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October 11th, 2013

How I made a six-figure profit on the sale of my condo

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Below is a post by Jen Smialek, first appearing on our partner site the Quizzle blog at Quizzle.com

Money houseA few months ago, I had the pleasure of depositing the largest check I’ve ever seen my name on thanks to the successful sale of my condo. As I think back to the whirlwind process that the sale became, I realize that there were a variety of factors that played into the size of the profit I walked away with. If you’re looking to sell your home anytime soon or are simply looking to buy your first property that you’ll eventually sell, consider the following factors to ensure you’ll walk away with a great payday as well.

Embrace the foreclosure

If you don’t already own your home and are shopping for your first property, remember that you probably won’t be living there forever. While a foreclosure can be a great deal for any stage of your real estate adventures, I’ve found this option is particularly well-suited for those who are buying their first place because there’s a general sense of excitement that can translate into the energy required to make any necessary improvements, etc.

When I was condo shopping in 2010, there was a property listed on the MLS that had perhaps the worst listing sheet my realtor had ever seen: One exterior photo, very little description of the property’s features, and “sold as is” sprinkled through virtually every sentence. In short, it didn’t seem like this property was going to be sold anytime soon (and in fact it had sat on the market for months already).

But there was something that appealed to me, so it became the last visit on a pretty long day of house shopping. When I walked in for the first time, I was nearly blown away: Hardwood floors, granite countertops, updated fixtures, and windows and open space galore. Sure, there were holes in the walls and plenty of dirt in the corners, but when the inspection revealed that the place was in impeccable mechanical and functional order, I knew I would be living there.

Being a foreclosure and sitting on the market so long due to a complete lack of marketing efforts, I had the upper hand in negotiations. I was able to close with a price that was tens of thousands below the prices of comparable properties in the area which meant that if I played my cards right, I’d eventually be selling at an automatic profit.

If you’re ready to buy, don’t fear the foreclosure—you might just end up scoring an incredible deal like I did!

Stage it right

Regardless of how you bought your property, when it comes time to sell, don’t underestimate the power of staging. With a few simple tricks such as removing personal photos (so the buyers can envision themselves living there), refreshing paint with neutral colors (I had a vivid blue paint on the walls of my living room that I covered over with a light gray before I listed my place), and removing all clutter (even clearing out the closets to give the appearance of a larger space!), you are basically ensuring that your home will sell at the highest price possible.

The power of timing

No, there’s no real (or even safe) way to time the market, but do your research to see what’s happening in the areas around you. I knew it was time to sell when I repeatedly saw properties selling higher than asking price and I kept hearing stories about bidding wars and people being out-priced by cash buyers.

In short, if you’re sensing that there’s a seller’s market and you’re ready to sell, do everything in your power to get your place listed while things are still moving quickly. It’s also a wise idea to pay attention to what’s going on with interest rates as they can sometimes dictate buyer behavior.

What are some tips and tricks you’ve learned that can help with selling a home?

Related links:

Percent of homeowners underwater on their mortgages drops sharply
For sale by owner? How to make it work
3 myths about buying a home

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About the HSH Blog

HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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