BY JOSIE STERN
Help I want to sell my house. Now what? Gone are the days when all you had to do was call a realtor, and poof, the for sale sign appears on the lawn. Today selling your house is a big production and “getting top dollar” involves you making a series of correct decisions along the way.
Sellers are under tremendous pressure to compete with other properties for sale, which have been staged like model homes, in order to get top dollar. It’s critical to start preparing the house months before you’re contemplating putting it up for sale. If you are actively looking to buy a bigger house then don’t wait until you’ve found that house before you start de-cluttering and repairing. You’ll feel a lot of pressure if your current house is not ready to go on the market, if you bought another house, and have to meet a closing deadline.
Interview real estate agents as soon as possible. The most critical question to consider when choosing an agent is “can I trust this person?” Trust is something you’ll feel instinctively upon meeting the agent. The real estate industry has many great real estate agents but has its share of unscrupulous ones too. There are way too many things that happen behind the scenes, when your house is on the market, that will only be executed in your best interest if your agent has a strong moral fiber. This being the most important financial investment of your life, you want to make sure it’s in trustworthy hands.
It’s common in today’s market for the seller to provide the buyer with a home inspection of the property before exposing it to the market. What is the advantage for you to do this? There are numerous advantages especially in a market where multiple offers are common:
- If a buyer has done an inspection on another house but lost it in competition, the buyer may be reluctant to spend more money on another inspection, fearing they may not be the highest bidder once again, and pass on your house instead of making an offer.
- If a buyer does not have time to do their own inspection before the offer date they may also pass on your house.
- You have the chance to fix any problems before you put the house on the market instead of buyers walking away because their inspector found a problem you weren’t aware of.
- You choose the inspector based on reputation and credentials instead of relying on the buyer who may use a friend or a company who may not be qualified to inspect your house.
- It complies with full-disclosure real estate laws because it ensures you haven‘t overlooked a defect or material fact for which you could later be held liable.
The objective is to set the conditions that will attract as many offers as possible and/or eliminate any possibility the buyer will walk away from a deal because they found deficiencies with your house you weren’t aware of.
The most important decision you will make is assign the most effective list price for your property. This list price should not be too low nor too high, as compared to similar properties that recently sold in your area, but one that will attract as many buyers as possible. If the list price is too low, and multiple bids don’t materialize or don’t drive the price to its market value, you may leave money on the table. Conversely, if the price is too high it discourages buyers from making an offer. This area is where the agent’s experience is invaluable.
The marketing exposure of your home will be crucial in determining whether you get top dollar.
90% of buyers search for homes on the internet, 77% of active Internet users read blogs, 845 million + people use Facebook and 200 million people use Twitter.
These numbers are staggering! Therefore it is imperative your agent have internet exposure and uses state of the art marketing methods to reach this active internet audience.
A high percentage of sellers site lack of communication as the #1 reason for dissatisfaction with their real estate agent. Ask your agent about their communication policy. You should expect regular reporting about agent’s and buyer’s feedback about your home, results of their marketing efforts and kept abreast of market changes.
In the current climate of multiple offers it is critical your agent communicate how they will handle the presentation of multiple offers. The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), the governing body that monitors real estate agent conduct, receives hundreds of consumer complaints annually about the way agents have handled the presentation of multiple offers. The most controversial being when the listing agent represents both the buyer and the seller.
If your listing agent has their own buyer for your house, insist they present their buyer’s offer to you first, before they see any other buyer’s offer. Currently, there are no mandatory industry rules that prevent an unscrupulous listing agent from, seeing all bids on the table, suggesting their buyer increase their offer price slightly more than the highest bid and have it accepted – all to earn a higher commission. When a listing agent allows fair competition to take its course, the property usually sells for a much higher price.
So it`s critical you do your due diligence before hiring an agent and understand and stay involved with the process. Follow these general guidelines, which will make it less overwhelming, and you`ll most likely end up with results you’ll be happy with.