Seller's Handbook

Seller's Handbook

In the Spirit of what this Web Site is all about... a Free Service... it is not necessary to register your contact details with me to obtain access to this information. Read, absorb, educate, and if you have questions or comments, contact me. All that I ask is this... When the time comes for you to buy and/or sell your home, if you have been satisfied with my services, please give serious consideration to allowing me to represent you in the process. (Read My Privacy Policy)

Selecting Your Real Estate Agent:

A REALTOR® is a licensed real estate agent who is a member of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). A licensed real estate agent in Canada, does not have to be a member of CREA to practice real estate.

A BROKER has taken the necessary educational courses, and earned a broker's license. Many brokers own their own real estate office and are "brokers of record," with other real estate agents "depositing their license" under the "broker of record". 

Why use a REALTOR®? Click Here to Find the Answer to this Question. 

Many of the same questions, hesitations and strategies connected with seeking out professional assistance in any field — whether you're looking for a doctor, dentist, lawyer or accountant — come into play when you're selecting a real estate agent. Some people find an agent through a family member or friend. This is often a very reliable approach, since word of mouth advertising is a powerful force, and many times an indicator of the quality of the job performed. But you might not always find the most compatible assistance this way. And in a transaction as important and intensive as buying and selling a home, that can be critical.

A referral from a family member or friend doesn't necessarily guarantee a perfect match. Just think of something as simple as a movie or restaurant recommendation. Your close friends rave about a new Chinese food place downtown — so you check it out. Could this possibly be the same restaurant they were describing? Mediocre service. No chopsticks. Bland flavours. It's the same restaurant. Same cook. Same waiters. Just different perceptions.

Regardless of how you get an agent's name, it might be worth interviewing at least a couple before you make a final decision — or at least arming yourself with some criteria to go over with any agent who has been recommended to you. 

A Few Things to Look For:

If you're looking for an agent to list your home, be wary of anyone who suggests they can get an unreasonably high sales price. An agent might use a high listing price to secure a contract, only to seek a lower price later, after little traffic is generated at the initial price level. Meanwhile, you've lost what can be the most critical time period in selling a home — the first week or two immediately after it's listed.

Check on experience, reputation, education and productivity. As with most professions, experience pays dividends in real estate. Experienced agents know the market and the marketing process. They'll have the best chance of quickly and smoothly helping you to buy or sell your home. This is not necessarily the one who has "Sold the Most" or is "Number One", etc., but someone who, after you have interviewed him or her, has demonstrated to you that they have a thorough understanding of the market place and the fundamentals which drive it, along with an organized approach to listing a property for sale or finding one to buy.

The number of transactions an agent is handling monthly or yearly is going to give you an indication of how committed the agent is to the profession. Is the agent a part-timer who's just dabbling in real estate sales — or is the agent a full-time professional whose livelihood depends entirely on an ability to successfully and repeatedly close real estate transactions?

If you're a buyer — does the agent offer buyer representation? More and more buyers are deciding they want full contractual representation on the same level as the seller. Be sure to discuss buyer representation with any agent you're thinking about working with.

Is the agent part of a national network? This can be especially important if you're selling in one city in preparation of moving to another. Your selling agent can refer you to a professional, compatible agent in your destination city — and keep in close contact with that agent so both your selling and buying efforts are closely coordinated.

In today's Real Estate Industry, the use of current technology plays a major role in the marketing and administration of a property listed for sale, and in the search for a property to buy. Those REALTORS® who have embraced these new methods and approaches, and use them as tools to enhance client service , are tomorrow's success stories. Be sure however, to filter out the "sizzle" from the "steak": the objective in the final analysis is still to buy or sell a property.

Ask for references: successful and forthright agents will be happy to provide them.

And a final point: Does the agent seem primarily interested in sharing expertise and market knowledge in an honest and straightforward manner? Or does the agent seem more interested in telling you what you want to hear — or spend a lot of effort trying to market additional products and services? The worst time to secure the services of a "yes-man" or an agent who seems to have a bit too many irons in the fire is when you're entering a transaction involving something as expensive as your home. You need straightforward, reliable information — even if it's not necessarily flattering regarding the home you're selling — or very encouraging regarding a home you think you might want to buy. 

Basic Tips for Selling Your Home:

Make the Most of that First Impression: A well-manicured lawn, neatly trimmed shrubs and a clutter-free porch welcome prospects. So does a freshly painted - or at least freshly scrubbed - front door. If it's autumn, rake the leaves. If it's winter, shovel the walkways. The fewer obstacles between prospects and the true appeal of your home, the better.

Invest a Few Hours for Future Dividends: Here's your chance to clean up in real estate. Clean up in the living room, the bathroom, the kitchen. If your woodwork is scuffed or the paint is fading, consider some minor redecoration. Fresh wallpaper adds charm and value to your property. Prospects would rather see how great your home really looks than hear how great it could look, "with a little work."

Check Faucets and Light Bulbs: Dripping water rattles the nerves, discolours sinks and suggests faulty or worn-out plumbing. Burned out bulbs leave prospects in the dark. Don't let little problems detract from what's right with your home.

Don't Shut Out a Sale: If cabinets or closet doors stick in your home, you can be sure they will also stick in a prospect's mind. Don't try to explain away sticky situations when you can easily plane them away. A little effort on your part can smooth the way toward a closing.

Brighten rooms: Shades of white account for 50 percent of paint sales, and for good reason:  It’s refreshing, restful and all furnishings look good with that color.

Rearrange Living Room Furniture: Begin by pulling the sofa into the center of the room, facing a fireplace or picture window.

Re-evaluate Uses of Rooms: A rarely used guest bedroom or dining room can be converted into a home office.

Use Standing Screens to Mask Problem Areas: Tri-fold screens are one way to hide eyesores (like home office equipment).

Fill an Empty Corner: Place a large potted tree in the corner with a canister light that sits on the floor.

Create Intriguing Centerpieces: If collectibles or framed family photos are spread throughout a room, group them together.

Refurbish Cabinets: Strip and refinish old, dark wood.  Add new handles or knobs.  Replace doors with glass fronts or consider removing them.

Get Rid of Heavy Drapes: Replace them with fabrics that blend with the surrounding walls.  Add tiebacks on each side.

Apply Self-Adhesive Wallpaper Borders: Use them to brighten up a child’s room or a bathroom.

Cover a Wall with Mirror Tiles: This is ideal for bathrooms, entries, and other small, dark rooms that lack impact.

Think Safety: Homeowners learn to live with all kinds of self-set booby traps: roller skates on the stairs, festooned extension cords, slippery throw rugs and low hanging overhead lights. Make your residence as non-perilous as possible for uninitiated visitors.

Make Room for Space: Remember, potential buyers are looking for more than just comfortable living space. They're looking for storage space, too. Make sure your attic and basement are clean and free of unnecessary items.

Consider Your Closets: The better organized a closet, the larger it appears. Now's the time to box up those unwanted clothes and donate them to charity.

Make Your Bathrooms Sparkle: Bathrooms sell homes, so let them shine. Check and repair damaged or unsightly caulking in the tubs and showers. For added allure, display your best towels, mats and shower curtains.

Create Dream Bedrooms: Wake up prospects to the cozy comforts of your bedrooms. For a spacious look, get rid of excess furniture. Colourful bedspreads and fresh curtains are a must.

Open up in the DaytimeLet the sun shine in! Pull back your curtains and drapes so prospects can see how bright and cheery your home is.

Lighten up at Night: Turn on the excitement by turning on all your lights - both inside and outside - when showing your home in the evening. Lights add color and warmth, and make prospects feel welcome.

Avoid Crowd Scenes: Potential buyers often feel like intruders when they enter a home filled with people. Rather than giving your house the attention it deserves, they're likely to hurry through. Keep the company present to a minimum.

Watch Your Pets: Dogs and cats are great companions, but not when you're showing your home. Pets have a talent for getting underfoot. So do everybody a favour: Keep Kitty and Spot outside, or at least out of the way.

Think Volume: Rock-and-roll will never die. But it might kill a real estate transaction. When it's time to show your home, it's time to turn down the stereo or TV... and play the classics!

Relax: Be friendly, but don't try to force conversation. Prospects want to view your home with a minimum of distraction.

Don't ApologizeNo matter how humble your abode, never apologize for its shortcomings. If a prospect volunteers a derogatory comment about your home's appearance, let your experienced CENTURY 21 Associate handle the situation.

Keep a Low ProfileNobody knows your home as well as you do. But Century 21 Sales Associates know buyers - what they need and what they want. Your Century 21 Associate will have an easier time articulating the virtues of your home if you stay in the background.

Don't Turn Your Home into a Second-Hand Store: When prospects come to view your home, don't distract them with offers to sell those furnishings you no longer need. You may lose the biggest sale of all.

Defer to Experience: When prospects want to talk price, terms, or other real estate matters, let them speak to an expert - your CENTURY 21 Sales Associate. 

How to Sell Your Home for the Best Price: 

First, start with the outside. Are shrubs overgrown?  Oil in the driveway?  How does the grass look?  Do the flower beds need weeding and mulching?  Try very hard to see your grounds through an independent observer’s eyes.  Trim the shrubs or plant new ones if they are lacking.  Houses with no landscaping in the front lose thousands of dollars of value in the mind of the buyer.  Adding a few well-placed blooming flowers also adds appeal. 

If the grass in the front yard is particularly non-existent, consider re-sodding.  Do some price shopping on this; sod is not cheap but there are some good prices available.  Let’s say it cost $600 to sod the front yard, but your house payment is $800 per month.  If you save one month of selling time, you are $200 ahead. (By the way, you can probably get away without sodding the back yard.) Kitty litter in the driveway will absorb the oil and grease stains.  (Then remove the kitty litter.)  

Next, go around and clean up the yard.  Remove any toys, tools and/or building supplies.  Here’s the acid test; if you don’t see it in a model home yard, don’t have it in yours.  That goes for the bag of charcoal by the grill, too: however, the (non-rusty) grill can stay.  If your grill has rusted, remove the rust spots by scrubbing with a wired brush or with coarse steel wool dipped in kerosene.  After the rust is removed, clean the entire piece with mineral spirits.  When the grill is completely dry, paint with a brush or spray paint.

Now look at the exterior. Is the paint fading or chipping?  Is the color outdated or too personal?  Is mildew or mold growing?  

If the house needs painting, choose a neutral color.  White, cream (not yellow) and light gray are good colors for appealing to most people.  If you want some ideas for paint combinations, go look at 3 or 4 model home communities that cost $20,000-$50,000 more than your neighborhood and copy one of them.

One last note on painting: always give the front door and door trim a fresh coat of paint or stain even if you paint nothing else.  Buyers stand at the front door waiting to get in; give them a good first impression.

Now let’s go inside. Go through room by room and pack up 30% of the accessories.  If you doubt the wisdom of this, go back to those model homes and compare their countertops with yours, their coffee tables and end tables with yours.  See what I mean?

The cardinal rule is this: “The way you live in a home and the way you sell a home are two different things.”  I know this will take some time and may seem like a nuisance, but remember you are in competition with other properties.  He who wins the good Housekeeping Award probably sells his house first…and for the highest dollar.  Also look at it this way,  you are going to be moving anyway, so just consider this advance packing.  By the way, label the moving boxes and stack them easily in the garage – floor to ceiling.  

Specifically, pack any collections and family photos you have displayed.  Too much of your personality in evidence does not allow for the potential buyer to “mentally move in.”  

Pack everything from the cabinets and all closets that you do not need on a routine basis.  You want to create the perception of roominess.  In the linen closet, remove everything but a week’s worth of linens.  Fold them neatly and color co-ordinate them.  I’m not kidding; this is the stuff sales are made of.  

In the clothes closets, remove out-of-season clothes.  Pack them away and put them in the garage. Arrange your shoes neatly.  Hang your clothes by category: all blouses together, all shirts together and so on.  

Now take another walk around the house.  Are there rooms that are cluttered with too much furniture?  Remove extra chairs, side tables and maybe even the 100” sofa which is really too big for the room.  (Notice how decorators use small pieces of furniture.)  

Minor redecorating is recommended.  If your carpet and vinyl are outdated colors or style, change them.  Off white carpet and vinyl are best; this makes the rooms look larger and cleaner.  If the existing carpet padding 5/8” thick or more and is not worn down, reuse it (unless the pets have done a number of it).  If replacing the pad, select a very thick one and then install just a modest grade of carpeting.  The feel will be plush and expensive but it’s not.  

If carpeting is in good condition and neutral in color, have it cleaned. If your vinyl flooring is worn or outdated, replace it with off-white vinyl.  If the vinyl is in good condition and light colored, scrub it thoroughly paying special attention to buildup of dirt or wax around the baseboards and in corners.  

Off- white painted walls are best. If painting is required, use flat latex except in kitchens and baths where you will use semi-gloss latex.  If walls are dirty, experiment to see if scrubbing them is easier than painting.

If you have wallpaper, make sure it is clean and up to date.  If not, strip it.  (hint: some wallpaper is easy to strip if first sprayed with window cleaner.)  After stripping it, either paint or re-wallpaper, depending on the condition of the walls.  Sponge painting is also an easy, attractive alternative.

Repair badly cracked plaster, loose door knobs and crooked light fixtures.  Correct faulty plumbing.  Leaky faucets can discolor porcelain an call attention to plumbing defects.  To remove mineral stains from such leaks, pour hydrogen peroxide on the stain,  then sprinkle with cream of tartar.  Leave this for 30 minutes before scrubbing.  Bad stains may require 2 or 3 applications.

Next, make your house sparkle. If you do not have time or the inclination, hire someone to thoroughly clean the house.  Clean windows inside and out.  Clean with white vinegar using newspaper.  Clean mini-blinds, curtains and drapes. In the kitchen, clean appliances inside and out.  Remove grease and grime by scrubbing with undiluted vinegar.  Scrub the inside of the refrigerator with baking soda; not only does it not scratch, but it removes odors.  Get rid of kitchen odors by pouring hot salt water down the drain twice a week.  Grind citrus peelings or apple cores in the garbage disposal.  Leave a small uncovered container of vinegar in the corner of your kitchen counter.

Have bathrooms scrubbed to pass a white glove inspection.  If tubs or sinks are rusting, have them re-glazed.  Clean grouting of the tiles with a good tile cleaner.  Re-caulk the tub and shower.  Clean fixture with white vinegar.  If you are at home, light a small candle for atmosphere and pleasant (not overpowering) aroma.  Hang a set of designer bath towels on the most prominent rack complete with verbal instructions to your family not to use them!  (Remember, you’re in show biz now!)

Pets should be out of sight and out of smell. If you have pets, you need to get rid of pet odors and it is recommended that the pets themselves be kept out of the way and out of the house during showings, if possible.  Some people are uneasy around animals and they may detract from the prospect’s attention.  Getting pets out of the way is, unfortunately, much easier than getting pet odors out of the way.

If floor carpeting has been repeatedly stained with pet stains, you’ll probably have to replace it to get rid of the odours.  And that means the carpet, the under pad, the carpet strips, the baseboard trim, and the sub flooring will possibly need to be replaced (or at least treated) to kill the odours.  Put a small uncovered dish of vinegar in the room where  your pet sleeps; this will remove “doggy” smells.  Of course, put the dish off the floor so the dog doesn’t drink the vinegar!  To absorb odors in the cat litter box, add a cup of baking soda to the litter.

Food smells can work for you or against you.  Baking bread, cookies and pies all smell good.  Spaghetti sauce is a delicious smell.  Frying fish or liver and onions is objectionable.  And these days, the smell of cigarette smoke is offensive to many.  If your house has an unpleasant smell, use scented candles or fragrant fresh flowers.

Finally, tackle that thing called the garage. This area is the catch-all where everything goes that has no place to go, so it is usually a mess.  Therefore, if your storage area is neat, one would surmise that you must really take good care of the whole house.  Now you are going to say I am becoming extreme, but believe me this works every time.  Empty everything out of your garage.  Hose down the floor, if there are stains remaining, paint it porch gray.  Paint the garage walls off-white using a flat latex paint.  If the hot water heater is in the garage, wipe it down so it looks brand new.  Polish the copper pipes.

Now – after the paint is dry, put everything back in the garage piece by piece.  Throw out what you will not be taking with you.  Pack what you can and add to the stack of neatly labeled boxes.  Then organize what’s left.  If you have a storage shed, organize it the same way and if it needs a coat of paint or stain, do it.  An open bag of charcoal will absorb moisture in the storage shed. If you have too much “stuff” for the shed, rent a small storage unit.  Un-cluttering can make all the difference in the world.

Lighting plays an important part. During the day have all your curtains and blinds open.  If the day is cloudy, turn on all lamps as well. At dusk, put blinds down but leave them open.  Leave drapes open.  Turn on all lamps and Overhead lights. At night, use the same lighting formula as above but close all the blinds, curtains and drapes.  Adding candlelight is very effective.

Turn off the television during all showings of your house as they are distracting.  Put on soft background music.  Once you have “set the stage”, leave the house for the agent to show it.  Prospects can more easily look at the house with no distractions.  They will also feel freer to ask questions of the agent.  Finally, buyers can mentally move in better without the current owners around.

Here’s How a $ .25 Upgrade Could Earn You $500 to$1000 More When You Sell… If you have 60 watt bulbs (or other low wattage bulbs) in your house it can make the house seem smaller and less appealing, especially in the kitchen and family rooms. Upgrade all your light bulbs to 100 watts (or the maximum the fixture will take safely) and your house will appear bigger, more inviting and may just earn you an extra $500 to $1000! 

Top Four Mistakes that Sellers Make:

  1. Basing their asking price on needs or emotion rather than market value. Many times, people make their pricing decisions based on how much they paid for or invested into their home. This can be an expensive mistake.  Overpriced homes take longer to sell and eventually net the seller less money. Consult with a professional real estate agent.  They can assist you in pricing your home correctly from the beginning.
  2. Failing to “Show-Case” their home. First impressions are the most important. Experience shows that for every $100 in repairs that your home needs, a buyer will deduct $300-$500 from their offer. Thoroughly clean and prepare your home before you put it on the market if you want top dollar.
  3. Trying to SELL their house when buyers come to see it. One of the biggest mistakes enthusiastic home sellers make is to follow buyers around and try to SELL them on the property. This can be a negative for the buyers.  The best thing is to stay out of the way, and let people look at their own pace, they’ll get a better feel for the property and whether the house is for them. 
  4. Not knowing all of their legal rights and obligations. Real estate law is complex. The contract that you will sign when selling your home is legally binding. Small items that are neglected in a contact can wind up costing you thousands of dollars.  You need to consult a knowledgeable professional who understands the ins and out’s of a real estate transaction. 

Find Out What Comparable Houses Sold For:

Have you ever talked with someone who tells you that they sold their house and “got what they wanted”? You remember that they were asking $329,000 so that must be what they sold for... or so you’d think

Or someone tells you that all the houses in your neighborhood have been selling for full price because the market is so hot right now, or the buyers are out there like never before.

One thing you can be sure of when you are getting ready to price your house for sale is that most of the information you hear on the street is not what is actually happening in reality. Buyers and sellers tend to overstate or understate the prices that they sold for or bought for, but the reality is that you can get information on what houses are actually selling for. Here’s How To Get A Free Market Analysis On Any Neighborhood.

Before you consider buying a home in any neighborhood, you need to get the real information on what’s happening in the market. You can find out what houses are really selling for and how long it takes them to sell by calling my office to tell me what area you are considering and I will complete a market analysis on that neighborhood for you. Having the right information can literally save you thousands of dollars – especially when you are buying a home, so don’t end up overpaying for a house because you don’t know the market.

Call me today and get the inside information you need to make an informed decision. 

Price Your House to Sell - Price it Right: 

When you decide to sell your property, you want to sell it for as much as possible, but remember The Market Will Determine The True Value of your property…your real estate agent brings the market to you, the market brings you the price.

A Comparative Market Analysis will help us establish the Correct List Price for your home based on current market conditions and the condition of your property in relation to other properties listed For Sale in your area.

Some of the Major Factors that Influence Overpricing:

  • Urgent need for money
  • Original cost of home too high
  • Desire to buy in a higher priced neighbourhood
  • Lack of real estate information
  • Extensive renovations/hidden costs
  • Building in bargaining room
  • Perceived emotional value

You may think interested buyers “Can always make an offer”, but if the home is overpriced, potential buyers looking in a lower price range will never see it.  Those who can afford a home at your asking price will soon recognize they can get better value elsewhere.  The wrong price attracts the wrong buyers and in fact may even sell your neighbor’s home, which is priced lower and correctly.

When a new listing comes on the market there is a flurry of activity surrounding it.  This is a crucial time when agents and potential buyers sit up and take notice.  If the home is overpriced it doesn’t take long for activity to die.  By the time the list price is brought in line a large percentage of buyers are lost.  On occasion, the list price drops below market value because the seller runs out of time and the property sells for less than it is worth. The Benefits of Using the Right Price Should be Obvious:

  • Your home sells faster.
  • More potential buyers view your home.
  • Your home never loses its marketability.
  • There is less inconvenience to you.
  • The closer the price to market value, the higher the offers.
  • Sales agents will focus more energy on your saleable property.
  • A well priced home can generate competing offers.

The Relationship Between Market Value and the Listing Price:

The listing price is a key component of the valuation and sale of a property in the marketplace.  The closer the list price to market value, the more likely that a higher sale price will be realized within a reasonable period of time.  A list price at or close to market value will attract the most number of serious buyers.  A heightened demand will usually translate into a higher selling price.

Simply put, a buyer, upon seeing a well priced property, will become anxious to make a good offer before anyone else realizes the property’s excellent value.  As a result, it will be the seller and not the buyer who will be able to negotiate from a position of strength.  Therefore, under normal circumstances, it is very likely that the buyer will pay top price to get the property before anyone else does. 

While there are no absolutes concerning listing prices, it is generally recommended that the list price b no more than 2-3% above the estimated value or top end of the value range.  If the estimated value is $204,000, then a list price of $209,900 should be seriously considered.  Of course you should also look at other similar listings on the market which represent the current competition in determining the proper listing price.

Often, sellers misunderstand the process of determining a listing price.  You can often hear them say “Let’s list the property 10% higher just in case we get lucky" or "we need to list the property 10% higher to leave room for negotiations.”  In both cases, a listing price 10% higher than the market value could very well be overpricing the sellers property.  If the list price is indeed too high, then the seller’s property will probably be eliminated by the serious buyers who otherwise would have considered buying it.  In fact, serious buyers may either not look at the property at all or will use it to justify buying another property that is much better priced in comparison.

Of course a buyer may still make an offer on an overpriced property.  However, in these situations, it is the buyer that will be in a position of strength in the negotiations as he/she will be aware that they will not be in competition for the property.  Indeed they may be the only offer that comes along.  As a result, they will often be able to negotiate a price at the low end of or below market value (depending on how long the property has been on the market and how frustrated and desperate the seller has become).

Some sellers will counter the argument that the listing price is too high by saying “You can always lower the listing price later.”  The problem with that belief is that a property will eventually suffer from the problem of Market Staleness.  As the weeks drag on, fewer and fewer buyers will look at the property.  Buyers will often ask how long a property has been on the market and be very suspicious of a property that has been listed for a while.  Even where property is finally realistically listed after nine months of marketing, buyers will make remarks such as “There must be something wrong with the home, it’s been on the market so long” , or “The property has been on the market so long it must be overpriced”, or “The property has been on the market so long, the sellers must be desperate”.  The end result is often that an overpriced property is on the market longer than necessary and the price received is generally lower than it would have been if it had been listed realistically in the first place.

The message is clear... Get it Right the First Time!

 

Candi Grant

Candi Grant

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 B.J. Roth Realty Ltd., Brokerage*
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Copyright, Candi Grant, 2016