As a Canadian homeowner, don’t be disillusioned to think that when you’re ready to sell your home, it will be automatically viewed as a magical space by every real estate home buyer.
Hear me out: I know how easy it is to assume your home is the most perfect space on earth- after all, it holds all these amazing memories of you and your family! Emotions run high and logic is set aside because of your strong attachment to the home but that’s alright; we’re here to give you smart advice that’d get your home off the market very quickly!
Here are 10 common potholes real estate sellers in Canada should avoid:
1. Selling At The Wrong Time
Believe it or not, there’s such a thing as the wrong time to sell, and the right time to sell (just like with stocks and other investment classes). It’s possible to sell your house at the wrong time, but you want to avoid that at all costs. How? By knowing the seasonal variations in real estate where your house is located.
Canada’s real estate market fluctuates with seasons: In Ontario, the best time to sell is in the spring while the worst time to sell is around Christmas.
By spring, most people have gotten their tax refund, and this makes more funds readily available for home repairs when needed.
This is in addition to spring’s warm weather which makes the home search process easier for home buyers and since home buying in spring places you ahead of the competition for summer, it is the most favoured time to buy a house in Ontario. It also coincides with the end of the school year, allowing a seamless move for families with kids.
By winter and close to Christmas, it is perceived that you are a desperate seller, are more open to lesser negotiated prices or that your home has probably been on sale for a long time.
However, there is less competition during this period and if your home is not a very attractive buy, putting it up in winter/Christmas may give better chances of it being seen and getting a reasonable offer.
2. Paying Too Much Real Estate Commission To A Real Estate Agent
If you aren’t in the real estate business, you might not be conversant with real estate agent commission fees; and can easily be ripped off by an agent who wants you to pay commission fees that are way above the market rate.
But as with any other service provider, you can negotiate fees with your real estate agent. To do this effectively, you need to know the cost of selling your home and the fraction of this cost that would take care of agent commission fees payment (Pro tip: agent fees are one of the major costs of selling a home).
For example, the standard real estate commission in Ontario for selling a 750k home is $42,375 which is 5% of the property value plus HST. However, the realtor’s fees in Vancouver for a 750k home would be approximately $24,413. These commissions are negotiable especially when they are high.
3. Overpricing Your Home
If you were to give a price estimate for your home listing right now, you are very likely to overprice it, because you’d give an ‘emotional’ price instead of an objective one.
You’ve lived here for so long…so the listed price needs to be high, right? You don’t want to make this common mistake as a home seller.
One pro tip to avoid an overpriced listing is to work with a trusted real estate agent that knows the ins- and outs- of the local real estate market. Ideally, this agent has sold a couple of houses in that area in the past few months and knows how much comparable homes with similar square footage and facilities are being listed for.
This kind of agent provides all the guidance you need for home listing and gives you a realistic price. Always good to use the platform that compares the local real estate agents so you can find a real estate agent that suits your needs.
You shouldn’t be comfortable with agents who promise outrageously high listing prices to get higher returns, often, they just want to convince you to list and later pressure you to lower your home price when it has been on the market for a longer period than necessary and repelled some potential buyers.
So which option would you prefer? List your home at a realistic price and get it off the market in a jiffy, or over price and then beat the price down so much that you end up selling for less than the home’s value?
4. Selling Off Your Home By Yourself
Think hiring a realtor is unnecessary and daunting; and the cost is too high? Selling your home by yourself is likely to cost you more!
Since realtor fees are only about a few percent of home sale prices, and for a 500k house sold in Ontario.
You can find an agent that is willing to list your home by only one percent (plus buyer’s agent fees), it might not be wise to list your home yourself unless you are a very experienced person in real estate.
In this way, you also completely take out the additional stress of piloting a huge financial deal (home sale) on your own.
Don’t be deceived into thinking that all you require to sell your home on your own is a Craigslist ad and a P-interest yard sign.
Significant time, energy and money must be invested in organizing home showings, home appraisal and listing, vetting potential buyers and poring over contracts to ensure the right terms are passed across to potential buyers.
5. Listing Your Home ‘As Is’: This Is Scary For Most Buyers
What do you do when a coffee shop only sells a blend of coffee and is unwilling to consider your preferences? It gets a bad rep and you stop patronizing the shop!
Why should you expect a potential home buyer to accept that your home is in good shape just because you say so, and are bent on selling the home as it is?
Even if your home is in the best shape ever, buyers are programmed to run fast in the opposite direction when they see a home listed ‘as is’. It usually signifies a seller who’s unwilling to make any adjustments the buyer deems necessary or maybe hiding a potential problem.
To get the best results off the home listing, be open to working with buyers’ requests for home renovations or modifications if you haven’t done any already.
6. Working With An Agent That Doesn’t Conduct Open Houses
Should you ask a potential realtor if they conduct open houses? The answer is Yes; because holding open houses is a good way of attracting buyers.
From potential buyers who see the open house sign by the street corner and may potentially fall in love with your home at first sight, to very analytic buyers who need to critically analyze your home before deciding on a purchase; an open house kills several birds with one stone by giving your home additional exposure from would-be buyers.
In most open houses, buyers can tour the home with little or no pressure and then decide if it fits into their perspective of a dream home.
7. Taking Poor Listing Photos
A good picture is often worth a thousand words. Your listing photos should be stunning, attention-grabbing!
Here’s why: listing photos can be the determining factor (at a glance) for whether a client is interested in your property or not. Because of this, you need to ensure your real estate agent only hires the best photographer(s) to take clear, professional images that place your home in the right light for potential buyers to stay interested.
A great tip is to request to view professional images from your agent’s previous listings.
8. Painting Your House In Wrong Colours
A good realtor will tell you how important the colour used to paint your house is to the staging process.
Yes, painting is cheap, but it gives you astronomic results if done properly. DIY might be cute, but if you’re not very good at it, hire a professional painter so the paint doesn’t appear uneven or botched (mistakes like these draw buyers’ attention, and this is not the type of attention you want).
Remember: you’re staging this house for buyers to be attracted to living there, not for yourself. Therefore, don’t be tempted to paint the house in a colour you like, instead of one that’d appeal to the majority of your potential buyers.
So even if colours that are soothing to you are on either extreme (too bright e.g. orange or too dark e.g. grey), don’t paint your house in that colour. The aim is not to distract/overwhelm home buyers with bright colours, or to plunge them into feelings of sadness with very dull colours.
Usually, new home buyers feel more at home in a house painted in the beige or off-white shade, instead of a colour that takes all their attention, this colour helps them focus on other important aspects of the house they should be paying attention to.
9. Spending Too Much Money On Renovating An Old Property
Is your renovation worth it, or are you wasting your money?
If your remodelling or renovations are for home resale purposes, it is better to have a home inspection first, before going ahead with the renovations. This makes you proactive about finding any issues in the home.
Again, you need to speak with your real estate agent to get proper advice on how much is appropriate to spend on renovating your property before putting it up for sale. Instead of remodelling the entire house, you might only need to renovate key areas like the kitchen, living room and the front yard.
Refurbishing your basement to create more space in the home is a laudable idea, but it might not exactly cause a significant rise in your ROI post-home-sale. Renovating your bathroom might even be more expensive than adding a new one, so taking on large bathroom projects (e.g. fixing countertops, cabinets) isn’t a good idea.
Quality advice from a good realtor will guide you against wasting time, energy and money on renovating an old property when it wouldn’t lead to a significant increase in the home price eventually.
10. Not Paying Enough Attention To The Landscape Of Your Detached Home
Believe it or not, proper landscaping can help you sell your home in one swoop. Picture two houses: one with properly manicured lawns, excellent landscape and beautiful outdoor plants; while the other house has a front yard that looks messy, untended to and ultimately, undesirable.
As a potential buyer, which of them will you be attracted to?
The first, of course. Even after renovating the interior of your home, don’t forget to give the landscape a necessary overhaul, so your efforts spent on renovation doesn’t get wasted.
In summary, here are 10 ‘Don’ts’ for a quick home sale in Canada:
Don’t Sell Off Your House at the Wrong Time
Don’t Pay Too Much Real Estate Commission to an Agent: Work with WOWA’s real estate agents and pay as low as 1% commission fees.
Don’t Overprice Your Home
Don’t Sell Off Your Home by Yourself
Don’t List Your Home ‘As Is’
Don’t Work with an Agent that shuns Open Houses
Don’t Take Poor Listing Photos
Don’t Paint Your House in either too bright/too dark colours
Don’t Spend Too Much Money Renovating an Old Property
Don’t Ignore Your Detached Home’s Landscape
Any of these factors (or a combination) could be responsible for a home that has been listed for longer than necessary.
Let me know your thoughts and comments below, do share this article on social media and help spread the word. Thanks for reading!
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Sagar Sridhar is a personal finance blogger from Canada. His genuine passion for personal finance coupled with his unique style of writing is what stands out. Professionally, he is a computer engineer, agile certified and has a master’s degree in Project Management. His writing has been featured or quoted in the leading Canadian publications such as Credit Canada and many other personal finance publications. While he is juggling between his day job and blogging, he is the main author on this blog and has miles to go before making the final pit stop.