Whether you specialize in the condo market or not, there’s no doubt you’ll likely find yourself showing a condo at some point in your career.
While condos are more prevalent in large, metropolitan centres such as Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal, it’s always important to be prepared.
I’m happy to share some useful, yet simple, tips for both listing agents and buyer agents alike!
Take advantage of MLS® System fields
When listing a condo, take advantage of the space on your MLS® System designated for property management/concierge contact details (MLS® System fields may vary by board/association). This allows agents to quickly call ahead of time and obtain pertinent information such as whether there’s any temporary/visitors parking, whether the amenities are accessible or other useful information related to the building.
Rules in condo buildings during the pandemic have been inconsistent, which can make coordinating a showing a challenge. Be sure to check in with the property management team of their rules regarding masks, elevator capacity limits and any other rules impacting the shared spaces like gyms, party rooms or garages. While restrictions may have eased in most sectors, condo buildings may be more cautious depending on the occupants’ demographics.
Leave clear lockbox instructions
Freehold properties typically have a lockbox attached to the front entry door or nearby area. For condos, every building has their own policy (or sometimes none at all) and quite often, you’ll be playing “guess the lockbox” if there are dozens in the same vicinity. Typical locations include:
- designated lockbox cabinet/room;
- underground parking garage; and
- building exterior (bike stand, gas line, fence, neighbouring commercial unit, etc.).
It’s extremely helpful for listing agents to include detailed instructions to locate the lockbox and provide a description of its appearance (I usually add photos for further clarity). Feel free to differentiate it—the more unique-looking, the better. And don’t forget to include a key fob, as it can be a mission to traverse the building, parking and elevators without one.
One of my most memorable lockbox hunting adventures took place in downtown Toronto and involved walking to the nearest pedestrian crossing to get to a secluded fence directly opposite the condo building, only to find what seemed like hundreds of lockboxes of all varieties. To make things more exciting, this all took place in the dark (well, 5 p.m. in winter) and after 30 minutes of trying the combination code on nearly all of them, I finally found the correct one! But then came the magical realization that it was completely frozen. I saw a disposed coffee cup near it and assumed the previous agent may have tried pouring their hot beverage on it. I, however, did not have such a beverage on hand.
Help the listing stand out with key highlights
Sometimes, listing agents will include a key highlights page on their MLS® System which provides a summary of certain features, such as:
- custom upgrades to the unit (for example, “quartz counter installed in 2020, brand new appliances.”);
- renovations to the common areas (for example, “new gym equipment, lobby renovated last year.”);
- building pet policy (for example, “super pet-friendly building, amazing pet spa located on ground level.”); and
- other key selling features (for example, “parking space close to elevators, extra large locker, two bike racks on P1.”).
It doesn’t matter if these are already included in the MLS® System description, as most buyers won’t remember this for every listing anyway and it can help your client’s property stand out against the competition. Print these details out and have them placed in the unit for any showings or open houses.
If your client is buying or selling a condo with tenants, there are different rules that apply to buying a rental property. Head over to REALTOR.ca Living Room to learn more about the different scenarios you might encounter.
Be prepared … land an offer
Condo showings can be a mission, especially when you add things like inclement weather, traffic diversions, lack of parking and an empty concierge desk (or no concierge desk at all) to the mix. The last thing showing agents need is not being able to find the right lockbox and fumbling in front of their clients. A few simple tweaks can dramatically lower stress for everyone and lead to a pleasant showing and ultimately, a potential offer!