As a seller, you need confidence that your agent has your best interests at heart. At The Hillis Group, we understand that the changes you face in moving from your home are daunting enough. Feeling like you’re not in control of the real estate selling process can make it all the more so. That’s why we like to break it down for you, and share with you from start to finish what it takes to get the most for your home, in the least amount of time, with the least amount of hassle.
Here are 10 steps you should know about the real estate selling process:
It should be clear that your real estate agent is dedicated to your best interests at all times, and especially while navigating the real estate selling process. It should never feel like they’re fitting you into their world – they should fit into yours. A good real estate agent will ask you a lot of really good questions. He or she will take the time to get to know you. To understand what is important to you. Then you can expect to start learning about the processes required to sell your house for the highest price possible. Your selling agent should be experienced, confident and in-the-know. Most important though, is that you should feel comfortable with the relationship, that everything that is being done on your behalf and that you make the decisions.
Buyers don’t want to know who lived in a house before them. They want to concentrate on the possibilities that your house holds for them. That’s why we recommend that you take as much of your stuff out of the house as possible. When you’re selling, less is always more. With the time it’s taken to personalize your home it’s easy to get caught up in the emotional investment. But the more impersonal you can make it, the better.
Every house has a list of fixes and repairs. Some items are minor, others are major. Just remember, a small detail like a dent in the drywall or a missing bit of quarter round can make your place feel beat-up or tired. In that way a bit of plaster and paint or a quick bit of work with a saw and hammer could have an effect on the offers you receive. And major repairs can be a deal breaker. So have a conversation with your real estate agent about which details should be looked after before you go through the real estate selling process.
Beyond the needs listed above, the cleaner your house, the better it will show. After all the fixes are done, we advise sellers to hire a cleaning service and have the place spic and span from top to bottom. You’ll want to do this before the listing photos are taken, and you should keep it hotel-fresh until you’ve accepted an offer. This is challenging for families with pets, but try your hardest.
While it seems like anyone can take a picture today, it takes skill and experience to use the camera to highlight the best features of your home. Or to create an accurate sense of its layout and character. We recommend taking the time to stage your home for show, and using good photos to show it off. You don’t want to list your home with shots taken on garbage day, with toys on the lawn, with dishes on the counter or with the toilet seat up. Even more importantly, we’ve seen listing photos that included more of the cracked ceiling than the newly refinished hardwood floor. Photography is an art – even in real estate, and it’s an important part of the real estate selling process.
Real estate is rarely an “if you build it they will come” proposition. The goal is to maximize the number of potential buyers who see your place. And there are strategies and tools to accomplish this. The actual marketing plan for your home should depend on a number of conditions – starting with the specific appeal of your property and including market conditions and the factors. There is always a lot to be done to drive interest. Your agent should design a plan and strategy specific to your needs.
Pricing a house for sale is not an art or a science; it is a bit of each, and knowing the balance takes experience. You want to maximize the selling price, but you don’t want to drive people away. The thing to remember is that as market conditions fluctuate, so will the value of your home. So to a certain extent, you have to go along for that ride. Apart from that, the desirability of your home is a matter of opinion. If a number of people see and want your house at the same time, the perceived value will likely go up. Our role is to present it in that light.
An offer is the first step in a negotiation. Whichever side of the negotiation you happen to be on, we think it’s important to see the process that does not aim for winners and losers. The goal is agreement and shared satisfaction. That being said, there is such a thing as a bargaining advantage. You can expect that a single offer will push for a lower selling price, and if you are feeling compelled to sell (maybe you’ve made an offer on another property or are moving to another city) you’ll be more inclined to consider it. Other than with your agent, you’ll want to keep this confidential. Similarly, competing bids can quickly drive each other up. In either case, you only have to accept an offer if it is acceptable to you.
Brace yourself; the process of packing up everything you own is exhausting – physically and emotionally. Fitting the furniture and decor from one house into another is also sometimes a challenge. We suggest that you put some budget aside for the carpet you didn’t know you’d need, or a sofa to replace the one that looks so wrong in your new living room. Just remember, whatever the headaches, going to your new place will be an adventure and a new chapter in your life.
Four months after you’ve moved into your new home, you don’t want to get a bill for heating your old place over the winter, but that can happen if you don’t remember to cancel your account at the old address with the gas company. Plan before you move to update your mailing address wherever required and cancel or transfer your accounts for ongoing services. As well, it’s nice to remember to leave instructions and notes for the new owners. You can include everything from leaving the garage door remote out to a list of your favourite neighbourhood attractions. It never hurts to be friendly.