Planning to sell? If you’re like most home owners, you’re struggling with a few questions. After all, you’re about to sell the single biggest asset you’ve ever bought.
You might have questions like, What’s my home worth? Should I use an agent, Realtor or go it alone? What can I do to make my home as attractive as possible?
And of course, the big one: How do I get the most for my home?
The best way to start answering those questions is to be informed. If I’ve done my job right, then this guide should
A) give you answers to many of those questions and
B) make you feel a lot more confident about the whole process.
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Choosing a REALTOR
Most sellers use a real estate agent. You certainly don’t have to, but there are good reasons why most people still do:
1. Pricing is a real art. The biggest factor in determining how quickly your home sells is the price, and deciding that price is trickier than it seems. It takes experience and even 1% more for your home can mean thousands to your bottom line.
2. Negotiating is hard. Not just hard to do, but it can feel uncomfortable. If you want someone to negotiate fearlessly on your behalf, you need an agent.
3. Marketing is more than MLS. To get the most for your home, you need as many buyers interested as possible. According to REALTOR.com, 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts.
4. Showings and paperwork are a pain. There’s more to the legal side of a home sale than you might think, and showing your own home is not only awkward, it can really complicate your schedule.
An agent takes away the burden of all these things, and works to get your home sold for the best price in the fastest time. After all—you’ve got a life to live.
Price right to profit more
Setting the price for your home is challenging. Too low, and you leave money on the table. Too high, and you scare away buyers to other properties. To complicate all this, your home is an emotional asset—it’s hard to see it objectively.
To find the optimal price—one that maximizes the sale price and minimizes the time it takes to sell—requires strategic thinking.
Pricing is something agents spend their careers refining and mastering. They combine intimate local and national market knowledge, an exhaustive study of similar homes for sale, and an analysis of past sales to come up with the optimal list price. And then they combine that with your unique needs to pick a price that fits you.
It’s no easy task, but it’s a critical one. Pricing your home right the first time results in more exposure, more showings, more offers, and ultimately, the highest price for your home.
If you want to get as much for your home as possible within a reasonable time frame, you need to get the price right.
First, it is important to understand that only the market can determine the ultimate value of your home. That said, choosing the optimal list price is essential to maximizing your home’s value. If you price too low, you risk not getting as much as you can for your property, but price too high and you risk losing potential buyers who may think your property is out of their price range and you help your competition sell faster.
Prepare to amaze
After price, the condition of your home is the single biggest factor determining how fast—and for how much—your home sells.
REALTORS® repeatedly find that people can’t visualize the potential of a home. They have to see it. That means that how your home shows now is how people see themselves in it. They can’t see past the chips, leaks, clutter and stains—in fact, they tend to focus even more on those things.
Luckily, you can dramatically improve how your home sells with few quick steps:
- Clean. Inside and out. It matters. A lot.
- De-clutter. Give it away, throw it away or store it away, but get it out of your house.
- Make minor repairs. Chipped paint, cracked tiles, squeaky hinges, leaky faucets. Fix everything you can.
- Consider staging. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, staged homes sell 49% faster, and for 7-11% more money.
- Clean again. Really. It’s that important.
Sound overwhelming? You don’t need to do it overnight. Your agent can point you to someone who can help, or you can break it down into just one small task a day.
Think of it this way: everything you remove from the house, clean or repair puts money in your pocket. You’re getting paid to do it!
Maximize exposure to buyers
Once you’ve found a price for your home and put it in showroom condition, there’s one more critical piece of the puzzle before buyers begin flocking in to see your masterpiece: getting their attention.
Getting the word out about your home matters for two critical reasons. First, buyers can’t be interested if they don’t know your home exists. But more important still, the more buyers you have interested in your home, the higher the potential sale price, and the faster the sale.
Marketing your home to the biggest audience possible takes more than a sign on the front lawn. The best and fastest home sales use a combination of many of the following:
- MLS Listing. The largest online database of available real estate.
- Video Tour. A behind-the-scenes, online look at your home and neighbourhood.
- Property Website. Your home’s very own website with all the info a buyer needs.
- Online Exposure on nationally ranked real estate websites such as AxelRealtor.com Macrealty.com
- Proactive Prospecting. Reaching out directly to people who might be interested.
- 24/7 Direct-to-Text Ads. Instant access to property details right from your For Sale sign.
- Property Brochures. Great photos, vibrant descriptions in professional take away form.
- 24-Hour Online Ads. On major online sites from Craigslist to Kijji.
- Print Marketing. Print ads, just listed cards and more.
- Social Media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and more.
Show it off
As interest in your home rises, so will interest in seeing the real thing. It’s time to show off your masterpiece to prospective buyers.
A REALTOR® will take care of almost all of the details, but here are a few tips to maximize the showing experience.
- You should leave. Buyers want to be able to look around and discuss your home candidly. They won’t be comfortable if you’re there.
- In addition to the usual tidying, make sure your home is inviting. Turn up/down the temperature. Leave the lights on. Open the blinds where appropriate. Leave inside doors open or slightly ajar.
- Leave out any additional information that’s helpful—property brochures, floor plans, and contact information.
- Be as flexible as you can—try to accommodate the buyer’s schedule.
Negotiate like a master
Now this is where things get exciting. You’ve got an offer or maybe two or three at once! In most cases, your home’s list price won’t be the selling price. When it comes to settling on that final magic number, you’re going be negotiating. That’s something your REALTOR® is an expert at, but here are some key strategies for owners:
It’s a conversation. Don’t be offended by low offers and conditions. No one is forcing you to accept them. Think of it as a starting point to have a conversation.
Always counteroffer. Momentum matters. Just the act of moving a deal forward helps make the deal happen.
Price isn’t the only thing. You can negotiate on price, offer conditions, assets in the home. Don’t get stuck on one thing.
Remember, even 1% more for your home can mean thousands to your bottom line.
And once you agree, the buyer provides a deposit cheque to be held in trust until the conditions are met. The conditions usually have a set time for removal, and usually include things like an inspection and financing.
Once the conditions are met, the buyer signs a waiver and the deal is firm. If you’ve completed all these steps, then you are a successful home seller.
Calculate your net proceed
The cheque is in! Now how much do you get to keep? There are a number of closing costs to consider.
Legal Fees. Lawyer’s fees vary, but often have structured fees for the purchase and sale of homes posted on their websites. Sellers pay in the area of $1000.00 for a lawyer to look after the legal details necessary to close their home.
Mortgage Fees. Check with your mortgage lender to determine if any costs will occur when transferring or releasing your mortgage. There is sometimes what is referred to as a discharge fee to remove the mortgage from title that can range from $100 to $250.
Disbursements. These fees cover additional legal expenses such as travel, copies, couriers, registration fees and preparing document transfers. Disbursements can range upwards of $500, but can sometimes be built into your legal fees.
Adjustments. It’s difficult for a home seller to calculate exactly how much money is owed to which utilities on closing day. Your lawyer will ensure that any overpayments or deficiencies on rents, mortgage interest, property tax and utility charges will be corrected, and the buyer and seller will be credited or charged accordingly.
Moving Costs. Moving costs vary based on location and the amount of possessions being moved. If you’re moving yourself, you should factor gas, rental vehicles and moving supplies.
To estimate your net proceeds, see the worksheet at the end.
Prepare for closing, Congratulation. You did it!
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