A step-by-step primer on how to do it.
Selling a house goes beyond hammering a “For Sale” sign into the front lawn. In fact, there are many steps in the sale process before the sign is hung out, and many more after, says Brenda Abaiov, a real estate broker with the Pointe-Claire office of Re/Max Royal Jordan.
“The first thing a broker does is evaluate a house,” she says. “Our evaluations are based on sales of similar homes in an area in the previous months.”
Elements that impact the listing price of a house include upgrades to the property: renovated kitchens and bathrooms, flooring, windows, furnace, and roof, among others. In suburban areas dominated by tract housing, the key to evaluating a property is to discern what distinguishes it from its neighbours, Ms. Abaiov says.
“If I have two houses of the same design and one of them has a kitchen that was renovated in 1985 and the other has a kitchen that was renovated last year, the latter house will have a higher value,” she says. Establishing value is more complex in neighbourhoods built before the Second World War, an era that predates tract housing.
Ms. Abaiov says homeowners tend to have an emotional connection to their homes that causes them to over-estimate their value. “Everyone thinks his home is a castle and is better than everyone else’s. People tend to assume their homes are worth more than they are,” she says. “When you overprice a house, you don’t do anyone a favour. That house will stay on the market. I often ask my sellers when they want to overprice their homes whether they would overpay for a house. If you want to sell, you’ll listen to your agent.”
After setting a price, she says, the next step is to locate the property deed, get a certificate of location if the existing one is older than 10 years, and create a listing that features high-quality photographs. “If your photos aren’t good, you’ll lose buyers,” she says.
Another key element is the seller’s declaration, in which the vendor declares everything he or she knows about the property.
Once the For Sale sign is posted, visits from potential buyers begin. “Brokers like to be at a house when it’s shown because we can get feedback from buyers and their agents,” Ms. Abaiov says. “This information tells us what we need to adjust as we go along. We want to know what people think of the property.”
When offers arrive, the broker advises and negotiates. “It’s not always about price,” Ms. Abaiov says. “It can also be about conditions.”
Building inspections generally take place within seven days of an offer, she adds. “After that, we come to terms on the outcome of the building inspection. And mortgage approvals are done within 10 to 14 days of acceptance of a promise to purchase, depending on whether a bank appraisal is needed. The legal papers then go to a notary to prepare for a search on the property before final closing.”