How to Sell a Condo in a Tough Market

Follow your real estate agent's pricing recommendation.
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You know you’re in a tough condo market when nobody is making a serious offer on your property even though you’ve listed it for months with an agent. This may be because too many units like yours are for sale, too few buyers can afford the price or interest rates are so high that buyers can’t afford the mortgage. You need to try different strategies to finally get that "sold" sign.

Lower the Price

You may have your heart set on a price that covers what you paid when you bought your place, plus the cost of improvements you made, plus a healthy profit. The market doesn’t care about those numbers. If units similar to yours are selling for less, you won't generate interest in your condo. If it’s a tough economy, you need to lower your price to below those of similar properties. You don’t want to chase prices downward. Instead, you want to lead with the lowest offering. Your agent can help you set the amount after looking at comps, or comparable sales, in your area.

Offer Agent Incentives

A typical commission is 6 percent of the sales price, though it can vary by region. Half of this amount goes to your agent and the other half goes to the buyer’s agent. If both agents are the same person, she gets the full commission. Offer extra cash to all agents for a sale within a specific time period, such as 30 or 60 days. Even a fraction of a percentage increase in commission can be a big motivator if you have a high-priced condo. If you can’t afford that, incentives ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars can help.

Offer Buyer Incentives

Goodies for the buyer can create interest in your condo. A common incentive is to cover part or all of the closing costs, which are the processing fees needed to finalize the sale. Another is to offer cash that the buyer can spend on changes such as new paint, appliances or carpeting. You can also pay for homeowner association dues for a specified period. If it’s difficult to get a mortgage, you can offer one yourself, although this may prove a headache if the buyer fails to pay the monthly amounts down the road. If a buyer has trouble coming up with a down payment, investigate a lease-to-own contract. Part of the monthly rent can then go toward the down payment.

Stage Your Rooms

Staging is the process of decorating your condo so it looks like a model showcase. The process allows the buyer to see herself living at your place because it looks new, polished and presentable. You must remove traces of yourself, including family pictures, personal collections and idiosyncratic artwork. Minimize furniture and accessories so rooms look larger. Paint all the walls and clean every surface so the buyer feels as if she's the first person to live there. Expose the windows to let in light, add fresh flowers in vases for a natural touch, and bake cookies or pie during the open house for a deliciously homey aroma.

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