Curb Appeal – Appearance Is Everything
When potential buyers drive by your home what do they see? A good first impression is key to bringing in potential buyers.
Take this list into consideration when looking at the outside of your home:
Is the yard well maintained? Lawns mowed, hedges trimmed?
Are garbage and debris stored out of sight?
Are lawn mowers and hoses properly stored?
Is the garage door closed?
Does the house need painting- the window casings, shutters, siding or doors?
Are there cracks in the foundation or walkways?
Does the driveway need resurfacing?
Are the gutters, chimney and walls in good condition?
By taking care of the little and often inexpensive details you can sell your home faster and at the price you are looking for.
Disclosing The Facts About Your Home
No home is perfect! In one way or another, they all have defects to some extent. However, concealing problem areas can result in costly lawsuits — at your expense! The horror stories come in many forms. During the height of purchasing excitement, not everyone notices the cracked foundation or faulty roof that leaks only when it rains; that turning on the hallway light causes the electrical gymnastics to begin; or flushing the toilet causes it to overflow because the septic lines are blocked.
Undisclosed defects can come back to haunt you, destroying what you originally considered protected….your pocketbook and peace of mind! It is in both your best interest and that of your purchaser to obtain a structural inspection during contract negotiation. Settlement and legal fees cost far more than if you had agreed to a price concession or repaired it yourself!
Real Estate Sales Costs and Taxes
Some costs associated with the sale of your home may include:
Lawyer or Notary Fees and Expenses – attending to execution of documents
Costs of clearing title, including:
–discharge fees charged by encumbrance holders
Real Estate Commission
Goods and Services Tax
We recommend you get advice from your accountant or lawyer in regards to applicable costs associated with the sale of your home. In regards to potential GST costs, we recommend calling the GST number of: 1-800-959-5525
Finding a Good Real Estate Agent
The size and nature of a real estate transaction requires an agent you can trust to act in your best interest. Finding the right agent can be a chore in itself. Consider asking friends and neighbors for recommendations.
Before settling on an agent:
Walk through your home with an agent to get a feel for how that person will handle prospective buyers.
Ask prospective agents how they plan to market your home.
Don’t sign with an agent just because he or she suggests the highest asking price.
Negotiate the broker’s commission prior to listing your home, and sign for a limited period of time–usually three to six months.
Remember: your agent has a fiduciary obligation to act in your best interest. They are there to represent you in the real estate transaction. The value of their skills and experience should not be underestimated.
Preparing Your Home For Sale
A real estate agent can be a helpful guide for setting up a home to be sold. Their experience allows them to prepare a home for an easier sale. If the potential buyer makes it past the outside, it ís the interior of the home that makes the sale. Remember, there are plenty of easy and inexpensive improvements that you can make to improve your home’s interior.
A Clean Home Is Your Number One Priority
Your windows, floors and bathroom tiles should sparkle. Make sure you have clean heating and air conditioning filters. Shampoo dirty carpets, clean tubs and showers, repair dripping faucets and oil squeaky doors. Keep your home neat, clean and picked up at all times. It may not seem fair, but a peek in the oven may be the hallmark by which a buyer judges how well you have kept up your home. Consider how your home smells. You may be used to the smell of a pet or cigarettes, but such odors can be a strong turn-off to potential buyers. Ensure that your storage areas are tidy, and remove materials that may be offensive to others who may not share your same views, beliefs or sense of humor.
Creating A Vision
The buyers need to be able to visualize themselves living in your space. Too much clutter can be a distraction that makes it harder for them to achieve that vision. If you have too much furniture, consider putting some in storage. If not enough furniture, try renting some. If you need some ideas, visit a show home to see the level of furnishings and decoration that is not too distracting.
Define Living Spaces
Having a living room/office/dining room/ storage locker can be a negative to buyers–not having an obvious purpose for a room makes it look less useful. Rearrange furniture to create focus areas inside of a larger room and define the spaces through a good layout.
Power of Paint
Painting is an inexpensive and easy way to give a room a makeover. You can paint a room in less than a day. If a room needs a fresh coat of paint, use a neutral off-white. Provide a blank canvas for potential buyers to create their vision. Light colors make the rooms seem larger and airier. A fresh coat of paint also looks cleaner.
Be certain to remove valuables such as jewelry and other items from view. It might be wise to put these items in a safe deposit box before showing your home.
Setting the Mood
On the day of a showing, give your house a homey feeling–put out some live flowers and fresh guest towels in the bathroom. Place scented potpourri around the house or, pop a batch of frozen cinnamon rolls into the oven for a welcoming aroma. Remember, cosmetic changes do not have to be expensive, and giving the impression that your home is well maintained will help you get the price you want.
Pricing Your Home for Sale
Today’s consumers are comparison shoppers. Although eager to achieve the best possible return on their hard earned investment dollars, they will shy away from properties that are listed too high or too low.
Listing above market value, you will more than likely sell your neighbor’s house instead of yours, or at the very least, risk a lack of potential purchasers visiting your home. By listing too low, you create the impression that you are desperate for the sale, or that something is seriously wrong with the structure.
Your Real Estate Agent will provide a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) that includes information on competitor listings, properties that have recently sold, and those that are currently pending.
Factors affecting the price of a home:
The property’s location and lot size.
The home’s condition, size and age, and any improvements you have made.
Review the assessed value of your home, taxes, and utility costs.
Supply and demand in the local housing market
Average home prices in the neighborhood
Your home’s extras — pool, fireplace, central air, etc.
Buying or selling property in today’s fluctuating and competitive marketplace takes industry knowledge, a proven track record, and expert opinion. It also takes dedication, commitment and the ability to achieve the goals set before you. When discussing the critical factors in the sale of any property, your Real Estate Agent’s expert opinion will guarantee that your home is accurately positioned for market dominance.
In the end, it’s still your choice as to pricing. However, by taking into account years of professional experience and real estate wisdom, you increase the possibility of selling your home within the critical first 30 days for the highest possible sale price, or achieving a fair market price for the home you are purchasing.
Home Repair Priorities – For Selling Your Home
You consider your home one of your most prized possessions. You have lavishly decorated to individual taste, using paint and wallpaper as expression of your personality. Eyes glued to yet another magazine, you’ve finally found the perfect window treatment. Your furniture reflects the colors and textures that have become important over the years. And don’t forget, you DID spend hour after weekend hour bent over that magnificent garden. However, it will cease to matter once you sign the “For Sale” agreement. The paint, the drapes and the carpeting mean nothing to those outside the family. And that lovely bathroom tile you imported from some exotic land isn’t even mentioned. How could they NOT notice that you spent a great deal of money and months waiting patiently for it to arrive at the shipyards?
The answer is simple…your potential purchasers are not emotionally involved in your investment. Unlike you, they see the flaws you have come to ignore over the years. They will notice the carpet your cat has used as a scratching post, the tap that drips incessantly, and the ugly stain in the kitchen caused by the leaky roof. To them, it’s nothing but added expense, and probably not worth the effort. After all, there are many, many more properties on the market other than just yours. However, the marketability of your home WILL increase if you take the time and effort to view it through their eyes, and take extra care in ensuring that minor things are attended to.
One sure way of guaranteeing that your potential purchasers can see themselves enjoying life in your home is to make it as presentable and uncluttered as possible. What is known in the industry as “curb appeal” may become the difference between “Sold” and “continued showings”. The tiny handprint that adorns the front door is cute only to you. To the other side, it’s a combination of filth and downright laziness. Despite the cost of a can of paint, your family room should NOT resemble a mud-room. And remember the sun shining through the windows? A little bit of elbow grease goes a long way!
When the time comes to list your home for sale, take into account that your potential purchasers are searching for new roots. They need to be enticed, enthralled and enchanted at first glance. It needs to feel like THEIR castle, THEIR history, THEIR love story the moment your home comes into view. If expense is a concern, do it yourself. If there’s litter in the front yard or the grass needs cutting, hire the teenager next door. Five dollars and time REALLY CAN make the difference! If not, there are numerous contractors, painters, decorators, cleaning services, and landscaping firms that your Real Estate Agent can recommend. For the more major repairs including replacement roof, flooring or structural defects, etcetera, you can opt to invest in the repair, or you can choose to disclose this information in the Listing Contract.
Also pay attention to the “finishing touches” – the serene background music, the tidy bathroom, the made beds, and the bouquet of flowers. Open a few windows, the air will be fresher. A welcome mat at the front door is inviting, and please, no laundry running in the machines while you attempt to catch a few more minutes of lost time! By being ruthlessly honest in your evaluation of your home prior to listing, you will:
Position your home at the top of the “To See” list;
Guarantee that your own roots will be transplanted sooner rather than later
Protect your hard earned investment dollars.
Changing Homes – Time Becomes Money
If you are buying a new home and selling your current one, place your home on the market as far in advance as possible of purchasing a new one. Selling your home prior to purchasing a new one allows you greater flexibility in financing as well as the peace of mind of not having to worry about selling that home after you’ve moved into your new one. Depending on market conditions, you may be better off selling your current home and renting until you find the right home for you. If you find a new home first and then try to sell your present home, you may wind up with two mortgages, and in a financial position that threatens both properties. A real estate agent may be able to provide you with advice on current market conditions and the potential challenges you may face.
Also keep in mind that many events need to be coordinated when you sell and buy, for example closing and moving dates have to be arranged. Put all agreements about dates in writing, and protect yourself by negotiating financial penalties for failure to comply. The firmer everyone commits to a window of dates and sticks to them, the better for all involved.
Frequently Asked Questions About Selling Your Home:
At what price I should list my house for sale?
This is a very important question, and one that we take most seriously. In the process of deciding what price you wish to list your home for sale, there are a number of factors to consider. First, we like to come and see your home, as it is very difficult to assess something one has not seen. You may have made many upgrades since your home was last on the market, or your home may never have been listed before. We encourage you to tell us about all the features of your home during this visit. We will then do a comparative market analysis of your home. This is a printed analysis of comparable homes for sale and recent comparable home sales in your area. Ultimately, it is up to you as to what you list your home for, we may only suggest a list price.
How can I get the maximum dollar from the sale of my home?
First impressions are very important for potential purchasers of your home. Often people want to completely overhaul their home prior to listing it for sale, but usually this is not only unnecessary but also not a wise investment of your money. Large renovations just prior to sale often are not cost effective. The new purchaser may have different plans for the home, and completely undo what you just did! Now I know you have probably seen the popular TV shows on how to fix up your home for sale, and we are not saying don’t do anything–we are saying, don’t do anything major. There is a difference. We do recommend the following:
A. Definitely pack up any and all personal items and nik naks. We know this is difficult to do, but think of it this way: you are going to have to pack it up anyway, why not get a head start and pack now! This will also help you in your stages of closure in leaving your present home. You won’t have to put things away for too long and it is only for your benefit. This is important for a number of reasons:
It ís psychological for the buyer. The buyer wants to walk into your home and place themselves there, to see themselves living there. It is more difficult for this process to occur if your family photos and nik naks are front and center. The buyer feels more like a guest then a potential purchaser. A clean palate for the buyer to reflect upon while in your home is best.
Removing personal items and nik naks is part of the process called staging your home for sale. Your home will look more spacious and pristine to potential buyers. We know you won’t necessarily like it that way because it won’t feel like home for awhile, but we also know that your home is a big part of your asset portfolio and we feel responsible to direct you to do everything you can to help us get the highest dollar from your home sale.
B. Ask us to do a staging walk-through of your home and make suggestions as to what could be done to enhance the sale of your home.
We have sold a lot of homes and are accustomed to seeing what a ‘staged home’ looks like. We would be more likely to see things that should be changed than you as we have a fresh perspective on your home. I know there are things in our home that we keep meaning to move, change, or give away, and somehow it never gets done! When selling your home, these sometimes small changes matter. In the marketing process of your home we use many marketing venues to sell your home. We take numerous still photos inside and out of your home, we have a virtual tour done on your home, and we create virtual/internet marketing packages as well as authentic marketing packages, such as graphically designed feature sheets and newspaper advertising. If you have a festive stuffed paper-maché bird from your last holiday, extra furniture, or a pile of junk ready to go to the junk yard in the back yard, now is the time to transform you home. Make the changes that will matter as these things could be distracting in photos and virtual tours and house showings.
We may also suggest the following while doing our staging walk-through:
Paint: If you are going to paint prior to listing your home, choose white or something neutral. Often people try to jazz up their home with bright colours that could potentially put off a more reserved buyer. If you want to go wild with colour, wait to paint your new home the way you like it!
Repair: repair any roof leaks, or major cracks in walls, leaking toilets, etc.
Atmosphere: When having your home shown, on tour, or for photographs please have lights on, drapes open and quiet relaxing music playing. Fresh flowers, a dinner table set for two, bath salts and candles, fresh towels, are all staging techniques that create a relaxed welcoming and cozy feeling in your home.
Garden and Yard care: Try and keep your lawns trimmed and the garden neat and clear of debris during the marketing of your home
Should I sell my house before buying or should I buy before selling my existing home?
We know it is a little akin to jumping off a cliff without looking down first, but we recommend you list your house for sale before you make an offer on your new home or property. This will potentially place you in a better and more knowledgeable position for your purchase. You could ultimately wait until you were sold firm prior to purchasing. This means that your purchaser has removed all their subjects or conditions to be satisfied, prior to being legally bound to complete (buy) your home on the date of completion on the contract of purchase and sale of your home. Usually there are at least 10 working days or sometimes months between the time you are sold firm and the actual time you have to move. This window of time is an opportunity for us to go find your new home. You will know how much money you have from the sale of your home and you will know when you have to move out. These are two key factors we will want to know when we make an offer for you! If you can’t manage to do this, we can always find your new home first, get an accepted offer on it, and make the offer subject to sale of your own home. We want to protect you at all times from being in a position of anxiety and risk and if you tell us you want to sell before you buy, we will ensure that you do, to the best of our ability. But we do suggest that you sell before you buy!
We also recommend you take our checklist for buyers with you when we go looking for your new home. This is one of many items included in our Buyers Package that will be mailed to you when you complete our Buyers Package request form. This is a handy checklist to use while you go from home to home for sale, to make sure the home you choose has the amenities you have indicated as being most important to you. We all know that there is no absolutely perfect home out there, but we hope to find you one pretty darn close. A home that feels right to you will have all or most of your priority points. We find it is important to have those in writing with you so you feel satisfied with your purchase both emotionally and realistically.
Seek Legal Representation
When selling your home it’s a good idea to be represented by an attorney, especially an attorney with expertise in real estate transactions. When a potential buyer puts an offer in writing and you accept it, the signed acceptance becomes the sales contract. Your attorney can help you protect your interests with the sales contract at the closing.
Elements of a sales contract:
The Sale price
Items included in the purchase.
The amount of the deposit
The date of settlement and possession date
Contingencies or Subjects to the sale–inspections (e.g. structural, septic, water quality and quantity) financing, subject to sale of purchaser’s home, required improvements, legal review of the contract by the buyer’s or seller’s attorney, etc.
Using A Real Estate Agent Or Going It Alone?
The main reason that home owners decide to sell their homes themselves is to save the commission charged by a real estate agent. The commission rate may vary, depending on where you live or what agency you choose. Weighing against that commission rate are the advantages that having an agent offers.
Advantages of using a real estate agent:
Handling your own sale means you will be responsible for placing ads, answering phones and showing your home to strangers. A real estate agent has marketing systems in place for listing and selling homes.
An agent will take the potential buyer through the home at scheduled times.
An agent can sell the house, not just show the house.
The Agent is experienced in the local market and will help you determine a proper selling price.
The agent will negotiate with the buyer for you.
The agent will professionally market your home and can find qualified buyers.
An agent can offer advice on preparing the house for a faster sale, and closer to the asking price.
When you are selling on your own, buyers may offer less for your home, knowing you are saving on an agent’s commission, wiping out the financial incentive to do it all yourself.
Remember: a real estate agent probably knows a lot more about the business of selling a home than you do.
In the end the decision is yours. If you have lots of spare time, and some experience that will allow you to research the market, establish a competitive price and then show and sell your home, you may feel going it alone is the answer. If your time is valuable, the commission a real estate agent takes will more than pay for itself.
Are You Ready To Move?
The home-selling process typically starts several months before a property is made available for sale. It’s necessary to look at a home through the eyes of a prospective buyer and determine what needs to be cleaned, painted, repaired and tossed out.
Ask yourself: If you were buying this home what would you want to see? The goal is to show a home which looks good, maximizes space and attracts as many buyers – and as much demand – as possible.
While part of the “getting ready” phase relates to repairs, painting, and other home improvements, this is also a good time to ask why you really want to sell.
Selling a home is an important matter and there should be a good reason to sell – perhaps a job change to a new community or the need for more space. Your reason for selling can impact the negotiating process so it’s important to discuss your needs and wants in private with the realtor who lists your home.