So much focus these days is placed on first time home buyers; how to plan, choosing a REALTOR, financing, etc. But what do those people do when they're ready to move into a bigger home after a few years? Often there is more stress related to a first sale because there are two transactions that must take place. Hopefully this will help you along the road to your first sale and second purchase!
There are some mistakes people make when they think of selling their first home. The first piece of advice I can give is that potential buyers do not have the emotional investment in your home like you do. You may think your home is worth more than it is simply based on your attachment to it. Unfortunately, market value does not take these emotions into account :) Be realistic about the price you'll get. Talk to your REALTOR and they will help you establish an appropriate list price.
In one of my earlier blog posts, you can learn how not to underestimate the Value of Curb Appeal. Those first impressions are really important - you should remember this from when you were looking for your first home! The interior of your home also must be immaculate. Chipping paint, scuffs on walls or baseboards, missing outlet covers...all of these things play a part in how much you can get for your home. You can also ask your REALTOR to recommend a home stager for a consultation. This may cost you a couple hundred bucks upfront to have one come to your home, but think of the potential thousands you're losing by not taking this step.
One thing that some homeowners often overlook is a pre-sale home inspection. You know that whoever buys your property will get one anyway, and this is usually conditional to the sale of your house. If you take the preemptive step and do one before you put your house on the market, you can intercept any potential problems that might come up at the stressful offer time. Again, this may cost you $300-500 ahead of time, but if it saves an offer it'll be worth it. Remember, the people buying your home are probably first timers just like you were when you moved in, so take that into account when you think "oh, the tap has always been leaky but it's fine" or "I know the eavestrough is cracked but water has never come into the house".
You should also realize that most buyers are on www.realtor.ca before they start looking at homes. People look at photos and generally scan through hundreds of listings. Although they may only spend a few moments looking at a particular listing, most of that time is looking at photos of your home. Professional photographers may seem extravagant, but you have no idea how valuable they can be. I include photography as part of most of my listing packages, and you may be surprised at the feedback potential buyers give. The better your photos, the more showings you'll probably get.
Hiring a REALTOR may even be a big decision for you. Certainly I'm biased, but I wouldn't be in this career if I didn't wholeheartedly believe in what I do. Paying for a commission might seem like an extra cost you can't afford, but consider the added value you get when you hire a professional. Your home is probably your biggest asset, and you want it to be taken care of. You hire an electrician, a plumber, or a roofer because they're more knowledgeable than you about their trade. REALTORs are the same. We have extensive training in our field, and we're here to help. And feel free to interview a few different people! You'd be surprised at how differently we all operate and how many different services we all offer. If you decide to go it alone, make sure you have a great real estate lawyer (like our own Cesia Green!) to help you along with all the paperwork. Contracts play a major role in home sales, so you need to make sure you're covered! Also consider that a REALTOR may bring buyers to you but you'll have to pay them a commission for bringing those buyers.
Finally, just like when you were buying your first home, talk to your mortgage broker and ask them what's involved in a home sale. They are a wealth of information and can give you all the tools you need financially to make the right decision. For example, if you ask Tim Walker what you need to do he can give you advice on your mortgage renewal, transfer or cancellation and also help you decide how much you can afford for your next home.
There are many resources available to you online, such as www.howrealtorshelp.ca, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation or the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). Use these as well as talking to your REALTOR to stay informed and to make the best decision possible. Education is power, and the more you know about selling your home the more prepared you'll be.