Overview of Home Selling Process

Having a knowledgeable, trustworthy & communicative salesperson to assist you is very helpful and oftentimes necessary.

1. Deciding to Sell - Everyone has their own reason for selling their home but one thing is universally true: the desire to get as much as you can for your home. As professionals in the real estate field, we have experience in maximizing your property's presentation value. When the time comes to consider selling, give us a call before you begin the process of preparing your house for sale so we can give you advice on what’s important and what’s not. We can help you save money, enhance the value and presentation of your home to potential buyers. There are a lot of ways you can add value that you might want to consider, such as:

·         Renovating – this can be something as simple as freshening up the walls with a coat of paint (cover up those finger prints, scratches, etc) or updating your door knobs and lighting with more contemporary styles all the way to major renovations like installing a new kitchen, bathroom or hardwood floors. Before you do anything though, it’s probably wise to know how much value a renovation or remodel will actually add to your sale price and how much other comparable homes in your neighbourhood are selling for. A knowledgeable agent is a great source of information. Other useful tips to consider:

  • Less is more when it comes to the interior. Cluttered countertops, huge furniture pieces, busy wall decorations can detract from the features of the home itself. Personal photos, eye-catching artwork or tacky knick-knacks will draw the buyer’s eyes to those items, not the room size or the hardwood floors.

  • Well-lit rooms are key, especially on dark winter evenings, so ensure enough lights are on and all light bulbs are working. During the day, open your curtains wide and let the natural light in.

  • Kitchens and baths are huge selling points to many buyers, so take extra time to make these areas shine. Cabinets, countertops, sinks and other surfaces should be spotless and free of clutter. Double check your plumbing for any loose components or leaks. Remove as many magnets and pictures from the fridge as possible. In the bathroom, make sure you have a clean shower curtain and matching rug, and check the caulking around the tub and sink and repair as necessary. A plant with style coordinated vase can have a real positive impact to your kitchen or bath.

  • Ask a friend or neighbour with a good nose to walk through and check for any unusual smells. We often don’t notice the smells in our own home, so a second opinion is wise. Musty basements can be fixed with some fresh air and a dehumidifier. Simple air fresheners throughout are good too, but don’t be overpowering as it may be overwhelming to some buyers.

  • Cracks in your basement floor are quite common but can still make some buyers uneasy. A small patch job and proper flooring paint will greatly enhance the presentation of unfinished areas in the basement.

  • Dirty furnace filters look terrible and raise questions about the added stress on the furnace and the overall maintenance of the house. Make sure yours is clean before you go on the market. If you have an HRV unit, make sure those filters are clean as well.

·         Enhancing curb appeal – first impressions mean a lot. Which is why you want your home looking its very best when a potential buyer is standing at the bottom of your driveway or simply passing through the neighbourhood. So, make sure the lawn is cut and raked. If there are some dead patches of grass, overseed or sod. Trim bushes and trees, even add a few brightly coloured flowers. Touch up any peeling paint around exterior windows and doors, stain the fence or deck, clean up your garage or shed and ensure that your home looks just as enticing at night by making sure it’s well lit. If you are listing during the winter, keep your driveway, all walkways and access points clear of snow and de-iced for convenience and safety.

·         Getting a home inspection – the last thing you want is for the deal to fall through due to an unpleasant surprise. It’s also highly likely that the buyer will ask for a home inspection anyway. So you may want to consider taking the initiative yourself. That way, if there are any major repairs that need doing now, it won’t jeopardize the sale of your home or force you to lower the price later on.

2. Hiring an Agent - Now that you’re ready to sell, the next thing you should do is list your home with a real estate agent. Because the reality is, selling a home involves a great deal of research, paper work, effort and most importantly, trust. Ideally, you should seek out an agent that has a good knowledge of your neighbourhood and local market trends. A good agent will provide a wealth of knowledge and breadth of services that will help you accomplish your goals. Plus - you must get the feeling they'll act in your best interests & be completely transparent and accountable.

3. Documents:
a) At the first practical opportunity, your real estate agent will present you with a document entitled Working with a Realtor. Signing this document does not bind you to your agent. The pamphlet explains the difference types of representation in the industry and by initialing and signing it, you acknowledge having read and understood its contents.

b) Next your agent will present you with a Seller Representation Agreement which is an agreement that formally documents your exclusive relationship with the realtor for a specific property and time period.

c) As of June 23, 2008, the Federal Government through the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centres of Canada (FINTRAC) requires realtors to document the personal information of all parties to a real estate transaction. FINTRAC receives, analyzes, assesses, and discloses financial intelligence on suspected money laundering, terrorist financing and threats to security of Canada. As a seller you will be asked to provide identification - driver's license, passport, or birth certificate. The realtor will record the information but does not need to photocopy the document. When you submit an offer on a property, you will also be required to indicate the account information from which the deposit monies were drawn.

4. Listing Your Home - Your home is about to make its big debut on the market. And there’s more to it than sticking a sign on your lawn and doing an MLS listing. Establishing a home’s true worth can be tricky. A knowledgeable agent will be there to make sure your home is poised for success. Here’s how they can help:

          Set a price – this isn’t as easy as you might think. Price your property too high and buyers won’t be motivated. Price it too low and you stand to lose thousands. A knowledgeable agent can help by doing a complete property profile of your house, including current condition, location, surroundings, special features like a view from the property or high ceilings; a comparative market analysis that will show you what houses in your area have sold for in recent months, and a total market overview. Your agent will take into consideration as many factors as possible to accurately assess the fair market value of your property so it sells fast while maximizing your profit.

          Get some documents ready - Your agent may ask you for a few items such as your deed (to show who owns the home), a survey (if one is available) a copy of your latest property tax bill, a copy of your latest utility and hydro bills, mortgage documentation, etc. Some of this information is helpful to a potential buyer who may be curious as to how much they can anticipate in property taxes & utility costs.  

           Decide what items will and won't remain with the home - a mindful agent will suggest you go thru your home, room by room to determine which items will remain and which won't. In fact, before you "show" your home it's a good idea to remove those items that you've decided won't be part of the sale. What a potential buyer can't see won't hurt him/her!

           Market your home – no matter how well your home is priced you will need a sound plan to attract buyers. That’s where your agent will offer invaluable experience. Aside from newspaper advertising and listing your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), they will work with you to create a “features sheet” or video to make your home stand out from the pack. They will also market it through blogs, social media channels, various websites and their own personal peer network. 

5. Showing Your Home - The way your home looks to prospective buyers can make a striking impression. The goal is to get buyers to feel like they can already see themselves living in your home. There are a few tricks of the trade that can help you do this:

·         Home staging – this literally means, getting your “set ready” for buyers. In other words, cleaning your home from top to bottom including carpets and drapes, kitchen and bathroom tiles, walls, ceilings and trim. Next, dispose and declutter which entail getting rid of those items in your home that make rooms feel smaller than they actually are. Then, organize. Tidy up cabinets, bookcases, closets and toys and put away personal items such as photographs, souvenirs and other memorabilia. If your home has empty rooms, stage it with the right furniture. You may be able to borrow some nice furniture from family or friends. There are even places to rent furniture for staging. Keep it simple and classic, nothing too trendy that could potentially turn off a buyer.

·         Prepping for an Open House – a successful open house is key for generating quick interest in your home. Some last minute tips? Make your rooms bright and airy by opening blinds and windows and turning on lights in darker rooms. Help the buyers imagine themselves in your home by setting the dining table or putting out some fresh flowers. Light a scented candle. Leave some refreshments out. And for your own security, make sure you store all your valuables. When the open house is over, ask for feedback so you can make a few tweaks before the next one.

6. Receiving an Offer - Not all offers are created equal. Fortunately, your real estate agent is there to help you review an Offer to Purchase and discuss all the details. Here are a few things you should do:

·         Get to know the terms – the main factors on most offers will include the price the buyer wants to pay, details about the offer and financing as well as any conditions, inclusions or exclusions the buyer wants to make contingent on the closing. These offers can be “firm” which means that they’re willing to buy the home exactly as it is. Or, the offer could be “conditional” on things like a home inspection, approval of financing or the sale of their existing home.

·         Review every detail – it’s not just about price. The buyers may have asked for other things to be included like appliances, draperies or chandeliers. They may have even requested some minor renovations like reshingling your roof or repairing your driveway. Some buyers may have asked for longer or shorter closing periods or made it contingent upon something else like selling their current home. All these factors influence what the offer truly looks like. A knowledgeable and communicative agent will help you decide whether to accept, reject or make a counter offer. You should also keep in mind that there's nothing wrong with having your lawyer review any offers; this may add to your cost but your peace of mind is worth it. If you have any doubt about a particular clause or condition that your agent has been unable to explain to your satisfaction, ask your lawyer.

7. Negotiating and Counter Offers - Perhaps the price was lower than you were expecting. Maybe the buyers have asked for some extra inclusions. In some cases, you may have multiple offers from different buyers to entertain. This is one stage where you’ll be glad to have a knowledgeable agent by your side to help. Here are some things to consider now:

·         Counter offers – take a good look at what the buyer is asking for, then ask yourself, “Is it worth losing a sale for a minor inclusion like a rug or drapery?” Maybe not. So, the best strategy is to have one. Know ahead of time what you’re willing to compromise on and, as far as price goes, how much. Finally, if you feel you’re not going to be able to come to terms, don’t be afraid to reject the offer.

·         Multiple offers – you may be in the situation where you receive offers from several buyers. Now, you have the opportunity to compare and decide which offer, based on price and conditions best suits you. Things that could make one offer more attractive than the other are pre-approved financing, the buyer has already sold their existing home or they’ve agreed to all conditions of sale without exception. One thing to keep in mind though is that patience and respect are paramount. Your agent will certainly provide sound advice in this scenario to arrive at the best outcome for you and the fairest to all parties.

8. Closing the Sale - For sellers, closing day is payday. However, in order for your home to be officially sold, there are a few remaining things that you need to do:

·         Pay closing costs – these are the fees you need pay by or on the closing day. They include the real estate agent’s commission, legal fees and disbursements, utility and property tax adjustments, mortgage prepayment or discharge fees and more.

·         Hire a lawyer – the costs above come with a bunch of paperwork. And when there’s a lot of money on the line, you want to make sure you hire a professional to take care of those complex legal documents. 

9. Moving Day - The day has arrived. And although there’s bound to be a bit of sadness about leaving your old home behind, there will be just as much excitement moving into your new one. Here are some tips for a smooth move:

·         Make a moving checklist that details a plan for things that need to be done weeks before you move all the way up to moving day itself

·         Plan for packing by clearly labeling boxes with the rooms in which they belong. You might even want to provide a small floorplan for the movers so they know exactly where to take them

·         Make sure you get competitive quotes from reliable moving companies. Or, to save money, find out how much it would cost to hire a moving van yourself; if possible, get your friends to help you.

·         Cancel your cable and utilities and transfer any rented appliances (like water heater or furnace) to the new home owners. While you’re at it, make sure to have the gas, electricity, cable and phone hooked up at your new home.

·         Inform your key contacts of your change of address – Anyone you make pre-authorized payments to, banks/creditors, credit card issuers, magazine subscriptions, memberships, friends, doctors, work, CRA, Service Ontario (driver's license/health card). Consider having Canada Post forward your mail to your new address for a year (or whatever other option you choose); there's a form to complete, ID to present & the cost is approximately $90 for 1 year of mail forwarding!

·         Other - If you have children, make sure you talk to them and explain why you’re moving and reassure them that the friends they’ve made can continue to be their friends. Ask for their opinion too on things like what colour to paint their rooms. Try and make it exciting for them.

·         On moving day, plan an easy meal like picking up some take-out.