You’ve Got Questions – I’ve Got Answers! Selling a house isn’t something you do very often and as markets and times change, so does the process of selling a home. I want to keep you informed, and I want to keep it simple!
Here are some commonly asked questions:
An entire book could be developed to answer this question. To keep it simple, a successful sale requires that you concentrate on five considerations:
Since you can't control all of them, you may have to overcompensate in one or more areas to offset a competitive disadvantage in another.
A Multiple Listing Service makes it easier to reach a large number of prospective buyers and dramatically increase the propery’s exposure. This is a real estate agent’s best resource for finding his buyer a home.
Quite simply, it’s a system under which participating brokers at the Real Estate Board agree to share commission on this sale of houses listed by any one of them. So, for example, if you list your house with one broker and another actually sells it, they split the commission. The advantage to you is clear; more people have an interest in selling your house and your home is exposed to many more buyers since real estate agents have access to the largest buyer pool available.
Right now, approximately 1%-2% of Canadian homeowners handle their own sales. In order to join the ranks of the successful ones, you need to realistically assess exactly what’s involved. The routine parts of the job involve pricing your house accurately, determining whether or not a buyer is qualified, creating and paying for your own advertising, familiarizing yourself with enough basic real estate regulations to understand (and possibly even prepare) a real estate contract, and coordinating the details of a closing. The greatest downsides are the demand on your time, and the possibility that a mistake may cost you the money you’re trying to save.
The best reason for working with a real estate agent is the enormous amount of information they have at their disposal – information that can help make your house sell faster and easier. Professionals know about market trends, houses in your neighborhood, and the people most likely to buy there. They also know how to reach the largest number of people who may be interested in your house, and are trained in areas like screening potential buyers and negotiating with them. Finally, they’re always “on-call”, and willing to do the things most of us don’t enjoy; working on the weekends, answering the phone at all hours and always being polite about it.
Today, people are moving further and more frequently than they used to. The result is that the pool of potential buyers for your home is much larger and spread far wider than ever before, and the competition to reach them is fierce.
Real estate brokers have responded by developing increasingly sophisticated marketing techniques that define likely buyers, where to find them, how to reach them, and how to persuade them to buy one house over another. The fact is, virtually everything we’ve discussed up to this point, from pricing to home improvements, the Competitive Market Analysis to the “For Sale” sign in the yard, is part of a marketing process that’s put into motion when you decide to work with a good broker.
Unless your house is nearly new, chances are you’ll want to do some work to get it ready to market. The type and amount of work depends on the price you’re asking, the time you have to sell, and of course, the present condition of the house.
If you’re in a hurry to sell, do the “little things” that make your house look better from the outside and show better inside. Several specific ideas for making low-cost improvements are discussed under “preparing your home” page on this website.
Curb appeal is the common real estate term for everything prospective buyers can see from the street that might make them want to turn in and take a look. Improving curb appeal is critical to generating traffic. While it does take time, it needn’t be difficult or expensive, provided you keep two key words in mind: neat and neutral. Remember, when a family looks at a house, they’re trying to paint a picture of what it would be like as their home. You want to give them as clean a canvas as possible.
Try to make it easy for prospective buyers to imagine your house as their home. Clear as much from your walls, shelves and countertops as you can and give your prospects plenty of room to dream.
Certain home improvements are useful to almost everyone and have been proven to add value or speed to the sale of houses. These include building a deck or patio, basement finishing, some kitchen remodeling (updating colors on cabinets, countertops, appliances, etc.) and new floor and/or wall coverings, especially in bathrooms.
However, professional renovators have found that, no matter how much you improve any given house, you’re unlikely to sell if for more than 15% above the median price of the other houses in your neighborhood, whether you do $1,000 worth of work of $50,000. That’s why you might want to ask your agent’s opinion about the viability of recouping the cost of any major renovation you have in mind before you start the work.
As soon as you decide to sell it! If you want to get the best price for your house, the key is to give yourself as much time as possible to sell it. More time means more potential buyers will probably see the house. This should result in more offers; it also gives you time to consider more options if the market is slow or initial interest is low.
Peak selling seasons vary from year to year in our area and weather sometimes has a lot to do with it. But keep in mind that there are also more houses on the market during the prime seasons, so you’ll have more competition. So while there is seasonality in the real estate market, it’s better to time your needs and not market predictions.
Homes that are overpriced will not sell and will end up becoming stagnant on the market. The longer your house sits on the market, the less interest it will generate. Potential buyers start to ask, “What’s wrong with this house? Why hasn’t it sold?” Reducing the price later does not generate nearly as much new interest as a new listing does, and it contributes to the stigma that there must be something wrong with it. This can also weaken your negotiating position once you do have an offer.