We’ve purchased 4 properties since we’ve lived in Chicago, but have never listed any of them for sale. Today we’re breaking down our experience (so far) being on the selling end of a real estate transaction.
A Brief Timeline
We purchased our Chicago condo in 2007, then lived in it for 6 years (and subsequently started this very blog to document our projects!) until we were ready to make the move to our current home. The selling market wasn’t great when we moved on in 2013, so we became accidental landlords and rented the space out until our last tenants’ lease expired this May. (If you’re still doing the math, that’s 8 years of renting our condo!) A one month whirlwind renovation involving fresh paint, refinished floors and a totally revamped kitchen followed and our listing went live at the beginning of July. That’s the abridged version, but the important bits are there!
An Exercise in Patience
When we first announced that we’d be listing the unit, we were flooded with messages about how our timing was great! The market favored sellers in a big way. Bidding wars were getting more common. Units in our exact neighborhood were selling in a matter of days! We were feeling encouraged!
Well, as of the writing of this post, the home has been on the market for about 6 weeks. Not only is the condo still for sale, but we’ve reduced the price and hired a staging company and we still haven’t received a single offer. We’re reminding ourselves that the incredibly hot late spring market has cooled a bit. Our timing also pitted us against busy holiday travel schedules as weddings and vacations have resumed for many. We weren’t exactly prepared for the result, but we’re doing our best to understand it.
Working With our Awesome Realtor
While we haven’t received any offers so far, we’re still very confident that our realtor, Jen, is the best in the business and is the best fit for us! She’s working incredibly hard and is keeping us informed every step of the way. Below are just a few notable actions she’s taking:
Our realtor’s actions:
- Hosts open houses nearly every weekend
- Personally attends almost every showing
- Has learned the unit inside and out and can highlight all features to potential buyers
- Connected us with a trusted staging company to help display how the space is best utilized
- Enlisted targeted digital marketing to amplify the listing
Jen has helped us fill our rental units multiple times and also helped us in our search to purchase our Two Flat. She continues to work her tail off for us and we’re confident in her advice!
Tip: If you’re looking for a realtor in the Chicago area, you can find her info and more helpful advice right here.
Staging the Unit
The condo has one of those compact, efficient city apartment layouts, but it’s not huge. While we lived there, we (and our friends that lived in the buildings’ other nearly identical units) dialed in the furniture layouts to find the best way to utilize the space. We realized early on that it’s not always easy to envision layouts without furniture, so we invested $2,000 (for up to 4 months) for a staging company to bring in furniture and inject some life into the condo.
Although we’re still without bites, we’re confident that contracting the staging company has been worth the investment. The unit shows well and placing furniture in the spaces displays how functional the floor plan can actually be.
Overall, feedback from the showings has been overwhelmingly positive. People like the building and the location and have largely glowing reviews of all the updates that took so much time and energy for us to accomplish. The floors, kitchen, motorized blinds and lighting fixtures have all been mentioned as highlights!
However it turns out that the cozy bedroom sizes – which were one of our favorite features of the home! – are a dealbreaker for most people. Let me explain. Both bedrooms are on the smaller side, but we personally loved the cozy cocoon feeling the compact spaces brought us. They fit a queen bed and dresser, and each room has a large-ish closet.
Of course, the size is something we simply can’t change, so we’ve done our best to maximize the feeling of the bedrooms with the aforementioned staging. Here’s how the room looks empty, which gives you a feel for its small size:
Keeping the Listing Fresh
Under Jen’s advisement, we’ve – meaning Jen(!) – has done a few things to keep the listing fresh and keep the showings coming!
- … Had the unit professionally staged
- … Had new listing photos taken
- … Lowered the price and re-listed the unit
- … Fresh targeted digital ads were purchased
- … The refreshed listing was distributed throughout Jen’s Realtor network
We’ve been collectively surprised by the lack of offers, and as we move forward, we’ll need to carefully consider our carrying costs (mortgage, insurance, condo association fees etc.) and the potential value of another price decrease. That said, we deeply feel that the last year of our lives has forced many of us to envision what our future holds – and for many, that may mean a bigger yard, more space, more family togetherness. We envision this home to be purchased by first time homeowners, who have taken the leap in a city they love with their whole heart. A place where they can lay down roots and flourish.
So! While we don’t have the best news to report on the condo-selling front, we do hope sharing our experience is helpful to some of you! We remain optimistic that we will find the right buyer, it’s just a matter of how long we’re comfortable holding out and whether we’ll need to decrease the price yet again. In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted on progress! If you know of anyone looking for a refreshed 2 bed/1 bath condo in an incredible location, we just might know a place…