College-town residents come from a variety of backgrounds and parts of the world. While these unique towns are home to full-time, year-round residents, college towns also host part-time residents who own second homes for retirement vacations or to have a place to stay for college, conference or other cultural events. There are, of course, the short-term residents as well. These are the college students whose parents bought a condo for them to live in during their studies at the college or university. The condo purchase serves many functions: student housing, a place for parents, family and friends to stay when they visit and provides an investment. An extra bedroom can be rented to another student for income. Mortgaged condos provide tax benefits and the condo or house can possibly earn equity income when market values rise.
Most condos are bought and sold on an average of a 4-year cycle. Families that choose to keep a home in the college town after their student graduates may move up to a bigger or newer property, although some choose to stay with the property they’ve owned for years.
Each spring offers a market demand for condo sales in a college town. Buyers of this type of property generally do not need to move in right away, like a single-family house would. This allows condo sellers to put their property on the market early with a closing date after the graduation date. The student can stay in the house through that time and the family has a place to stay during graduation weekend to save on hotel costs.
So, when is the best time to put the condo on the market? Buyers start looking after the first of the year for their student’s fall-semester housing needs. The season can pick up in February. Benefits of early listings include getting sold quicker and alleviating your student from having to deal with showings during exam week. Later listings may get a higher price due to perceived lack of inventory, but showings may hassle the student during exam time. Waiting until after graduation means the house is cleaned out and showings do not necessarily need appointments. However, buyers might not be as plentiful at the end of this selling season. Any way you look at it, when to sell completely up to you, the seller.
Here’s how to get your condo ready to sell.
- Professionally clean carpets. If they are very nasty and stained, replace them.
- Pack up and send home the extra stuff to eliminate clutter. You want to show how big the closets are, not how much stuff you can force into them. Remove kitchen counter appliances that aren’t used and décor that collects dust. Minimal is best for staging.
- Whether your condo is a stand-alone, a townhouse or multi-unit building, meet with your condo association to look at any exterior surfaces that condo fees cover and are in need of repair: these could be soffits, railings, paint on doors, missing screens, non-functioning lamps, broken roof shingles, fences surrounding your patio, etc. You’ve been paying condo fees so these items should be cared for. A buyer wants to know they are purchasing into an association that utilizes its fees to properly care for its properties.
- Have the HVAC unit serviced and change the filters. In my experience, this is usually an item an inspector finds issues with so unless you have an annual service contract, make sure the system is working properly.
- Look to see if the walls look fresh. If not, paint them or at least the one that looks bad. If you need to paint the entire interior, use a popular, neutral color.
- Check for leaks in any faucet and have these fixed.
- Professionally clean the interior and the windows
- Declutter patios and porches. Remove any broken chairs and tables. If you have use of a garden hose, roll it up out of the way.
- Find out if your association allows REALTOR signs. Some do not.
- Find a great real estate agent and put the house on the market
Reasons you should not sell your student condo by yourself.
- The student is inconvenienced to make time to be at the house to show it each time.
- It limits the available time for potential buyers to view it. If they cannot get in when they want, they might move on to a property they can see on their time. Most condo buyers are parents who are in town for a short time to view what is on the market with their real estate agent.
- FSBO properties are not represented by a real estate agent so legally in Mississippi, an agent needs a signed One-Time-Showing Agreement in order to enter the condo with one client. A FSBO owner would have to sign a new one for each agent that wants to show it and for each new client. Arrangements must be made to pick up a key.
- There may be several showings in one day. Your student should be spending the day in class or at the library rather than showing the house.
- It may also put your student in danger since an unrepresented buyer will know your student lives alone.
- Your student would have to let inspectors and contractors into the condo.
The most your student should worry about is keeping the condo clean until it is sold. By hiring a real estate agent your student should be a student and work toward graduation day.
For more tips and to learn my point of difference, contact me for an appointment.