Rip out the carpet: Researcher studies features that help Edmonton condos sell faster

A research team at the University of Alberta analyzed hundreds of thousands of Edmonton condo listings from the last decade to determine the features that were associated with some condos selling faster than others.

Air conditioning and hardwood floors make a difference, years of sales data show

A research team at the University of Alberta studied more than 10 years of Edmonton real estate sales data and learned which features help units sell more quickly. (Vivian Kwan )

If you want to sell a mid-priced condo in Edmonton fast, consider getting rid of the carpet, and replacing it with hardwood or laminate flooring. Statistically, it will sell faster.

That's just one of the findings from Samer Bu Hamdan and his research team at the University of Alberta. They analyzed hundreds of thousands of Edmonton condo listings from the last decade to determine the features that were associated with some condos selling faster than others.

The findings could eventually be used by builders, developers and architects as they choose which new condo projects and design features get the green light.

"My research focuses on human-centric design, where I am trying to deliver designs that are both desirable and sustainable," Bu Hamdan told CBC's Edmonton AM on Wednesday.

"My main aim is to deliver buildings that people will like. If you follow the findings, the condos are expected to sell faster than if you don't follow them."

Bu Hamdan, who holds a doctorate in engineering, started his research by collecting a decade's worth of data from the Realtors Association of Edmonton, about 600,000 records in total.

The researchers divided the condo data into three price categories. Low-priced condos were anything under $250,000, medium-priced were $250,000 to $500,000 and high-priced units were anything greater than $500,000.

Bu Hamdan said the researchers found something interesting when they looked at price and time on market.

"Surprisingly, listing price has minimal impact on the time properties spent on the market, and this persisted across the three tiers," Bu Hamdan said.

"So, it was really to our shock that we found this observation, because the conventional wisdom is if you want to sell faster, lower your price. But the data tells a different story."

Edmonton real estate agent Jakie Ng says there can be more to a listing price than meets the eye. (CBC)

Jakie Ng, owner of Tribe Real Estate in Edmonton, said the price finding does make some sense. A low price could indicate a problem with the unit, he said.

"Is there something going on within the complex that is driving the prices down?" Ng said. "Is there a reason why, potentially, there may be a lot of units for sale? It's the story behind the price that matters."

Low price can be an indication of higher condo fees, or upcoming required maintenance, or even the fact that banks may be more reluctant to approve a mortgage for this particular property, Ng said.

Exterior features were also associated with sale time, the researchers found.

For example, stucco and vinyl siding was associated with less time on the market in the lower-priced category, while wood siding was associated with greater time on market. In the medium-priced condo category, however, condos with wood siding were expected to sell faster.

"It really depends on the price bracket we are talking about," Bu Hamdan said.

On the inside, flooring was a significant factor. Condos in the medium-priced category with carpet were on the market for longer, while medium-priced condos with hardwood floors sold faster.

This is consistent with what Ng sees in his business, which focuses mainly on condo sales in downtown Edmonton.

"A lot of the newer construction comes with either engineered hardwood, laminate flooring or hardwood," he said.

"Harder flooring, other than carpet, definitely sells better because of allergies, pets, and it overall looks a little cleaner and is easier to maintain." 

Air conditioning was associated with a faster sale in both the lower- and medium-priced condos.

Bu Hamdan said he fully understands why, on a personal level.

"I lived in a downtown condo in Edmonton, and it was amazing, but the only problem was that it didn't have air conditioning, so it was like an oven on summer days," he told Edmonton AM.

Bu Hamdan is now working on a similar paper looking at house features and time-on-market. He said he hopes it will be published in the coming year.

The condo portion of his work was published in the International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis this spring.


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