13 Things Real Es­tate Agents Wish You Knew

Reader's Digest (Canada) - - Contents - BY ANNA-KAISA WALKER IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY CLAY­TON HAN­MER



Putting your house on the mar­ket? “Big-ticket items like a new roof, win­dows or a fur­nace add the most value,” says Barb Sukkau, pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian Real Es­tate As­so­ci­a­tion.


If you think staged homes look im­per­sonal, that’s the whole point—you want your buyer to imag­ine them­selves liv­ing in your house. Be ruth­lessly un­sen­ti­men­tal about pack­ing away knick-knacks and fam­ily pho­tos—kill all clut­ter.


Fix lit­tle signs of wear and tear, like scuff marks and chipped base­boards. Even if your home is oth­er­wise in great shape, the buyer may per­ceive it as need­ing work, which could hurt you in price ne­go­ti­a­tions.


Be sure to tell your sell­ing agent ev­ery­thing about your home. Any flaws you know­ingly con­ceal— lead in the drink­ing wa­ter, for in­stance—could come back to haunt you later in the form of a law­suit.


Con­sider set­ting a price that’s slightly be­low the mar­ket value for your area. This can help gen­er­ate of­fers for your list­ing, cre­at­ing a buzz that could re­sult in a bid­ding war.


Spring is the tra­di­tional start of house-hunt­ing sea­son, but as a buyer, you’ll find deals if you pur­chase dur­ing the colder months. “A home listed in the fall of­ten means the seller has to move, rather than just wants to move,” Sukkau says. “Sell­ers tend to be more mo­ti­vated from Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber.”


If an agent tries to take you to ev­ery house on the mar­ket, no mat­ter how un­suit­able, be­ware. That said, says Sukkau, stay open-minded. “Buy­ers of­ten tell me they want a cer­tain thing but end up buy­ing some­thing else,” she says. “Broad­en­ing your pa­ram­e­ters can lead to a great find.”


Re­sist the urge to look at homes be­yond your price range, even if the mar­ket is red-hot. Those monthly mort­gage pay­ments are re­lent­less and they add up over time.


How to sur­vive a bid­ding war on your dream home: an ex­pe­ri­enced agent can guide you through these ne­go­ti­a­tions, but make sure to ar­rive with a preap­proval let­ter from your lender, and in­clude an es­ca­la­tion clause to limit how high you’ll go.


If you’ve got your heart set on a prop­erty but can’t af­ford to out­bid other buy­ers, try your luck ap­peal­ing to the seller’s emo­tions. With your of­fer, in­clude a “love let­ter” ex­plain­ing what the home would mean to you, stress­ing how much you value what they’ve put into it and what you could bring to the com­mu­nity.


A small mi­nor­ity of homes sold in Canada change hands in “for sale by owner” trans­ac­tions. The big­gest mo­ti­va­tion: sell­ers want to save money on agent com­mis­sions, though there are pit­falls aplenty. “Real es­tate is a com­pli­cated trans­ac­tion,” says Sukkau. “It’s also dif­fi­cult to price a home and mar­ket it prop­erly with­out an ex­pe­ri­enced agent’s help.”


Real­tors aren’t al­ways pulling in fat com­mis­sions. In On­tario, the stan­dard is around five per cent of the pur­chase price, split be­tween buy­ing and sell­ing agents.


Com­mis­sions are al­ways ne­go­tiable, says Sukkau, de­pend­ing on the ser­vices pro­vided and the mar­ket. Full-ser­vice agents may pro­vide pro­fes­sional stag­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy, drone fly­overs and other tricks to gussy up your list­ing, but you’ll pay far less for a more bare-bones ap­proach.

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