Getting your house ready to be sold can be exciting, a lot of hard work, and a little scary too. Do you know what you should list for? Do you know if it’s a seller market or a buyers market? Should you sell it privately to a neighbour or put it on MLS? Should you renovate before you sell? All these questions can be answered by your real estate agent but if you’d like to start the process of being house-ready- then here are a few tips you can follow.
1. Clean and Minimize
Clean everything, and vacuum every nook and cranny. Move that fridge and clean behind it. Swap out the burnt-out light bulbs. Donating, removing items that won’t be moved with you, or packing up unessential items should be done in advance of photos being taken for the listing. Even if you’re not staging with furniture, buyers want to know that they won’t be stuck with a bunch of things that are left behind. Unless discussed in advance the house should be left with nothing in it other than what was agreed upon. I’m sure you’ve heard it time and time again, but one of the most important tips your agent will offer is to be ruthlessly unsentimental about packing away knick-knacks and family photos. If you do leave behind items, this could mean the buyers could hold back money for junk removal or even say it’s a breach of contract and not close when agreed upon.
2. Fix little signs of wear and tear
And yes, that includes scuff marks and chipped baseboards. Even if your home is otherwise in great shape, the buyer may perceive it as needing work, which could hurt you in price negotiations. If the house is dated (kitchens and baths are over 20 years old) and in need of modernization, then minor scuffs aren’t a big issue.
3. Tell your selling agent everything about your home
Buyers like to know when appliances, furnace and A/C, roof, windows, and any other big-ticket items were purchased and if there are active warranties on them. If you’re an avid gardener and you have kept track of all the names of your plantings, the new owner would appreciate knowing what is a weed and what isn’t. Having a House Book, where you keep track of dates, appliance manuals, purchases from appliances to plantings is a huge plus for any new buyer. Any flaws you knowingly conceal, knowing about asbestos, for instance, could come back in the form of a lawsuit even after closing.
4. Choose your price wisely
Consider setting a price that’s slightly below the market value for your area. This can help generate offers for your listing, creating a buzz that could result in a bidding war. It can also bring you a faster closing date.
5. Be ready to move
Closing can happen as quickly as 2 weeks so having a place to move to before you sell is ideal. Things move quickly in real estate and if you get an incredibly good offer that is contingent on a quick closing, then be ready! Closing dates could happen anywhere from 2 weeks to three months once the signing is complete.
6. Don’t limit yourself to popular times
Spring is the traditional start of house-hunting season, but supply and demand is year-round. Currently, we are in a buyers’ market but that could change at any time. Buyers need homes at different times of the year and sellers need to sell before the spring market sometimes as well.
7. Be flexible
Be flexible on conditions when negotiating. If the buyers want your rare antique church pew that won’t fit in your new house, consider selling it with the home. If the buyer wants you to do major repairs, consider meeting them halfway and get estimates yourself before agreeing. If you hire a good agent, you should come to a win-win scenario to satisfy both parties.
8. Trust the pros
A small minority of homes sold in Canada change hands in “for sale by owner” transactions. The biggest motivation: sellers want to save money on agent commissions but want the bells and whistles like expensive video marketing and staging. Know what works to market your home to the right audience to get the best buyer offers.
Real estate is a complicated transaction and there can be a lot of pitfalls during and after an offer is made. It’s difficult to price a home and market it properly without an experienced agent’s help. Not just with list price but also negotiating things like closing, deposits, and other conditions buyers might ask you for.
There is so much information about real estate do’s and don’ts that it can be confusing and hard to navigate and understand the real estate jargon. Working with me means my clients get first-hand experience, without pressure, to understand every step of the way in clear and simple terms throughout the process. If you are in the GTA and would like to sell your home or buy one, please send me an email or text me at your convenience to book a free consultation.