Selling a house isn't as easy as it sounds. Following the right steps and process is really important once a homeowner is thinking of selling their house. To help you through the entire process, we’ve put together eight simple steps:
STEP 1 - Decide When To Sell Your House
If only there were an easy answer to the oft-asked question of: When should I sell my house? Important considerations include:
- Time of year – Real estate in Toronto is seasonal, with December, January and August historically being the slowest months. We find that the best months to list a house for sale in Toronto are February, March, April and September. You don’t want to sell when it’s a “buyer’s market,” when too many homes are for sale and there are not enough buyers. Seasonality is something to consider as well because typically more homes are sold in the spring rather than the winter.
- Current competition in your neighbourhood – At any given time, there are only so many Buyers looking for the kind of house you have. If those Buyers have a big selection of houses like yours to look at, you can expect to have fewer showings and fewer offers which will usually result in a lower price. Conversely, if you’re the only renovated three-bedroom house with a garage for sale in your neighbourhood, everyone will flock to your house.
- State of the real estate market – Interest rates and consumer confidence affect prices, and while the Toronto market has been on an upswing for a long time, like any other type of market, what goes up usually comes down. What’s going on in the market right now?
- Your personal needs and goals – If you’re moving out of the city or have already bought a new house, then that timing will likely override everything else. Likewise, an upcoming baby, need for a live-in nanny, wedding or divorce might dictate your timing too.
STEP 2 - Picking a Real Estate Agent
Picking a real estate agent carefully is very important if you want to sell your house at the asking price or the price you have in mind.
First they will value your house and set a price. A report on market data will be complied to properly value your home based on the prices in your area.
Once they’ve done that the agent will market your home through various media outlets and listing sites to create strong buyer interest. They can post on Multiple Listing Service (MLS), social media, blogs, and websites.
There will be open house appointments as well to showcase the potential of your home to various individuals. At this point, Realtors may also suggest to stage the home to help these individuals imagine themselves living in your house.
STEP 3 - Finishing the Prep Work
At this point you have already hired a real estate agent to work with you. Congrats! The process is just getting started, next:
- Get your documents together Your agent will be asking you for copies of your heating, electrical and utility and tax bills, so take the time to photocopy or scan them. Any current warranties and manuals should be gathered too.
- Make a list of renovations and repairs Compile a list of all the renovations and repairs that have been completed since you have owned the house. Be prepared to discuss with your REALTOR any current issues with the house – it’s better to disclose any ongoing issues then get sued later.
- Get a pre-list home inspection – Completing a pre-listing home inspection before you put your house on the market will help you identify any issues with the home that might be objections for Buyers. For example: the home inspector may determine that your house needs a boiler. Armed with that information, you can choose to either a) fix the boiler before putting the house up for sale, or b) factor it into your asking price. Either way, having accurate information puts you in control of how the deficiencies in your house will affect the price you get for the house. If you’re pricing your home for a bidding war, making the pre-listing home inspection available to Buyers will encourage them to make offers.
STEP 4 - Staging the Property
Professional home staging is a must for almost every house if your goal is to sell it for as much money as possible. It’s been proven that staged homes sell faster and for more money. Home staging is effective because it emphasizes a property's strengths and minimizes its weak points. It allows your home to be shown at its maximum potential. Presenting a well-cared for home and creating a property that gives a positive first impression.
STEP 5 - Pricing the Property
Pricing a house in Toronto is both a science and an art. Your REALTOR will discuss with you the pros and cons of pricing your home for a bidding war vs pricing high with the intent to negotiate vs pricing your home at market value.
In the end, Buyers will decide how much your home is worth by deciding how much they want to pay for it. Buyers will consider:
- Recent sales on your street and in your neighbourhood
- Recent sales of similar properties in nearby neighbourhoods
- Properties currently on the market
- Current market conditions
- The size, finishes and condition of your home
This is where the expertise of your hired Real Estate Agent come in. They have market data and research on everything to help you price your property right.
STEP 6 - Property Showings
When Buyers make an appointment to see your house, keep the following in mind:
- Be flexible with showing times – Most Buyers look at properties in the evening or on the weekends.
- Cleanliness matters! It isn’t enough to have a clean house on day 1. You’ll need to wash the dishes, make the beds, wash the floors and weed the garden every day while it’s listed for sale.
STEP 7 - Offers
Not all offers are equal and that’s where your real estate agent comes in. They will help you get to know the terms and conditions regarding the price that the buyer wants to pay, financing conditions, or other things like inclusions and exclusions that the buyer wants to make.
Not only is it about the price of the home, but you have to carefully look at the other details included in the sale. Appliances, chandeliers, or even minor renovations can also be part of the deal. Shorter or longer closing dates can also be specified by the buyer.
If there is something in the offer that doesn’t satisfy you, counter offers or negotiations can also be presented to help get you what you want.
STEP 8 - Closing Day
There will be closing costs associated with the sale that need to be paid either by or on the closing date. It can include mortgage application fees, inspections, and legal fees. But once that’s taken care of, you can pass your old keys to the new owners. Congrats!
You’ve officially sold your house!