Vacant Atlanta condo snags buyer in 15 days

Names: Barton and Katrina Hodges. Barton owns Euclid Networks, a local IT support company; Katrina is an attorney with Parker Hudson Rainer & Dobbs LLC.

The home: A two-bedroom, two-bath condo built in 2001

Where: Atlanta

Why they sold: Katrina purchased the condo in The Manor House as her first home in March 2009. After they got married and started their careers, the couple wanted to purchase a home with a yard for gardening. "We had thought about selling for probably about a year before we actually put it on the market," Katrina said. They watched home prices on websites such as Zillow to determine when to sell. The couple tried to find the sweet spot between the market being right for selling and buying, but recognized that would be impossible to hit. They bought a three-bedroom, two-bath home in Atlanta's Cabbagetown neighborhood, then listed their home.

Time on market: 15 days

Original price: $269,900

Sale price: $260,000

What it took

After real estate agent Blair Branch Huckeba of Dorsey Alston Realtors helped Katrina’s brother sell his condo quickly, the Hodges interviewed her and a couple of other agents. Her insight was crucial, they said, as they debated repairing the hardwood floors and kitchen countertops. They wondered if the flaws would irritate buyers and make it difficult to sell. However, they recognized buyers have different tastes and could rip out anything new. They decided to keep the floors and countertops as is. “Every thing you do to improve your home, of course, it’s improving the home but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s improving the value,” Katina said.

The couple also was concerned that an empty condo may detract buyers, but Branch Huckeba said condo buyers in particular were used to seeing vacant units. The Hodges credited their agent for getting the word out quickly to other agents, paired with listings online that emphasized the open layout, separate dining room and covered balcony, where they did container gardening. They accepted the first formal offer for the condo.

Potential stumbling block

The Hodges accepted the offer for less than asking price, with the understanding that the buyer had seen the needed repairs. After the inspection, they were asked to contribute more toward the repairs. They had to renegotiate the price and closed in September. “There’s never anything that goes perfectly smoothly when you are purchasing or selling a house,” Katrina said. “We were able to work out anything that came up during the inspection.”

Seller’s hint

Resist letting your history in the home impact price negotiations. “What might seem like a flaw to a buyer is a part of what you experienced or what you were living in. You were creating a home there,” Katrina said. “That’s the emotional side, from a seller’s point of view.”