Home Seller Tips – Fall 2012

Last week I posted an updated set of recommendations for home buyers. Today, I’m doing the same for a “sellers’ tips” blog I posted a few years ago. Not a whole lot has changed, but enough to warrant an update. Here goes!

Homes sell in any market. Regardless of overall conditions, each home is judged on its own merits. If you want your home to sell promptly, for a good price and with good terms, you have to properly prepare it – and yourself – for sale. Here are a few tips to get you started.

1) Understand the market: As has been the case for quite some time, the Toronto real estate market is experiencing a low supply of houses (as opposed to condos; there are lots of those on the market). This has resulted in significant price increases since early 2009. For example, last week TREB reported that house sales for the first half of September (2012) were down in volume by 15%, but up in price by 9.5%. Condo sales dropped in volume by 28% – which seems like a lot to me – but prices in the 416 still managed to squeak up 5%. Condo prices in the 905 were actually down 2%, which limited the GTA average price increase to 3%. So, when you hear about ‘the housing market’, keep in mind that there are different segments of that market – not to mention different locations. If you intend to sell this fall, we’ll talk about local market conditions – there’s lots to consider.

2) Your expectations must reflect the market: The market has been going upwards for over three years (since the post-recession bounce began in early 2009). However, despite a steady (if somewhat sluggish) economy, decent employment levels and slightly rising incomes, there is still some negative pressure on the market: mortgage rules have been tightened again recently, the global economy is still wobbly, plus politicians and the media carp on incessantly about real estate. It’s perfectly rational that buyers would want to be cautious.

Plus, there has been some talk in the industry that buyers are less willing to get in to competition for a house. That’s not to say that we aren’t seeing competition this fall; we are. However, we are also seeing great houses sit on the market past ‘offer day’, with no obvious explanation – other than the possibility that some buyers are playing it a bit more safe these days. For sellers, that means being more realistic with pricing, and being prepared to negotiate. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as they say, so we’ll put some time and effort into preparing our marketing strategy to reflect that current reality.

3) Get your home ready: Your listing is/will be in competition with similar listings in your neighbourhood. You need to stand out somehow. Home preparation and presentation (together with pricing) are key to a successful sale. By now, everybody knows about ‘de-cluttering’ and staging. The money you fork out (cleaning, patching, painting, putting extra stuff into storage, etc.) is money well spent. It will help capture the interest of potential buyers, and help overcome the objections that naturally arise in almost every case. In short, making a good first impression is just as important as ever!

4) Stay out of the way: Once your home is on the market, be sure to get out of the house/condo during showings. Viewers want to be able to comfortably wander around to get a feel for the place, and speak openly to each other or their Realtor. That’s hard to do when the owner is sitting right there – or worse, following them around. Tidy up before you leave for the day to make sure that your home shows its best, then make yourself scarce! 😉

5) Let your agent work for you: Like most Realtors, I’m a full time real estate professional. I know how to market your home; I have the knowledge and experience to determine who is a real buyer (as opposed to a tire kicker or low baller); and I know how to deal with other Realtors – which is extra important during difficult negotiations. Everybody has that friend or family member who wants to advise them. Take their advise for what it’s worth (your call), but choose for yourself a Realtor whom you trust, then let him/her (me!) do the job. After all, that’s what you pay us for.

As with the short list of buyer tips, there’s much more that you need to know about selling your home – this is just a primer. Follow me on Twitter for ongoing tips and commentary. As always, if you have any questions about market conditions or the home selling process, please feel free to get in touch with me. If you are ready to sell, call me today and I’ll put my continuous marketing strategy and commitment to success to work for you!

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