When the time comes to put a For Sale sign on the lawn, some homeowners will try to sell the property themselves in hopes of saving money. But many are unprepared for this time-consuming and complex process, real estate associations warn.
“Selling your home is about much more than putting a sign on your lawn,” says Barb Sukkau, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA). “Realtors offer local and market expertise. Price setting and market strategy are critical, and are the types of things people may not consider when they think about selling their house on their own.”
Why is the price so important? Too high, you could scare off prospective buyers; too low, you could needlessly leave thousands of dollars on the negotiating table, OREA says in its free How to Sell Your Home book.
Determining a realistic sale price involves more than chatting with neighbours about how much houses on your street have recently fetched. In addition to market analysis, realtors take into account other factors, including the impact of timing.
“In a seller’s market, top price and a fast sale can go hand in hand,” the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) says on its HowRealtorsHelp.ca website. “In a buyer’s market, more sellers are competing for your potential buyers. If you have to sell right now, consider lowering your asking price to speed up the sale. A realtor can help you figure out the right price-to-speed ratio.”
Do-it-yourselfers should also consider the challenge of interviewing every person that responds to their ads or signs. A realtor can qualify buyers ahead of time. “[This] assures the homeowner that the person coming through the door can afford your home. It saves time and frustration,” says Diane Scott, a director of the Alberta Real Estate Association.
Marketing your home effectively can be another challenge for do-it-yourselfers. Should you run classified ads in your local newspaper? And if so, how often? How much are you prepared to spend?
A realtor can create a marketing plan specific to your home. “Some realtors are very much into social media and the Internet,” says Sukkau. “Some markets require a more traditional approach, including newspaper ads and open houses.” And when you work with a realtor, your home receives exposure through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The website – REALTOR.ca – is Canada’s most popular Internet research tool for residential real estate, CREA reports.
When it comes to closing the deal, solid selling and negotiating skills are invaluable. Many do-it-yourselfers “oversell” and smother a buyer with too many details about the property, OREA warns.
“It’s extremely difficult to be objective when selling your own house,” says Scott. “You’re selling a home; the buyer is buying a house.”
As such, hearing negative comments about your home can become personal and hamper a prospective sale. “Realtors have experience in negotiations and can offer advice on things that can help close a deal, such as being flexible on the possession date,” says Scott.
They also bring to the table an understanding of current real estate law and a seller’s contractual and legal obligations. They can translate the language in the buyer’s offer to ensure you understand all terms and conditions – including those that may not be in your best interests.
What should I look for in a realtor?
Homeowners should interview several potential realtors before deciding on one to sell their home, says the Canadian Real Estate Association. The following are among the questions you should ask:
• What is your average list-to-sales-price ratio?
• How will your marketing plan meet my needs?
• Will you provide references?
• What separates you from your competition?
• May I review documents that I will be asked to sign?
• Can you help me find other professionals?
• How much do you charge?
-Visit HowRealtorsHelp.ca to learn more.
by Kinda White, Special to QMI Agency