Why use an agent?
Selling a home takes more than just putting a “for sale” sign out front. You need an agent with experience and training to help you determine the right price, come up with an effective marketing strategy, and anticipate and solve any problems that come up during the selling process. A real estate professional can help you with every part of selling your home, and offer you a smoother, hassle-free experience. When you’re selling your home, there are a number of advantages to working with an agent:
- He/she knows real estate values in your neighbourhood and will help price your home competitively by preparing a market analysis of homes that have sold, competing homes that are still on the market and homes that were on the market but didn’t sell.
- He/she will establish a marketing strategy for your home, ensuring that it’s exposed to as many potential buyers as possible.
- He/she takes care of the tasks involved in selling a house, ensuring that the transaction is simple and low-stress for you.
- He/she is an expert in the home selling process and will advise you of your rights, options and obligations.
- He/she is an experienced negotiator and will work for you to get you the best possible price.
Effective marketing for your home
An agent can help you market your home by exposing it to as many potential buyers as possible. The first step is putting it on the MLS. But listing your property is only the beginning; your agent will prepare a personalized plan that includes everything he/she plans to do to sell your property. At Royal LePage, your property will be aggressively promoted through:
- A posting on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
- Royal LePage property advertising publications
- The Royal LePage web site
- Other Royal LePage offices and real estate professionals
- Mailings to potential buyers in your area
Pricing your property right
If you price your property too low, it may sell quickly, but you’ll lose out on money. If you price it too high, it may not sell at all. Your agent can help you figure out the best asking price for your home.
The benefits of the right price
A well-priced property may generate competing offers, which will drive up the final price. Other real estate professionals will be enthusiastic about presenting your property to their buyers. Your home will sell faster because it is exposed to more qualified buyers.
Listen to the market
As part of your pricing strategy, your agent will put together a comparative market analysis, which is a good indicator of what today’s buyers are willing to pay. It compares the market activity of homes similar to yours in your neighbourhood:
- Homes that have recently sold represent what buyers are willing to pay.
- Homes currently listed for sale represent the price sellers hope to obtain.
- Listings that have expired are generally overpriced or have been poorly marketed.
Don’t overprice your home
Some sellers believe that if they price their home high initially, they can lower it later. Instead of making you more money, this strategy could end up hurting you.
- Early activity is key. As soon as a home comes on the market, agents and potential buyers sit up and take notice. If it’s overpriced, interested parties will quickly lose interest. By the time the price drops, the majority of buyers are lost. When a home has been for sale too long, buyers will be wary and may reject the property.
- You’ll miss the right buyer. You may think that interested buyers can always make an offer, but if your home is overpriced, potential buyers looking in a lower price range will never see it. And those who can afford a home at your asking price will soon recognize that they can get a better value elsewhere.
- You could run out of time. You may end up having to drop your price below market value if your home doesn’t sell initially. Price it right the first time, and you won’t end up having to sell it for less than it’s worth.
Preparing your home for an inspection
If you’re selling your home, be prepared for a visit from a home inspector, who will be checking out the property on behalf of possible purchasers. Take a look through your home using these steps, and repair any problems to ensure that your inspection is a success.
1. Make sure the structure is sound. Check to see if any renovations have damaged the structure. Look for termite damage. Ensure that “settling” hasn’t caused damage to the foundation or support beams and joists.
2. Check if electrical and wiring systems are safe. Loose wires or incorrectly installed or wired receptacles, switches or electrical box problems are hazardous and should be fixed. All homes should have a minimum of 100 amp service.
3. Look for leaks. Water can leak into unexpected places, causing extensive damage over time. Examine the underside of sinks and dishwashers, along ceilings, on floors or along basement walls. Plumbing fixtures, water-using appliances, drain pipes, water supply inlets and outlets, basements and roofs can all be causes and sources of water damage.
4. Resolve safety issues. Make sure windows open easily and lock securely, and entrances/exits can be securely locked. Correct hazards such as hidden curbs, loose railings and stairs, uncapped wells, etc.
5. Check plumbing. Faucets should run easily and shut off completely, bathtubs should be properly caulked and grouted, toilets should be bolted down securely, drains should be clog free, and the water heater should be in good working order.
6. Make sure your heating and cooling systems work. Make sure they are up to date, clean, in good working condition and have clean filters. Check refrigerant in air conditioning units.
7. Have a friend take a look. A general, unbiased overview of your home by a neighbour or friend may reveal issues you might have overlooked.
Getting your home ready to show
If you’re planning an open house, or are expecting buyers to be looking at your home, make sure their first impression is a good one. Here are few hints for making your house look great to potential buyers:
- House in good repair
- House number easy to read
- Eaves troughs, down spouts and soffits in good repair
- Garage/car port clean and tidy
- Litter picked up
- Cracked or broken window panes replaced
- Lawns and hedges cut and trimmed, garden weeded and edged
- Walks shovelled and salted
- Boot tray inside front door
- Doorbell and door hardware in good repair
- Porch and foyer clean and tidy
- Chipped plaster and paint touched up or replaced
- Doors and cupboards properly closed
- Leaky taps and toilets repaired
- Burned out light bulbs replaced
- Squeaky doors oiled
- Mirrors, fixtures and taps cleaned and polished
- Seals around tubs and basins in good repair
- Floors cleaned, garbage containers empty
- Inside of closets and cupboards neat and tidy
- Appliances cleaned
- Countertops neat and polished
- All lights turned on
- Air conditioner turned on in warm weather
- Fresh air in house
- Fireplace lit in cooler weather
- Halls and stairs cleaned
- Drapes opened during daylight
- Carpets freshly vacuumed
- Fresh flowers in various rooms
- Jewelry and valuables locked safely away or taken with you
- Valuable property, such as art, vases and figurines out of reach, out of sight or locked away
- Pets absent, where possible, or contained during the showing, and litter boxes clean
Signing a Listing Agreement
The first formal step in selling your property is entering into a Listing Agreement with your Royal LePage agent. The Listing Agreement is a contract in which Royal LePage commits to actively market your home for a specified period of time. It also commits you to a pre-established marketing fee that is to be paid upon the successful closing of the sale. As part of the Agreement, your agent may require the following documents:
Plan of Survey or Location Certificate. A survey of your property which outlines the lot size and location of buildings as well as details of encroachments from neighbouring properties. This may be required in certain areas to complete the sale of your home. Your legal professional may recommend a survey, especially if significant changes have been made to your property.
Property tax receipts. Most Listing Agreements require that current annual property tax assessments be shown.
Mortgage verification. Few homeowners know the exact balance of their mortgage as it is paid down. You will be asked to authorize your mortgage lender to provide the figures required.
Deed or title search. This document is a legal description of your property and the proof that you own it.
Other documentation. In some instances, it may help the sale of your property if you can provide prospective buyers with information on such items as annual heating, electrical, and water expenses, as well as any recent home improvement costs. Some provinces require that you sign a property condition disclosure statement.