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Advice for Sellers


Advice and Tools

CREA (the Canadian Real Estate Association) has some advice for sellers. We don't think it is particularly useful since it is so basic, but at least it is somewhere to begin. When you have reviewed it (or if you think you already know what you are doing), read on ...

What Sellers Want

When it comes to selling your property, like most people, you probably want to get the best price you can at the least cost and with a minimum of work.

According to a recent survey, beyond worrying about the state of the real estate market, Ontarians are most concerned about understanding the process and legal documents when selling a home. Research commissioned by the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) shows that top concerns when selling a home are:

  • knowing the state of the real estate market (77%)
  • understanding the process and legal documents (61%)
  • fixing up the home in order to list it (60%)
  • and the number of days on the market (59%)

Feeling uncertain about the selling process is natural since each sale requires different steps dependent on a number of factors. These include

  • the terms of the agreement (eg. building inspections or completion date)
  • the need to transfer or discharge a mortgage
  • whether the seller has already purchased a new property (and may be financing two homes simultaneously)

Home owners are as concerned with the selling process and the documents as with preparing their home for sale. There is a lot to consider with this step. REALTORS® can quickly and easily identify areas in a home that need repairs or touch-ups or advise against renovations that do not offer a good return on investment. Home owners want to show their home in its best light to help smooth the negotiations and sale. Reviewing and understanding documents can be another complicated part of the home selling process, so it is best to consult with your REALTOR® before signing any forms. If doubts or misunderstandings arise, it is also wise to consult a lawyer.

The survey also showed:

  • more men (44%) than women (38%) feel a sense of inconvenience when selling a home
  • more women (62%) than men (57%) were concerned about fixing up a home before listing
  • the majority are concerned about their ability to negotiate a price when selling:
    • 50% of those with household incomes over $100,000
    • 56% of those with incomes from $50,000 and $100,000
    • 62% of those with incomes under $50,000
  • a majority (59%) would begin feeling anxious if their home was still on the market after 45 days

When to Sell?

A recent article stated, "Summer is here and so is the peak time for house sales. The majority of houses are sold in the hot stretch between June and August. With back-to-school fast approaching, there is no time to waste for people who are considering putting their house on the market. House sales throughout southern Ontario drop off markedly after September and slow to a crawl during the winter. If you are considering selling your house this year, now is the time to contact a reputable real estate agent and get your place of residence listed on the market."

Guess what? This is NOT true. Also it was put out by an agent from a well-known brokerage in the Toronto area. Why? Because summer is normally slow, especially August, which is almost as slow as January. This was published in August, probably to tout his brokerage and drum up some business.

So what is the truth? Based on my experience, most houses are sold in the March to June window. Next comes September through November. July is normally quiet, and not much happens in December. August and January are when I normally take holiday time because their activity is so muted. Most people want to look at homes when they can see past the snow. Most people with children want to move in the summer so the school year starts in the new home, which means NOT buying late in July or in August, because closing and moving is likely to take close to six weeks or more. The fall market tends to attract those not constrained by school issues and those who are getting increasingly desperate to find something before winter. Folks keep looking even into December and just avoid closing around Christmas and the New Year.

That said, there are good reasons to list or buy in the winter (or not). Snow hides poor landscaping but fails to show a great yard to best advantage. Cold weather makes insulation, window and heating problems easier to detect, and is a great time to sell a really cozy home. In the off season there is less competition: the available buyers are not satisfied by what is on the market, and a new listing, properly priced, should attract attention and sell quickly. June, July, November and December are times of year you especially do NOT want your home overpriced, languishing on the market while time ticks away and you become increasingly desperate.

OK, the real truth is that apart from school issues, unless you are leaving the country or moving to a nursing home, market timing is just plain silly. You have a home to sell. You are also going to buy one. The same factors regarding availability, choice, pricing and competition apply more or less equally to both. Relax, get a good agent, get in the market, and do what you need to do for yourself and your family. Move when it is right for you, not for anyone else, and especially not for the brokerages and agents.

Why use an agent ?

There are a number of good reasons to use an agent. If you are considering the "do it yourself" route then please take a look at our comparison table. Still not convinced ? Have a look at our page on Pitfalls and Perils or 28 reasons to use a Realtor".

An agent does a great deal of work on your behalf and a good one is worth the commission you pay. If your house is not sold then you may lose time and opportunity, but no cash, since your agent assumes the monetary risk of advertising. Your agent will:

  • help price your property correctly so you quickly get the best possible deal with a minimum of fuss
  • provide professional advice to help you make your property as appealing as possible
  • ensure the people who view your property have a genuine intention to purchase and can afford it
  • arrange all appointments, manage showings, and protect your property and posessions
  • provide advertising locally and on the internet through the Multiple Listing Service
  • help you during negotiations to get the best possible price
  • handle the paperwork and oversee the follow-up procedures and inspections for you

Still not convinced?

If you are determined to go it alone, then here are a few important suggestions and things to consider:

  • Prepare it for sale. Whether this means a thorough cleaning, de-cluttering, full home staging, or some renovations, remember that buyers are always going to be influenced by their first impression
  • Take good pictures. Most buyers who go to see a property do so because they tentatively liked it, based on pictures they've seen online
  • Get the word out. You can now find real estate brokerages that will put your property on MLS for a small fee. You should also create an online presence to market your property for sale, which may include a dedicated website and/or listings on free and fee-based property websites
  • Be open-minded about paying a buyer's agent commission (typically 2.5 per cent of the purchase price). If you're not, you're ruling out most buyers who have decided to use a agent for their search (and buyers are not used to paying their own agents)
  • Be very careful with how you price your property for sale. There are a number of pricing strategies depending on the type and condition of the property, how the local market is doing, and what your priorities are. Do you want a quick sale, a fast closing, a maximum price, or what? If you overprice it, it may linger, and subsequent lowering of the price may project desperation. If you underprice it (sometimes done to provoke a bidding war) and you don't get the offers you were hoping for, you could be in a spot of bother
  • Consider the time and expertise you can bring to the table. Many people who try act as their own agents end up turning to real estate experts for assistance or to take over marketing of the property. You may decide that it is easier and more profitable to go this route right from the beginning (a real estate agent may not be able to get the same results after you've tried to sell your property yourself, since there is often a stimatising effect from having it sit on the market).

  • Best wishes with your venture but if it doesn't work out, please feel free to ask for help.

    Why use Dot as your agent ?

    There are many good agents in the area. Dot is one of them. Here are her objectives:

    • to be open and honest at all times with everyone involved
    • to get as many qualified buyers as possible into your home until it is sold
    • to communicate the results of her activities with you every week until your home is sold
    • to assist you in getting the best possible price for your home in the shortest period of time

    ... and her ten point plan for achieving those objectives:

    1. prepare a market analysis to determine the value of your property in the eyes of a buyer
    2. submit your listing to the local board's MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and forward a copy to you for your approval
    3. suggest any changes you may wish to make to your home, in order to make it even more appealing to potential buyers
    4. sweep her database of pre-qualified buyers looking for a match
    5. develop a list of features and benefits of your home for all agents to use when showing your home to their buyers
    6. coordinate all showings and inspections
    7. promptly inform you of all feedback received from agents who have shown your home to a potential buyer
    8. add extra exposure to your home by installing an attractive and professional "Team Realty K/W Inc" sign and a high security lockbox
    9. represent you in the presentation of all offers and negotiate the best possible price and terms for you
    10. handle all follow-up of closing procedures, keeping you fully informed, after the offer has been accepted

    Find out about the common mistakes made by both sellers and buyers of real estate. Check out our suggestions for choosing a realtor and read about Dot to see if she is the realtor you want. See the real estate services which Dot offers. Then call or email Dot for an interview.

    RECO's top ten pitfalls

    Here are the most common buying and selling hazards, and how to avoid them:

    1. Allowing emotions to overtake common sense
      When you fall in love with a property it can be hard to walk away. Know your budget and don't overpay. Don't forgo a home inspection just to win a bidding war.
    2. Hiring the first salesperson you meet
      Ontario has over 60,000 brokers and salespersons, with a broad range of approaches to the buying and selling process. Meet with a few different representatives before settling on one, and make sure you feel comfortable with them and their approach to the process. Also be sure to get references and contact them to learn about their experience with the salesperson.
    3. Not making your expectations clear with your real estate professional
      It's important that you and your representative have a mutual understanding about what you're looking for, and what services the brokerage will be responsible for. Make sure you talk to your broker or salesperson about the services you expect them to provide, and get it in writing.
    4. Failing to read and understand forms and contracts
      It can be tempting to speed the process along by signing forms that you haven't read. But taking the time to understand what you're signing can avoid a lot of problems later on. For example, you don't want to find out that you're on the hook for a six month listing agreement to sell your home if you only want your house on the market for three months. In addition, a holdover clause could mean that if you sell your property during a specified period without the assistance of the broker or salesperson, you would still owe them commission. Make sure all the blanks on the form are filled in before you sign it, and make sure you get a copy of whatever you sign.
    5. Assuming everything is included
      Don't assume that the furnace, dishwasher or other items are included with the property. The seller may want to take the dishwasher with them to their new home, and the furnace might be under a rental contract that you'll be required to take over. Before making an offer, detail all items, known as chattels, in writing. Your offer can also include a clause stating that the seller will pay out any outstanding leases on the home's major systems.
    6. Forgetting about what's within the walls
      Granite countertops and new hardwood floors are appealing, but the insulation, wiring and plumbing are just as important when you're evaluating a property. Ask your real estate representative to look into the age of the home's systems and if there have been any upgrades. If extensive renovations have been done, your real estate professional can determine if the appropriate permits were issued.
    7. Forgetting about what's outside the walls
      When you buy a house you're also buying a place in a community. Some places are lively, others are quiet. Some places are filled with kids while others are not. Visit the neighbourhood at different times of the day to see if it fits your lifestyle. Talk to the neighbours about the community and the locations of various amenities like grocery stores and banks.
    8. Not doing your research
      If you're concerned about buying a home with a troubled past, a simple Internet search for the address can go a long way. This is also something you can ask the neighbours about.
    9. Making verbal agreements
      Verbal agreements aren't a problem, until they're a problem. Putting everything in writing forces both parties to be clear about their expectations and provides a record that can prevent disputes later on.
    10. Underestimating closing costs
      From land transfer taxes to title insurance to a home inspection, the costs of a real estate transaction can add up quickly. Take the time to include estimates and other expenses in the full cost of buying or selling a property.
    While all of these tips are essential, the most important advice is to work with a registered real estate professional. Registered brokers and salespersons provide a great deal of knowledge and expertise about the buying and selling process, along with specific knowledge about neighbourhoods and local issues. They can also provide crucial help in avoiding these hazards.


Site owner: Dot Turner, Sales Representative, Team Realty K W Inc, Brokerage 519-741-1400

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