Thinking of selling your Toronto condo?  Read on to find out what you need to know to sell your condo for top dollar.

Step #1 – Decide When To Sell Your Condo

There isn’t any easy answer to the oft-asked question of: When should I sell my condo? Important considerations include:

  • Time of year – Real estate in Toronto is seasonal, with December and January generally being the slowest months. Of course, there’s something to be said for listing your condo when competition is low too.
  • Current competition in your building – Because condos are seen more as commodities than houses (there are many similar units), the amount, quality and price of the current competition must be taken into account.
  • Current competition for similar condos in similar buildings – While less important than what’s going on in your building, if you have a one bed+ den and there are more on the market than usual, that will impact how long it takes your condo to sell.
  • State of the real estate market – Interest rates and consumer confidence affect prices.
  • Your personal goals – If you’re moving out of the city or have already bought a new property, then that timing will likely override everything else.

Step #2: Prepare Your Condo for Sale

When preparing your condo for sale, keep these 3 goals in mind:

  1. Declutter to make the space look as big as possible One of the biggest challenges of condo living is space. 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.
  2. Make sure every room is staged to its optimal use It’s OK if you’re using your second bedroom as a walk-in closet, but convert it back to being a bedroom during the listing. Buyers don’t often have great imaginations, so put a dining table in the dining room and a desk in the den.
  3. Clean, clean and clean again! The cleaner your condo 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!

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 Lockers-  Don’t use them as a dumping ground for all extra stuff. They’re  a valuable part of what you’re selling.

Smells Smells can linger in a 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 getting a ‘smoke bomb’ to take the smell away. A good carpet and window covering cleaning and a fresh coat of paint can go a long way to eliminating odours.  Avoid the use of strong air fresheners as that can turn a Buyer off too.

 Neighbours It never hurts to let your immediate neighbours know you’ll be selling. Hopefully, they’ll be considerate (e.g. no loud music during showing hours)  – if you get a good price, that’ll help their value too!

Step #3: 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 $600 psf (per square foot) or $450,000.

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)
  • Height Matters– 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, especially if they are of Lake Ontario or the CN Tower)
  • 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 useable space rather than lots of hallways or a big foyer
  • Corner units are worth more than non-corner units

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 condo pricing strategy, keep in mind that unlike Toronto houses, condos don’t generally get bidding wars and generally sell for at or below their asking price. There are 2 main reasons for this:

  1. Supply and Demand – Because there are generally multiple units that are identical or near-identical in a building, Buyers don’t 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. In addition, the sheer volume of available condos means there are more to choose from.
  2. Less Emotional Connection – We often see House Buyers fall in love, for example, with the original turn of the century stained glass windows, professional 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 bid $100,000 over the price.

Other factors that will affect the price of your condo:

  • Upgrades from the 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
  • Ceiling height – taller is better
  • Maintenance fees – if maintenance fees are significantly higher than average, prices will generally be lower
  • Parking – generally adds $25,000 $50,000 to the price of a downtown condo
  • Locker or en-suite storage – definitely in high demand
  • Outdoor space – balconies and terraces are in high demand
  • 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
  • Ratio of Renters to Owners – Buyers prefer condo buildings where the majority of the people living there are owners
  • Reputation of the building – the demographics of the residents, noise proofing, quality of construction, legal problems, effectiveness of the Board of Directors

Step #4: Marketing

One of your real estate agent’s most important jobs will be making sure potential Buyers see your condo. With thousands of condos for sale in Toronto, standing out from your competition is 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!
  • Unless you’re 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.
  • For safety reasons, some condominium buildings don’t allow open houses. If your condo restricts open houses, your agent can arrange for interested Buyers to see it by appointment. (we’ve also been known to sweet-talk our way into a number of ‘no open house’ buildings)
  • Your target Buyer is out there  – they may be first time buyers, the parents of first time buyers, 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.

Step #5: 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.

Step #6: 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. Status certificate condition, which allows the Buyer’s lawyer to review the condominium documents to ensure that it is sound legally and financially.

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.

Step #7: Closing Day

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

  • Book the elevator for your move out. There are usually time and day restrictions, so this early!
  • Inform your property manager that you are moving and cancel your monthly maintenance fees
  • Inform the utility companies of your impending move
  • Cancel your home insurance (to take effect after you have confirmation that the sale has closed)