It’s all about price, condition and preparation in today’s condo market

It’s been nearly one year since the new Manitoba Condominium Act was introduced. Over that time, several events have transpired.

First, a balanced real estate market has become more of a buyer’s market.

Second, a crowded market segment became more crowded and increasingly competitive due to an influx of additional listings. Going into 2016, there were 573 condominiums for sale on the local MLS® market.

Third, competition for sales has become even more intense because resale condominiums are, in many cases, competing directly with comparably-priced new units. And last but not least, everyone, from buyers to sellers, from agents to lawyers, are still familiarizing themselves with all the nuances associated with the new condominium act.

In short, it’s never been more critical for both buyers and sellers to enlist the services of a knowledgeable REALTOR® to help them successfully navigate the challenging new landscape surrounding the sale and purchase of a condominium.

“There’s definitely been a learning curve (associated with the new act),” said Realtor Catherine Schellenberg. “It’s really opened the eyes of a number of Realtors about the amount of paperwork required to complete the sale of a unit.”

With that sobering fact in mind, it’s quite critical that both buyers and sellers rely on a savvy Realtor to guide them through the complicated buying and selling process, added Schellenberg. “Both buyers and sellers need to properly interpret information, and a Realtor is key in helping them do that. For example, sellers now have to provide buyers with not only a 15-page disclosure certificate, but a six-page seller disclosure document, as well.”

At the same time, buyers also need to rely on a Realtor’s expertise to make sense of things like board meeting minutes and reserve fund studies. “It’s the only way people can make a sound, solid decision,” said Schellenberg.

Realtor T.J. Stroud said it’s the responsibility of Realtors to educate buyers and sellers — not only about all the fine points of the condominium market, but also about its harsh realities. “It’s important that we educate sellers as to expectations. Today, in such a competitive market, you have to be prepared for buyers. That means being prepared with the right documents and getting the price of their unit right.”

Stroud emphasized that proper preparation and pricing is essential for a condominium to sell as quickly as possible. “If sellers aren’t prepared and their condominium isn’t priced right, it could sit for months because there’s currently about five months worth of inventory on the market. In particular, we have to educate sellers so they understand the pitfalls of overpricing their unit. It’s our job as Realtors to provide them with the data and comparables that will help them sell that their condo. It has to be priced competitively to sell.”

“Today, the average residential detached home is taking 45 days to sell, while the average for condominiums is 71 days,” said Realtor Terry O’Rourke. “As a result, pricing is very important. That’s why sellers have to rely on our advice. We’re not just throwing numbers at a wall — the price we recommend is based on diligent research. The worst thing you can do in today’s market is overprice your condo. It’s critical that sellers listen to their Realtor, not their friends and neighbours.”

At the same time, Realtor Michael Leclerc said that buyers need to trust their Realtor to guide them through the arduous buying process.

“We’re here to help buyers understand the dynamics of buying a condo,” he said. “We’ll work with them to identify their needs and gauge their expectations, and to educate them properly so they ask key questions — what’s the state of a project’s reserve funds, and how tight a project’s condo board is.”

He added that a Realtor’s ultimate responsibility is to tune both sellers and buyers into reality. “I think Realtors need to be more emphatic about making sellers understand it’s all about price, condition and preparation. With buyers, it’s about education. The key is credibility. If the information is there, sellers will buy into the marketing plan, and buyers will have the knowledge they need to make an educated choice. People need to trust us so they can sell their condo in a timely fashion, and to find the unit that’s the best fit for them.”