Maximizing Your Condo's Value

Posted by Alex Wilson on Friday, August 9th, 2019 at 9:00am.


First Impressions

There are many things you can do to maximize the value of your unit. The first being creating the best first impression for your prospective tenants/buyers by staging the unit. Think of it as going on a first date. When meeting someone, you form an opinion of them within the first five minutes. Same applies to a prospective tenant or buyer walking through your unit for the first time. Staging your space is a crucial part of raising the value of your unit. 
What’s involved in getting your unit into that first date condition? More goes into it than you may think. No two listings are ever the same as every situation is different. Some owners live in the unit and keep it in immaculate condition and have good quality furniture that show off the space. This makes the process easy. We walk in, have a professional photographer come in to take pictures of the space, and we put up the listing. On the other hand, some tenants may have a more cluttered space, have minor damages, or have decorated in a way that may not cater to most people walking through. In those cases, we may have to paint, fill in some holes in the wall, and store some of their furniture. 
This doesn’t mean we have anything against the current tenant’s taste. The decor they have may be beautiful, whether it be a brightly coloured wall or funky wallpaper, but it may affect the way a new tenant would look at the space. We want to cater to women, men, young, old, single, married, etc. To accomplish this you need to depersonalize the unit and the best way to do so is to stick with a neutral palette.
Extra tip : you also want to stage a space even when it is vacant. The space always seems smaller when it is empty and most people tend to have trouble imagining how their items will fit into the space. Staging the home will give the tenant/buyer a better idea of how they can fill the space and live in it.

Let’s Asses

Assessing each unit is the first step to take before putting it on the market. Like mentioned above, each situation is different. You may walk through and find the unit to be perfectly clean and the tenants are more than capable of keeping it that way.  There are other cases where you need to hire a cleaning crew to come in and do a deep clean of the space, including appliances and carpet. Are there scuffs on the walls? Does this unit need minor repairs such as caulking, getting rid of mold? Do we need to paint? Costs typically range from $700 to $2000 for painting the space alone. 
Another major aspect of staging the home is decluttering. We provide our tenants very detailed lists after reviewing the property that explain the exact way they need to declutter the space to have it ready to show. Though it may be tedious for the tenant, it makes a night and day difference for the people walking through the property. If the decluttering process is too massive for the current tenants, there are services you can hire to help clear out and store the items. These companies are also fully insured and keep items in climate controlled areas, so there’s no risk. And because, as the owner, you’re part of that whole process the tenants don’t even need to be home to deal with it. It’s an extra mile we go for our clients and always makes a huge difference. 

The Stage Is Set

We’ve reviewed the space, we’ve given it a deep clean, we’ve painted and made repairs, and we’ve cleared it of any furniture or items that won’t appeal to the masses. The stage is set, now we need to finalize it. We’ll often work with a staging company or use some of our own inventory to fill the space with modern furniture and decor to give that unit the wow factor. Changing things as small as the shower curtain, a couple lamps, crisp white towels, easy items like that can give it that extra pop. Many people overlook these small details that can make a significant difference. 

It Can Get Tricky

What we talked about above, that’s assuming either you’re living in the unit or you have a tenant ready to move out. It can get a lot trickier if you are selling the unit with a tenant still living in it. Ideally you’d have the ability to sell the property while it is vacant as you will make a tangible amount more, but that’s not always the case. 
If you do have a tenant, more often than not they are completely unmotivated in helping you sell the unit. To put it simply and without sugar coating it, this space is their home and you’re basically taking that home away from them, forcing them to find another one so you can sell your asset. Unfortunately, in this case, you don’t have any control over what that space is going to look like. 
Sometimes the tenants are fantastic and very accommodating. They keep the space clean and in great condition for when you need to show the unit. But in most scenarios, that isn't the case. In these situations you have to work with whatever shape they leave their space in and their own personal taste. Not only can that be a challenge, but so can having the space available for showings.
Legally, you have to give the tenant 24 hours notice before a showing so they can clear out of the unit as well as their pets if they have any. Is it always that easy? No. Sometimes the tenant can be a real gatekeeper and things can get difficult, preventing you from showing the unit or give you a very limited amount of time to do so. Even when you have an accommodating tenant, it can be difficult to schedule a showing, especially when they have irregular work hours. For example, we had tenants that were absolutely lovely but they had a dog that sounded very scary and didn’t have regular 9-5 jobs. This created a very small window where they could take the dog and leave the unit empty for showings. Fortunately, we were able to sell it fairly quickly but it still presented its challenges. 

Picture Perfect

Alright, we’ve staged our condo and it’s looking beautiful, bright, fresh, and ready to be seen! Now we need to put it online for prospective tenants to see and book their showings. To do that, you need to have professional pictures taken of the space. Many people think it’s okay to simply take pictures with their phone or their own camera. That can actually negatively affect your listing. Professional real estate photographers have special settings and technology that make the pictures show off the home in a way that makes each room look bigger, brighter, and at their best. It’s definitely a very niche skill set, so you want to do your homework when finding a photographer and look through their portfolios.
If you’re an investor buying a condo, we highly recommend taking pictures of the unit before a tenant moves in. This way, if you decide in the future to sell the unit, you have professional pictures of the space either empty or, preferably, staged from before the tenant moved in. This way you don’t have to do so with the current tenant’s items in the unit. Tenants can also legally say no to you taking pictures and marketing the unit with their personal belongings inside of it. It's better to be prepared in advance in case these situations arise. 

Keep A Spare Key

We have seen so many investors ready to sell or rent out their condos while there are still tenants living in the unit without their own key for the apartment. Many give out all of the keys to the tenants when they move in. By doing so, you have eliminated any access whatsoever to a space that YOU own! Always keep a spare key. When it comes time to do a showing, let an appraiser in, an inspector, you have your own way in when the tenants are out. 

Put These Steps In Place

Your tenants are your assets. It’s important to create a good relationship with your tenants and, if you follow the steps provided in the last blog, they will be awesome tenants that respect and take care of the unit and pay their rent without any issues. These are the people making you wealthy over the long term. This blog was more about showing you what possible pitfalls can arise in these situations. Its not hard to deal with them as long as you follow these steps. You want to create a space that potential tenants can see a future in, and not the current tenant’s past.

Maximize Wealth, Minimize Stress

This whole process can be very stressful, but we can take on that stress for you. We’ll help you maximize your wealth and minimize your stress. Email or call/text (416) 996-5181. We’ll work together to make your real estate dreams come true in helping you build generational wealth and financial freedom.

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