Condos are attractive to homebuyers because they’re generally less expensive and require less maintenance than single-family homes. Whether you live in a condo or own one as a vacation home or investment property, selling it has unique advantages — and challenges.
As you prepare to sell your condo, be aware that the process is different from selling a house. Connect with a real estate agent who specializes in condos early on in the process, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
The good news is that no matter how the market is doing, you can typically sell a condo faster than you could a house. So once you list your condo, be prepared to vacate the property quickly and have other living arrangements in place ahead of time.
Here are five steps you can take to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Step 1: Check HOA rules
Condos are typically managed by a homeowners or condo association, which sets rules for the community, including selling requirements. Each association has its own set of covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), which regulate the steps you need to take before you can sell, and even who you can sell to.
For example, you might need to pay all your outstanding HOA fees, if any, before you can list your condo. Or the HOA might need to vet prospective buyers before it allows a sale to go through. In some cases, the HOA could have the right of first refusal, which means it can choose to buy the property at the agreed-upon sale price, regardless of your discussions with potential buyers.
As you prepare your home for the market, read through the CC&Rs to familiarize yourself with all of the amenities provided by your HOA. You’ll want to tout these to prospective buyers.
Step 2: Determine how much the condo is worth
Pricing a condo is a bit different than pricing a single-family home. While you can generally come to a reasonable price for a house based on comparable homes in the area, that process can be a bit trickier with condos. In fact, just because another condo in your community sold for a certain price doesn’t mean you can get the same amount.
Some of the factors you’ll want to consider include:
- Floor number: In high-rise buildings, units on higher floors tend to sell at higher prices for several reasons, such as better views, fewer pests, more natural light and less street noise. As you look at comparable condos in your area, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.
- Living area: As with houses, the more square footage your condo has, the more valuable it likely is. Keep in mind, though, that if a space is arranged in a way that makes it less efficient or comfortable, that could hurt the value.
- Bedrooms and bathrooms: Similarly, the more bedrooms and bathrooms, the more your condo will be worth.
- Views: Depending on where it’s located, views can have a significant impact on a condo’s value. For example, if it has a view of the ocean or another body of water, a large park, a city skyline or mountains, it could be worth more than a property that overlooks, say, a shopping mall. As you research comps, you’ll also want to make sure you’re looking at properties that face the same directions (i.e., north, south, east or west).
Step 3: Figure out when to sell
Unlike traditional houses, for which the busiest homebuying seasons tend to be spring and summer, condos don’t follow a specific selling cycle — at least not across the board. If you live in an area where many people vacation, for instance, waiting until shortly before peak season might be the best way to maximize your profit.
Of course, if you don’t have the luxury of waiting for the right time, the best time to sell is when you need to. Your agent will understand timing and the different factors that impact condo sales in your market — he or she can help guide your decision.
Step 4: Decide whether to make repairs
Curb appeal is just as important for condos as it is for other types of property, but because condos tend to be less unique in their communities than single-family homes, it could take a little more work to get yours to stand out.
A deep-clean is a must, but you’ll also want to decide whether to make repairs and touch-ups. In today’s seller’s market, you could have more latitude to sell the condo as-is and have the buyer take care of any needed repairs. If there are some serious issues, however, such as a leaky water heater, some buyers might ask for a repair or try to negotiate a lower sales price.
Step 5: Consider selling vs. renting
Depending on your situation, leasing the condo out to a tenant might actually be a better option than selling.
If you don’t need the cash to buy your next property and you can feasibly get more in monthly rent than you’re paying on your mortgage, insurance, property taxes and HOA fees, turning the condo into an investment property could be the right move.
That said, consider the potential drawbacks of becoming a landlord. Expenses can add up quickly, and there’s always the possibility of vacancies and bad tenants. Managing the property can be time-consuming, too.
Be sure to check your HOA or condo association’s rules about renting — in some cases, it might not be allowed or there could be significant restrictions on the process.
Once you’ve considered all of your options, and all the questions above, are you ready to sell? If so, tell your real estate agent you’re ready to put the condo on the market — and then, hopefully, just sit back and watch the offers roll in.