The thought of selling your own property might well strike fear in the hearts of many; but, let's face it selling your own property is not rocket science. But, if it is so simple, why do people sign on with a real estate agent? Because we believe we have to -- pure and simple. This is just an out-of-date belief carried over from a time when the legalities related to owning and selling property were patently different from today's reality. In most provinces, even listing your sale on the real estate sale pages is now possible.
Once we tear ourselves away from the "have to" myth, we can move on to the steps involved in successfully selling our own property. What you will find is that, whether you sell on your own, use a real estate agent or sell through a marketing company, following each of these steps will increase the probability of sale, as well as the selling price.
Why are you selling?
Consider this question very carefully. Your answer will provide some insight into what price to set, how long you are willing to leave your property on the market, the timing of your advertising and other useful information that will enhance the selling potential of your property. It will also help you to respond to questions from potential buyers who, for whatever reason, tend to be interested in the "why" of a property sale.
Repair and Replace:
Conduct a critical tour of both the interior and the exterior of your property. Make a list of absolutely everything that should be repaired and/or replaced. Don't be afraid to have one of your most fault-finding friends do or re-do this tour for you. While involving someone else in this activity might be upsetting to your ego, it is also an extremely useful way to figure out what has to be done in order to get your property into top-notch selling condition even if you might not have the finances to do so immediately. That piece of cord holding the door closed might be something you have come to accept and ignore, but it will deter a potential buyer.
Evaluate the décor.
That old chair might be the ultimate in comfort but, if it is an eyesore, it will draw the attention of a potential buyer away from the positive points in the room. If you choose not to get rid of it, at least invest in a suitable cover to refresh its look.
De-clutter every single room including the basement, attic, storage areas and the garage.
The importance of de-cluttering cannot be over-emphasized. Ask yourself … "is it necessary for this item to remain in that spot during the period of sale?" If the answer is "no", it meets the definition of clutter for "show" purposes. Perhaps it's time for a yard sale or a donation to the local second-hand store or a trip to the dump? Remember that too much stuff in any space can easily detract the potential buyer from the positive elements of that room. Children's art and family photos may warm your heart, but they offer nothing to the viewer.
Store unnecessary items out of sight.
If there are items that are causing clutter but you still wish to keep them, you may wish to consider renting a storage unit or an on-site storage cubicle (now available in many cities). Remember to make sure that you do not store any item that you might need within the foreseeable future or, at the very least, make sure that it remains accessible. For example, your winter coat and boots might not be needed in July, but they will be necessary by December. In the absence of funds, you could opt to sacrifice one room or one specific area of the garage or basement to the cause but, remember to leave space all around the perimeter area. Potential buyers will want to see the walls to satisfy themselves that there are no leaks, damage or other concerns.
Measure the interior and the exterior of the property both in feet and in meters.
You will need these details for your advertising and providing both these measurements will be important if your potential target market includes Canadian, American and/or European buyers.
Describe the special features of each room.
Although the use of a kitchen might seem obvious, is there an island? Does the island have drawers? Does the sink have a garbage disposal? OR, is there a deck off the Master Bedroom? Or a great view overlooking the harbour? Potential buyers are attracted by this type of information.
What is included in the sale?
Make a list of ALL the items you intend to include with the sale of the property, from the most obscure to the most obvious, together with the age or relative age of each even that lawn tractor.
Research other properties for sale.
Doing so will provide you with a more comprehensive checklist of what types of information are normally included in the ad -- such as outside dimensions of the house, size of the property, zoning, age of the roof, what is nearby (churches, shopping centres, restaurants, arts / culture, medical centre, hospital, etc). Then, prepare and enhance your own list of amenities and attractions applicable to your property.
At this point, you may wish to consider contracting with a marketing company to avoid the nausea and expense of having to deal with each of the remaining steps.
There are any number of these companies across the country that specialize in property sales some new and some with long-established reputations. Their services range from on-line listings and signs to a full range of services that mirror those of a real estate agent including a listing on real estate sites. These companies offer one-stop shopping for many of the activities you will need for the sale of your property, but otherwise leave you in total control of the sale itself. They usually draw the line at physically showing the property or handling offers and final sales.
Solicit legal advice.
Unless you have a legal background, it is in your best interest to meet with a lawyer who is willing to advise you during the course of your sale, to review the written offers and to handle the "close" of the sale. On a cautionary note, take some time to check the lawyer's track record and any complaints that may have been filed. This information is readily available at website of the Law Society within your province or territory.
Arrange for a professional property assessment.
A well-priced property is one that sells quickly. Comparative pricing with other houses in the area is certainly one element of pricing but there are numerous other factors to consider. The cost involved in a professional property assessment is well worth the investment and more often than not alleviates the need to lower the price at some time in the future.
Develop an advertising plan.
The possibilities are endless, involving any one or any combination of creating your own website, a separate Facebook page, a twitter account or a traditional print ad. There are several online companies that offer very reasonably priced lawn signs, posters and even magnetic signs to attach to your vehicle. Don't dismiss the idea of business card sized information that is easy to hand out to friends and family.
Develop a plan on how to manage the sale.
- Creating a separate email that will help you stay focused. This will also allow you to delete the email once the property is sold and end all communication in relation thereto;
- Arranging for voice mail so that you are able to screen spam, late night or other unwanted calls;
- Deciding on when and how to allow "viewings". Will you show the property upon each request? By appointment only? With a regular open house? Other?
Develop a plan to handle real estate agents.
Inevitably, once you put up a lawn sign or post an ad, you will receive calls from real estate agents. A common theme will be for the agent to suggest that (s)he has a client interested in your property and asking you to sign a contract. That assertion is no guarantee that a client is actually waiting in the wings. In most jurisdictions, you have the option to negotiate with the agent, stating that "if" (s)he is able to present you with a firm written offer, you will agree to pay a flat dollar amount for 24 or 48 hours to close the deal.
When showing your property, have someone with you with a portable phone in his/her hand. Let others know that you have a showing and let that person know when the showing is over. Always keep the viewer(s) in front of you, rather than walking in front of them.
Remember: A clean, neat, well advertised and well-priced property will sell faster and at a greater profit margin.