Why Selling a Condo is Not the Same as Selling a Home

Posted by C21 Atria on Wednesday, July 4th, 2018 at 4:00pm.

Selling a Toronto condo is not like selling a home

When it comes to your Toronto real estate transactions, you might be tempted to think that the process of selling a condominium will be the same as selling a detached home of similar value.

In some ways, you’d be right.

What Home and Condos Sales Share

Both condo sales and home sales begin when the seller contacts an agent—or decides to go it alone. In consultation with the seller, the agent then conducts research in order to set an asking price that fits the seller’s needs. This is a delicate balancing act between setting a price that’s low enough to attract interest, while high enough that the seller feels they haven’t missed out.

After getting the property ready to sell—it’s common to hire a professional home stager or photographer—the agent begins marketing and showing the home to prospective buyers. If everything goes right, the seller will begin to see offers, and the final stages of negotiating and closing the deal will begin.

Looked at in outline, selling your condo will not be all that different selling a home.

But what many first-time sellers miss—especially in the larger metropolitan centers of the GTA—are the less noticeable ways in which selling your Toronto condo can be a very different experience than selling a traditional home.

Like many small things that escape notice, not paying attention can have big consequences. Let’s explore.

Condo Fees

Call them maintenance fees, strata fees, HOA (homeowners association) fees—or just condo fees. Whatever you call them, these fees are a major differentiator between homes and condos, and they’re often a legitimate concern for potential condo buyers who’ve heard horror stories of rapidly escalating costs associated with building maintenance. Sure, homes can also be money pits, but the illusion of control has a powerful effect in calming buyer’s nerves.

Be aware of how your fees compare to similar buildings on the market, and ensure you have a good grasp of where they’re going. You’re legally required to disclose them, so thinking about how to discuss them with a potential buyer is paramount. Even if there are issues—for instance, debt or impending legislation—disclosing them early will save everyone time. Be upfront, first and foremost.

Don’t be too quick to discount the value added to your condo by these fees though. Your condo strata, operating correctly, should be ensuring that your complex and any amenities are functional and well-maintained, that the building exterior is clean, and that landscaping is done routinely. Buyers, after all, are expecting fees, so be prepared to show them where these investments have delivered.

If you’ll be selling your condo five years from now, the best thing to do is join the strata council and do your part to ensure that residents’ fees are well-spent and that the building is well-maintained. Whether you’re happy or not about your current condo fees, taking direct responsibility will help you when it comes to selling your Toronto condo because you will have a say in where the money is spent.

Pricing Challenges

At first, setting a price for your condo can seem easier than pricing a house. After all, you can often look at identical or very similar units in the same building that have been on the market in the past few years. Why not simply price your condo accordingly?

When it comes to a condo, though, minute differences between properties become increasingly important. Just because another unit has a similar square footage or position in the building, doesn’t mean you should price it the same. Some questions worth asking yourself:

  • What’s the view like? Is it a beautiful vista of Lake Ontario or just a closeup of cars speeding along the Gardiner Expressway?

  • Does your condo face north, south, east, or west? A buyer who appreciates afternoon light might favour western exposure, while southern exposure ensures brightness all day. Buyers worried about cooling costs, though, might prefer northern or eastern exposure. 

  • Is it a corner unit? Will it see a lot of outside traffic from a nearby elevator, stairwell, or chute?

Home Staging

By and large, condos are tighter spaces than homes. And, for this reason, home staging is actually more crucial when it comes to preparing your condo for sale than a traditional home.

Why?

It comes down to clutter. Most condos tend to fill up quickly. When a resident—whether an individual, couple, or family—live in a place for awhile, they tend to accumulate things at a rapid pace, and condos rarely offer adequate storage options to tuck them all away.

While you may be tempted to stuff your tchotchkes into the nearest closet, keep in mind that buyers will be concerned about storage space too. There’s nothing more disconcerting than opening a closet during a showing or open house only to discover that it’s virtually overflowing. An experienced agent is unlikely to let it go that far, but it’s been known to happen.

Before you start showing, make sure that you give the condo a thorough cleaning and consider renting off-site storage for anything inessential for the duration of the time your condo will be on the market. The small sacrifice of not having immediate access to that snowglobe your great aunt gifted you last Christmas will pay off immensely, we promise.

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