By: Christine & Stephen Hodge
While the market has warmed somewhat in recent months, let's face it, it's still a tough slog out there. But just because it's tough, doesn't mean one should give up - Realtor or Seller. Simply put, those who put forth the effort will be justly rewarded - and that's a sentiment all Realtors and Sellers should heed!
What helps sell in a tough market? Here's a list of what we find works to sell a house while the market is in the buyer’s favour:
1.) CLEAN: Do not underestimate the power of a hair, or a stain in just the wrong place (think bathroom here in particular) to cause a potential buyer to go scurrying from your home. It shouldn't matter that much, but to some it really, really does! Pay close attention to bathrooms, kitchen and windows.
2.) CLUTTER: Or, more to the point, a lack thereof. A homey, but relatively uncluttered living space is more appealing, feels larger, and allows buyers to better perceive their personal objects in the space they’re thinking of buying. Pay particular attention to counter tops, storage areas, kid’s rooms, family areas - everywhere junk tends to collect! Insert “more” or “less” in front of each word in this equation:
Space = Property = Value.
3.) LIGHT: A bright house is a welcoming one. If you’re living to save energy and have reduced the wattage in all your bulbs - good for you! But while you house is up for sale, boost that wattage back up so the house lights up for showings. And don't let burnt out bulbs hang around - especially in entrance ways, dark corners of basements or in walk-in closets. Buyers want to see everything – so make it easy for them!
4.) ODOUR: Have pets? Smoke? Forgot to take out the garbage or diaper pail? Every house has a smell and bad smells can kill a deal faster than anything! Conversely, a nice, clean, mild smell (baking bread, fresh cut flowers and such) can really help people feel at home. However, avoid strong smells of any kind, good or bad. Pet odour, cleaners, masking agents (like plug-in air fresheners), smoking and other strong scents tend to have a negative impact either by actually smelling bad or, and perhaps even worse, suggesting a bad smell is being hidden (even if it’s not).
5.) COLOUR: The right colours really help set a mood in a house. Too bright and garish will give some people a headache. Too muted and dark will make the home feel cavernous or too small. Too many and you create a chopped up feeling. There's no one rule here, but go for what appeals to a broad base, and lose the personal preferences - especially if they tend to one extreme or another. And never, ever, underestimate the value of a fresh coat of paint where it’s needed!
6.) CURB APPEAL: First impressions count. If you have an untended garden, a broken railing on the front porch, or paint that's peeling, then you’ve already set a tone for the buyer - even if inside the house is gorgeous. A little elbow grease out front is always well worth the effort. Weed, edge, paint, and repair to help create a positive start to your showings.
7.) INFORMATION: Make sure information on the house is readily available to people during showings. If they like the house, a nice feature sheet will give them something tangible to discuss later and keeps them closer to the good feeling they had for the home. Also make sure Realtors have all the background info they can use - carrying costs, taxes, maintenance records, etc. A speedy answer can prevent a tough question from lingering in a buyer's mind. Information pamphlets on the outside for passersby and neighbours can also help bring people in to see what's on offer.
8.) APPLIANCES: Particularly if you have a house appealing to first time buyers – leave them in! Appliances being purchased on top of the home buyer’s financing for the house will most often come right off the deposit. A lower deposit can, in turn, increase CMHC costs, possibly mortgage rates and just add to what’s already an expensive process. Suddenly an extra $5,000 is playing as though it’s an extra $20,000. With few exceptions, you will lose more on the value of your house than the appliances are worth.
9.) LOCAL REALTOR: If a real estate sales professional isn’t good enough to compete in their own local market… why would you think they’d do a better job for you in a market they know much less about? Local Realtors will be up-to-date on issues affecting local market conditions for better and worse. They will also have established local marketing and attract buyers to their web site looking in your local area. Local is always the way to go.
10.) PRICE COMPETITIVELY: A buyer in a buyer’s market is well aware of what your house is worth – even if your home is priceless to you. And, even in a buyer’s market, a correctly priced home will sell quickly and for close to asking. Just because you ask more doesn’t mean a buyer will go higher. Buyers perceive value based on comparably sold properties – not what you’re asking. If you’re way overpriced, more than likely an interested buyer won’t even attempt an offer, opting instead for the easier negotiations of a house priced closer to what it’s worth.