How to get that stubborn condo sold

Just over a year ago, a 62-year-old federal contractor from Virginia met the love of his life, a receptionist of the same age. The couple soon married and now wants to retire in Florida. There’s just one catch: They can’t move until he sells his condo. And that’s proving quite a feat.

Like this couple, many who wish to sell their condos are finding it hard to liquidate their units. One factor is that many wannabe condo buyers are now hesitant to commit to a property purchase in the current economic climate.

Still, he says there’s reason for optimism among would-be condo sellers.

Current demographic trends favor condos for young buyers who need well-priced housing as well as those close to retirement, said Eric Tyson, a personal finance expert and author of “House Selling for Dummies.”

Another factor favoring condo sales in the current market are the attractive price tags dangling from many units.

Also, an increasing number of people want to live in desirable neighborhoods where condos are the sole housing option, says Sid Davis, a real estate broker and author of “A Survival Guide to Selling a Home.”

Despite these positives, in many areas with soft real estate markets, condo-apartments owners still find it hard to sell. If this is your situation, these pointers could prove helpful:

Scope out your competition.

Has your condo languished on the market unsold for a lengthy period? If that’s the case, Davis suggests you play “snoopy neighbor” and check out rival sellers to see if they’re offering more (or less) than you.

Your listing agent may be willing to help you gather intelligence on your competitors by making appointments to show you other local For Sale units, or by screening other condos and then reporting back to you.

Set your price a notch below your condo’s realistic market value.

While surveying other For Sale units, you should pay extra attention to your competitors’ pricing, says Ashley Richardson, a veteran real estate agent affiliated with the Council of Residential Specialists (

Make your condo clean and spotless.

A cluttered or dirty home is such a showstopper for home sellers because, as Davis says, every purchaser hopes that their new place will give them a clean slate.

Invest reasonable sums to upgrade your unit.

Two relatively low-cost improvements that could make a major difference include the removal of dated wallpaper and the repainting of your unit.

Beyond painting, other upgrades to your condo’s infrastructure could prove more costly and should be carefully evaluated in advance.

Your listing agent should be able to help you assess whether such expensive upgrades could make a meaningful difference in promoting your sale. But if you decide to go forward with these expenditures, Richardson says you shouldn’t assume you can tack the cost of these upgrades onto your selling price.

Ellen James Martin: Making an unsold condo more salable – Inside Bay Area.

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