WHERE DO I START ON SELLING THE BIGGEST PURCHASE OF MY LIFE?
This is always a great question and it's one I feel you truly have to be 100% honest with yourself. Obviously you want to make a killing on your home as we all would want to do exact same thing. Asides from the money though, what is your MOTIVATION? Why are you moving? When are you planning to be settled in your new location? Where is your new location? What are your must haves for where you are moving to? (school quality, religion, amenities, community events, highway access, etc.) Have you been cautious and have gone to get pre-approved already, so you know you're good regarding financing?
Now answer this question, are you wanting to use an agent? Or did you want to try going through this alone and sell it yourself and not pay the real estate commission? These are the questions you want to have an answer to so you have something concrete to either better help yourself or the agent you decide on working with.
WHERE CAN I CUT THE COSTS OF SELLING A HOME?
Again I totally understand the concern with this question as selling or purchasing a home can prove to be a costly affair with packing/moving costs, lawyer fees, land transfer taxes (buyers worry about this), property tax, as well as getting your hydro, municipal water, cable and other amenities all hooked up which all have their hidden costs as well. Lots of little things creep up that you may not have planned on spending money on at the time and an agent will help better prepare you for the hit.
If it's commissions that you want to save your money on then by all means try to do it yourself and I wish you a sincere best of luck. It comes down to what level of service are you wanting as we all know you truly do get what you pay for. If you are looking to these discount brokerages I always like to give a bit of caution to those who do not read the fine print. For example if you see "I will sell your home for 1% commission" what you are not realizing it that, yes you are paying 1% to him but what you don't realize is that you still have to pay 2.5% to anyone bringing you a buyer client or no realtor is going to be bringing anyone by your home out of the goodness of their heart.
I always like to explain it like this and again be honest with yourself, now think if you were going to work for around 60% of what the industry average is then how hard would you be actually working. Do you think these agents are pricing your home correctly with the current market? Are they advertising for you at all? Are they spending the time to show what the stand-out selling features of your home are while taking focus off it's deterents? It really comes down to what level of service you want and are willing to pay for.
WHO ARE BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS REAL ESTATE? I KNOW OF THE MAGAZINE BUT WHY ARE YOU WITH THIS BROKERAGE AND NOT ONE OF THE LARGER BROKERAGES?
To be honest I started out with one of the larger brokerages but I found it wasn't for me. I wasn't getting the help and guidance I wanted and I was spending a small fortune just to have their name on a card and then I ultimately realized it's not about who you work for it's all about the business that I'm building. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate is relatively new in Canada but they are the whole package here. I have a great work family here that offer tons of experience, a broker of record who is off the charts on helping out and making sure all our clients are incredibly happy with our ethical and professional service. He's also a major advocate of technology and if there is something out there that gives us an edge on selling or buying a home, I can fully guarantee that we have it.
It is also nice to have the magazine and cookbooks stellar reputation of 93 years to have alongside me to give that little edge of current home styles and ideas, their comfort recipes, as well as the appeal to the many women that have faithfully bought the magazine for close to a century. Fun fact as well, the Better Homes and Garden cookbook is the second most read book on the planet next to the bible. Funny eh?
HOW DO I KNOW I SHOULD GO WITH YOU AS OUR AGENT AND NOT SOMEONE ELSE? WHAT ABOUT THESE CHEAPER METHODS OF SELLING MY HOME AS WELL?
Ultimately you will probably interview 1-5 agents and you will just know who your agent will be. I won't do a song and dance as mentioned, I'm just a straight shooter and a true professional. It ultimately comes down to who you trust, who you are comfortable with and feel who will do what needs to get the job done and be there when needed. There are too many agents that take on too much and are never there for their clients except on offer day.
I also like to give caution about going the FSBO (For Sale By Owner) route or discount agents/brokerages route. Now of course I want your business, as does everyone else and I totally appreciate trying to save as much money as you can, buying a home is no cheap endeavour but I'd like to earn my money honestly and build my business with satisfied customers You really have to read in between the lines if you choose to go the other way as I am one who really believes you get what you pay for. As mentioned above in the video about commissions that everyone perceives that real estate agents make tons of money but that video demonstrates how quickly our paycheques of 2.5% are broken down and remember, we never know when our next paycheque will come in as well.
FSBO (For Sale By Owner) - I understand you wanting to save your money and that paying for agents is pretty costly but if you hire a good agent then you should have a worry free and rather seemless transaction. If you list with Comfree (just bought out by Yellow Pages), Property Guys or another brokerage like them, they give you a quick classroom lesson, charge you a smaller fee and then put your home on MLS. Now that is all well and good but if you are not willing to at least pay the 2.5% to the buyers agents then you probably won't have many agents bringing anyone your way as we really don't work for free (again this is just something they might forget to mention to you) Also look at it as if you are wanting to save as much money as you can and there is a buyer that wants to do the same, then you have two frugle people not willing to budge much on their prices while having no real pricing comparisons to go with to back it up as to why they are offering this number. Not to say it hasn't been done as there are those who can sell their home on there own but it will usually be on the market much, much longer so you also have the inconvenience of people coming through your home for a longer duration, you must keep it in pristine condition at all times for a lot longer as well. Then there is the issue of you being in the home while people are looking at it. This does make potential buyers uneasy as they can't speak their mind openly, criticize the things they don't like and they feel uncomfortable and rushed because you are there. It doesn't help with the selling of the home for sure. Agents can be there to answer all questions regarding the home in a fair and honest manner as they have no emotional connection to the property, if you're the owner that helped make the home what it is today then you also have a more emotional investment to the property and may not take well to some criticisms and questions. Again best of luck if you go this route, it's tougher than it looks.
The total 1% - 2% brokerages - Again this is a read between the lines kind of scenario but if you go with a discount agent then what he will do is simply list your home, do no research to properly market it or accurately price it, put a lockbox on your door and wait for an offer to come in. They also forget to mention that you still have to pay the agent that is bringing you the buyer his 2.5%. So yes, you are only paying 3.5% in the end but you may also only be getting a fraction of the money that you could have had if you went with an experienced agent.
The "only pay me a $1000 to sell your home or the save $10,000 with me agents" - Again the pay me a $1000 agents are the same as the 1-2% agents. They leave out that you still have to pay the buying side of the transaction, which is still savings but at what cost? The save $10,000 agent is one you must read the fine print. Look closely and you will see the fine print that this is only the case if he represents you and the buyer in this scenario. What will you do if you have an offer come in with someone who already has an agent? I guess you will pay full commission then? So they at least got your business with advertising savings that may never actually take place but at that point you've come too far to walk away. Also by the time you take away their brokerage fee's and government costs.....how could anyone really run a business like easily.
The "I'm the top agent, #1 in the area...etc - I will never speak ill about any agent to anyone. I have a few that I have found to be incredibly unprofessional and greedy but I really do love seeing someone do well for themselves. There is plenty of business out there for everyone. I just like to point out to keep in mind that there are many ways to twist words, stats, facts that you can be the #1, top producing, largest amount of sales..... remember that all that sales volume still says nothing about the quality of the service you will receive or how quickly your home can be sold for top dollar.
The I'll sell your home in # of days agent - Again these agents I find very brave to make a statement like that and again what happens if they don't sell it in that time? They still have your listing up and are you going to stop and start all over with someone else? Most likely you will not. Also how do you think they get your home to sell over everyone elses? Generally they list it lower than market value so more people will come to buy it for that price, so of course it will sell faster, they are getting a deal. Tread carefully is all I can say and you do get what you pay for.
I'm not a billboard agent as I find it to be too much money to spend on that kind of publicity. There are close to 56,000 agents in the GTA alone so competition here is rather fierce. I find that I turn a decent business with repeat clientele and referals that I don't need to advertise on benches and such. My business model I have working for me enables me to work with roughly 40-50 clients a year and still have time to live a life.
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM ME ON MY END?
Well my ideal clients are obviously those who trust my experience and are willing to build on having a collaborative relationship with myself. After we sign the paperwork to list your home, we'll make a list of things to get ready before we put it up on the market. It may take a couple weeks or a few days as it just depends on what is needed to be completed in your home. If you're a minimalist and you keep an extremely clean home then it could be a very easy listing. I've been to other homes where I feel like I walked into an episode of Hoarders. We'll establish a to do list and a date on which these have to be completed. Whether you choose to do it yourself to save money or hire professionals to get it done promptly and efficiently is entirely up to you.
I have had clients that are all in agreeance and full of gumption at the start but quickly run out of steam on their end with their list of responsibilities. I will give you 100% commitment but I in turn would like the same as this will give us our best results. The best tips I can give is to basically make your home look like a model home. No personnal pictures around, no clutter, cleanliness is a must, appliances are spotless and the fridge is bare with no clutter as well. We want to meet our deadline before we have the photographer show up to get the pictures for MLS and we then do that paperwork to post it to MLS. The deadline is a must for a reason, if you list in early spring it's great because we have less competition so you have a better chance of multiple offers or on the other end of the spectrum if you go too far past the deadline and we now find ourselves in a time when the market is cooling you have missed your window for your best time to sell.
HOW LONG IS A NORMAL LISTING CONTRACT?
It all depends but generally I sign a 14-60 day exclusive contract while we are getting ready to list your home and then when we're ready we sign the MLS contract for around 90-120 days, which then gets your home listed and viewable to the general public and on all your typical real estate websites. The higher end homes I sell average 6 months to a year long contract as they can sometimes take a while to sell.
HOW LONG DOES THE WHOLE LISTING PROCESS TAKE?
Well selling your home is a big choice to make and the process can be as tough as you make it. I know it's hard to raise a family, work a full time job, to come home and start getting your home ready but if this thought has been in the back of your mind I fully suggest getting ready over the winter months leading up by getting rid of junk and clutter you no longer use. My take on stuff is if I haven't used it in a year then I'll be taking all of it to Goodwill or selling it on Kijiji.
Remember all the hard work for listing is all in the details leading up to the listing day. Getting your home ready is the big job but look at it this way too, you have to get rid of all the clutter regardless when you sell the home you have to pack it all up anyway. You might as well make it more enticing to the buyer as well as making it easier for you and the family when moving day eventually comes roughly about 120 days later.
Once you have your home decluttered, cleaned and beautified all you have to do now is pick a fair and smart price so that it will move in a decent time. The only inconvenience you will experience is to keep the home spotless and to be ready to leave the home when there are showings. An owner being in the house while people are looking at it makes the buyers uncomfortable and they quickly look and leave. You are not doing yourself any favours by being there.
Realistically the whole process from interviewing and selecting your agent (1 week maybe), prepping your home to list (1-4 weeks depending on condition of your home) and the listing process (1-4 weeks depending on the price you want to list at and when you list) If you list too high and in a slower period you can expect it to be on the market maybe up to 8-12 weeks only to do a price reduction in the long run anyway. Your initial price should we a smart and well conceived one as the first two weeks of your home being on the market will depict whether you are overpriced. So on a ideal listing with minimal work to be done it could all be over in a month and then we just wait until the day you've decided that the offer closes.
MY HOME LOOKS FINE THE WAY IT IS? DOESN'T IT?
As I mentioned before that I'm a tell it like it is kind of agent and it is definitely a tender issue as many people pride themselves of their homes and how they look. Now not every home needs to be prepared or staged but sometimes a fresh look and some updated furniture that shift the focus to the positives in the home while taking the attention away from the negatives really help the selling time of the home as well as the cost. Statistically staging can get you up to 15% more on the closing price of your home which definitely pays for itself, cuts down on the list time and more.
I know you have seen the agents that say they pay for staging but what they actually mean by that is that they pay for the consultation, which is still about $250-$400 dollars (though some actually do pay for staging) at least you can save on that. Remember you want to make your home look as updated as you can and here is my list of the top recommendations on where to shift your focus.
You want to make sure your walls are wiped clean from spills, splashes and fingerprints. Maybe even a fresh coat of paint could only help. You want to do some maintenance on some of the big ticket items in the home if you don't already but remember that it will all come out at the home inspection anyway. Maybe get your furnace and A/C unit serviced, your eavestroughs are cleaned out and running water away from the home. Appliances are spotless. Update the light fixtures in the home, are you still rocking the cheaper builder fixtures throughout the house? If so then don't expect top dollar as they stick out like a sore thumb. Has your kitchen and bathrooms been updated at all? Maybe even just a colour change if you haven't done anything but you make the most money on your investment if you have updated the kitchen and bathrooms. Maybe even take a step back and rearrange your furniture for a different look as long as it works for the flow of the room. Again some of these are rather cheap fixes and some are expensive but they all will net you a return of some kind. Best advice I can give is to minimalize and declutter as it makes the home look larger inside with less in it and it helps you in the long run anyway as you would have had to box it all up when you sell you home have to move anyway so it makes moving day easier for you as well.
PROPERLY PRICING YOUR HOME FOR SALE
Now ultimately this is going to come down to a figure that you feel your home is worth. I myself bring a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) with many current and comparable properties that have sold in the area with the past 6 months to a year along with a figure that I think will get your home sold with fair market value in a decent amount of time.
Should I list low to get into a bidding war with multiple offers or list high in case I get a lowball offer it may be close to a price I'm comfortable with? As I said that it really comes down to the price you feel that your home if worth. I will show you the comparable properties a the price I think will get it sold the quickest and for the most money.
If you decide to list a lower price to get into a multiple offer situation I would vote against it as it's a tactic I never use as it may not work out the way you want, Yes you may get multiple offers but they all may be lower than your listed price or within a few thousand dollars of each other. There is a risk as well that you may reject all offers and send them back for adjustments thinking the dollar value will now increase but now everyone has walked away from buying your home. Many home buyers are getting wise and don't really want to compete for homeownership and end up paying more than what the house is worth and I for one agree with them.
If you choose to list your home at too high a cost, then it may sit there for a while and the listing can go stale. Not only do you now have to either do a price reduction but you may have to terminate the listing and re-list so MLS shows fewer days on the market. (keep in mind the realtors who do their homework will see how many times you have tried to sell your home and failed) If someone has seen that you have been on the market for a while then you can be sure that if you are lucky enough to have an offer come in you can be assured it will be a low one. You generally have the best chance to sell your home in the first two weeks with the traffic, adds on social, open houses etc. This is why it's very wise to pick a strong price point at the start to give you your best chance.
THE OFFER(S) COMES IN...
Now this is where it starts to get exciting and I love getting to negotiate a deal on your behalf. I will walk you through what generally happens. Now usually I have a good idea that we have an interested party as the same agent has now booked to see the property for a second time and another good tell is if the agent calls me and starts asking the age of the home and the big ticket items and what fixtures or chattels may be excluded.
HOW DO WE NEGOTIATE THE OFFER AND WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?
Now the way the market is right now with it being a sellers market, most agents are holding offers until a specified date in hopes of getting into a multiple offer scenario on offer night. Generally I will have posted a set time to have the offers registered by and we will be together and I will go over each offer with you while the agent sits in either your home or my office (depending on where we hold the offers) Agents will have to call my office and register their offer before the required time and show up to present to us.
Either way the offer presentation goes the same, an agent will come in and sit down, tell us a bit about their client and then we will go over the offer. This is a great time for us to see if they are flexible on a closing date, price and conditions. If it is a multiple offer situation then usually the best offer for you is the one with the highest price and fewest conditions (or none at all) If the buyers have waived all conditions and are willing to pay the most then the home can be sold firm either by that night (pending on whether they brought a deposit cheque/bank draft) or the next day until we receive the cheque. If it isn't in a multiple offer scenario then your typical conditions will be present such as home inspection and financing (amongst others) and it can take up to 3-5 days to have all these conditions waived or fulfilled to make a the deal firm.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER KINDS OF OFFERS TO MAYBE EXPECT RECEIVING?
Sometimes holding offers will make something called a "bully offer" come in. A bully offer is typically a firm deal, no conditions with a substantial amount of money over the asking price. I for one, hate getting these but as your agent I must present all offers. It is up to you whether you want to entertain this idea. I have to look out for your best interests so one might think that you would want to wait until offer day to see what else may come in, as you could get more for the home or you can cash out and take the deal and not have the risk. It is all up to you, but I hate posting that we are taking offers on this date and then we change our minds at the last minute, but that's how it goes sometimes.
There is also the most common type of offer that most agents receive and that is the "verbal offer" and to me it isn't even worth the air used to form the sentence of suggesting the offer. If you can't take the time to put it on paper then we really don't have an offer then as it has to be on paper eventually anyway.
ACCEPTING AN OFFER
SO ARE WE DONE? WHAT HAPPENS NOW AND WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?
So now we have received an offer that meets our expectations and if we have received it in the first two weeks then to me that mean that I have done my job well. Now what do we do, you ask? Well if there are some conditions that are required to be fulfilled then we must comply with the buyers to make sure it is done in the time specified on the offer. Now on MLS we will be advertised as "Sold Conditional" (SC - on MLS) which could hurt us if this fall through as most agents don't bother showing homes that are most likely to close. So we want to make sure we get everything finalized. Usually the buyer now have 3-5 days to get their mortgage situation worked out and a home inspection booked. If they get these two conditions in and waived or fulfilled then you typically have a firm deal. Some sellers are actually doing the home inspection before they list their house so they can either fix any issues and try to keep a higher price for the home or they can eliminate the home inspection condition altogether on offer day to have a quick close to the offer.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN DURING A HOME INSPECTION?
If there is something that does come up in the home inspection, generally there is either a price abatement where we reduce the purchase price as long as both parties agree to that the buyer can fix the situation when they take possession or sometimes the sellers will take care of it. I like to try to get the price abatement instead as then you can be sure that it was taken care of they way you would want it done. If it happens to be a financial issue then typically you can expect the deal to fall through unless you want to give them more time to try and fix their situation but I don't recommend this as now you are taking your home off the market for too long and it could fall through. Another condition that could be a 3-5 ordeal is if you need a Status Certificate which is only needed if you are purchasing a condo and it generally costs about $100 to get one. If all the stars align and these conditions are dropped then we can change th status of the home to "Sold" on MLS and the sign out front of your home. Again stranger things have happened and something can come up before closing but typically it's that the buyer wants to change the closing date as they may have had a longer closing take place on the selling of their house. Which can ahppen and it can be changed as long as both parties agree to it.
Now you're best to slowly start getting ready to move, maybe start packing the stuff you don't use often, declutter the garage, get a bin to dump your waste or donate sell or keep. You could also notify the companies that you need to change your address with etc.
Congratulations, we've have successfully sold your home!!!