The elephant in the room, people are afraid of special assessments. They have heard horror stories from friends and family and don’t like the unpredictability of assessments. Limit your exposure to assessments if you can. The best way to run a community is to adjust the HOA every year with inflation so that needs can be met without the “A” word. There is a place for them but a well run community doesn’t have a new assessment every year or two. Ask if the building has had a reserve study. The best buildings have and have budgeted for future capital improvements.
It doesn’t matter how fabulous the view is if it has ugly carpet and wall paper and outdated kitchen cabinets and appliances. Yes, some would like a blank slate so they can renovate to their taste but this is a much smaller market than those who want to buy something that is move in ready. Sellers, consider painting your condo to a neutral grey or beige especially if you have strong colors such as red walls which were so hot in the 90’s. Consider replacing old appliances especially if they are white and have electric coil burners. Get rid of heavy drapes that impede the view . It’s better to have no window treatments than ugly curtains. Parquet floors? Some people love them but a lot buyers will change them. The easiest thing to get rid of is the dated light fixtures.
Are most of the people original to the building when it was built 25 or 30 years ago? If so it may feel dated or like a retirement home. Many people are looking for a vibrant community and like to see people of different ages and backgrounds. Is it all recent college grads that fill the pool with their friends every weekend? Is it full of pensioners that won’t fund minor improvements like a lobby renovation?
People will pay a premium for walkability. Some condos have great views but are set back so far that they feel like they are not part of the neighborhood. 2770 Observatory is the most expensive condo building in Cincinnati at this time and it’s two blocks off Hyde Park Square. Cincinnati has great neighborhoods with vibrant business districts. The condos in Eden Park, Hyde Park, OTR and downtown are more expensive than a condo in Anderson Township or Loveland. By the way, this applies to single family homes as well.
A lack of private outdoor features such as balconies and deck will hold back the value of a building. Yes, size matters when it comes to balconies. So does the ability to have a grill on the balcony. I know one building in town that will not allow grills of any kind. They have great balconies and great views but the fact that people can’t grill on the balcony is a major drawback. Think about it. Most people are coming from large homes with back yards. They are open to “downsizing” and looking forward to giving up yard maintenance but they don’t want to give up the good old fashioned American BBQ.
Some home owner associations think it’s more important to keep reserves high at the expense of maintenance. This strategy is wrong. Like it or not, buyers are judging your condo building by the appearance of your common areas. They want to see pretty professionally designed lobbies, hallways and yes even the management office should be pretty. What do the elevators look like? Is the parking lot full of potholes? Is the landscaping attractive or does it look like it’s been neglected.