Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


The Time To Think About Selling Your Condo is Before You Buy It

The Time To Think About Selling Your Condo is Before You Buy It

Sometimes I will show up for a listing appointment, I'll ask myself, "What on earth were they thinking when they bought this place?" 

Well, they were not thinking about what it would be like to re-sell it.

While you are looking for your new condo, it's important to keep in mind what features it might have or lack that will decrease it's appeal to other people when it comes time to sell.  One of my clients referred to these features as fatal flaws.  Here are some of the things I'm talking about.

  • Is the building attractive and well-maintained?   Curb appeal is as important to a condo as it is to a house.  Obvious deferred maintenance is often a hint that what you don't see may need a lot of work.  If the trim is freshly painted and the front garden is well-groomed, that's good.  If, on the other hand, you see peeling paint and a front yard that is mud or weeds, that is not good. 
  • What's the view?  If it's a park or picturesque tree-lined street, that is good.  In Washington, a view of the Washington Monument or the Potomac River is fabulous.  If, on the other hand, you look out on the brick walls of the building next door, many would consider that a fatal flaw.
  • How is the light?  Natural light is a good thing.  Dark is bad, at least for most people.
  • Where is it located?  Is it in a popular or up and coming area, or is there some reason that people are deserting the neighborhood in droves?  There could be factors not readily apparent, like planned developments.  If there is a new Metro stop within a few blocks, that's very good.  But a major highway going in within a few yards of a condo building?  That's not good.
  • Where is the apartment within the building?  If it's on the top floor of a building with an elevator, that is good.  If, on the other hand, it is on the forth floor of a walk up, you reduce your resale buyer pool to the young and the agile.  But if below grade, many buyers will have issues concerning lack of light and safety.
  • Is parking included?  This is huge, especially in downtown neighborhoods where parking is tight.  Even if you don't have a car, a parking place will be a huge asset when you sell.
  • Are the condo house rules buyer friendly?  Some buildings have many restrictions, such as those prohibiting pets or limiting owners' ability to rent their units. 
  • Are the condo association's finances in order?  Some buildings are well run with good reserve funds to cover building maintenance and repairs.  Others use special assessments to cover issues as they come up.  Special assessments can blindside the owners if something major, like a roof replacement, hasn't been planned for.  So low reserves are not good, especially in larger buildings.

The only leveler here is that a unit with a fatal flaw should come with a very affordable price tag.  If you love the building and the layout, facing a brick wall or having to put you dog up for adoption be worth it at a really low price. 

But then, when you go to sell your place in a few years, you will have to lure buyers in with a similarly bargain price.


If you are planning a move to or from the Washington area, I can help.  I am licensed in DC, Maryland and Virginia.   Please email me at or call 202-549-5167. 

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Comment balloon 21 commentsPatricia Kennedy • January 27 2013 10:26PM
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