From Agent to Seller: Ready to Move
I know I haven't posted in a week but I'm excited to tell you all my reason: We have sold our condo and purchased a house!!! Our closing date for both is April 25th and I'll be back to posting more frequently after my final exam to obtain my Real Estate Broker designation this Saturday. Needless to say, the past couple of weeks have been CRAZY and my head is still spinning!
The house is a cute little semi-detached house which was built in 1926. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to stay in the city of Toronto and are expecting/hoping to live in this house for several years. You'll be hearing all about it in the months to come since it is in need of some serious work but we're excited to tackle the challenges and my blog readers will join us for the ride! Hopefully, you'll have some ideas, since we have many design decisions to make along the way.
The story of our condo is a long one and I'm considering posting some of the details in instalments. My mind is already in our new house at the moment so I'm not quite ready to share the full story yet. Here's a brief summary:
I purchased the condo nearly three years ago while Corey was still in school. Our first few months felt like a comedy of errors between ridiculous run-ins with neighbours, a super who seemed to hate us for no reason, a terrible flood (not our fault) and several confrontations with our former property manager. We soon discovered that things were worse than we thought and there was far less money in the bank than our status certificate had us believe... More on that in a later post.
Our dreams of selling my tiny condo and buying a house as soon as Corey was finished school and working disappeared as we saw prices in our building fall due (in my opinion) to a large increase in already pretty high maintenance fees.
In the beginning, my plan was to stay away from the politics of the board of directors and just exit as soon as possible. We had already renovated our unit and I was just entering real estate when I realized that we might actually lose money on my investment. While not unheard of, losing money on a real estate purchase in Toronto was pretty unacceptable to me. This is especially true since I was watching values in neighbouring buildings rise.
I ended up joining the board. What was a girl to do? I became president and we changed property management companies and finally began to move forward. We made some difficult (sometimes unpopular) decisions for the sake of our building's future stability. Finally, we were able to reduce maintenance fees and finally had some money in our reserve fund: It was a good time to list.
So we listed much higher than any of our neighbours ever had... but we were armed with a healthy status certificate, a good management company, reasonable maintenance fees and a renovated unit! Our "high" price was still more than reasonable for a condo our size in Toronto. We hoped our neighbours would follow suit.
Unfortunately, life doesn't often follow our plans and instead of joining us in finally asking for market value, some of our neighbours decided to list their units at last year's prices.
There is a point to this post... I'm trying to remember it. I suppose I just wanted to share our process. It hasn't been easy but it was worth the work of listing, keeping our unit spotless for showings and even the HUNDREDS of hours I have spent on board business.
They always say that real estate agents leave their own homes on the market for longer and end up selling for more than their clients. I think there are stats to back this up and I'm not sure if "more" means closer to list price (an agent should have a very realistic idea of the market value of their own home and would know the danger of overpricing) or if it means higher than the average for that type of property. Even the latter could be explained by the fact that many agents probably choose their renovations and decorating choices with resale in mind... I know I do!
Still, I know that it is easier to take risks when there is nobody else who stands to lose. A client with a lower risk tolerance (or who was more desperate to move) may have asked to drop their price when a neighbour listed low. In our case, Corey trusted me to hold firm with our price because I knew our neighbours were listed low when compared to similar properties on the market. I expected that we would sell once they were no longer on the market and our risk ended up being worthwhile. In our case, we did stay on the market longer but I would have provided any of my clients with the same information that I used to make that decision. It is also worth noting that I listed through a friend and colleague so I would technically not be considered in the stats of agents who list their own homes.
In the end, we wanted (and feel we received) a fair deal with a price and conditions that satisfied both parties. This is exactly what we wanted and we followed 3 rules to obtain it:
1. We didn't try to time the market. Instead, we listed when the conditions in our condo were finally attractive to a buyer and when we were personally ready for a move. This was not about an "investment" but finding our long-term home.
2. We didn't "nickle and dime" our buyers. They wanted our condo and we wanted to sell it. We weren't willing to squabble over who would pay for the status certificate or whether we could squeeze an extra $1,000 out of them. We wanted them to feel excited about moving in and we knew we would feel better knowing that BOTH sides felt good about the transaction. In return, our buyers were kind enough to satisfy their conditions early, allowing us to find our dream house. That was also a lovely transaction and I'll post about it soon.
3. We knew the minimum price we could expect given the current market conditions and climate within our building and we were honest about the price we wanted. No games or stretching the truth and no trying to pressure our buyers unnecessarily. While challenging conditions do exist in the real estate market and I am skilled at navigating them for my clients, in this scenario, it was my own choice. We decided that we wanted a straightforward transaction for both parties and I believe we were rewarded with buyers who returned the favour.
Frankly it was lovely, and I think some of the goodwill transferred to our purchase. But I'll save that for another post. It's late, and we have some busy days ahead. :)