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Selling your home, whether you’ve done it before or not, can be overwhelming. There’s much to do to get it ready for market, which requires time, energy and maybe even money (or sweat equity). Then, once it’s listed, there’s the pressure of keeping it in ‘showing shape’ and the stress of waiting for an acceptable offer.

To make the process as pleasurable as possible, it’s important to start planning the sale of your house or condo early. By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to hanging a sold sign on your property. You will also have a better understanding of what to expect from time of listing to closing.

Time the Sale

It’s always smart to decide exactly when you’d like to sell, so you know how long you have to properly prep your home for purchase (and, given the timeline, whether you need to call in reinforcements to help).

The timing can also drive property values up or down. Typically, spring is the best time to list to maximize sale price and minimize time on the market, followed by fall. Colder weather is correlated with slower sales, so winter is typically not an ideal time to put your property on the market. Selling a home in a seller’s market when there’s a shortage in housing or more potential buyers than homes is also optimal.

However, don’t be discouraged if you are unable to time your home sale to coincide with these market conditions. There are many other factors that affect the real estate market and, subsequently, home prices like the economy, interest rates and location, to name a few, as well as those you can control, such as property updates and upgrades.

Find a Good Realtor

With more than 50,000 licensed Realtors in Toronto alone, finding the perfect fit can seem daunting. However, a little effort will go a long way as a qualified Realtor can save you thousands of dollars by pricing your property properly and best representing you during the negotiation process.

To narrow down your options, do some research and then choose at least a few to interview. Meet face-to-face and ask them questions, evaluate how well they listen and communicate (a quality Realtor will ask you questions, too) and gauge your general level of comfort (after all, you’re going to be putting what’s likely your most valuable asset in their hands). Don’t feel compelled to make a decision on the spot as any good Realtor will want to showcase their real estate expertise and knowledge of your area during a free home evaluation, the results of which will provide peace of mind and confidence that, when the time comes, you’ve chosen the right Realtor to list your property and guide you through your home sale.

Price it Right

The purpose of a home evaluation is to determine what your property is worth in today’s real estate market. Prior to the appointment, a Realtor will do all the necessary research on recent sales and properties currently for sale in your neighbourhood, which will serve as comparables to your home. This information, combined with your motivation for moving (for example, if you’ve already purchased a new home) and current market conditions, such as whether it’s a seller’s or buyer’s market, is used to determine the optimal list price to sell your home quickly with strong offers.

If a property is priced too high, you risk losing potential buyers and the property may be difficult (or even impossible) to sell. Priced too low and you might sacrifice a portion of your investment and even help your competition sell faster.

Keep in mind that the price of your home is a moving target and will depend on the time of year you sell, area competition and whether you make any improvements to your property after the initial home evaluation.

Invest for Success

Many buyers are looking for a home that’s move-in ready and well-maintained, and are inclined to pay more to get it. So, if you want a top-dollar sale, you need to create a great first impression, both inside and out. This involves decluttering and depersonalizing, giving your property a thorough clean, making any necessary repairs and perhaps upgrades to items or rooms people care about most, and even styling or staging the property to emotionally connect with potential buyers. Your Realtor should be able to provide a comprehensive list of trusted home professionals to tackle these projects if you don’t want to go the DIY route, and may even lend a helping hand.

Market with Purpose

Once your property’s prepped for showings, the price is right and the listing paperwork is completed and signed, it’s time to put your home up for sale. But without a sound marketing strategy that maximizes your home’s exposure and draws in potential buyers, you might be waiting some time to see an offer.

Marketing a home demands more than taking pretty pictures and placing the property on MLS. Each plan should be tailored to meet the seller’s needs and customized to resonate with the ideal buyer. A successful campaign will combine print and digital marketing and may include traditional newspaper ads, ‘just listed’ postcards, feature sheets and brochures, targeted email blasts, a custom property website, professional photography and videography, engaging virtual tours and floor plans, promotion on various real estate search websites, and social media outreach and paid advertisements. Personal contact is also important and should not be overlooked. Direct client and broker phone calls, neighbourhood door knocking, as well as agent and public open houses are all great ways to raise awareness and pique the interest of buyers who are already in the market, Realtors working buyers and people who don’t even know they want to buy a home yet (until they hear about and see yours).

Show your Home

Most sales come from private home showings, so don’t let all your property prep be for naught. Be flexible with showing times, leave your house during property visits to let potential buyers explore at their leisure and be sure to keep your home in top condition at all times (as an agent could book a viewing on short notice at their buyer’s request).

Accept an Offer

When an offer comes in, it will include the buyer’s price, deposit amount, any terms and conditions that may apply (such as financing and a home inspection), the desired date of possession (usually between 30 and 90 days after the offer date) and the date the offer expires. Your Realtor will review the offer with you, pointing out the pros and cons of the details included in the sale, as well as explain any legal language and fine print, so you understand every aspect of the paperwork. You can then either accept the offer, reject it or sign back a counter offer with better conditions and/or price for yourself. The latter can result in back and forth negotiations, but a quality Realtor will work to achieve the best outcome for you.

Close the Deal

Once you’ve accepted an offer, the buyer will need to fulfill any conditions included in it to move forward with the sale. As soon as all conditions are met, the agreement is firm and the actual closing process begins. During this time, you’ll be in close contact with your lawyer who will need a copy of any deed, mortgage and property survey. Your lawyer will oversee the key exchange and transfer of funds, ensuring you are compensated for any prepaid expenses like utility bills or property taxes. There will also be closing costs associated with the sale. Common expenses include legal fees, real estate commissions (typically 5% of the home’s sale price, split between the listing and co-operating brokerages), and mortgage disbursement or discharge fees. Once these are paid, you will receive the money from the sale. A good real estate agent will be with you throughout this process as well as after the deal has closed to help you prepare for your move and the next step in your real estate journey, whether that’s searching for a new property to purchase or to rent.

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Thinking about selling? Or do you simply want to know what your property may be worth in today’s real estate market? Fill out the form below or contact me and I’ll provide a confidential home evaluation with no obligation to sell.