By Rebecca Wissink
Selling your home can be stressful for sure, but there are certain steps you can take to minimize your stress by creating the conditions that lead to a faster sale. If you implement the seven best practices listed here, you will be giving yourself the gift of having the best chance for a quick sale at top dollar! The key here is to get through this checklist before you list your home, not after your home has been on the market for a month. In order to work through this list, you likely need a few months to prepare your home for sale, depending on your personal schedule and how much labour you are willing to pay others to do. In no order, we recommend you follow as many of these seven practices as possible:
Have Your Home Inspected
Preparation is everything if you want to get top dollar for the property, and a pre-listing home inspection is probably your greatest tool for ensuring a smooth sale. While it is customary in Canada for the buyer to pay for the home inspection after putting in an offer - and making that offer conditional to the findings of an inspection - there is no rule that says it must be this way. One of the most significant potential deal breakers for buyers is something costly or worrisome arising on the home inspection. In order to avoid surprises that could lose you a buyer or cost you money, consider obtaining a home inspection as part and parcel of putting the best version of your home on the market.
There are both benefits and risks to obtaining a pre-listing home inspection, which I outline in this article. The pros outweigh the cons, so you should seriously consider spending the money to get ahead of potential issues and offer the future buyer transparency in the deal.
Have Your Home Professionally Staged
There are lots of statistics related to staging, and they all paint a similar picture: staging gives your home a clear advantage in the marketplace. I’ve written elsewhere that there are seven compelling reasons to stage your home, including getting the fastest and most financially lucrative offer on your home. Only about one-quarter of homes are staged prior to listing, yet85% of staged homes sold for 5-23% over their listing price. So why isn’t everyone staging their home? If you aren’t sure what I mean by staging, read this article for a crash course.
Staging is about minimizing distractions and maximizing the potential of your home by creating an environment that is tidy, depersonalized, and clean. This type of home offers a prospective buyer the chance to imagine themselves living there.
Staging costs run the gamut depending on the level of service you want. Staging can be done as cheaply as a few hundred dollars if you’re willing to do the work the expert suggests. This option involves a stager coming into your home and telling you what to do, room by room. Alternatively, staging can cost thousands of dollars if you want to rent furniture and have the staging company do all the work for you.
Do the Necessary Repairs
This is a blend between following up on the home inspection and staging your home for sale. As part of preparing your home for sale, you need to fix anything that is obviously broken, like leaky faucets, missing sealant, missing handles, or holes in the walls. But you also want to attend to anything that has arisen through the home inspection so that you have the perfect product to bring to market.
Consider Small Renovations
Renovations are one way to improve your chance of a quick sale. And sometimes you must spend money to make money, or at least sell your home quickly. But only tackle this if you can afford it, because there’s a good chance you won’t get all your money back! According to Mike Holmes, “bathroom and kitchen renovations are the most popular home improvement projects. You can expect to recover 75% of your investment (according to the Appraisal Institute of Canada).” You can also plan for a subsequent resaleby ensuring any renovations are “future proofed.” For example, according to Mike Holmes, adding a “shower bench and a curbless shower” will allow future homebuyers to “age in place,” which is currently a huge trend among baby boomers. Replacing old windows with energy-efficient windows will give you a 100% return on investment. You might have heard that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, but according to research, “the average kitchen remodel will cost you about $20,000-$50,000. If you upgrade all of your appliances, you are looking at between $6,000 and $12,000, depending on the make and model. According to Remodeling Magazine, you can expect to recoup over 80% of your investment.” However, you might see a faster sale and/or an offer above list in a seller’s market. Decks and fences are also solid renovation investments. And according to Mike Holmes, there are smaller changes you can make to your home, like updating hardware and lighting, that aren’t major renovations but could have a positive impact on your home’s resale value; you can read that article here.
Curb Appeal Matters!
Curb appeal is critical as you only get one chance to make a good first impression on a potential buyer. Your yard, walkway, and front entrance is what the buyer sees first, after online photos of course.Consider this staging for the exterior of the home, focusing on what the buyer sees from the street. You don't want to lose a potential buyer who won’t give the interior of the home a chance because they’re turned off by the exterior. And, according to studies, landscaping works wonders for supporting a fast and financially beneficial sale, “increasing ... [the homes] value by about 20%.” You can read more tips and tricks for staging your yard in this article.
Insist on Professional Photos
This is less about your to-do list and more about ensuring you choose a realtor that will provide this service as part of their contract with you as the listing agent. From photos that are digitally staged after the fact, to 3-D tours of the property, to drone footage of the property from a unique perspective, in this digital environment, people expect to see good photos of your property online and will dismiss a listing that doesn’t offer such. In fact, 97% of buyers search for homes on the internet first, and good photos help them imagine the space in perspective. Essentially, buyers need to be sold twice, and the first sale occurs through online photos. You won’t even get the chance to have the buyer book a showing without winning them over online first.
Strategize the price tag
Real estate markets are always neighbourhood and housing type specific. Ensure you hire a licensed professional who will show you the research they have performed in order to determine their price point recommendation. Licensed professionals can access all sorts of data the public cannot, like comparable sales in the neighbourhood, and details on price fluctuations specific to your home type in your neighbourhood. Perhaps the easiest way to get a ballpark price for your home is to email Ross Pavl and ask for a computer-generated home price evaluation. As discussed in this article, you need to set aside any headlines you’ve read about the National real estate market – there is no such thing!
But you can also do your own research on Realtor.ca, Facebook marketplace, Zillow.com, and even your local real estate board (like the Calgary Real Estate Board) in order to educate yourself on the prices of properties around you. You can also look at the MLS Home Price Index (HPI) for participating cities/towns. Essentially, the MLS HPI is a tool that uses more than 15 years of MLS data to track a typical ("benchmark") home based on the features of homes that have been bought and sold for each type of home (detached single, row, condo etc.) within specific neighbourhoods, over time.
We hope these best practices don’t overwhelm you but give you a framework to implement as you get ready to list your home.
Please contact a Ross Pavl ELITE Real Estate Group realtor today with any questions you have on any of the topics written about here, or if you’re ready to get your home prepared for sale.
photo via Flickr courtesy of antony_mayfield