Tips for Sellers
1. Getting Started
Choose a REALTOR®
Finding the right real estate sales representative – REALTOR® – can make a huge difference in your house selling experience. A REALTOR® is a trained professional who knows all aspects of the real estate market. A REALTOR® will save you time, money and aggravation.
As with purchasing a home, you want to list with a REALTOR® who is an expert in your area. After all, potential purchasers will be calling this same “area expert” to inquire about houses for sale. Of course, you will also need to feel comfortable with him or her, for they will be working for you.
Set the Right Price
A REALTOR® can help you enter the market at the right time, analyze market trends and ensure that you are selling your property at a good price. When it comes to making what will be one of the most significant transactions of your life, make sure that you don’t lose out. If you set your price too low, you could miss out on thousands of dollars. However, if your asking price is too high, you could scare away willing buyers. Your REALTOR® will have very useful advice on what price will attract buyers.
Buying Another Home?
Should you buy or sell first? That’s tricky. After all, if you find a purchaser for your existing home, before you’ve found a new one, you may find yourself living out of a suitcase. On the other hand, if you find your dream home before you have sold your existing home, you may be faced with carrying two mortgages for a time. So what should you do?
If you’ve found a purchaser before you’ve found your next home, you can make the purchase of a new home a condition of the sale when you sign back the agreement. Alternatively, even if you have not found the ideal next house by the time the sale closes, you may still wish to proceed, since any interim living arrangements will only be for a fixed time. As a buyer with a “sold house” you will then be in a better position to negotiate price on another home.
On the other hand, If you’ve found a home before selling your existing one, you can make the sale of your current home a condition on your offer to purchase. That way, if you don’t sell your house within a fixed period of time, you can choose not to go through with the offer. This, however, may be an unattractive condition for many sellers and you may find that you have to forgo your price negotiating power. Then again, you may wish to arrange Bridge Financing. A bridge loan is a temporary financing option designed to help homeowners “bridge” the gap between the time your existing home is sold and your new property is purchased. It enables you to use the equity in your current home to pay the down payment on your next home, while you wait for your existing home to sell.
Speak to your REALTOR® about your options and always consult a professional financial advisor before making personal financial decisions. For more information about selling your home, check out our Tips for Buyers.
2. Listing & Marketing Your Home
Exclusive vs. MLS® Listing
An exclusive listing states that only your brokerage can find a buyer for your home. In other words, you are giving your REALTOR® and his or her brokerage the exclusive right to find a purchaser for your home. Generally speaking, this arrangement is disadvantageous to you when selling your home. Therefore, most REALTORS® recommend putting a home on a real estate board’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System—a powerful tool that will allow your listing to be marketed to more potential buyers.
Sign a Listing Agreement
Signing a listing agreement officially gives your REALTOR® the green light to start selling your home. The agreement serves three main purposes:
- It defines your relationship, including the limits of your REALTOR®’s authority.
- It provides detailed information about your home which can be placed on a real estate board’s MLS® System.
- It forms the basis for drafting offers on your home.
Price and What’s Included in the Price?
Your REALTOR® understands what’s happening in your local market as well as industry trends that may impact how you sell your house. Using the extensive background information available exclusively to them, REALTORS® can compare your home to a collection of similar homes recently sold in your area.
When listing your home, be sure to define any included chattels and excluded fixtures. Chattels are moveable items like appliances and window blinds. They’re not automatically included in the sale, but sellers will often include them to sweeten the deal. Fixtures are permanent improvements to a property like central air conditioning, installed lighting and wall-to-wall carpeting. Fixtures are assumed to be included in the sale of the home.
By working with a REALTOR®, your home can be advertised to maximize your property’s visibility and traffic online. A REALTOR® can highlight your home’s best qualities, include professional photos, video tours and more. Remember, only a REALTOR® can get your home advertised on REALTOR.ca, Canada’s No. 1 real estate site.
Your REALTOR® will probably use a variety of methods to get potential buyers into your home:
The For Sale Sign
Despite our leaps in technology, the for sale sign continues to be an effective way to advertise. Anybody responding to your sign is a solid lead because they’ve seen your home with their own eyes.
Your REALTOR® may choose any or all the following: classified ads in the newspaper, ads in real estate publications as well as a flyer.
Many REALTORS® have their own website on which potential buyers can use specialized search engines to locate their dream home. Additionally, if you decide to have your home listed on a real estate board’s MLS® System, you can also have your home advertised on REALTOR.ca, Canada’s most popular real estate website.
Your REALTOR® Knows How to Network
Your REALTOR® is part of an extensive community of REALTORS® who collectively represent hundreds of buyers. If your home is right for one of their buyers, you can be sure they’ll rush out and tell them.
Many buyers want to get a feel for your home before they start working with a REALTOR®. An Open House will usually last a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday.
Make Your House More Sellable
While we all believe that our home is our castle, our personal tastes may not appeal to everyone. Your REALTOR® will work with you to give you an impartial analysis of your home – how it relates to other “competing” homes on the market and how your home reflects current design and style trends. Your sales representative will also take a good look at the general condition and upkeep of your dwelling. Should you wish to “stage” your home, your REALTOR® can recommend professional home staging and design consultants.
Simple Home Improvements
It simply makes sense to clean up both the interior and exterior of your home before listing it for sale. But that doesn’t mean you have to undertake major home renovation projects in order to sell your home. With a little effort you can increase the perceived value of your home by a great margin.
Here are some simple things to keep in mind that you can do to increase the perceived value of your home and make the perfect first impression.
Exterior of Home
- Keep lawn cut and clear of clutter
- Trim hedges and bushes
- Weed and edge gardens
- Clear driveway and remove any stains
- Clean out garage
- Power wash home exterior
- Touch up paint
- Plant colorful flowers
At The Front Door
- Clean porch and foyer
- Ensure doorbell works
- Freshly paint or varnish front door
- Repair any damages to the door and locks
Set the Right Mood
- Make sure your home smells fresh and clean
- Eliminate pet odours and stains
- Turn on lights
- Turn on air conditioner/heater
- Open the drapes
- Light the fireplace
- Put away personal photos so buyers can envision the house as theirs
Neat and Tidy
- Clean and freshen bathrooms
- Clean fridge and stove
- Clear kitchen counters
- Clean around heating vents
- Clean washer and dryer
- Clean carpets, drapes and window blinds
- Clear halls and stairs of clutter
- Clear closets of unnecessary items
- Repair leaking faucets and toilets
- Tighten doorknobs and latches
- Repair cracked plaster
- Apply fresh coat of paint or touch up where necessary
- Clean and repair windows and screens
- Repair seals around tubs and basins
- Replace defective light bulbs
- Oil squeaking doors
- Repair squeaking floorboards
In addition to giving your home the once over with a mop and dust cloth, have your REALTOR® prepare a home feature sheet for showings. This is a one-page synopsis of your home that highlights lot size, room dimensions, features and upgrades as well as utility costs and taxes. Prospective buyers will be given a sheet to which they can refer while viewing your home. Plus, it makes for a great reference sheet when the buyers are comparing properties.
When a buyer’s REALTOR® has a client who is interested in your home, they will first call to make an appointment with your REALTOR®. If you’re lucky, you’ll have time for some last-minute tidying up. Of course, you can say no if the prospective purchaser wishes to come at an inconvenient time.
One question that is often asked is whether you should leave your house while it is being shown. Of course, no one can force you to leave it if you don’t want to. It’s your home. You own it. Nevertheless, it’s probably best to make yourself scarce when you’re trying to sell it. Hanging around makes you look desperate to sell, increases the risk you’ll say something you shouldn’t and makes many home shoppers feel awkward. If you do insist on staying, give viewers the freedom to wander around your home by themselves. Following may make them uncomfortable. The sales representative will stay with the prospects to offer some protection against theft or property damage.
3. The Offer
All of your hard work has paid off. This is an exciting and often emotional time, so be prepared.
Negotiating a property sale is considered one of the most intimidating aspects of the home buying process. A determined REALTOR® is a force to be reckoned with when finalizing a property sale; experience and familiarity of local markets can give REALTORS® a clear advantage to represent your best interest.
Your REALTOR® Can Walk You Through the Process
While the buyer(s) won’t be there in person, their REALTOR® might provide the offer in person. Your eyes will be immediately drawn to the price. Your REALTOR® can provide advice before any judgments are made.
You may want to ask your REALTOR® for advice on the merits of the offer or have some private time to discuss things with your partner. Here are three options when responding to an offer:
1. You can accept the offer
You got the price you were hoping for, maybe even more. The closing date looks good and there are no conditions.
2. You can reject the offer
This offer isn’t even close so no counter-offer.
3. You can “sign back” or provide a counter-offer
This offer is close, but something’s not quite right. Your REALTOR® can help with the delicate art of negotiation by “signing back”. Some of the most common reasons for a sign back include:
- You want more money;
- You want to change the closing date; and
- There may be some undesirable conditions on the offer (buyer to obtain financing, approval to assume mortgage, sales of purchaser’s home, property inspection).
Successful negotiation is one that leaves both you and the buyer feeling satisfied with the outcome. Your REALTOR® can help you every step of the way.
4. Close the Sale
Your negotiations were a success. However, before your house is truly sold, it’s time for the vital final steps known as “closing”. Your REALTOR® and lawyer will take care of all the complicated and time-consuming legal maneuvers.
Add a Lawyer to Your Team
When selling, it’s essential to have a lawyer handle all the various legal documents that change hands. Your REALTOR® can also give you the name(s) of experienced real estate lawyers in your area. Your lawyer will review important documents that require your signature.
- Your lawyer will be advised that an agreement has been signed. Make sure your lawyer is ready to close the transaction.
- Notify your lawyer and lending institution if the buyer is assuming your mortgage.
- If you plan to “discharge” or pay off your mortgage with proceeds of the sale, your lawyer will obtain a statement from your lender showing your outstanding balance on the mortgage, and any penalties you’ll have to pay to discharge the mortgage. If your mortgage is portable, you can take your mortgage money with you and buy a new home, without penalty.
- A few days before closing, your lawyer will ask you to sign the paperwork enabling the title to be transferred to the buyer.
- On closing day, your lawyer will receive and distribute the proceeds from the sale, pay off your mortgage and other costs, and give you a cheque for the net proceeds
By the time you accept an offer, your REALTOR® will advise you of reporting requirements by FINTRAC, the federal agency responsible for administering Canada’s Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing legislation and regulations. Your REALTOR® is required by federal law to complete a client identification form and must ask you as the seller for verified ID such as a driver’s license or passport.
Some Important Steps You Don’t Want to Miss:
- Immediately begin satisfying any conditions of the agreement requiring action on your part before the set date of completion.
- Contact the utilities, telephone and cable companies about transferring or removing service. Your lawyer will often handle the transfer of utilities.
- Call your insurance agent and arrange cancellation or transfer of your homeowner’s insurance.
- Contact a moving company to arrange for your move on or prior to closing date.
- Send out your change of address notices and advise the post office.
- Notify the Ministry of Transportation about your new address for driver’s license and registration.
- Notify your REALTOR® immediately if anything changes about your property or your situation.
Capital Gains Tax
If your home is your principal residence, you won’t have to pay capital gains tax on any profits from the sale. If, on the other hand, it is an investment property (for example if you had tenants living in part of your home), you’ll pay capital gains tax on a portion of your profits.
Pack Your Things
It’s time to move!