Top Tips to Sell Your First Home Like a Seasoned Homeseller

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By the time you’re ready to sell your first Waterloo Region home and upgrade to a new one, you’ll no longer be that starry-eyed first time home buyer who imagines roses and rainbows behind every home with great curb appeal.

Every month of mortgage payments, every surprise leak or broken appliance, every hour spent tending to the garden creates a more seasoned homeowner.

But as for selling your house? Welcome to brand-new territory!

Just as you can have regrets as a buyer sellers too can experience the pangs of “what-if?” What if I’d waited to sell? What if I’d negotiated differently? What if I’d taken more time to make the house look amazing?

At this moment you’re someone with a lot of money on the line, and no direct experience. That’s scary. The good news is that there are ways to increase your odds of selling your Waterloo Region home fast and at full price, – or for more even – as a first-time seller.

When preparing to sell your first home slow it down and dig into your research before you make any moves. Here are some top tips to help you do just that.

Are You Really Ready to Move On?

Selling your house comes with a lot more emotional baggage than, say, putting your old iPhone up for sale on eBay. You’re parting with a place called “home” that, by all odds, is where you spent a good chunk of time over the last however many years. As much as this is a financial decision, it’s also a very personal one.

Before you put your house on the market, do the emotional work. Walk through your home and talk about old memories. Reflect on how the house has served its purpose for however long you lived there. Reminisce about how you loved living here with your partner, children, and family members. Think about what life beyond this sale will be and whether you’re happy with that picture.

Deal with whatever anxiety or apprehension you have about letting go of it (feeling this way is normal!) And decide whether you’re willing and ready to hear critiques about your home. If the thought of getting negative buyer feedback makes you cringe, or you aren’t prepared to negotiate the process like a business deal, then you could be in for a rough experience.

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Hire The Right Real Estate Agent

Any real estate agent you talk to is going to gladly list your home and collect their commission at closing. But not all agents have the same experience level, aptitude, or track record of success.

So the challenge for you is not to find an real estate agent, but to find a great one. And because an agent who’s a perfect match for you may be different than the agent who helped your coworker, friend, or neighbour, you should set out to find an agent who is specially suited for your particular needs.

It’s OK – and expected to interview – real estate agents (here are some tips on that process) and it’s something you SHOULD do. Taking the time and care to select the right real estate professional during this step will make a world of difference in your home sale experience.

Do Your Home Selling Maths

If you’re confident about the decision to sell your Waterloo Region home, then the next step is to make sure you’re in a strong financial position to do so. You need your proceeds from the sale to cover all the fees associated with selling it (otherwise you’ll have to bring money to the table), and hopefully, you’ll also pocket some profit.

You should start with an estimation of your home’s value, minus your remaining mortgage balance (this is also known as your home equity). From there, subtract closing costs, which include agent commissions, fees, and taxes, and may amount to anywhere from 6% and 10% of your home’s sale price.

Put the Work Into Presale Home Prep

According to one survey, 30% of first-time and repeat sellers say they wish they’d given themselves more time to get their house ready for the market — making a lack of preparation the most common regret among sellers. Don’t let this be you!

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Once your house goes up for sale, it’ll start racking up what’s called “days on market.” The longer your home sits, the more buyers will start to wonder if something’s wrong with it, why it hasn’t sold, and if they can get away with lowballing you. Take the time to make the house look presentable and it’ll pay off down the line.

The good news is that home prep doesn’t have to call for massive renovations. It will require some elbow grease and a minor cash investment in many cases, but getting your home show ready is not as hard as you might think. You can find some very helpful tips for this stage here.

Focus on Curb Appeal

If you do nothing else to prepare your home for sale, at least make the outside look great. Curb. Appeal. Is. Everything. We can’t stress that enough, especially now when buyers may not be able to attend an in person showing due to COVID restrictions but can do a drive by out front.

While appraisers can’t necessarily put a price on curb appeal through quantitative appraisal methods, appraisers do take it into account qualitatively when reconciling that final value. And there’s also the “wow” factor that draws more competition for your home and gets buyers excited to see what’s inside.

Steer Clear of Problems with a Prelisting Inspection

We often recommend that our seller clients schedule a home inspection before they list their house. This is called a prelisting inspection. It sounds counterintuitive, but it will turn buyers off if they start finding things wrong with the place that you, as a seller, did not reveal.

Basically, an inspection report with a long list of issues gives buyers more negotiating power. Worse, buyers may find something that causes them to pull out of the deal, leaving your house to sit on the market longer. But if you get a home inspection done first, you have a lot more more control.

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Instead of being under the gun to fix things fast with your closing date fast approaching, you’ll have more time to make necessary repairs, and shop contractors at the best price. Plus, you make it hard for buyers to not offer their best for your house when they can’t find anything wrong with it.

Set the Right Asking Price

A seller’s personal connection to their home, and motivation to get the most money out of it, can cloud their judgment on price in a big way. This can cause your home to linger on the market and sit “stale” until you’re forced into a price reduction.

Make sure your price is backed by comparable sales (recently sold homes that are similar to yours in location, size, condition, and characteristics). Your agent will run a full comparative market analysis to inform your decision. Trust their expertise.

Treat Your Real Estate Agents as a Partner in the Process

If you enter the homeseller/real estate agent partnership with an attitude that says “It’s my way or the highway” as opposed to being open to your agent’s feedback, you may not get the results you hoped for.

For example, say you’re determined to sell your home for a certain price, but your agent is telling you it’s not fair-market value. Ignoring them and turning down fair offers may come back to bite you as your listing racks up days on the market. Listen to your agent when they say an offer is a good deal.

And don’t take a backseat approach. If you want to hear from them, make it a point to get in touch weekly and ask about buyer feedback, market updates, and any response rates on social media, website and other promotion campaigns they’re running.

We have found that some clients don’t want to know anything until there’s news, while others want to chat often, so be clear with your agent about what works for you. Let them know how often you want to hear from them, so there’s no miscommunication.