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Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Like any seller, you want to get the best possible price for your house, condo or town home. Typically, the more attractive your home is, the better price you can expect-so always remember to "think like a buyer." As you get your home ready for the marketplace, consider the following:

Pricing Your Home to Sell

Setting a price for your home is not an exact science, but it's a good idea to consider several factors before picking the amount. For example:

  • How much have similar houses (or condos or town homes) in your area sold for?
  • What specific features and amenities does your home (and its location) offer?
  • Is the housing market hot or cold in your area?
  • How much work does your home need?
  • How quickly do you want to sell?
  • How much money do you need to buy your next home?

Unless the housing market is "white hot," you can expect offers to come in below your asking price. That's when your negotiations begin.

Remember-it's NOT all about the price.

You may be surprised at just how much you can negotiate in a real estate sale:

Major appliances.
Consider excluding your refrigerator, microwave, washer and dryer from your asking price. They can become good bargaining chips later on.
Other "extras."
Similarly, you can exclude window treatments, air conditioners, chandeliers and ceiling fans in your listing, but include some of them later in a counter-offer.
The closing date.
Time is money-and for some buyers, your flexibility in setting a closing date can be as good as cash.
Creative tactics.
Learn about your potential buyers. Are they first-time home buyers? Inform them about their financing options. Are they moving from a condo or an apartment? If so, "throw in" your garden tools or mower. Do they have kids? Include the swing set you'd rather not dismantle and move.

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Tips for Getting a Higher Price for Your Home

Invest a little time around your home and the return could be worth your time. Before you put up the "FOR SALE" sign, follow these tried-and-true tips that real estate agents recommend:

  1. Remove Clutter:

    Buyers want to see storage space and openness. So it's time to get rid of the clothes you haven't worn in years, the furniture you've stashed away and the knick-knacks you've been hanging on to, "just in case." They all make your home look and feel more cramped.

    Be merciless (you'll thank yourself when you start packing). Weed out every closet and crawlspace. Organize the garage and basement. Keep only those items you use regularly. If you haven't needed it in five years, let it go.

    Consider holding a garage sale, or donating used items that are in good condition to a local charity.

  2. Stage and furnish rooms.

    Try to show your rooms serving their intended functions. If you have a three-bedroom home, display three bedrooms-not two bedrooms and a TV room. Furnish each room appealingly and appropriately.

  3. Catch up on minor maintenance.

    Remember all those little jobs you've been promising to get around to? Now's the time to tackle them. Make a room-by-room list. Open every door and window, turn on every faucet, and check every outlet and lamp.

    Ensure caulking in the bathroom looks fresh and mildew is gone. Ensure grouting is clean and in good repair.

    Repair leaky faucets, oil squeaky hinges, tighten loose doorknobs, make sure windows and doors open and close smoothly, and change the burnt light bulbs. Buyers will notice if you don't.

  4. Brush up on your painting.

    Dollar for dollar, nothing does more for your home's appearance and value than a fresh coat of paint. You don't have to repaint everything; just consider freshening up the rooms that need it most. Use neutral colours inside.

    Outside, a gallon of paint on exterior trim, wooden stairs and banisters can also do wonders. Label leftover paint cans for the new owners. Safely dispose of paint cans with colours your home no longer features.

  5. Go for maximum curb appeal.

    An attractive exterior helps lure buyers inside. Keep lawns mowed, leaves raked up, shrubbery trimmed, walkways and driveways cleaned and weeds pulled. Place a pot or two of fresh flowers on your front porch for a colourful "welcome."
  6. Clean, clean, clean (and keep it clean).

    Finally, clean every room-floor to ceiling. Wash the windows. Dust every surface, including windowsills. Consider renting a steam cleaner for your carpets (you'll be amazed at the difference).

    Promise to keep everything sparkling. It can be tough, but interested buyers may want to see your home on short notice. So make it a routine to make beds and do dishes before you leave the house in the morning. If you have pets, you may wish to confine them to one room or area of your home.

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Preparing Your Home for a Showing

You've repaired. You've painted. You've cleaned. Now it's time to open your doors to prospective buyers. Whether you're preparing for an open house or a private showing, here's how to show your home at its best.

Be a "motivated" seller.

Do what you can to give your home the same characteristics as a model home-organized, clean and uncluttered.

Appeal to the senses.

If your house has the rooms, space, location and amenities a buyer is looking for, then the buying decision usually becomes an emotional one. In other words, buyers will choose the home that "feels perfect"-a place where they can live and be happy. To foster that feeling:

  • Dress up your front porch with flowers.
  • Greet your visitors with the scent of fresh flowers or the aroma of freshly-baked bread or cookies.
  • Have pleasant music playing softly in the background.
  • Give the impression of spaciousness and airiness-remove bulky furniture, open the curtains and turn on extra lights. Also make sure your entryway and foyer are clean and uncluttered.
  • Display colour photos of outdoor views during different seasons near the front and back doors.
  • Place family photographs tastefully here and there, but don't overdo it.
  • Add warmth whenever possible. Light a fire and candles (only if you're having an open house), turn on lamps as well as overhead lights. Close curtains at night.
See to your guests' comfort.
  • Prepare a spot for coats and footwear, and arrange seating to help guests with their shoes/boots.
  • Try not to be home when a showing occurs-most people feel more comfortable when they can walk around the house themselves and tend to spend more time looking at a home when the owner isn't present.
Prepare information for buyers.

It's a good idea to find and/or prepare the following information for potential buyers:

  • The total amount of your home's heating, hydro, water and tax costs for the past year
  • Size of your home in square feet or metres, plus the dimensions of all the rooms listed
  • Renovations, including what was changed and when
  • Photographs of your home in other seasons that show it off to good advantage (these are also good to use in your listing)
  • Names and addresses of schools in the area

If you have buyers who have made formal offers, the following information will be items they will want or request for closing:

  • A legal description of the lot as well as the municipal address
  • Ensure a copy of the survey is available for buyers who make a formal offer
  • Existing instruction books for the furnace, air conditioner, water softener, appliances, etc. if they are to be included with the home
  • Any valid warranties that can be transferred over to the new owners
Team up with Us.

As experienced agents we can provide a wealth of suggestions for getting your home ready to sell. Sometimes it may feel like more work, but it's all to get the maximum dollar value for your home.

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