Selling Your First Condo

You have just found out that you are being relocated for work; your boyfriend has just asked you to move in after 5 years together; you walked into an open house and fell in love with, and bought a house; your current condo is too small; your current condo is too big; your neighbour parties too much and is far too loud…

There are a number of reasons why you may be contemplating the sale of your first condo. People put a lot of thought into making this decision. Unfortunately, they often fall flat on the next step of choosing the right realtor to help you do that. Many first-time sellers in Liberty Village bought their condos directly from the builders off plans prior to the building being built. many did not use the services of a realtor for their initial purchase. Fair enough.

It’s now time to sell…who do you turn to? Your parents’ agent in Milton? Your cousin’s agent in Richmond Hill? The guy who undercuts his commission AND offers you cash back on closing? The lady on the flyer in your mailbox with a variety of spelling mistakes on it? The agent you met at the open house next door who has just set foot in Liberty Village for the 2nd time?

Every realtor has a different approach to preparing your condo for sale, and every seller must choose the realtor that’s right for them. But, as a realtor at an experienced brokerage, who lives in Liberty Village, I’m constantly amazed by the lazy and sloppy work of some listing agents. Here are some signs that you are considering the wrong realtor.

Some agents think that any property will sell itself, as long as it’s on MLS. There are often dozens of properties that match a buyer’s criteria. You have to give them, and their realtor, a reason to view your listing online in the first place, let alone go see the property. A “photo not available” notice on MLS is not enticing, but it’s astonishing how often this happens. Another major offence: when an agent takes his own photos with a BlackBerry camera instead of hiring a professional for $200. Consider it a deal-breaker if your agent refuses to bring in a photographer.

Only one in 10 MLS listings is what I’d call complete. Some agents don’t use the room description fields to detail the features and finishes, nor do they include room measurements. Each listing is given a full paragraph of space for a description, but many agents don’t use it at all. Others will say nothing about the property and offer generic blather such as “Great downtown condo close to amenities; perfect for your buyer.” Why not describe the actual property and not the city that surrounds it?  This is pertinent information that could affect whether or not a buyer is going to pay the property a visit.

Realtors should be working on staging, upgrading, marketing and other preparations for two to three weeks before the property is listed. No condo is ready to be listed tomorrow. Not one. I don’t believe in simply signing listing papers and throwing it up on MLS, as there are some things that should be done in advance of the listing.

Some of the marketing tools WE use include: custom photography, floor plan design, full custom neighbourhood and room descriptions, dedicated property websites, staging, custom feature sheet design, accurate property appraisal and more (sorry…can’t give it all away until we meet you).

At a time when there are plenty of discount agents available to sellers, I think it’s imperative that you consider exactly what you’re getting for your money. Just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s worthwhile. You likely wouldn’t use a 90 per cent off Groupon voucher for laser-eye surgery, so I’m continually amazed when property sellers allow their agents to cut corners because they got a discount on the price of the service. It’s your largest investment—don’t take the risk.

Certainly, these are all options but not necessarily the ones that will give you the very best return on your investment.

A special thanks to David Fleming and his GridTO article for some of the finer points.

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