Making the Transition from House to Condo

There are so many benefits to condo living. Gorgeous, well-appointed units, often with stunning views; Condo buildings are often surrounded by culture, art, theatre, dining and shopping; Underground parking and walking distance to amenities means not dealing with snow anymore and much less use of the car; The clutter-free lifestyle of a condo is therapeutic. Life is easier without lawns, gardens,and exterior maintenance to deal with; A secure building means you can sleep easy at night as well as travel without the worry of frozen pipes or break-ins. It’s no wonder that so many people are moving to condos.

Moving house into a condo for the first time, however, can be daunting. It will serve you well to plan ahead and ask for help to develop a combined selling and move-in strategy for the transition.

First the existing home gets staged for sale which may involve shifting, editing, removing and bringing in furniture and décor. Ensuring the house shows at its best for its target market will bring about a faster and higher sale. A clear assessment is needed of who are your likely buyers, and what are their expectations. Staging often includes maintenance and repairs, painting, thorough cleaning, upgrades or renovations, change of furniture placement and style, and re-accessorizing, in order to meet the target buyers’ expectations.

This can get a little complicated. If you are moving into the new condo before selling the existing house, emptying the house before it is sold will likely reduce the perceived value of the house, which means a longer time to sell and less money in your pocket when it does sell. Likewise, when to get rid of those pieces you are not planning to take with you will depend on whether they are needed to stage the existing home.

Then it can be a learning curve to set up the condo which has fewer rooms, reduced storage, and in most cases a very different décor style. What do you bring with you? What do you have to give up? How do you maximize the functionality of the new space? If you are going for a new look for the new space, where do you even start?

Follow these steps, in more or less this order, for a smooth transition from house to condo:

Have your house staged for sale with your target buyers in mind, and keep it staged until you have it sold, whether you are still living there or not.

Predetermine your desired style and functionality for the new condo; having a decorator provide optimal furniture layouts will be very helpful to get a realistic handle on space. Work with your decorator on colors and style, and plan ahead for window coverings.

Devise a plan of what furniture and décor goes where, and when.

Sort and purge before you move. Identify what you have which (a) will be useful and a good fit in the condo, (b) which you absolutely cannot stand to part with, or (c) which can be repurposed, painted or altered to become useful and a good fit, or (d) which will be used temporarily in the condo until you replace it. These are keepers. The rest does not go to the condo.

Sell, give away or discard anything that is not needed in the staged house and not coming with you to the condo. If needed, arrange for off-site storage to hold the things coming to the new condo but not wanted in the staged house.

Identify, source and purchase any new items for the condo, such as condo sized furnishings and window coverings. Remember, everything looks much bigger in a condo than in the big furniture stores, so know your desired sizes and bring your measuring tape. Factor in delivery times which may be a few months.

Once the house is sold, sell, give away or discard anything left which is not coming to the condo.

Move in and enjoy your new home.

Don’t think you have to do this alone. Professionals are available to help make this an enjoyable transition, offering creative ideas, great sources and resources, and even discounts for your purchases. My clients often tell me I have saved them money, made it fun, and taught them a lot in the process.

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