The real estate market is finally recovering and smart sellers are now getting top dollar for their home. Here are some valuable tips to ensure you get the best price for your home:
Choose the best time to sell: spring and early fall are the prime time for selling your home. Spring generally brings a seasonal peak in demand, largely because people don’t have to fight through the snow to go house hunting. Early autumn is also a good time, since it gives homeowners time to settle into their new house by Christmas. Other factors might influence timing; such as if you have a house with a pool, you might want to list when the weather is favourable. December is historically the slowest month of the year, and that means fewer potential buyers coming through to view your home. If the listing is on the market for 30 days with no offers, buyers might be encouraged to make a low-ball offer.
Boost your curb appeal: things that will ready your home for sale include sanding and painting or replacing the front door, shutters, or garage; cutting the lawn and trimming bushes; and putting some potted flowers out in the spring and summer, mums and cabbages in the fall, or pine boughs in the winter.
Exit, staged right: people sometimes ask why they should spend money on a house they’re going to turn around and sell. Staging your house for sale is for the seller. The plan is to help the current homeowners to sell the house quicker and to get as much equity out of the house as possible. What’s more is that many real estate agents provide a staging consultation as part of their services. Many of the jobs identified by stagers cost little to complete, but pay off big when it comes time to sell. Here are some low-cost projects that give you maximum bang for your buck:
- Clean it up: the cost of cleaning up and reorganizing your home at $200 and the expected home price increase at about $1,700. That is 870% return on your investment and a good reason to reorganize and clean up your home. Steam-cleaning the carpets and washing the floors and walls, dusting the light fixtures, the baseboards and cupboards, scrubbing the fridge and stove, and rendering the tile grout mildew-free will make sure your house is clean and germ free.
- Declutter: keep counters and furniture free of small appliances, bills, and nick nacs lurking around, and make sure there’s no clothing lying around the bedrooms or any personal items lying around the bathroom. Tidy overstuffed closets by purging what you can, putting some things in storage, and using baskets and organizers to contain what’s left.
- Give it some paint: repainting in a light soft, warm neutrals for starters can help potential buyers envision themselves living in your home. Colour can be very personal and very specific colours, like orange or lime green, may not work for the marketing strategy to sell your home. Picking the right neutral can be tricky, depending on your furnishings and carpets, as well as the size and brightness levels of the rooms. If you’re unsure, get help. And if you don’t want to take on the entire house, even repainting trim in high traffic areas can clean up a space.
- Let there be (trendy) lights: if your lighting fixture is 10 to 15 years old and is neither retro nor vintage, replace it. You can get good quality modern light fixtures for $100 to $150, and they’re capable of changing a room dramatically. When the budget is minimal, you can even update light fixtures by spray-painting them.
- Define the rooms: if your dining room has been serving triple-duty as the home office/kitchen table/family room, you’ll need to redefine it. Failing to do so will leave potential buyers with the impression that the home just isn’t big enough to meet your needs. The same goes for spare bedrooms that have been converted into a home gym or ironing room.
- Change the hardware: kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. But investing in new cupboards or a new vanity is costly. Sometimes just replacing dated hardware with new knobs and pulls in brushed nickel or aged brass does the trick.
- Make it smell April-fresh: few things turn potential buyers off quicker than lingering odours from pets, smoke, must, mould, or mildew. (If you’ve got an expensive mould problem, you’ll need to hire a professional). The good news: you can rent machines that will eliminate almost any smell.
- Groom the backyard: keep the lawn, hedges, and flower beds manicured. Buy containers for gardening and pool supplies and make sure your shed is neat and tidy.
Play the price is right: when interviewing real estate agents, it can be tempting to opt for the one who promises the biggest amount of money. Over pricing a house doesn’t help anybody. When your home does get shown, you’ll be helping sell the other normal-priced listings in the neighbourhood. Agents will be saying you can buy one house for $430,000 or go around the corner and buy essentially the same house for $409,000. Since your home generates the most attention in its first week on the market, if it’s over-priced you may miss an opportunity. Pricing a house too low, on the other hand, is a strategy that real estate agents sometimes use in a popular market. The basic premise: the market will generate multiple offers that can be played off against each other. This is usually not recommended when the market is at a low point. If your home is priced at market value, it will sell just as quickly.
Relist if necessary: listings for houses that have been on the market for three to five weeks are sometimes terminated, only to reappear at a lower price. Agents often do this with houses that aren’t selling quickly. It may also fool the buyers who were in the market a few weeks ago, because they see it as a new listing.
Dealing for dollars: studies have shown that only one in 21 offers come in are accepted as written. So this means that 20 times out of 21 there’s negotiation involved. Those negotiations may concern price timing, conditions of sale, and what is or is not included in the sale. If there’s something you’re really attached to, take it down and store it so potential buyers don’t see it. Especially in a buyers market, people will ask for prices of furniture that look good in the house. If you are willing to part with some furniture, leave them out and use them as bargaining chips. If you get an offer for your home that includes clauses or conditions, consider them carefully with your agent. One fairly common clause is that the offer is conditional on the buyer selling his or her own home. Generally with conditional sales, the buyer often offers slightly more than the market value of the home to make the final bid more attractive. Despite the extra cash, if you’ve received two fairly close offers and one is conditional, you should accept the firm offer, even if it’s slightly less. If the buyer doesn’t sell his own home—something you cant control—the whole deal could fall through. If the sale of your house is conditional on inspection, as it almost always is, the seller should be present when the inspector checks out the house. Sometimes there’s a question that the homeowner could easily answer. For example, the owner might be able to explain that a leaky pipe that has been fixed caused some minor water damage. In the end, if you get an offer at the right sale price and with minimal conditions, you’ve probably found the future owners of your home!
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