Buying a home is a big step, but then again, so is selling a property. The most important thing when listing a home is finding the right real estate agent to get you the most money possible and ensure a smooth, stress-free process. Real estate agent Sarah Ormond-King shares her advice on how homeowners can prepare themselves for their first real estate sale.
Before You Start
First off, Sarah recommends all sellers take a look at the Working with a REALTOR® brochure, available on the BC Real Estate Association website (bcrea.bc.ca). This is a great introduction to what a certified REALTOR® does, what their legal and fiduciary duties are, and how you can best work with one.
To ensure your agent is the right fit for you, sellers should interview one or more agents before signing an agreement with them to sell the property. You should also obtain a comparative market analysis (CMA) from them at this stage. As Sarah explains, “A comparative market analysis contains a formula to work out the differences between similar properties that have sold recently to determine a recommended price for your home.”
If the results of the CMA price your home lower than you expected, think carefully about what your expectations are based on. Are you factoring in things like the personal touches you have made to your home over the years? As Sarah explains, “Other people may not value certain things you’ve done to your property.” Trends and personal tastes vary, so don’t expect all renovations to pay off when it’s time to sell. Ultimately, if you remain unsatisfied with the results of the CMA, you can approach another agent for a second opinion.
All agents charge a commission to sellers upon the sale of the property. Sarah warns sellers not to dismiss agent solely based on the fact that they charge a higher commission, because that commission is split with the buyer’s agent, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing, and could even get you more money in the end. “A higher commission provides more of an incentive to other real estate agents to bring potential buyers to the property.”
You should ask any agents you interview how they intend to market your property, and whether they include services such as professional photography, video or advertising as part of their commission or for an additional fee. Sarah says, “All REALTORs® make their properties available on the MLS® system. I also promote properties on my Facebook page and target Facebook advertising to the most likely buyers for that home, be it downsizers or young families. I also tap into the network of other agents with serious buyers in the area.”
Pricing Is Key
A comparative market analysis is a great starting point when it comes to pricing your home, but you will still need to decide whether your want to list your home at, below or above market value. Sellers don’t have to list their homes according to their agent’s recommendations, but Sarah cautions against overpricing a home.
“Price your home keenly if you want a quick sale. If you overprice your home, it could sit on the market longer and end up selling for less as buyers are often wary of homes that have been on the market a long time.”
That said, Metro Vancouver is a scorching hot market right now, with many homes, especially detached properties, selling very quickly and for over asking price. Your agent will be able to advise you on your best pricing strategy.
Aside from the agent’s commission, be prepared for other closing costs. You can find typical costs outlined on the first page of a contract of purchase and sale, which your agent can provide you with. They include legal fees, costs of clearing title and GST if the property for sale is new.
Sarah says sellers should also be thinking about the cost of making small updates to the home to prepare it for sale, as well as costs associated with family members and pets being out of the home during showings.
While the Realtor will be doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to getting a home sold, the seller also has responsibilities that will help the agent make a sale happen more quickly and at the right price.
“Sellers should be as flexible as possible in making the home available for showings, and should not be there during the showings,” she says. “Buyers should be free to express their personal opinions without risking offending the seller.”
The home should also be as presentable as possible for showings. “Stand across the road and look at your house and see what can be improved. A buyer usually decides if they like a house or not within minutes of seeing the property.”
Sarah’s other tips include cleaning and decluttering, removing strong odours, making small repairs such as changing burnt out light bulbs and de-personalizing the space. “Take down the kids’ paintings in the kitchen and put them in a folder. This will help buyers imagine themselves in the home. Make it look well cared for and valued. Consider setting the table to make it look more inviting.”
When your agent brings you an offer, be willing to negotiate. For example, “If a home inspection reveals something new, and there aren’t other buyers lined up, sellers should be open to adjusting the price accordingly.”
Ultimately, selling a home can be a much more financially rewarding and less stressful experience with the guidance of a good agent, so take the time to find the right one for you.