How to Sell a Townhouse Quickly: Overcome These Common Challenges
But that doesn’t have to be the case. Justin Willard, a top-selling agent in Pembroke Pines, Florida, says that the general turnaround time on townhouses is somewhere between 3 and 30 days in his area.
So what’s the secret to selling a townhome fast? We’ll examine some of the particular challenges that townhome sellers may face, then offer expert insights on how to overcome each hurdle for a fast sale.
Focus on the selling points of each type of townhome
While individual townhouse developments will vary in layout and features, the general characteristics of a townhouse include at least one shared wall, relative uniformity across units, and shared maintenance costs, paid for through HOA fees.
While those basic elements are fairly standard for townhomes, there are two different types of townhouse ownership, each with its own benefits. As a seller, you’ll need to know which type of ownership you’re offering to buyers so that you can highlight the advantages.
Fee simple townhouses
Fee simple townhouse ownership is very similar to that of a single-family home, where the ownership contract extends to everything from the roof down to the land that your home sits on.
Selling point: As a seller of a fee simple townhouse, you’ll want to highlight the freedom that comes with owning your whole property, such as the ability to make modifications to the building or yard that might not be possible in a condo townhouse.
“The condo townhouse, on the other hand, is where you’ll only own the interior structure inside the exterior walls,” Willard explains. “These will often carry higher maintenance payments, since more of the external maintenance and landscaping is included.”
Selling point: If you’re selling a condo townhouse, you can emphasize the freedom to enjoy your time in the home without worrying about the condition of the roof or the lawn maintenance yourself.
Common challenges to selling a townhouse
Owning a townhouse definitely has its perks. Still, selling a townhome means finding a buyer who values those perks enough to make a purchase. As a seller, you can help them do just that. Here are some of the issues townhouse owners should be aware of in order to find the right buyer:
Challenge: Getting the pricing just right
Let’s face it, townhouses are by definition pretty uniform. So how do you get the best price and the fastest sale when there are other for-sale or recently sold homes that look very similar to yours?
Tip: Partner with an experienced agent
Ashton Ernst is a real estate agent in Atlanta, Georgia who specializes in townhome sales, and she knows that setting the right price is imperative to a fast sale. She says, “We don’t necessarily want to go lower or higher than other units.”
Instead, to get a fast sale at a crowded price point, she uses creative marketing techniques. “Oftentimes there are small tweaks with searchability on price point that we can follow that will ensure we maximize our viewing audience of buyers looking at the home.”
And it’s working. On average, Ernst’s townhome listings have outperformed the competition by selling for 4% over asking price and 20 days fewer on the market. Focused experience in the townhome market is absolutely vital to getting the best price and the fastest sale.
Even in areas where townhouses sell like hotcakes, the right agent will be able to maximize the value of your townhome while moving the sale along at a quick clip. HomeLight’s agent matching platform will recommend local agents who have direct and relevant experience selling townhouses near you. You can check the agent’s HomeLight profile to see if they’re a “townhouse expert” based on whether they’ve sold more of these types of properties than their local peers.
Challenge: Selling to a limited buyer pool
Families typically look for a single family home with a yard for pets and kids. Young professionals tend to look for condos near their place of employment. But who’s the ideal buyer for a townhouse?
Tip: Highlight the price, location, and maintenance benefits
Willard says that many different types of buyers can envision living in a townhouse — if they fully understand the benefits. Townhouses are ideal for buyers who are looking to downsize, get a bargain in a hot market, or lower their home maintenance burden. They may also be a great choice as a “stepping stone” property for younger families working their way toward a single family home.
Lower price for a great area
In certain markets, especially those on the more expensive side, many potential buyers who initially considered a single-family home will realize they can afford a nicer, larger townhouse that is closer to their ideal location.
The California Association of Realtors®, for instance, pointed out that 43% of millennial buyers in the San Francisco market may opt for a townhouse or condominium in the suburbs if the market for single-family housing priced them out.
Less work for the owner
Similarly, young professionals who are looking for a maintenance-free condo lifestyle in the city may be more apt to look at townhouses in the surrounding metro area if the price of downtown condos is out of reach.
Reduced energy bills
In addition, townhouses tend to keep energy costs lower, a savings which could appeal to buyers on tighter budgets, such as seniors or young families. One study indicates that on average, dwellings with shared walls enjoy a 48% lower energy bill when compared to single family homes.
Work with your agent to develop a listing narrative that paints a picture of the benefits that your townhouse brings to the table. Is it larger than most condos? Does it have a fenced yard for the family dog? Let buyers know that your townhouse has the features they crave, just like a single family home or condo. The details may surprise them and increase your buyer pool in the process.
Challenge: Competition with new construction
New construction poses a challenge to townhome sellers. Ernst sees this a lot, especially in expanding urban areas. “New construction in the townhome world puts a lot of existing townhome owners at a disadvantage for the sale of their home, even though the inventory has been low across most of the country.”
Tip: Refresh and revitalize
The boom in townhouse construction is nothing new. According to the Montgomery County Planning Commission, “Since the end of the recession, single-family attached and multifamily housing units have become the dominant form of housing built in the county, averaging 66% of the total number of units built.”
To address the issue, Ernst says, “We’ve been coaching our townhome clients that we really need to show like-new construction.” She recommends visual coordination of all spaces to modernize the atmosphere and compete better against new builds. That could mean fresh interior paint, neutral flooring, or new lighting.
Ultimately, if someone’s going to come and see your property, they’re probably going to see the one that’s next door as well. But of course, we want to be the one to sell first.
Challenge: Competition within the community
If there are other for-sale townhouses with the same layout, same finishes, and same price, then it may be hard to distinguish your home from the rest. How can you sell fast when there are others in your community already for sale?
Tip: Collaborate with your neighbors and celebrate your strengths
Ernst says that in a competitive situation, she strategically collaborates with the other listing agents. By working together, they can increase traffic to both units which can help both sellers. “Ultimately, if someone’s going to come and see your property, they’re probably going to see the one that’s next door as well,” she says. “But of course, we want to be the one to sell first.”
Also, just because your townhouse may look like other homes doesn’t mean that it can’t stand out from the crowd. If your particular unit happens to be on an end cap, that is often seen as a plus, given that you’ve only got a neighbor on one side. If your unit happens to have a little more yard, a patio, or a pretty view, make sure those features stand out in the listing photographs and in conversations with buyers.
If you don’t feel that your townhouse has any standout features, consider adding an attractive detail to give it that “wow” factor — maybe a stone accent wall or custom closet shelving. Bottom line: don’t let buyers feel like if they’ve seen one townhouse they’ve seen them all.
Challenge: No one likes paying fees!
Certain buyers are turned off by the HOA fees associated with townhouse ownership. Still others may not be able to secure a loan when their lender takes HOA fees into consideration.
Tip: Highlight the benefits of an HOA handling maintenance for you
While owning a townhouse sometimes involves paying maintenance fees to the HOA, you and your agent can use the perks generated from that fee as a selling point.
Does your townhouse have direct access to local trails, a clubhouse, a walking path around a pond, or a pool? Is snow removal or some lawn maintenance provided by the community? These perks make the experience of living in an affordable and beautiful townhouse community more attractive to potential buyers, so be sure to market them in your listing.
Ernst also points out that maintenance costs are a part of any type of home ownership. With single family homes it could be a new roof here, a new driveway there –– those big ticket items really add up.
Many times, she says, “You make out better with an HOA than you would with a single family home. Having to manage all of those [maintenance] items yourself, not to mention actual coordination of those items can be a challenge.” Make sure your agent lists out all the maintenance covered by the HOA fee so savvy buyers can start doing the math.
Bonus tip: Be flexible on closing costs when selling a townhouse quickly
For buyers who may have trouble securing a loan with added-in HOA fees, Ernst recommends negotiating on closing costs. Sometimes having a seller who will help out with upfront HOA costs can give the buyer an advantage with their lender.
Challenge: Perceived lack of space
Some buyers may initially be turned off by a townhouse’s proximity to neighbors or stacked-up layout. If they go in with this mindset, they might think there’s less space in your townhouse than there actually is.
Tip: Stage your townhouse to maximize its available space
As a seller, it’s your job to show buyers exactly what they’re buying. That means helping them see every inch of available space!
Remove clutter entirely to a basement storage area or off-site storage unit. To be able to show the benefits of townhouses over other multi-family housing options, you will need to highlight ample storage, with pristine closets available to open and view. Decluttering often yields enormous ROI — as much as 432% — so it’s well worth any time and money spent.
Don’t forget outside spaces! Townhouses aren’t known for having large yards, so take the opportunity to make every inch you do have look its best. Keep your yard green and luscious. Stage your yard or deck area with attractive but simple patio furniture. Smaller spaces that appear polished and beautiful appeal to busy professionals who won’t have the time or inclination to keep up with a large yard’s maintenance.
When it comes to showings, make sure curtains are open and warm light fills the space. Townhouses have a reputation for lacking natural light, thanks to their shared walls. Show buyers that’s not going to be a problem by showering the home with a consistent golden glow and opening the blinds. The space will feel larger, which will leave a good impression with buyers.
Townhouse living: Connect buyers to the lifestyle
So many people daydream about having more free time to actually enjoy the community pool or their beautiful back patio, but the pressing needs of home maintenance keep them too busy. The key to selling your townhouse quickly lies in helping buyers realize how their overall wellness will benefit from the townhome lifestyle. Find a top agent near you with direct and relevant experience in your local townhouse market to get started on selling your townhome today.
Header Image Source: (Imagenet / Shutterstock)