Advice on successfully selling your NYC co-op home

Lauren Kende Real Estate Associate Broker FENWICK KEATS Real Estate
Advice on successfully selling your NYC co-op home

Selling a cooperative apartment in NYC is always a challenging proposition. Regardless of whether the market is up or down, or you are selling your home on your own or with a real estate agent, there are tried and true tips that will help ensure the best outcome. Here are some of them.


Do know your goals

Identify what your selling goals are, and make sure you and your team of real estate professionals (agent, lender, attorney) have an aligned strategy to get there. Is it just about getting the most money possible for your apartment? Or are you looking to be at the closing table in 45 days? Or is it important to be able to stay in the apartment after closing so your kids can finish school? Your goals can significantly impact the choice of sales strategy pursued so it is important that these be clear from the start.

Do make sure your property has “curb” appeal

Spend some time, energy, and money to make sure your property is as appealing as possible to your target buyer. De-clutter. Make minor or major repairs. Repaint. Update the bath and/or kitchen. Stage. The first impression is the one that will determine if a prospective buyer is going to seriously consider your property vs. others.

Do get your paperwork in order

Make sure key documents are available and up-to-date. Locate your co-op share certificate and offering plan. If you’ve done renovations, confirm that your contractor filed properly with the city to close out the project. Make sure you are not behind in your maintenance payments. These items can certainly delay (if not derail) the sale process so give yourself enough time to correct any problems by addressing them early.

Do understand the timeline for your next phase

Take steps to make sure you won’t be caught short as a result of poor logistics planning. Are you going to need a rental? If so, make sure you begin looking early enough so you have a place to move to before closing. Downsizing? If so, should you be trying to sell your furniture or do you have storage space on reserve? Looking to simultaneously buy? Your real estate agent can help you understand the relevant timing scenarios so you can properly prepare for each of them.

Do be flexible

hile there are many things that need to be done to successfully sell a co-op, doing so is not an absolute science. If it appears that things are not working as predicted, be willing to make changes, whether related to price, apartment condition, or some other concern that prospective buyers keep raising.


Do not expect to make more money by selling on your own

Statistics show that properties represented by real estate agents typically sell for well over what the commission amount is, and sell more quickly, than when sold by owners themselves. The reasons are many: broader and more consistent marketing reach, more comprehensive listing information, use of professional photographs and floorplans, skilled negotiations, and avoidance of the “deal” seeking buyer. Using a capable professional also ensures proper vetting of buyer qualifications, problem solving, board package review, and facilitation of the lengthy and complicated process among the many people involved in a typical transaction (seller and buyer, attorneys, lender, and managing agent), all of which dramatically increase your ability to sell your co-op apartment at the best possible price.

Do not select a real estate agent based on the sale price they quote you

A real estate agent does not set the price -- the market does. A good agent will provide you with the data to understand what is happening in the current market and to price your property accordingly. Pricing too high (without that being part of your specific marketing strategy) typically leads to significant and repeated price reductions, longer time on the market, and buyer concern about what is wrong with the property. Pick an agent based on the elements and scope of their marketing plan, their professionalism with prospective buyers and their agents, how they will handle the entire process (from start to finish), and the rapport you have with them (you’ll be spending a lot of time together). And meet with several before making a decision.

Do not say no to requests to see your property

There is no question that the process of selling can be inconvenient to your daily life, particularly if you are living in the apartment. But in order to sell, prospective buyers need to get inside. Give as much access to your agent as possible so that they have the greatest opportunity to bring qualified offers to you.

Do not be afraid to address problems head-on

The law dictates that certain types of issues be disclosed to prospective buyers. But many “negatives” about an apartment or a building do not rise to this level, so it’s always a delicate question about whether to highlight them to prospective buyers. If the issue has the potential to derail the sale if the buyer learns about it after an offer is accepted or once in contract, it is far better to be up-front so it can be addressed in the initial stages. Not sure about the significance of an issue -- speak with your attorney and/or your real estate agent.

Do not let your emotions control the outcome

It is completely natural for a homeowner to feel their apartment is perfect for any and all comers, but the people who will be next living there are equally passionate about what they want in a home, and they are the ones who have to spend their hard-earned money. Try not to let your emotional attachment to your home outweigh the objective counsel of the real estate professional you have hired to sell your co-op at the best possible price to a well-qualified candidate who will successfully make it through the board approval process. Remember your goals.

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Selling a NYC cooperative apartment is a complicated process with various potential pitfalls, but following these tips can help you avoid many of them. Having a good real estate team working together in your best interests -- from the initial planning stages to the closing table -- is a sure-fire way to the smoothest, quickest, and most financially-beneficial sale possible.

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Lauren KendeReal Estate Associate Broker

A former practicing attorney and public relations professional, Lauren brings her extensive history of helping people navigate through complex and challenging situations to bear on behalf of her real estate clients. Passionate about customer ser...

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