Selling Your Home

Achieving your goals when selling your home all starts with one thing: Knowledge!

When you have the proper information, all of the complicated pieces of the home selling puzzle will fall into place. An organized, planned approach to selling your real estate will eliminate the guesswork, ensure that you avoid costly pitfalls, and will let you enjoy a successful, low stress transaction.

Evaluating Your Home

Most people tend to be emotional about their homes, and the thought of selling may bring on deep feelings of sadness, joy, fear, uncertainty, and excitement - all at the same time! This brings us to the first thing you're going to have to do in order to successfully sell your home: realize that selling is a dollars and cents transaction, and you need to put all your emotional attachments aside.

The value of anything, including houses, is determined by the supply and demand. If there are lots of sellers and few buyers, prices tend to go down and houses take longer to sell. This is referred to as a "Buyers' market". On the other hand, if there are many eager buyers but few homes for sale, prices will rise and houses will sell very quickly. This is a "Sellers' market". Your area may be at one extreme or the other, but most likely is somewhere in between.

Next, take a look at your neighborhood. Compare your home to others based on criteria such as style, size, condition, number of bedrooms and baths, garage, basement, view, lot size, etc. You should soon get a good feel for what price your home should bring given the current market conditions. If you aren't confident in judging the moods of the market, it's always a good idea to seek the opinion of a professional real estate agent. Most of them will offer free market evaluations on their websites.

To put the odds of achieving your goals strongly in your favour, you need to know and understand the six-step home selling process. This process is not based on textbook theory. It has been tested and proven over many years and thousands of successful transactions:

  1. Understand market conditions and price your home
  2. Calculate your bottom line
  3. Prepare your home for sale.
  4. Market and show your home
  5. Negotiate and draw up contracts
  6. Close and move

Taking the time to learn and going one step at a time will pay off when you achieve your goal - a fast, smooth sale at the best price.

Preparing for the Sale

Understand what you're selling

It's more than a house.

You're not selling a house ... you're selling a home. Far more than four walls and a roof, a home is a personal shelter, a haven from the pressures of the outside world, and a warm, inviting setting for family living.

Although a home is the biggest purchase most people ever make, the decision to buy is never a purely rational one. They buy more with their hearts than with their heads. Beyond the obvious considerations of location, size, quality and design, buyers look for special qualities that appeal to their emotions. Often they have no idea what hidden, emotional qualities draw them to one house over another. As a seller you have to prepare the groundwork - to set the scene for a buyer to fall in love with your home. Believe it or not, many a house has sold quickly because of a spectacular lilac bush, a cozy window seat, or a kitchen window filled with potted herbs.

Put yourself in the buyers' shoes. They arrive at your front door wanting to fall in love with your home. They are eager and filled with great expectations. If you don't satisfy these feelings, the buyers are likely to beat a hasty retreat with a tight smile and a "thank you very much."

On the other hand, if you do your "homework" and set the stage correctly, every area of your property will greet the buyers with a pleasant surprise.

So try this: walk around the neigbourhood, then return home and pretend you are a prospective buyer. Smell the air as you walk around and be critical. Better yet, ask a friend or your spouse to take this tour with you and ask for their honest opinions.

Now you are ready to start listing your home's positive features and deciding how to present them to their best advantage.

Preparing for the Sale

At the Front Door

First impressions are the most important. No matter how lovely your home may be behind that front door, a buyer will be turned off by crumbling front steps, a doorbell that doesn't work, creaky hinges or chipping paint. So give special attention to your home's front entry. Polish the doorknocker until it gleams, scrub all traces of moss or mildew from the steps and touch up any peeling paint.

Always remember that expectations are highest and perceptions sharpest as buyers enter your home. Create a welcoming splash of colour so that when a prospective buyer pulls up in front of your home, there is something special that sets your home apart.

You can accomplish this with a basket of flowers or in winter by painting a child's old sled a bright colour and propping it beside your front door. Perhaps the easiest way to add colour to the entrance is to paint the front door itself, something you should consider doing in any case. Invest in a new doormat. You'd be surprised how few sellers make this simple purchase. An old, worn or dirty doormat gives buyers a poor first impression while a bright new "welcome" sets an inviting tone. Avoid mats that proclaim things like "The Browns Welcome You". You want the buyers to imagine that the house is theirs.

Open your home to the outside world. As potential buyers stroll up to the door, you want them to have positive feelings about your home. If the curtains are drawn and the door is closed, it will seem forbidding. Buyers will subconsciously think, "What are they trying to hide?"

Preparing for the Sale

Preparing to Present to Buyers

  1. Uncluttering makes the exterior and every room look larger and feel more accommodating. If a house is cluttered, buyers have trouble imagining themselves living in it. By removing or storing things you don't need, you create a roomy, comfortable feeling that will be inviting to prospective buyers. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out, sell it or give it away. You'll be moving soon, so get rid of everything you don't want to move.
  2. Cleaning makes your house more pleasant to explore and gives the impression that it has been well cared for. Be sure every room smells as good as it looks, paying special attention to pet areas, nursery, bathrooms and the kitchen. Some fresh paint and a one-time professional cleaning service can make your house look new.
  3. Repairing eliminates buyers' objections before they arise. If you think something is too much trouble to fix, chances are buyers will too and they tend to think repairs will cost more than they do.
  4. Neutralizing helps buyers see their own things in your house and picture themselves living there. Neutral paint, decor and carpeting create a home for any life-style. Eliminating distracting colours and accessories lets buyers concentrate on positive impressions.
  5. Dramatizing makes the exterior and every room in your home special and memorable. Since it is competing with many other houses on the market, you need to make your home stand out and be remembered. Look in home magazines and catalogues for ideas. From the front door to the basement, from fresh flowers to fresh smells, give your house the finishing touch.
  6. Showtime! Identify jobs to be done and assign them to different members of the family prior to each showing. Make a final check of details that can make your house memorable. Soon your home will be sold!