For most people, selling real estate is a big deal. Even if you are a regular real estate investor, there is still quite a bit of money on the line with any property sale. The process can seem daunting at times. When selling real estate tips and tricks can always help. Consider the following steps/tips that break down the selling process.
Tip #1: Choose the right real estate agent
The first step that I would recommend when selling property is to choose the right real estate agent. If you have a good real estate agent, they are worth their weight in gold for the amount of time, energy and headache they would save you versus you trying to put together a deal yourself.
The right real estate agent will work together with you, communicate with you at the times and in the ways you would most like to be communicated with, and will make themselves available to you to assist you throughout the entire selling process.
The role of an agent that represents you is to help you and the buying party to complete the transaction with as little stress and with the most success to you possible. It is often very difficult to objectively broker the best transaction for your own properties, so an agent will help with this.
The right agent will obtain the best price, terms, and conditions for you as their client, while also striving to make the experience as pleasant for all involved as possible.
In addition to the right agent, the agent’s brokerage affiliation can also come into play. For example, as a real estate agent with Right at Home Realty, I am part of the largest independent brokerage in Canada, which equips me with strong management support and the latest and greatest in tools and training in the real estate industry. These tools and connections can certainly come into handy with property sales, and even more so depending on what kind of property you are selling (for example, are you looking at doing a private listing so that your home is not necessarily visible to all through the Multiple Listing Service? Is your property a commercial one or a residential one? Are you looking for specific buyers?). Having an agent that is part of a strong brokerage can make a difference in time and price in these instances.
Tip #2: Price your property right
There are a number of factors that impact the price of a property, including current market conditions, location of property, amenities near the property, condition of the property, and the reason why you are selling.
If you choose to go with a right real estate agent, I strongly advise you to ask for a Current Market Analysis (if they don’t offer one to you. As a side tip: A good agent should offer you a Current Market Analysis without you asking for it!).
Many sellers believe that if they price their property high, they can lower their price later. What they may not know is that, though this is true (that they can lower their prices later), this may come with consequences.
Often when a home is priced too high, it doesn’t receive as much activity as it would have were it appropriately priced. What almost always happens is that owners will lower their prices to current market value. Unfortunately, by the time this happens, the property would have been on the market for too long and potential buyers may be wary. Ultimately, the overpricing of the property ends up stigmatizing it, making buyers wonder why the property has been on the market so long and what could possibly be wrong with it.
On occasion, sellers may drop the price below market value after it has been on for too long because they need it to sell within a certain time frame. This results in the seller receiving a lower amount than they would have, had they priced the property appropriately from the get go.
Sellers sometimes believe that buyers can always make a lower offer. However, potential buyers that are looking within a lower price range may not have even considered this property as it was not in their budget. Even worse, some buyers may not have even seen the property, as there are filters on most major real estate search engines (think Realtor.ca and Zolo) that allow buyers to filter properties out by their maximum budget.
Buyers who can afford a home at the higher price range will soon recognize that they can get better value elsewhere, for the properties within that price range that were appropriately priced (versus a property that should technically be listed at less, being overpriced).
Tip #2: You only get one chance to make a first impression, so price your property appropriately!
Tip #3: Prepare your property to sell
After your property’s price, the condition of the property is the single most important factor determining the maximum price your property will sell for within the quickest time frame.
Most buyers have a hard time visualizing the potential of a property. Rather, they want to see it. The result? Presentation is key. Even though these things are minor and cosmetic, buyers will tend to focus on chips in paint, clutter, loose doorknobs, windows that don’t open as easily, and the list goes on and on.
You can dramatically improve how your property will be viewed (and ultimately, what kind of offers it will get) if you conduct a few quick repairs. Some suggestions:
- Clean inside and outside the property, including the garage, carport and/or shed to show the full size and potential of these spaces
- Declutter so that people can imagine their own furnishings in the space
Bonus Tip: While decluttering, decide whether you want to give away items, thrown them away, or store them away. This makes moving out easier for you in the long run
- Garden. Keep lawns, hedges, and flowerbeds clean and trim
- Make minor repairs. Fix everything you can within your budget. Look out for cracked tiles, chipped paint, squeaky hinges, and leaky faucets. Buyers may feel that, if you couldn’t take care of these small things, you certainly haven’t taken care of the larger things
- Secure professional photos of your property (if you followed Tip #1, your real estate agent should take care of this for you)
- Pet areas should be cleaned and odour free. Better yet, find a place for your pet to stay while you are selling your property. Showings can cause stress on animals
A well maintained property can provide you with a higher sale price
Tip #4: Consider how your property is marketed
I can’t stress this enough: If you followed Tip #1, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about marketing your property. It should be done for you. But this marketing information is good information to have, even to cross-reference with your real estate professional, or to consider for yourself should you decide to go it alone.
A few marketing tips to consider:
- For maximum exposure, get your property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and local real estate board. Include appealing and accurate descriptions, interior pictures, and a virtual tour
- Ensure you have a for sale sign on your property. This is generally a no-brainer, and the only reason why for sale signs wouldn’t be employed is if privacy is of the utmost importance to you and you are conducting your sale as an exclusive listing (this is often the case for multi-million dollar homes or homes of people who would like to stay away from the public eye)
- Ensure you have a lock box on your door for showings
- Host open houses. Again, please remember, this should all be arranged by your real estate agent if you’ve followed tip #1.
Bonus Tip: If you have an agent and you are being required to host your own open houses: RUN
- Seek out feedback. Your agent should provide this to you. If you aren’t working with an agent, be sure to reach out to the agents/potential buyers that are visiting your property to see what kind of feedback they have to share with you
- Use the internet and don’t forget social media exposure for your property
- Keep an eye on the market – it changes day to day and will influence what happens to your property as well leading up to its sale
Tip #5: Show your property well
Access to your house for showings to potential buyers is a critical component of the sales process. This is another reason why a real estate agent is key, as they can help coordinate this aspect of selling for you to ensure appointments are booked at times that work best for your schedule (without having to bug you about it every single time).
Whether you are choosing to show your property yourself, or you are having an agent do so, remember that safety is important. Do not allow strangers into your home without screening them first, and do not leave potential buyers in your home unless they are accompanied by a trusted professional or person.
As interest in your home grows, so will interest from potential buyers to view your property in person, versus just viewing it online. When showing:
- Make sure your property is clean and tidy
- Turn on all lights and open blinds where appropriate
- Have some quiet music playing in the background
- Leave inside doors open or slightly ajar, so buyers know what is behind the door
- If appropriate, light the fireplace (if you have one)
- Remove or kennel pets during showings (if you have any)
- Secure all valuables (jewelry/cash) and prescription medication, or remove them from the home entirely
- Provide access to the garage
- Try to avoid cooking foods with heavy odours that may linger during a showing
- Save all business cards so you can follow up (or your agent can follow up) for feedback
- Vacate the house during showings (again, remembering not to leave the house unattended though unless there is a trusted person/professional present). If you have to be present, don’t linger by the buyers as they tour the property
Most importantly, be as flexible as possible about showings for your home. Try to accommodate potential buyers’ schedules to the best of your ability. The more people who see your property, the better the chances are of an offer being placed.
Tip #6: Negotiate the offer
As offers are received in your property, be sure to review each offer in full to ensure you understand all the details. It is important to consider all aspects of a property, not just one that satisfies your price, but also your needs and time frames.
A few things to remember when considering offers:
- Offers are starting points to conversations. No one can force you to accept offers. If an offer is less than ideal, you can always negotiate to see if you can find a deal that is acceptable to both parties
- Always counteroffer. Momentum matters. Negotiate back and forth if needed until you find an offer acceptable to you
- Price is only one factor. Remember to negotiate, not only on price, but also on conditions, inclusions and exclusions, closing date, and deposits. There is usually more than one factor to consider when receiving offers on your property
Remember, even 1 per cent more for your property can mean thousands of dollars in your pocket. Ensure you are considering and calculating net proceeds to determine exactly how much you will net after paying closing costs. Some closing costs to consider include: legal fees, disbursements (to cover additional legal dispenses), closing adjustments (e.g. on property taxes, mortgage interest, and utility charges), mortgage fees, moving costs, and land transfer tax (Note: the buyer pays for this, not the seller).
Whether you’re a seasoned investor or a first time seller, selling a property is an involved task. Hopefully the tips above are a starting point for you in your considerations. Do you have any tips of your own to share? Let me know in the comments below. And remember, if you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below or contact me directly. Happy selling!