How to sell a condo unit in a soft market

by Neil Sharma on 29 Dec 2020

Condo sellers in cities like Toronto and Vancouver benefited from supply scarcity for years, but the coronavirus crisis effectively has turned the tables on them. While more challenging, there are still ways to sell these units and maximize sale prices.

“I put 200% effort in and make sure all the problems in the unit are fixed, like that little hole in the wall or faulty tap faucet, and I make no mistakes in staging the unit,” said the head of the Norman Xu Team at Royal LePage Signature Realty. “I follow up with every visitor, whether my own clients or another buyer’s agent, about how they felt about the unit, its price—everything.”

The condo segment of Canada’s largest real estate market has become languid—a consequence of the deluge of short-term rental units that entered the long-term rental pool following a municipal regulatory regime, and because people fled Toronto’s downtown core when the pandemic began for reasons ranging from job loss and fear of contagion to international students no longer having reason to stay. In a market with so much competition and so few renters, Xu says paid advertising guarantees much needed extra exposure.

“I spend a good amount of money on paid ads, including on YouTube and Facebook,” he said. “I sold a $1.5 million penthouse unit overlooking Lake Ontario that way, and there were no comparables in that building. Paid ads attract more traffic from not only local people, but investors from outside of the country, and I also promote the listings to the realtor community. Realtors know the market and have better expectations.”

Units that are difficult to sell, and that could even be priced below the average benchmark price for good reason, shouldn’t be neglected. If anything, says Xu, they might require extra attention, and although client expectations must be managed at the outset, where there’s a will there’s a way.

“We cannot give up, and we should not give up. I have a team member there to help with each showing of the unit, and it’s very time and energy consuming, but I always send my own people there to make sure everything works smoothly.”

Social media is another tool to be harnessed. According to Cecilia Dapice, a sales agent with Connect.ca Realty, listing a unit on the MLS, especially in a soft market, doesn’t much optimize its sale potential when other platforms with broader audiences exist.

“Have your unit all over the internet, like on social media apps and create websites and landing pages for specific listings,” she said. “People always want to look at beautiful homes on social media, so the more views you get, the more interest you get. You get maximum exposure online.”

YouTube, in particular, can be used to generate interest by posting walking tours of the home and then listing every salient detail from upgrades and features to nearby amenities—including transit and grocery stores—and the price point.

“TikTok is a huge platform where people advertise themselves and their properties,” said Dapice. “It’s the new Instagram—you post short video clips of people walking through homes—and that platform is taking off for realtors because everyone likes looking at beautiful homes, so you can add TikTok reels to Instagram and that way you can get views from both platforms.”

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