13 Things Real Estate Agents Wish You Knew
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.