Selling a house is a complex transaction that demands considerable preparation. The following 10 tips will help you sell your home quickly – and save you a few headaches.
1. Choose your real estate agent well
If you decide to avail yourself to the services of a real estate agent, make sure you find one you feel comfortable with and who will meet your needs. A well-known agent taking care of dozens of properties, for example, could give buyers the impression he or she might not be very available. Whomever you choose, make sure that agent has a valid real estate licence and possesses a thorough knowledge of the market in your area. Ask your friends, family and work colleagues if they know any they’d recommend. Interview a few candidates before making your choice.
2. Decide on a realistic price
A price that is too high will dissuade potential buyers and keep your property on the market longer than necessary. That’s why it’s imperative to have a realistic and competitive asking price. To determine this price, compare your home with others in the area that are for sale or have recently sold. Also take into account factors that might influence (either positively or negatively) your property’s value: year of construction, type of building material used, size of lot and landscaping, building’s condition, and so forth. Your agent should be in a position to assist you with this. If you wonder if he or she has inflated the price of your home, or if you decide to sell the house yourself, call an accredited evaluator, who is the only impartial professional who can come up with an appropriate price for your property.
3. Market your property effectively
Putting your home on the market is indeed an exercise in marketing, and as such must be organized and efficient! Take advantage of the various media for promoting your property: special-interest newspapers and magazines, classified ads and of course the Internet. More and more people search online for their future home, and buyers like to see and compare before driving over. So it’s a good idea to give them loads of photos that will show off your property at its very best!
4. Thoroughly clean from top to bottom
Every homeowner should give their house or condo a thorough cleaning before opening the doors to visitors. Windows, carpets, walls, ceilings, joints around the bathtub and sinks – your entire home should be free of all dust, dirt and bad odours. Remember that a buyer’s first impression has a considerable impact on how your home is remembered.
5. Maximize your property’s value!
Real estate professionals are unanimous: a house that is welcoming is more likely to attract a buyer. To create an inviting and warm atmosphere, follow the golden rules of home staging, a proven strategy for putting your home in the best light possible. Purge and depersonalize your décor, harmonize and freshen up your interior, repair visible defects, bathe your home in subdued and relaxing lighting – in short, it takes the smallest investment (a mere 1% of the market value of your property) to add beauty to your home that will make potential buyers feel comfortable and at home!
6. Transparency is a must
Some owners have a tendency to play down – even hide – problems inherent to their property. Transparency is essential. If water was leaking in last spring, even if you repaired the damage, you must let potential buyers know – you don’t want to face any legal action down the road. If you have the slightest doubt about the physical state of your house, have it inspected before putting it on the market.
7. Know your rights and obligations
Real estate transactions require a good deal of legal and technical knowledge that few among us have mastered. Did you know, for example, that sellers are responsible for their home’s defects, even if they aren’t aware of them? Familiarize yourself with the sales process as well as the seller’s and buyer’s rights and obligations so that all transactions are conducted by the book. There are several reliable resources out there to help you: professional CAA-Quebec residential counsellors, the Association des Courtiers et Agents Immobiliers du Québec (ACAIQ; association of real estate brokers and agents – their website is bilingual) and Éducaloi, who also have a bilingual site.
8. Cutting through the red tape
Get all the forms you’ll need now, such as Promise to Purchase and addenda, which you’ll see over the course of the sale of your home. Reading them beforehand will help demystify the complexities of these legal documents without pressure – and not when you’re caught up in the excitement of receiving an attractive offer. If any questions remain, make sure you find the answer before signing. You can consult your real estate agent, your CAA-Quebec counsellor or the ACAIQ website for answers.
9. Sell first, then buy
Are you planning on buying your future property before finalizing the sale of your current home? This practice – while dangerously widespread – is often a big mistake. What if your potential buyer withdraws his or her offer as a result of the inspection? What if there are no buyers? You might have to lower your asking price, or worse, end up owning and carrying the costs of two properties.
10. Follow up on your agent
If you’ve retained the services of a real estate agent to guide you through the process, make sure he or she is working for you! Ask for a weekly report and inquire as to the number of calls about the property as well as any comments visitors may have made. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice on how to augment your property’s value, and enquire about his or her marketing strategy. In short, show interest in your agent’s work and make sure he or she is following these 10 invaluable tips!
• Professional CAA-Quebec residential counsellors.
• Association des courtiers et agents immobiliers du Québec, www.acaiq.com. Bilingual site. You’ll find a whole batch of information, such as the Buyer Practical Guide.
• Éducaloi. Bilingual site. Consult the Owners section, a wealth of information on your rights and obligations.
We’d like to thank Mr Serge Brousseau, real estate broker and property owner, Remax du Cartier Montréal, for his invaluable advice.
Original article by Marie-Claude Masson
Translated by John Woolfrey