Since it is a buyer’s real estate market in Calgary and with over 15,000 active listings, sellers need to make the 1st impression count and here are 5 simple ways to make your house sellable. Remember when you found your current home? You walked in and got the feeling it was a great fit for you and your family. Now that you’re selling your house, you need to make that same impression on the next potential buyer. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Get A Great Real Estate Agent
This is your first step and the most important one. Your agent is going to help you formulate a plan for selling your home fast. Look for an agent with a lot of experience that you feel comfortable talking to and with a track record behind him. You can do this with a phone call and then can meet him in person to make sure that you both connect and can form a team to get the house sold ASAP.
Step 2: Start Cleaning and Tidying
Sit down and write up a plan to get every room clean and tidy fast. When you have a plan in front of you with the actual steps that you need to take you'll be able to scratch them off as they get done and see the progress being made. With a solid plan in front of you nothing will be left to chance and you'll be able to cover the whole area in record time.
- Repair the little things. Put on your home inspector‘s hat and walk through your house. Make a list of the items that need attention and arrange for repairs. Focus on your entry-way, drywall, paint, sticky/squeaky doors, leaky faucets, flooring and countertops.
- Help buyers see themselves in your house. Remove your family photos and personal mementos. If you’re a collector, pack up your collection. Buyers have difficulty picturing themselves in your house when your personal items are on display.
- Let the light in. Bright homes often have a higher resale value. Get your windows cleaned, inside and out. (Consider hiring a professional.) Pull back blinds and draperies to let natural light in. If you still have some dark spots, add floor or table lamps to the area.
- Groom your yard. You wouldn’t go to a job interview without being well groomed, so make sure your yard is groomed for viewings. Trim your hedges and shrubs. Cut the grass. Pull weeds and cut back any greenery that covers walkways.
When you're cleaning, make sure your kitchen, bathrooms, and floors sparkle. Use old fashioned elbow grease or call in professional cleaners to get the job done. Can you walk into your walk-in closet? Does your car barely fit into your garage? Start packing early and put your seasonal and personal things into storage. Make your rooms and cupboards look spacious.
Step 3: Realtor Interviews and the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)
There are hundreds of critical mistakes you can make when selling your home, however there is a universal cure for them all . . .qualifying and choosing the right agent. Ask your agent lots of questions to ensure their motives are in the right place and they have the ability to properly represent you. Furthermore, you need to find out if you are comfortable with this person’s style of business.
In addition to an interview with an agent, have them look at your house and give you an idea of value. The agent will then assess the other homes in the area that are comparable to yours, make financial adjustments for the differences and give you an approximate value. This process is called a CMA.
Step 4: Document & Material Preparation
In order to sell, there are certain documents and materials that you should obtain. These include an updated survey of your property called a Real Property Report (you likely have one from when you bought the home), any relevant repair receipts (such s a new roof or furnace), any home warranty documents, a spare set of keys, relevant rental or lease agreements, etc. If you live in a condo, pull all the documents you have received from the board or management company. Your Realtor should help you with the rest.
Step 5: Home Preparation
If there are major repairs that need to be made, consider fixing them before you sell, or offering a credit to a buyer for the repair. If you try to hide it or don’t address the issue, then in the buyer’s mind it will drastically reduce the quality and price of the property . . . “If this is wrong, then what else is wrong”. In terms of a simple cleaning, the key is to de-clutter rooms (knick-knacks and excess furniture), and make sure the house looks clean and well maintained.
Step 6: The Listing Documents
When you sign the listing documents, be sure that you understand you are signing a legal contract. Your Realtor should clearly explain each clause and the implications. When does the contract begin and how does the contract end? What are my rights and responsibilities within the agreement? Most standard contracts are written to protect you (the seller) and the brokerage as well.
Step 7: Marketing
Be sure your agent mentions all the features of the house that convinced you to initially make your purchase, because other buyers will likely feel the same way. Look over the marketing materials and if you have any suggestions for additional information, feel free to let us know. Any house will sell if the value exists or is perceived in the mind of the buyer... this is the key.
Step 8: Showings
No one likes to be forced out of their home, but it is extremely uncomfortable for a buyer if you are present during a showing. If possible, make arrangements with a friend, neighbor or relative to escape during showings. The more flexible you can be the better, however if there are specific times that will not work, or if you want a break, simply tell your Realtor. We are all human and buyers will understand that the home will not be accessible 24/7.
Step 9: Strategy Assessment
After a couple of weeks on the market, we should have enough feedback to assess the current marketing strategy, and it may be time to make some adjustments. This may include changing the marketing medium (newspaper vs websites, etc), the features that are focused on, price, agent incentives, etc. Your agent should remain proactive so the listing doesn’t go stale.
Step 10: Offer & Negotiation
When someone decides to write an offer, you will be contacted by your Realtor and a time will be set to present it to you. The agent bringing the offer may want to present in person, however you ultimately have the choice. After some negotiations, signatures and initials will be required to finalize the agreement. The goal in a successful negotiation is to come to a win-win solution. Remember, people will pay your price if they feel they are getting the value somewhere else.
Step 11: Conditions
It is most common for an offer to have some sort of condition on it. This might be that the buyers agree to purchase your house as long as they can get a home inspection first, or subject to their financing being approved. A due date is usually between 7 – 10 days and your house will be considered “conditionally sold” during this time. The shorter the condition dates the better, but it is important to give the buyers a realistic amount of time to save the headache of extensions on dates.
Step 12: Preparation for Possession
Once the conditions are removed, the deal is considered “firm” and you can prepare for possession. You will need to book an appointment with the lawyer (usually a date about a week before possession), and fulfill any part of the contract that you agreed to. If you said you would paint, clean, or something else, then this must be done before possession to avoid a contract breach.
Step 13: Closing and Possession
Possession typically happens at 12:00pm unless otherwise agreed to in writing. It is best to have your furniture moved on the previous day as some people like to get in a couple hours early to do a walk through (this is not a requirement and is simply a show of good faith). Keys do not get released to the new owners until noon and only if the money has been transferred to your lawyer (they will notify the Realtors). Typically your cheque will be ready a couple days after, and if you are buying a new home, the lawyers will handle any money transfers that need to happen.
Justin Havre is the top producing REALTOR® with RE/MAX First, Canada's very first RE/MAX brokerage. Calgary real estate is his passion; Justin specializes in Southwest & Northwest Calgary homes for sale. He can be reached at 403.217.0003 or contacted through this site.