Top 5 Things NOT To Do When Trying To Sell Your Home
Things not to do are just as important as the things you should do!
Well, Spring is officially here! The sun is out, the birds are chirping, and as soon as Mother Nature realizes the weather should be warmer, we'll be on our way. My favourite part about Spring? It's when buyers and sellers kick things into high-gear and it's non-stop wheeling and dealing right until June. I think it's safe to say that we'll probably see another record Spring in terms of condo sale prices and price-per-square-foot averages just based on what I'm seeing so far this year, even when comparing to last year's absolutely blowout first quarter. Sales may still end up lower but sales aren't what matters - prices are what really matter.
So that must mean anyone can sell their condo for the highest price ever in their building, right? Not so fast. It's easier said than done.
Here are the Top 5 Things NOT To Do When Trying To Sell Your Home or Condo:
#5 - List Yourself - This might sound a little disingenuous coming from a Realtor but anytime I see a "for sale by owner" or what's known as a "mere posting", I cringe. I think a "for sale by owner" is pretty self-explanatory but most folks may not know what a "mere posting" is. It's when a seller pays a fee to a brokerage to list their unit on MLS (and by extension it shows up on www.realtor.ca) but the brokerage doesn't provide any other service - ie, they do not advise on pricing, staging, timing, offer strategy, nor do they handle any offers that come in. They don't even help you write the listing itself, take pictures, or validate any info you provide. You, as a seller, are literally on your own.
So if you've never sold a property on your own before, you are in for a ride.
Look, I get it, some sellers out there may not see value in paying a listing agent to do something that, according to those sellers, is supposed to be as easy as uploading some data to MLS and waiting for offers to come rolling in. And if that's all you think the value of an agent is, then by all means give it a shot and list your property yourself. But I will tell you from experience, and I think most agents would agree, dealing with sellers directly is never smooth, deals take forever, and buyer agents will go out of their way to avoid those listings. Sellers are not typically well versed in the paperwork involved in a sale, the clauses, the conditions, and most importantly, the sense of urgency that is involved with any offer. Irrevocable? What's that? I actually had a seller ask me that when they listed their unit last year using a "mere posting" service. Needless to say, they hired me six weeks later when their unit just wouldn't sell.
#4 - Ignore Staging - This is another challenge that I've personally had with sellers in the past, trying to convince them that spending ~$3,000 on staging is a worthwhile investment. Because that's what it is - an investment. A lot of sellers think that because they know their home best, they should be the ones to decorate it for a sale. But here's the thing - staging is not decorating. Staging is designing with the intention to sell. These stagers are miracle workers. They come into your home with a completely objective eye and will tell you to your face what needs to go, what needs to stay, and what needs to be changed so that buyers actually say "wow" when they walk into your home.
And it's all about the "wow".
Every time I've convinced a seller to hire a professional stager, the response is the same - "I would have never thought to use that type of furniture with those colours in that arrangement, but wow, it works! I almost want to stay!" So if you want to sell quickly and set records, staging is a must.
#3 - Hire a Non-Responsive Agent - This one is a little sensitive because the last thing I want to do is bad-mouth agents. But to all you potential sellers out there, give this a try - call/text/email one of the agents you're thinking of hiring and let me know how long it takes for them to get back to you. You may have thought about hiring that agent whose name you see all over your neighbouhood. But if it takes him a day to get back to you, think about this - when a buyer agent is trying to get a hold of this agent to ask questions about your property, talk about a potential offer, or start asking questions that could indicate serious interest by their client, shouldn't he be super responsive? After all, his job is to be on call, day or night, until your place is sold. That's how I see it anyway.
#2 - Be Home During Showings - Have you ever been to a showing when the seller is home? It's super awkward, right? Exactly. Buyers can't openly say what they like, dislike, love, or hate about a property if the seller is sitting in the other room. Even worse, buyers will feel rushed. They will feel like they are imposing on you (the seller) and will do what they can to get out as soon as possible. And that's exactly the opposite of what you want. You want potential buyers to feel comfortable, feel at home, and imagine what it would be like to live there themselves. Not only that, how can they openly discuss things like prices and comparables with their agent while the seller is in the other room listening to every word! So please, if you are serious about selling your home, please, please, please go for a walk around the block during showings, go to a movie, or go for dinner. It's a hassle, I know, but it's an absolute must.
#1 - Price Too High - I come across folks all the time who say to me "Man, it must be a breeze to be an agent, huh? You just list condos for whatever you want and they sell!" Ummm....Riiiiiight. I probably spend half my day analyzing sale and list prices, trying to gauge exactly what the demand is for any given condo, in any given building, at any given moment. Demand changes as often as week to week, and following where prices are and where they were and where they could be tomorrow is such a huge part of my job that it can literally make or cost a seller tens of thousands of dollars. When I'm asked by a seller for my opinion on what their unit is worth, it's always based on real, up to date data.
But if a seller insists that his unit is worth $25,000 more than the identical unit below his that just sold a week prior just because he thinks it should be, I have to pull their expectations back.
Not long ago a seller in my building asked me what his 2-bed/2-bath unit was worth. I presented all my data, with all the usual analysis I always provide and said "we should list around $750k, but everything I'm seeing is telling me we'll end up selling for around $730k. That's where the market is right now".
So when this seller said "I want $800k. No less", I had to politely decline the listing and move on.*
* - Looking back, this conversation was almost two years ago to the day! How the market has changed...Today, $800k would be a steal for that same unit. But you can only expect to sell for what the market will bear at that time.
Price is the absolute number one reason why a property does or doesn't sell so if you are serious about selling, please don't list for what you "want" or "need" to sell for. Because the market doesn't care what you "need". You'll only ever sell for what your place is actually worth.
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