Step #1 – Decide When To Sell Your Condo

If only there were an easy answer to the oft-asked question of: When should I sell my house? Important considerations include:

  • Time of year – Real estate in Wisconsin can be seasonal, different between north woods and south of Stevens Point, and differs if in a college town or not.  Northern Wisconsin sales in December, January and February historically being the slowest months.  Many property managers try to lock in renters for those cold months, and adds to the cyclical nature of sales that happen when the spring ‘thaw’ comes.  We find that the best months to list a house for sale in northern Wisconsin are February, March, April with a final push in September before hunting season and the Holidays come around.  Sales in Dane County and Milwaukee are far more balanced, with flatter distribution curves, than northern Wisconsin.
  • Current competition in your Association – At any given time, there are only so many Buyers looking for the kind of condo you have. If those Buyers have a big selection of units like yours to look at, you can expect to have fewer showings and fewer offers which will usually result in a lower price. Conversely, if you’re the only renovated three-bedroom house with a garage for sale in your neighborhood, everyone will flock to your house.
  • Current competition in similar or nearby Associations – Most Buyers have two or three target neighborhoods they want to live in, so it’s important to consider what’s for sale in neighborhoods similar to yours too. Similar neighborhoods aren’t just those that are physically close but include those similar in quality of the schools, proximity to parks, restaurants, services and transportation and similar in terms of the type of people who live there (singles, couples, families, retirees, etc.)
  • State of the real estate market – Interest rates and consumer confidence affect prices, and while the Wisconsin price paid has been on an upswing for a long time, like any other type of market, what goes up usually comes down. What’s going on in the market right now?  Have one of our experienced agents come thru with data and information that’s relevant to your neck of the woods and neighborhood.
  • Your personal needs and goals – If you’re moving out of the city or have already bought a new house, then that timing will likely override everything else. Likewise, an upcoming baby, need for a live-in nanny, job change, wedding or divorce might dictate your timing too.

Ask Us: Are you Ready to Sell? 

Ask Us: Should  You Buy or Sell First?

Ask Us: Selling Your Investment  Condo

Ask Us: How Much Does it Cost to Sell a Condo?

Step #2: Prepare Your Condo for Sale

When preparing your condo for sale, keep these goals in mind:

  1. Declutter to make the maximize the space you have and allow potential Buyers to imagine living in your home. Remove personal items, extra armoires and anything that could distract potential Buyers.  Smaller furniture will make the rooms look bigger, so consider swapping out that King sized bed that takes up the whole bedroom for a smaller one, and replacing the L-shaped couch with a more compact version. Clear out closets, donate items you don’t use. Most of our house Sellers end up calling a junk removal company or storing some of their belongings offsite during the sale. In NE Wisconsin we love Truck ‘N Junk  and Pods for storage).
  2. Make sure every room is staged to its optimal use It’s OK if you’re using two of your three bedrooms as offices, but convert them back to bedrooms while the house is listed for sale. Buyers don’t often have great imaginations, so put a bed in the bedroom, a dining table in the dining room and a desk in the den. A good REALTOR will spend time identifying your house’s target Buyer and will guide you to stage your home to reflect how they would want to live in it.
  3. Clean, clean and clean again! The cleaner your house is, the faster it will sell. Buyers won’t just look at surfaces – they’ll look inside your closets, your kitchen cupboards and your bathroom vanity. Make sure everything sparkles!

Related:  The 30 Day Guide to Preparing Your Home for Sale

Special Considerations for Condos

Storage – The last thing you want to communicate to Buyers is that the condo doesn’t have enough storage. Store off-season clothes offsite,  get rid of all those kitchen appliances and the second set of dishes and minimize your toiletries. Make sure cupboards and closets aren’t overflowing (3/4 full is a good guideline).

Parking and Storage Rooms – Don’t use them as a dumping ground for all extra stuff. They’re a valuable part of what you’re selling.

Smells can linger in a home or condo, so make sure you don’t cook foods with strong odours (fish, curries, etc.) while your condo is for sale. Clean the litter box at least twice a day. And don’t even think about smoking in your condo.  If you have smoked in it in the past, consider using an ozone device from authorized distributer-  These things are strong, so know you will have to vacate during treatment with ozone replenishment. A good carpet and window covering cleaning and a fresh coat of paint can go a long way to eliminating odors, too.  Avoid the use of strong air fresheners as that can turn a Buyer off.

Neighbors It never hurts to let your immediate neighbors know you’ll be selling.  They can be helpful and courteous when agents arrive with Buyers, and hopefully be helpful in being respectful by not playing music too loud, etc.  –  note in your own conversation it’s helpful to them too if you get a good price!

Step #3:  Staging

Home staging is a must for almost every condo if your goal is to sell it for as much money as possible. We don’t sell homes the same way we live in them, so although moving furniture to create more space may feel different, doing so will help sell faster and for more money.  Remind us to tell the story of the condo owner that worked for Oshkosh Truck.  The home was decorated with everything ‘Truck.’  Within 10 days of softening the presentation he was most happy with a good Offer!

Ask Us: A Staging Q&A

Ask Us: Staging Before & After Photos

Step #4: Pricing Your Condo for Sale

Determining the value of a condo is generally easier than valuing a house because there are likely identical or nearly identical comparable sales in your building. In determining the value of a condo, real estate agents and appraisers will determine the price per square foot of recent sales and use that as a basis to determine the value of your condo. For example, a 750 sqft condo may be worth $900 psf (per square foot) or $675,000.

It’s important to note:

  • Diminishing psf returns on size – the bigger the condominium, the lower the cost per square foot (as the condo gets bigger, each square foot becomes less valuable as there are more of them)
  • Ceiling and Floor Height Matters– although some residents prefer the ground floor to avoid steps and elevators, in high-rises the higher the floor, the higher the cost per square foot (buyers are willing to pay more for a condo on a higher floor)
  • Views are Important – the better the view, the higher the cost per square foot (views can be extremely valuable)
  • Exposure Matters (whether the unit faces south, north, east or west) will impact value
  • Good Layouts are Valuable– Buyers will pay more for layouts with more usable space rather than lots of hallways or a big foyer
  • Higher Level Corner units tend to be worth more than non-corner units due to having more window views

How well the condo shows will also impact price, including how it is staged, how clean and clutter-free it is and whether it smells like the litter box or what you ate for dinner.

While comparable unit sales in your building are the most important consideration in valuing your condo, your real estate agent will also look at the units in your building currently for sale (i.e., the competition), as well as recent sales and competition in nearby similar buildings.

When it comes to determining a condo pricing strategy you can price for a bidding war, price at market value or price above market value and negotiate.  Keep in mind:

  1. Supply and Demand – Because there are generally multiple units that are identical or near-identical in a building, Buyers may not feel the desperation that they often feel with a house – if they miss out on buying this condo, there’ll likely be another similar one come on the market soon.
  2. Less Emotional Connection – We often see House Buyers fall in love, for example, with the original turn of the century stained glass windows, professionally landscaped backyard or prime location of a particular house. With more similarities than differences, traditional condos don’t tend to create the same emotional reactions in Buyers. That doesn’t mean people don’t fall in love with condos – they do – but because Buyers know how much the same unit one floor above sold for, they aren’t apt to significantly bid over the price.

Other factors that will affect the price of your condo:

  • Upgrades from original builder – while they won’t add as much value as you paid for them, they will help differentiate you from the other condos available for sale
  • Renovations – don’t generally add much value to newer condos, but can add a lot of value in older condos. Remember, the value of $20,000 kitchen upgrades does not mean $20k in added value – the value is more usually the $20k MINUS what was being removed.
  • Ceiling height – taller is better
  • Maintenance fees – if maintenance fees are significantly higher than average, prices will generally be lower
  • Parking – more stalls the better, and indoor parking garages are secondary but also preferred to outdoor
  • Locker or en-suite storage – definitely add value where some condos might be limited
  • Outdoor space – balconies and terraces add value, real and comparable to others that do not have
  • Amenities in the building – while some Buyers don’t want the amenities because of the higher maintenance fees, others want the concierge/pool/theatre room/guest parking
  • Location, location, location
  • The ratio of Renters to Owners – Buyers prefer condo buildings where the majority of the people living there are owners. Significant number of renters can also affect type of financing that might be available due to underwriting concerns
  • The reputation of the building – the demographics of the residents, noise proofing, quality of construction, legal problems, the effectiveness of the Board of Directors

Ask Us: Pricing Strategies for Home Sellers

Ask Us:  How Much Is Your Condo Worth? Valuing a Condo

Step #5: Marketing

One of your real estate agent’s most important jobs will be making sure potential Buyers see your condo. With the boom of condos across the state, standing out from your competition even in a nearby town can be critical. A comprehensive marketing campaign for a condo differs than one for a house in the following ways:

  • Most condos are smaller than houses, so photography and videography can be a challenge. Experienced professionals with wide-angle lenses should be able to capture a room without making it seem smaller or bigger than it truly is. If your agent suggests taking the pictures themselves, run!  We use professional photographers!
  • Unless your unit is on the first couple of floors and facing a busy street, a for sale sign’ will be of no use. Being able to capture condo Buyer attention online is that much more important.  However, many condo associations have bulletin boards near elevators or meeting rooms that can be beneficial!
  • Your target Buyer is out there  – they may be first time buyers, the parents of first-time buyers, doctor that needs to be within 30 minutes of the ER on occasion, an international investor, a recent divorcee, a newly married couple, seniors who’ve just sold their family home or a young couple with a baby on the way. Smart real estate agents will go to great lengths to profile your target Buyer and create a marketing campaign to reach them.

Ask Us: How We Market a Home For Sale

Step #6: Showings

When Buyers make an appointment to see your condo, keep the following in mind:

  • Leave the condo! There’s nothing more distracting for a Buyer than having to walk around the owner.
  • Be flexible with showing times – There’s a lot of competition out there, so make it convenient for Buyers to see your condo.
  • If you have a tenant in your condo: you’ll need to provide them with 24 hours notice for showings. The sale will be less intrusive to them if it’s quick, so their cooperation – in de-cluttering, and keeping it clean – will go a long way.
  • Make it easy for Buyers to see the facilities. Make sure the agents have easy access to a FOB so they can show your building’s facilities.

Ask Us: Tips for Selling with Kids

Ask Us: Tips for Selling with Pets

Step #7: Offers

Generally, when selling a condo, you can expect to see offers with two conditions:

  1. A financing condition, which allows the Buyer to confirm their mortgage qualifications with a lender
  2. Review of Association documents, which allows the Buyers to review the condominium documents to ensure that all appears well in Happy Valley.

Your real estate agent will lead the negotiations of any offers you receive, but the final decision of what to accept – price, conditions, closing date – are yours to make.

Ask Us: Offers: What to Expect for Condo Sellers: Offer Night 

Ask Us: Offers: What to Expect  for Condo Sellers: Bidding Wars

Ask Us: Offers: What to Expect for Condo Sellers: Bully Offers

Step #8: Closing Day

As closing day (the day the new Buyer takes possession) approaches, you’ll need to make sure to:

  • Inform the utility companies of your impending move
  • Sign or pre-sign documents with title company so that you don’t continue to pay property taxes and in most instances, collect your proceed$
  • Cancel your home insurance (to take effect after  you have confirmation that the sale has closed)