After a few months of bad housing news, it looks like Toronto’s housing market has begun to turn around. In fact, the latest TREB Market Watch shows that all three housing markets (East, Central and West) show that it is a strong seller’s market again with average listing to sale price being over 100%.
With the trifecta of increasing prices, still historically low interest rates for buyers, and the approaching spring housing market, you might be thinking of selling. But even with the latest jump in sale prices, you still need to maximize equity when your house hits the market.
To get the most money out of your home, it pays to do everything right. Shockingly, sellers make up to three costly mistakes each sale. We’ve put together nine of the most common (and most avoidable) seller mistakes. Learn to identify and eliminate all of these, and you can save yourself thousands –even tens of thousands – of dollars.
Here are the 9 mistakes you must avoid:
- Not Hiring A Real Estate Professional To Sell Your Home – No, this is not self-serving for myself and agents alike. Trying to sell your home by yourself is asinine. You need the expertise of a professional – be it a real estate lawyer, a fee for service real estate agent or, a full service REALTOR. The numbers also don’t lie – home sellers who try to sell themselves often end up taking longer to sell and sell for less than homeowners who work with a (good) agent.
- Improperly Pricing Your Home – Over-pricing or under-pricing is a huge money-losing mistake. It’s critical to know your market and be familiar with similar homes currently for sale and, more importantly, those that have recently sold to understand exactly what price your home should be listed for (hint: don’t even consider sold prices from March and April of 2017).
- Not Making Necessary Repairs Prior To Sale – You will lose money if you don’t take care of repairs before you list your house on the MLS. It will cost you less out of pocket to fix things ahead of time, rather than have buyers see your house in disrepair. Buyers tend to add an extra zero or two, in their mind, to the actual repair cost. I guarantee they’ll offer less or ask for a reduction in price after the home inspection for the work that needs to be done before the deal firms up.
- Neglecting To Declutter And Remove Junk Prior To Listing – Clutter eats equity and destroys deals. One of the least expensive improvements you can make to your home before putting it on the market is to declutter and create a sense of spaciousness. From the kitchen countertops to the overstuffed closets to the picture-lined shelves in the rec room, it costs you nothing to get rid of all that ‘stuff,’ yet it yields huge rewards.
- Selling Your House Empty – Selling an empty house makes buyers feel the same way: empty. It also makes the house seem smaller than it is. Buyers can’t clearly see where their furniture will go. A home should never be listed without being dressed or ‘staged.’ Don’t worry, you won’t need to go out and buy new furniture and accessories. Chances are, you have plenty to choose from already; in fact, that’s usually the problem (see tip four, above). Clearing out items – lots of them – may just leave you with the perfect amount of furnishings for a simply staged home (space is your friend, after all). I always hire a stager; especially when the house is vacant. Investing in a stager to give your home a new look that will enchant potential buyers is always a good idea.
- Getting Emotional When Negotiating – Too many sellers take negotiating personally and lose out on creating a win-win deal. Remember, this is a business deal – likely the biggest one of your life. Check your ego and emotions at the door and put your head back into it.
- Failing To Complete A Full Set Of Disclosures Prior To Closing – I’ve watched too many sellers pay big bucks because they didn’t reveal it all. Being upfront and forthcoming about any of your home’s issues will save you lots of money and time, especially if the buyers end up uncovering problems themselves…and they will.
- Trying To Time The Market – Yes, yes. Most know that the spring and fall market are the busiest. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should only sell during those seasons. If it’s early February and there are no 3 bedroom, 2 washroom semi-detached homes on the market, well, that’s a good time to list if you’re home is ready. Take into account what’s happening in the market at that time and decide accordingly with your agent.
- Using Lousy Photos – This is completely unacceptable. There is never a time that a cell phone photo is a good one when listing your house. Every home buyer is looking at houses online months before they actually buy, so don’t be the home with crappy photos because, as cliche as this sounds, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.