborhoods — Most buyers have more than one target neighborhood, so compare your building’s amenities and your neighborhood to similar offerings. This doesn’t just include the neighborhoods that are close in proximity to yours, but those that have similar characteristics like schools, parks, public transportation, and the type of people that live there.

The Market — This is huge! You need to know what’s going on in the market before you list your condo. Currently, the DMV market has been on an upswing, but as with all markets, it’s bound to fluctuate. It’s highly recommended that you contact an in-the-know realtor in the location you’re trying to sell in for the most up-to-date information on the current market.

Your Personal Situation — If you just got a new job in a different city, that timing will likely override anything else when you’re deciding when to sell your condo. Similarly, expecting a child or going through a divorce will also dictate the timing.

Preparing Your Condo for Sale

There are three main goals you need to meet in order to successfully list your condo on the market:

  • Declutter Your Condo — Maximize the space in your condo by decluttering. This will allow potential buyers to envision themselves and their belongings inside of your space. Remove personal items like photographs, clean out the closets, and trash or donate anything you don’t plan on bringing with you to your new place.
  • Clean Your Condo — No buyer wants to look at a dirty condo! We’ve also noticed buyers don’t tend to have the best imaginations when being shown units, so do the hard work and clean your space from top to bottom. Make sure to keep up with the cleaning while your condo is being shown too, even if it takes months!
  • Stage Your Condo — Stage every room in your house to its ideal look and optimal use. Bigger furniture makes a room look and feel smaller, so swap out pieces between rooms to create the perfect balance. Know that a great realtor will have professional staging experience and be able to help you stage your condo for its ideal buyer.

Special Condo Considerations

  • Neighbors — Let your nearby neighbors know you’re selling. Then they won’t be surprised to see people going in and out of your condo all day, and hopefully, they will take special care to be mindful of this (no excessive noise, friendly to visitors, etc.). After all, if you get a good price on your unit, the value of your neighbors’ units will go up too. So, tell the other condo owners in your building that you’re putting your condo on the market. You never know, you may even get an offer from one of them looking to expand the size of their unit.
  • Parking — If you have garage space, make sure it is kept tidy. Potential buyers will want to see where they’ll be storing their car and you don’t want to be caught keeping all of your unused junk piled up there.
  • Storage — When decluttering your condo, it’s a good idea to store things you won’t be using somewhere offsite while showing your unit to potential buyers. You want to give the appearance of having lots of storage space, even if it is only an illusion. Clean out kitchen cabinets, organize your closets, and keep countertops clean and uncluttered.
  • Outdoor Space — If you have personal outdoor space like a garden or patio, freshen up your landscape. Plant some bright new flowers, pull some weeds, and sweep up leaves and debris. This goes for balconies too. Declutter these spaces as well to maximize the potential of the space.
  • Odors — Smells can linger longer in a condo or an apartment, so don’t cook anything too pungent while you’re showing your condo. If you have cats, clean the litter boxes often. If you’re a smoker, it is recommended that you treat your condo to remove any residual smell from the walls, carpet, and furniture. Don’t go overboard on the air fresheners though; your buyer will want the place smelling fresh without being overbearing.

Pricing Your Condo For Sale

It’s safe to say that pricing a condo is a little easier than pricing a normal house because there are nearly identical units to compare it to either in the same building or in the same neighborhood. Realtors also base their recommended listing prices off of square footage and recent sales. Things to keep in mind when pricing your condo include:

  • Exposure — If your unit has views, this will help boost your listing price. The direction your condo faces affects the worth of your unit. Level — Statistics show that buyers are willing to pay more money for a condo on the 10th floor than they are for a unit on the second floor. Generally, the higher the floor, the higher the cost per square foot.
  • Layout — Buyers tend to like open floor plans more because of the usable space and will pay a higher price for an open layout.
  • Size — Though it seems counterintuitive, the more square feet your condo has, the less price you’ll fetch per square foot. The bigger the condo, the less valuable each square foot becomes because there are more of them. That doesn’t mean you won’t make a profit on your sale, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind when pricing your unit.
  • Corner Units — It always has been and still is a thing; corner condo units are worth more to buyers than non-corner units.

Of course, the buyer is ultimately the one who will decide how much your condo is worth. However, how well it shows, how clean it is, how decluttered your space is, and the staging of your unit will have a big impact on the sales price too.

Throughout our experience selling condos, we’ve noticed that condos don’t usually produce bidding wars and buyers often come in under the asking price. This is due to the laws of supply and demand, and the idea that a condo is an investment rather than a forever home. Buyers don’t feel quite as pressured to close on a condo like they do with a house because they know there will be other similar units available if they don’t get yours. There are also a lot of condos on the market at any given time, making competition fierce. People still fall in love with condos, but they have an advantage when making an offer on a condo due to the comparable sales next to, above, and below the unit.

More factors that will impact the price of your condo

  • Ceilings — Higher ceilings make condos feel much larger and will almost always fetch a higher price.
  • Amenities — Your building’s amenities make a difference when pricing your condo. Though some buyers aren’t looking for a higher HOA fee, others expect it along with the gym, pool, common space, etc.
  • Location — As when selling any type of house, the location of your condo will be incredibly important to potential buyers and have an effect on the price.
  • Outdoor Space — Terraces, balconies, and private gardens are a big commodity when it comes to condos.
  • Maintenance Fees — If your monthly maintenance fees on your condo are steep, this will likely lower the sales price of your unit.
  • Owners vs. Renters — In our experience, most buyers prefer to live in a building where most residents are owners instead of renters, though this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker.
  • The Building — The quality of construction, the demographics of your building’s residents, and any legal issues with your building will impact the price as well.
  • Renovations — Renovations in newer condos won’t matter as much when it comes to pricing your unit, but renovations of older units will make a big difference.

Marketing Your Condo for Sale

The best part about having an experienced, professional realtor on your side when listing your condo is that your agent will know just how to market your condo to draw in your ideal buyers while edging out the competition. Marketing condos for sale is different than marketing a normal house and can present its own unique challenges. Consider the following when marketing your condo:

  • Videography/Photography — It takes a little more finesse to effectively portray your condo’s space than it does for a traditional house, but a professional photographer or videographer will know to use a wide-angle lens to do each room justice. Photos and videos are essential to successfully market and sell your condo.
  • “For Sale” Signs — Unless you’re listing the bottom unit, a “For Sale” sign probably won’t be of much use to you when selling your condo. Not many people will see it, which makes your condo’s online presence much more critical.
  • Open House Limitations — Some condominiums don’t permit open houses because it could be a fire hazard or safety concern. If this is the case with your building, don’t worry; you can always schedule private appointments to show your unit to potential buyers.
  • Your Ideal Buyer Is Out There! — Rest assured that your ideal buyer for your condo exists. It just requires proper marketing and preparation to draw them in. The Keri Shull team has foolproof marketing techniques and a wide social network. That’s why we guarantee to sell your condo, or we’ll buy it from you ourselves!

Showing Your Condo

Our tips for showing your condo are similar to our tips for selling a traditional house or townhouse, but there are a few key differences to keep in mind too. When showing your condo, remember to:

  • Be Flexible — Buyers will not always be available to see your condo on a day that is the most convenient for your schedule, so be flexible. The more time you can make to show your condo, the better chances you’ll have at selling your condo faster.
  • Leave Your Condo — This is a deal breaker: leave the condo when it’s being shown or else! Buyers don’t want to tour a condo with the buyer around; they like to feel comfortable to speak freely with their agent while viewing your space. Run some errands, walk the dog, or hang out with a friend. Trust us, it will make a big difference.
  • Keep Your Tenants in the Loop — If you’ve been renting your condo out, make sure you tell your tenant that you’re listing the place and scheduling showings. You need to give your tenant at least 24 hours notice before a showing. Any and all courtesy you can show them will help your condo remain clean, decluttered, and vacated for potential buyers to see.
  • Copy Your Keys/Fob — If your agent is as good as we are, they’ll have potential buyers interested in seeing your condo at once and your agent will need to show them your unit fast to not risk losing the sale. That’s why it’s best to have a copy of the keys or an extra fob to your building to make it convenient for your agent and buyers to view your unit, even when you're not around.

Receiving Offers on Your Condo

When selling a condo, you will generally receive offers with the following conditions:

  • Financing Condition — This type of condition allows for buyers to confirm their mortgage qualifications with their lender before the deal is final.
  • Status Certificate Condition — This condition allows a buyer’s lawyer to review any and all documents to ensure that the deal is sound financially and legally.

Thankfully, a great real estate agent will lead negotiations when you start receiving offers on your condo. They will be there to give you advice and answer any questions you may have. Ultimately the final decision on what offer you accept with what conditions will be determined by you, the seller.

Closing on your Condo

This is the final step in the process of selling your condo! Closing Day is the day the buyer takes official ownership of your condo. Before the sale of your condo is finalized on Closing Day, make sure to:

  • Inform the Property Manager — Let them know you are moving out and cancel your maintenance fees.
  • Inform the Utility Companies — Let them know you’ve sold your condo and that you will be moving soon, so they can switch the accounts over.
  • Cancel Your Home Insurance - Only do this once you’ve received official confirmation that the sale has closed!
  • Book an Elevator in Your Building — You’ll need to move all of your stuff out of your place before Closing Day, so check with your building to see when you can commandeer an elevator to use on Moving Day. It may be best to do it early in the morning or on a particular day of the week.

Have more questions about selling your condo? Think we left something out?

Contact the Keri Shull team and ask away! We look forward to hearing from you.