Category Archive: Selling Your Home

  1. 5 Tips to Prepare your Home for Showing

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    When it comes to selling real estate, appearances are everything and first impressions are often all you have. Your efforts to improve the appearance of your home will boost the number and value of offers you receive, and ultimately accelerate the sale of your home.

    Sometimes it’s difficult for homeowners to be objective on important matters of showing form and function. Your Sutton Associate can offer you personal and professional advice on what you really need to do – and what you could do better – to improve your home’s selling prospects.

    Outside Matters – get off to a good start by welcoming buyers with a tidy and inviting exterior.

    • Yard – mow the lawn, trim hedges, rake leaves and offer a touch of flower power
    • Driveway – keep the garage door closed and clear any tools, toys, oil leaks and snow
    • Exterior – wash the windows, clean / repair any obvious damage to the roof, gutters and siding
    • Entrance – a tidy walkway and freshly painted door open a world of possibilities

    Clean Bill of Health – a clean home creates a wealth of selling health.

    • Rooms – do a thorough top-to-bottom cleaning of every room including walls, counter surfaces, fixtures and windows
    • Flooring – remove carpet stains and floor markings
    • Storage – attics, basements and closets are important selling features that need to be ‘presentable’
    • Odors – every buyer is looking for a ‘sense of fresh’; eliminate any offensive food, pet, smoke or mildew odors; shampoo carpets, empty garbage frequently, bathe pets and open windows for fresh air; introduce pleasing scents – subtly – with potpourri, air fresheners, candles or baking

    Gut the Clutter – space always sells, over-excessive decoration often doesn’t. Clearing space and removing unnecessary clutter makes your home seem bigger and brighter.

    • Furniture – consider storing furniture you don’t use or need to create more ‘space’
    • Knick-knacks – too many ornaments and personal mementos can impose a sense of style and burden otherwise pleasing features
    • Counters – unnecessary appliances and gadgets should be stored away

    ‘Care’ Repairs – ensuring your home is in complete working order assures buyers they are making a sound investment in a home that has been well cared for – a home that won’t bring unwanted surprises down the road.

    • Leaky faucets, burned-out light bulbs, noisy furnaces and air conditioners, sticky doors, broken windows and dysfunctional appliances should be dealt with before they break the deal

    New is Nice – buyers are looking for a new home, so give them a taste of what’s to come…

    • A fresh coat of paint, a new area rug, crisp linen or dry clean the drapes are relatively small investments that can make a splash with buyers. Remember: neutral colours are always best and subtle styles have wider appeal.
  2. 5 Tips for Negotiating Success

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    Selling your home is a monumental event – for personal and financial reasons.

    Defining your expectations and establishing the “Rules of Engagement” before you begin negotiations will enhance your selling experience.

    • Articulate Your Needs – work with your Sutton REALTOR® to define your preferred conditions, desired closing dates and minimum offer price before negotiations begin. Understanding the difference between your needs and wishes will facilitate successful negotiations later.
    • The Right Price – when you hit the market with the ‘right’ asking price (and a home in good showing condition), you will probably improve your bargaining power by attracting multiple offers. With a range of potential purchasers to consider, you may drive up the purchase price, facilitate the process with a pre-qualified buyer, or negotiate more attractive terms.
    • Anticipate Negotiations – negotiating an offer is a fine balance of give-and-take. Give your Sutton REALTOR® some latitude by establishing the parameters of negotiation upfront. What conditions are you willing to compromise? How might you enhance your offering for potential purchasers? What are your critical priorities?
    • Understand the Offer – accepting the Contract of Purchase and Sale is a legally binding agreement. Before you accept / reject / counter-offer, make sure you understand all the legal implications and financial obligations implied in the terms and conditions of the offer (including chattels, inspections, closing dates and financing). When considering the price, remember the factors in closing fees and associated costs to complete transaction. If you have questions or concerns, ask before you sign!
    • Leverage Expertise – to ensure all agreements are in your best interest – personally, legally and financially – work closely with all your real estate service partners throughout the selling process. Sutton Associates offer expert real estate counsel and a trusted real estate brand. You will also want to carefully select a lawyer and financing specialist to guide you through the closing process.
  3. Home Staging Tips for Quick Resale

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    Are you wondering what you can do to sell your home quickly without spending a lot of money in home renovations? All you may need is some practical advice on how to showcase your home to attract potential buyers. A buyer makes a decision whether or not they want to buy your home within 5 seconds of walking in the front door. The idea behind home staging is to prepare your home to appeal to the widest audience of viewers. Like a display suite, your house should encourage buyers to visualize living there. If your home is cluttered, out-dated, or is not selling, you may want to hire a professional home stager who can make your home more attractive to buyers. If you want to know the basics of home staging so you can make changes yourself, here are some useful tips.

    Think of your home as a commodity. Remember, it is not going to be your home anymore and should be marketed as a product. When looking at your home, you should decide on a general theme that emphasis the best features of your home and portrays an overall mood.
    You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Clean up and revamp your front entrance way. It is the first place a buyer will see. Polish doorknobs, replace burnt out bulbs, and repaint the door if it is stained or scratched.
    Do a thorough cleaning before putting your house on the market. Spotless walls, windows, carpets, flooring, and appliances make a lasting first impression. Key areas are the kitchen, bathroom and front entry. If your carpets or vinyl floors are stained, especially in high traffic areas, you should consider replacing them.
    Consider the outside of your house. Does your siding need washing, your gutters cleaning out, or your hedge need trimming? A tidy outside raises less concern about maintenance issues.
    Remove any clutter. Small appliances on countertops, knick-knacks, jam-packed bookshelves can be packed away in preparation of moving. Family photos should also be packed away so that the potential buyer can more easily visualize their own possessions in your home. This also includes removing any excess furniture so your home has a spacious airy feeling. You may want to rent a temporary storage unit for furniture and other boxes that take up room in your closets or storage spaces.
    Arrange the furniture in your home to showcase its best features. Put a few pieces on angles to create cozy corners, and a less boxy look.
    Remove any area rugs that are covering attractive flooring and a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a dingy room. Try using currently fashionable colors to update your home’s décor. Cream or neutral colors warm up a room making it feel giving a homey impression.
    Vacant homes should have the heat or air conditioning on for showing purposes. It reduces the stale odors that accumulate inside of a vacant house and gives a more inviting impression to potential homebuyers.
    The mood you create in your home is also dependent on odors. If you home has an unpleasant or mildew smell you will want to remove the source of the odor. Open up the windows to let fresh air inside your home before you show it. If you are going to use a scented candle or incense, try and use mild varieties as strong smells can irritate sensitive noses.
    Baking bread, playing soft music, and adding additional plants to your home, are all psychological cues that make a potential home buyer feel like your home is a nice place to live in and they will spend more time previewing your house. Outdoor planters and indoor floral arrangements are visually pleasing.
    Consider your lighting. Natural light makes a home feel more welcoming, open and appealing. Drapes and blinds should be opened and mood lighting left on in darker rooms.
    Take a look at your possessions. Stained or tattered items should be removed from view. Fresh towels, made beds, and clean throw rugs are a must.
    Fix any small repairs, including leaky faucets, squeaky doors, and loose door handles. They may seem insignificant but minor repairs add up in the mind of a potential buyer.
    If you have pets, ensure that their dishes, sleeping areas, and litter boxes are clean. Any noticeable pet hair should be vacuumed, and dog droppings removed from the yard.
    If you know the mood you want to create but do not have the furnishings, consider renting them. Large pictures, designer coffee tables, and accessories that enhance your homes overall look may increase the appeal of your home without seriously denting your pocket book.

  4. Preparing for the Open House: Beyond Cleaning

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    Achieving that perfect display home condition is not really as overwhelming as it sounds. Some sellers use professional “fluffers” to improve their home’s appearance and sale price. Talented fluffers are masters of illusion. They have large storehouses of furniture and accessories or rental arrangements with various stores. After evaluating your home, they may decide to swap your old sofa for one that will make buyers take a second look at the room. After the house is sold the loaner sofa goes back to the store. The same goes for the expensive Persian rug, matching vases or sculpture. While you may not be prepared to use a fluffer or go to these lengths to update your home, there are a few simple ways to get a similar outcome.

    Painting is an inexpensive update which can make a dramatic impact on your home. Colour and light are usually the first things people become aware of upon entering a room. Painting with light tones can make a room seem larger and brighter. Select colours on the wall can highlight those in the furniture, rugs or accessories. Usually this is done with complimentary colours (yellow-purple, blue-orange, and red-green) used sparingly or in light tones. Pale yellow walls, for example may highlight royal purple cushions on a sofa.

    Flowers are another easy way to make a room seem more appealing. A thirty-dollar investment in a few bouquets can make your home seem cheery and well attended to in the eyes of prospective buyers. If you run out of vases you can always try the rustic look: a clean mason jar (labels removed) with a large bow around the top or pop cans inside a deep basket then covered with florist’s moss. Try a large bouquet in the living room or dining room and delicate arrangements of a few flowers in each other room.

    Take an objective look at your furniture and decide if you have too much clutter. Why pay to move items you may not even like? More importantly why keep that questionable furniture in your home during an open house? If you have a ratty chair that needs to be reupholstered or items which clash with the majority of your furniture it may be time to take action.

    Consider renting artwork. If you have a large blank wall, a captivating painting can imbue the entire room with new energy. Galleries typically rent artwork for 4% or the retail value per month with a minimum two-month rental. You’ll find artwork ranges from $400 to $4000 so take a close look at the number of zeros on the price tag!

    A few small changes may not transform your home into something you’d find on the celebrity pages but they can make a dramatic impact on buyers.

  5. How to Make Your House a Show Stopper

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    Showing a house is a lot like going on a first date: you try to look well groomed even if that’s not how you normally look! The old adage about first impressions being the most important is just as true for your home as it is for you. A clean house gives prospective buyers the impression that the whole house is well maintained including the out of sight items such as plumbing or heating.

    Most sellers know that a tidy home can help their home sell faster but ‘clean’ is a relative term. What one person finds acceptable could send another running for the door. Real estate agents and brokers have seen it all: ring around the bathtub, clothes on the floor, pantyhose hanging off the shower curtain, sinks full of dirty dishes, living rooms littered with toys, dust bunnies behind the sofa the size of prairie tumbleweeds…

    There are three main incentives to keeping your house in perfect showing condition: your home may sell faster, you may get more money for it and by removing the clutter you will allow people to focus on any improvements you’ve made to your home. (It’s hard to see the new tile floor in the bathroom when it’s covered in wet towels!)

    Long before the first open house, take stock of your home. Do you have piles of magazines you’ve never finished beside your couch? Are your closets and drawers overflowing with clothes you’re hoping will come back in style? Do you trip over a pile of shoes when you walk in the door? Be brave and pack up anything you don’t use on a regular basis and give away whatever you haven’t used or worn in the last five years-bell-bottoms couldn’t possibly make another comeback! A good guideline to aim for is the uncluttered, unobtrusive look of a hotel room.

    While you may feel that achieving such a high level of cleanliness is seemingly impossible for amateurs your efforts will pay off! Begin by washing the walls, windows and doors and shampooing carpets. If you have hardwood you may want to get them professionally cleaned and varnished. Put a drop of oil in squeaky joints. Polish brass hinges and doorknobs.

    Pets should be kept outdoors or in cages during showings for everyone’s safety. If you have a cat, ensure that the litter is changed or cleaned daily. Cat odour can be a great hindrance to the sale of your home since people may worry that the odour will be permanent. Open windows shortly before a showing if possible.

    For the exterior of your home, a fresh paint job can do wonders. If painting your entire home is prohibitively expensive consider making small updates such as painting the window frames in a contrasting colour (ex. white against a deep blue) or just touching up rough spots. The garden is another outdoor area many homeowners overlook despite the fact that it is the first thing prospective buyers will see. Keep the lawn and bushes trimmed. If you were never much of a gardener you can still have fresh flowers by cheating a bit-make a quick trip to the garden store. Most small annual flowers are available for less then $2 per plant. Choose flowers in only two or three colours to create a sense of uniformity in your garden. Attractive flowerpots on the window ledge can be a nice touch depending on your style of house.

    Don’t be surprised if people also want to see the garage. Some buyers feel the garage reflects the general maintenance of the entire property. Unfortunately, if you are like most people you enter your garage half expecting to be attacked by your belongings. If you have no where else to store the items you don’t want to give away, at least try to put them in boxes piled neatly along one wall. Designate one area for bikes and other sporting equipment.

    Once you’ve completed these tasks, it’s important to maintain the neatness of your home (inside and out) on a daily basis while you have it up for sale. Open houses often take place on short notice. If you start with a clean house, it’s easy to wipe off a counter or run the vacuum over the carpet to get it into good condition and ultimately complete the sale.

  6. Selling Your Home? Be Prepared!

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    Selling your home can be very stressful to many people. To make the whole process smoother, it helps to be prepared. The following suggestions will help you prepare your home for potential buyers.

    Create Space
    Prospective buyers are usually looking to upgrade. They have outgrown their home. Perhaps they need more bedrooms for their growing family or just find their current living space too cramped. As the seller of a home you need to show them what they want space. In order to showcase the space you have to offer, consider removing unnecessary furniture and cleaning out your closets, storage rooms or your garage. Also, keep curtains and blinds open to create an open, airy look.

    Create a blank canvas
    Once you have cleared up the clutter in your house, it is time to paint. Often, a new coat of paint goes a long way when you are showing your home. Choose a nice neutral colour such as an off white. Not only does it cover over old marks but it also freshens the place up. As well, it is often easier for prospective buyers to visualize their own decorating preferences when they have a “blank canvas” to look at. They are more likely to purchase a place that they truly view as theirs rather than somebody else’s.

    Fix it Up
    Prospective buyers want to move into a house where all mechanical systems are fully functional. In order to ensure everything is working properly, you should have your mechanical systems inspected by licensed contractors. If there are minor repairs to be made they should be done at this time. You should have your furnace and air conditioner cleaned, fix any plumbing leaks and make sure all electrical outlets are in working order. Fixing minor repairs will show the buyer that the home is well maintained. Covering up minor problems warns potential buyers that you could be also hiding something a lot more serious.

    First Impressions
    Last, the first glance prospective buyers will have of your house is from the outside. So once you’re done inside, move outside and ensure that your home looks appealing from the street. Make sure the lawn is always cut, garden edges are trimmed and shrubs and trees are cut back. As well, replace broken or rusting gutters. Flowers go a long way in improving the overall look of your house. If the season is right, consider planting some pots or hanging baskets. Also, ensure that children’s toys aren’t strewn all over the lawn.

  7. Too Many Treasures!

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    Years of collecting souvenirs, antiques and nick-knacks may add charm to your home, but it can also clutter. It is important to note that when selling your home, potential buyers may not be able to see past your décor to appreciate its true beauty. Some buyers will hardly look at a house because all their attention is being caught by an abundance of antique furniture, oriental rugs and fine art.

    Even though your taste may be impeccable, a home can be too full of ‘stuff’, even too well decorated. It is difficult for people to mentally imagine placing their own furniture into a home when it is cluttered, or filled with lots of fine collectibles.

    So what can you do as a seller? Remove things. Pack some things up and put them in the attic, basement or into storage – make the house look more spacious. Every area in your home will look better half-full – even your closets. Take out half the clothes in your closet and remove half the small appliances littering your kitchen counters, you’ll be surprised how much better your house will look. Even a fridge full of magnets can be distracting. Granted many people can see beyond your treasures, but some can not. Another good reason to ‘de-clutter’ is for the REALTORS®. Real estate agents really enjoy ‘showing’ homes that are bright and spacious – the more showings you have, the more likely you’ll sell your home. Remember, what you want to show is your home, not your family’s treasures!

  8. Price Price Price! Assessing Correct Value

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    Of course what most of us tout is location, location, location. It is important to understand how price and location fit together. When it comes to selling, the importance of pricing a home is superior to everything else. A simple illustration is to picture a home for sale in the best location you can imagine. Then put a price on it that is too high by market comparison. The result will be that the home may be admired by many but no offers will come since the price is attracting the wrong crowd. To further illustrate, take a less popular location and market-price it, the buyers will be lined up with offers. Location factors in to correct pricing the way other important features do when assessing the likely sale price of a home. Correct pricing then, when it comes to selling, plays the leading role followed by strategic marketing and negotiating in order to obtain optimum value.

    Location is paramount on the other hand when assessing where the highest rate of appreciation might be expected over a period of time. Locations that are superior for neighbourhood, proximity to schools and shopping, receive a steady demand on the part of buyers and usually produce a higher increase in value and of course a quicker sale when that time comes.

    When buying, there is a trade-off for location. A home for sale on a main street for example will usually have more features for the price, than the same home on the nearby crescent. So a main street may be just what a consumer prefers knowing that they are getting more of the features they want for their money. On the other hand, a buyer may prefer to take the “crescent” home with less features for the money preferring the added safety that accrues to that location, where small children may be a concern.

    It is by and large a matter of choice and most folks whether buying or selling want to come away from the process feeling they were well informed and pay or receive a fair price.

  9. Establishing your Asking Price

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    Establishing your Asking Price

    Deciding what price tag to put on your home is never easy. Price is often the determining factor for potential buyers. Location, layout and amenities are important but in the end most of us have to look at the bottom line. Many sellers like to think they can start with the price they originally paid, add a healthy mark-up and wait for the offers to roll in. A lot of those sellers will have to adjust their price once their home is on the market.

    Try to put aside your subjectivity

    The cherished memories you may hold of your home are basically unimportant to buyers. Usually they’re more interested in creating their own memories. An unsentimental look at the market value of your home can save time and disappointment.

    The amount you actually spent for home upgrades is worth mentioning in the listing information, but their reflection in the selling price can be somewhat distorted. The new carpet, paint, or deck you added may increase the value (and shorten the time your home is for sale) but don’t expect to be reimbursed dollar for dollar for those renovations. As design trends change you may also find that certain renovations are either more or less desirable. (Do you remember shag?)

    Arrange a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)

    It is standard practice for a seller to ask real estate agents to visit and evaluate their home. Ask for a comparative market analysis showing the selling prices of similar homes in the neighbourhood, those currently on the market and those that didn’t sell. A CMA presented by an experienced agent can provide a realistic price estimate of your home. Remember however that CMAs are not set in stone. Some agents under-value your home in hopes of creating demand. Others will flatter you with over-inflated estimates in order to get your listing but later suggest a price reduction. You may want to get a number of CMAs and augment it with your own investigative work.

    Conduct your own market research

    When homes in your area have open houses take a look. Use this opportunity to compare your home to “the competition” in terms of price, location, square footage, and amenities. Once you look at several listings you should be able to make an educated guess as to the market value of different aspects of your home. If you are months away from actually listing your home, visiting open houses may also help you discover which renovations could be profitable and appeal to today’s consumers.

    Calculate the price per square foot

    There are many factors to take into consideration when determining market value. Price per square foot is a good starting point. You can get a fair idea of the average price per square foot of homes in your neighbourhood by reviewing properties sold or for sale recently. Remember that there is more than one way to count square footage so it’s a good idea to ask your agent what method is commonly used.

    Consider market conditions

    Real estate is one of the most secure investments you can make but prices can rise and fall independent of the quality of the individual properties. If you attempt to sell your home when the market dips you’ll find you may have to lower the price below your expectations. Interest rates, the state of the economy and the local job market should be considered before you put your home on the market. The time between price peaks varies due to local and national market influences. These characteristics will assist you in determining if there is any market timing opportunities.

    Finally, consider your own needs when setting your price. Are you in a hurry to sell? If so you may want to knock one or two percent off the market value. Is there a minimum amount you can afford to accept? If you have the luxury of time you have more leverage. Keep in mind however, that a house that is on the market too long or has a large price reduction at some point, may be viewed as “damaged” or “stale goods.”

    Your best strategy may be to establish a fair asking price from the start. Most buyers will make an offer lower than the listed price in a bid to see how low you’ll go. However, those who have researched the market will be willing to meet you near your terms.