Friday, October 15, 2010

How to Sell Your Condo in Today's Tough Market

By Brynn Alexander

Condo owners have the same problems home owners have in this tough market but with one added disadvantage. They're selling a condo.

Buying a condo is buying into lifestyle. A lifestyle that is very different from owning a house. The upside of owning a condo is little to no maintenance, they are usually in trendy neighborhoods, and many have amenities like swimming pools and workout rooms. The downside is you have no yard, you have a common wall(s) with your neighbor(s), and little freedom when it comes to major remodeling.

Some buy condos not because of the lifestyle they offer but because of their value. You can get more space for your dollar. However, those that were looking at condos a few years ago can now afford to buy a house.

Knowing what attracts buyers to condos is one of the keys to successfully unloading your property. The other major factors you'll need to know are price, quality, and hiring the right real estate agent.

"It's All About Price"

You're not going to get the same price in today's market that you would have received from your condo a few years ago. In order to sell your condo you can't price it competitively you have to price it to beat your competition.

Additionally, it's harder for first time home buyers to get a loan to buy a condo. If they can't get one, then the 20 percent down usually turns them away.

"It's all about price," says Mary Ann Grabel of Greenwich Fine Properties in Greenwich, Connecticut. "People who really want or need to sell are willing to take less than what they paid two or three years ago."

If you're dead set on getting top price for your condo then be prepared not to sell. It's that simple.

"The 'Wow' Factor"

"If it doesn't shine, nobody's going to buy it," warns Cyndi Johnston, a broker with RE/MAX Equity Group in Portland, Oregon.

Not only do condo buyers want the lowest price possible, but they also want the best quality possible. If that makes them sound picky it's only because they are picky. Condo buyers have that luxury.

Obviously, you'll want to "stage" your condo as best as possible. That means you'll be removing about half of your belongings, taking down pictures and other personal mementos, and getting rid of all pets (moving them to a friend's house). Basically, you'll want the condo to look as generic as possible-inviting to prospective buyers.

Besides the staging, you'll also want to remodel any weak spots. We don't mean redo the kitchen, but if the counters are in bad shape or the carpet needs replacing now is the time to do it. A fresh coat of paint is not enough in a tough market.

"Part of the reason is that you have all these decorating programs on TV," says Tom Apligian, a realtor for Re/Max in Plano, Texas. "People want to walk in and say 'wow!' The "wow" factor is very important today."

"In What Circles?"

You'll want a knowledgeable, responsible, and capable real estate agent. You'll also want one that knows how to market a property.

To help you pick an agent, interview at least five. Compare and contrast their fees, their resumes, and their marketing and promotion ideas. Try to find the right agent for you-one that will go the extra mile, knows the local market, and is well-connected.

" should ask your selling agent, 'In what circles will you be promoting my home?' Many times, the sale comes down to who you know," advises Johnston.

Once you find the right agent, make sure you work with them on marketing your condo. In these tough times it pays to be creative. Nothing, no matter how crazy it may sound, is off limits.

"Like Pulling Teeth"

A lot of condos are built in great locations with excellent views. If your condo has an excellent view take a picture, preferably at a favorable time of day (sunrise or sunset).

While your camera is out, take lots of pictures of your condo. Make sure your pictures include outside areas (like decks and patios), how light filters in, and storage areas.

Tell everyone you know that you're selling your condo. Word of mouth is a great marketing tool. Even if your friends and co-workers aren't interested they might know someone who is.

In order to buy a condo many lenders are going to need information about the Home Owners Association. The sooner you start this process the better.

"Getting the HOA to fill this stuff out is like pulling teeth," laments Ernest Cooper from RE/MAX Equity Group in Portland, Oregon.

Compiling all the necessary information beforehand will help speed up the sale when you finally find a buyer.

"What's Wrong With That Property?"

As hard it might sound, take your condo off the market after 90 days. That doesn't mean you're done trying to sell it and you have to live there forever. It just means your condo needs to take a break. After awhile you can put it back up for sale.

"If a house sits on the market, people start to wonder, 'what's wrong with that property. How come it's not selling?'" explains Elizabeth Weintraub an agent for Lyon's Real Estate in Sacramento.

Brynn Alexander writes for, a comprehensive directory of home professionals and an in-depth resource for home owners and home buyers. Visit the blog where you can read original and useful articles such as How to Hire a Home Repairman.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Condominium Community - Know Thy Neighbor

By Jim Digre

Many people who purchase and move into a condominium have just left apartment living and may have difficulty understanding that there is a distinct difference between renting an apartment and owning a condo unit. Living in a apartment inherently creates a situation where the landlord or building manager is responsible for your living conditions. If something the landlord. If the property is poorly maintained or a neighbor is creating a the landlord. There really is no reason to get to know those living in such close proximity to you. There are many people who do get to know their apartment neighbors but most renters never get beyond a fleeting "Hi" should they happen to pass in the hall.

Moving into a condo presents the new owner with an entirely different dynamic when it comes to the relationship between themselves and their neighbors. Like apartment living, you are still living in close proximity to others and many of the same problems inherent in apartment living exist in condo living too. However, there is no landlord to call upon when it comes to repairs in your unit or conflicts with your neighbors. Yeah, there may be a management company and there is the condo Board and yes they can help advise you but the responsibility for your living conditions is yours.

Every condo owner shares in the ownership of the property (you now are the landlord) and are therefore dependent on one another for creating a community where everyone enjoys being there and each interact to the benefit of all. This kind of community can only be achieved when you get to know your neighbors and we are not talking about fleeting "hellos" in the hallways.

Getting to know the people in your association is best achieved by attending board meetings, working on committees and participating in any and all events your association puts on. Conflicts are resolved and understandings are more easily reached when you more than just casually know your neighbors. Participate in your community. Get to really know as many people in your association as possible and you will find that condominium living can be a truly wonderful experience.

Dowling Properties strives to be the Premier Management Company in Chicago's near-west suburbs. We have been serving condo communities for over 25 years and can offer quality advice on how you can create a community that works together for the enjoyment of all. Call us at 708-771-0880 or e-mail us at . We are happy to serve your communities needs.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What Does a Condo Management Company Do?

By Jim Digre

When the typical condo owner who's never been on the Board thinks about what their management company does, the first thing that usually comes to mind is landscaping and cleaning of the building. This isn't something that should come as a surprise since all they really see is the building grounds and common areas. What they don't realize is that their management company may not be directly involved in the maintenance of the building other than contracting for the crew that does the work. Of course, a good management company will do regular inspections of the property, part of which is to observe how well the maintenance crew is doing its job. They then will report to the Board on what they have observed and may offer corrective suggestions.

Actually, the real purpose of a management company is to relieve the Board Members of the burden of day to day management of the association. The operation of a condominium association, especially in a large complex or building, can be incredibly demanding. Between budgeting, bill paying, inspections, contracting of services, dispute resolution, assessment collection, banking, financial reporting and tax filings, most condo board members who hold full time jobs are rapidly overwhelmed by the scope of the task.

Hiring the right management company enables the Board Members to function solely as decision makers and then rely on the property manager to insure that those decisions are properly carried out. In addition, since most Board Members are not well experienced with what it takes to run a corporation (which is what an association is), an experienced management group is invaluable in providing advice on what to do in any given situation that may arise.

Proper management of your association goes a long way towards maintaining not only the value of the property but insures that you have a viable association that runs smoothly and effectively. Most people who live in a condominium do so because they want to own property but don't want all the hassles associated with home ownership. Effective management is what makes that a reality.

Dowling Properties has been in business for over 25 years and is one of the oldest property management companies in the near-west suburbs, We have a dedicated staff that would be proud to serve your association in a professional, responsive and pro-active manner. We can help any association function at its best. You can contact us by phone at 708-771-0880 or by e-mail at: customerservice@dowlingproperties,com and we would be happy to provide a no-obligation proposal and quote for our services.