Top Ten Ways To NOT Sell Your Condo


6 minute read

October 1, 2013

The busy “fall market” is getting close to one month old now, and I can’t believe some of the things I’ve seen!

We talk a lot about how to maximize your property for the highest potential sale price, but it ocurred to me the other day, that we should talk about the complete opposite: what not to do.

Because believe it or noot – everything in this list is something I’ve observed in the past month in real, active condo listings….


I’ve been making mental notes on mistakes that condo sellers are making in this fall market, and once I started counting on the third hand, I decided it was time to put this into a blog post!

Not really in any order of significance, but here are ten ways not to get your condo sold in today’s market:

1) Hold Back Offers


No hold back on offers?  But that’s all the rage, isn’t it?

Yes, it is, with houses, not condos.

Back in 2008, in one of the most frustrating markets I’ve ever worked in, seemingly every condo that came up for sale had an offer date.  I remember at Mozo – 333 Adelaide Street, when three consecutive units came up for sale in the mid-$300’s, all of which got multiple offers, and all of which sold for over asking.

But the more frustrating part was that even condos that shouldn’t have hold-backs on offers were having them, and they didn’t always sell in multiples.  All it meant was that when a new listing came out, you’d have to wait and see what would happened, and you couldn’t really act until “offer night.”

The market has changed, thank God.  Perhaps the supply and demand equation has changed, or perhaps mortgage rules has helped cool this segment of the market.

But once in a while, I see a new condo listing that says, “Offers Graciously Reviewed on October 7th,” and I think, “There’s a listing that won’t get showings.”

In today’s condo market, a buyer isn’t going to compete for a unit.  We’re just not in that kind of market!  Houses – sure, you have to.  Accept it at the onset.  But when a condo seller and/or listing agent decide to apply the same strategy to their property, it’s actually counter-productive.  With the current supply of condos on the market, buyers may not even look at a property at all if it comes with a set offer date.

2) Put The Lockbox At A Secondary Location

This isn’t laziness – it’s just logic.

A key to condo should be easily accessible, and easy to find.

So when you’re showing a condo at King & Bathurst, and the showing instructions tell you to pick up the key on Queen’s Quay, there’s a good chance that you, your buyer client, or both of you might say, “let’s just skip that one.”

Nine times out of ten, the key for the condo is at concierge, or in a stairwell in the building, and thus it’s easy to find!

As a condo seller, you NEED to make your unit easy to show, or you risk turning buyers away – like you would in point #1 by holding back offers.

Many buyers will go out on a Saturday and see 8-10 units at once, so if ONE of those units requires a key to be picked up at a secondary location, which one do you think the buyer might skip?

3) Don’t Label The Lockbox, Or Label It Wrong

We’ve talked about 50 Lynn Williams before, right?  Lockbox HELL?

There are probably 40-50 lockboxes jammed onto a designated “lockbox pole” at the site of 50 Lynn Williams, and 80-100 Western Battery Road, and it often takes 10-15 minutes to find the key.

Agents need to at the very least, put their business card on the back of the box, otherwise some people will give up after trying the thirty-eighth lockbox.

But here’s a new one: I was showing a condo at Radio City last week, and with only about ten lockboxes on the railing, I figured finding the key would be a breeze!  However, the last lockbox I tried happened to be the one with the key, do you know why?  Well, changing the names for anonymity’s sake, the listing agent’s name was “John Smith,” and the key was in a lockbox with “Bob White’s” business card on the back!  Seeing the name “Bob White” on the back made me immediately disregard that lockbox!

What the hell are these people thinking?

4) Lie On The Listing

This happens all the time, no doubt about it, but lying on the listing about something so important that it could make or break a buyer’s decision is sure to cause them to turn around and walk out the door.

For example, the idea of a “den,” which we’ve talked about over the years many times.

Some buyers require an actual den for a second bedroom, with a roommate, or as a guest room.  So when you walk into a unit listed as a “1+1,” only to search low and far and never find the den, you get frustrated, and disregard the unit.

But the worst offense is calling a true “1+1” a “2-bedroom,” and I just don’t see the point, to be honest.  A buyer in the market for a 2-bedroom isn’t going to walk into a 1-bedroom with a nook large enough to fit a desk, that the listing agent has called a “second bedroom,” and simply figure, “Well, this isn’t at all what we’re looking for, but, well, you know, we’re here, so we may as well buy it!”

You catch more flies with honey, and lying on a listing to try and make a condo look like something it’s not will only cause buyers to walk away.

5) Photo Not Available

PhotoNotAvailable (2)

Surely we’ve covered this, ad nauseam, right?

With thousands of condos available on the market, why, oh why, would somebody put so little effort into this think called “marketing?”

You know that saying, “This property will sell itself?”  Well, even if that were true about a single-family home in a popular area in high demand, which it’s not, you sure as hell could never argue that’s true of a condo…

6) Photo Worse Than Not Available…


Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse than not providing a photo…

… about nine actual photos of “Photo Not Available”?

You actually have to upload NINE images to MLS to get it to look like this!  It’s like somebody is going out of their way to make this listing look bad…

7) Severe Restrictions On Showings

I would never, ever, recommend that a client sell a condo when it’s tenanted, since the property won’t show to its maximum potential, and requires 24 hours’ notice.  I would always tell the client to get rid of the tenant, eat up to two month’s rent by carrying it vacant, but gain back that money five-fold by controlling the showing process.

Having said that, there are properties which are actually owner-occupied which have even worse restrictions on showings!

From an MLS listing:

Showings: M-W 10-12pm, After 8pm. Thurs: No Showings.  Fri: Before 12pm.  Sat/Sun: No showings.

That’s an OWNER’s unit!

The owner is assuming – what, exactly?  That the buyer pool is so goddam in love with this unit, that they’ll rearrange their whole schedule to go see it?

I tell my clients: “You’ll get showings from 9am to 8pm, seven days per week.  Each time you refuse a showing request, you’re turning away a potential buyer.”

I guess some sellers just don’t see it that way…

8) List Over, and Over….and Over…

There’s a property for sale in the Davisville Village area that has been on the market for over 120 days.

In this area, where properties usually sell in multiple offers, on offer night, you have to assume that if a property has been on the market for 120 days, there’s a reason, and there always, always is!

Buyers recognize this, and they won’t view the property.

The same can be said for a property that has been listed over, and over, and over: buyers just assume there’s something wrong with it.

How about a condo that’s been listed four times, with three different brokerages?  What do you think a buyer will assume about this condo?  Maybe that the seller is nuts?  Maybe that it’s over-priced, and the seller is shopping around to see who can best rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic?

Today’s buyers are savvier than ever, and they’ll know when they’ve seen a condo up for the fourth time.  But try telling a seller that his or her price is too high, and they’ll simply find another agent who will take a shot at it.

9) Listing The Condo In The Wrong District

Oh yeah, it can happen!

Every so often, I browse MLS listings and think, “Hey, wait a minute!  Since when is 138 Princess Street in W08?  I could have sworn it was in C08!”

I’m sure there are two-dozen active condo listings in the downtown core right now that are listed in the wrong district, and it means that buyers searching for them won’t find them!

I’ve seen people mix up east and west as well, or put the wrong geographical coordinates so that the property gets mapped in Ajax on

If you can dream up a mistake, I’m sure there’s somebody out there that’s done it.

Something as small as the wrong click of a mouse can reduce your buyer pool by more than 50%.

10) Try To Attach A Tenant

I’m seeing a lot of this right now, and I don’t understand what the sellers are thinking.

I mean, what percentage of buyers are actually investors, looking for a tenanted unit?  Maybe 2-3%?

Okay, so as a seller, if you’re looking to move your condo, why would you reduce your buyer pool by 97-98%?  Why not get rid of the tenant, instead of trying to sell the condo while there’s still a year left on the tenant’s lease?

How many buyers, looking to move into the unit themselves, are going to consider buying a condo that’s tenanted until summer, 2014, and becoming a landlord when they never planned on it?  How about zero?

Countless sellers are out there thinking that buyers are going to come to their rescue, and take over their headaches and problems, but the market just doesn’t work that way.

Many of the items I’ve listed above are the result of the exact same thing: the seller not recognizing current market conditions for condos, or having no logic, whatsoever.


Tomorrow, we’ll do the same rundown, except for houses…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

Find Out More About David Read More Posts

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  1. CS

    at 4:31 pm

    “tell the client to get rid of the tenant”

    You cannot legally evict a tenant just because you want to sell the house. Even after the sale the tenant can only be evicted if the new owner is going to use the premises as their principal residence.

    1. David Fleming

      at 5:37 pm

      @ CS

      You can evict the tenant with 60 days notice, if they are on month to month, and not on a lease.

      You can evict the tenant, with the intention of moving into the property, and then change your mind, and sell it.

      I don’t make the rules – I merely provide options based on existing rules…

  2. Geoff

    at 12:09 pm

    Interesting sidebar question – what if you just decide you don’t want to be a landlord anymore, and want the home to be vacant?

  3. Pete

    at 2:57 pm

    Regarding #4. I wish would have an option for 1+1 and 2. I search for 2 bedrooms, and all these 1+1s turn up, where, as you state, the +1 is a nook and could never be a bedroom.

  4. PotKettleNewBlack

    at 9:20 pm

    #10…um…Dave…I think you might be a bit off on this one. There are a large number of condos that are purchased/bot/sold for the specific purpose of investment income. Just because you don’t necessarily have clients that buy condos for that purpose doesn’t mean that the pool is “2%-3%” of the buyers.

    If that were the case, then that whole stretch south of Front between Bathurst and Yonge would still be undeveloped industrial wasteland, instead of developed residential wasteland.

    1. David Fleming

      at 11:53 pm

      @ PotKettleNewBlack

      Maybe 2-3% was low, but how much is reasonable?

      Less than 10%, I’d bet my life on it.

      You are correct that CityPlace (the area you referenced) is all rental units, but these were primarily bought in pre-construction off floor plans by investors – NOT as tenanted units, as I suggested in #10 of this post.

      As for selling tenanted units, I stand by my claim that they are very difficult to sell. Even an investor looking for a rental unit wants it vacant so he/she can hand-pick a tenant, likely at a higher rent than what is existing.

  5. Jennifer Kerr

    at 5:55 pm

    So….. if a condo isn’t selling and has been listed over a 120 days…. what then??? My condo has been on the market approximately 3 months same realtors. We have had 4 offers fall thru on financing…..

  6. rachal bixler

    at 9:25 am

    my family was needing form name several days ago and saw a great service that has an online forms database . If you need 2005 HHS-729 also , here’s a PDFfiller or

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