Memories are priceless and they are what make a house a home. But these memories, and our emotional attachment to a parent's home, can prevent us from making sound decisions when it comes time to let go. Selling a home is a major feat, both emotionally and financially, and Realtors are experts who can help.
“There are many unique things to consider when selling a home that is not your own, and may have been lived in for decades,” says Barbara Sukkau, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association, who offers some advice for getting started.
“Ask your Realtor to conduct a comparative market analysis, which will provide insight into what's happening in the area: what buyers are looking for, which homes are selling quickly and why some homes may not be selling.”
A pre-listing inspection will focus on the home itself. “You'll be able to find out what shape the home is in and whether there are major structural repairs to be made,” says Sukkau.
Then talk to your Realtor about what updates you should consider and what you can afford. “It may be in your best interest to sell 'as is' if the area is undergoing a revitalization where homes are bought and then renovated or torn down,” says Sukkau.
“Whether or not updates are made to the home, any existing issues or defects should be outlined in the seller property information statement,” advises Sukkau. Even if you did not live in or own the house, as the seller you are legally responsible for disclosing this information. Your Realtor can assist you in completing this form accurately and so that you are protected after the sale is completed.
“Realtors are experts who can help you navigate the implications involved in family law and estate sales by directing you to the appropriate resources,” says Sukkau.
Occasionally, one can see "For Sale By Owner" signs, and some owners think that selling their own home will not only save them money, but believe they have an advantage over the sellers that have their home listed by a reputable Realtor®. Before you decide to take on this very important and legally complicated process…remember not even most Real Estate Lawyer's recommend selling your own home yourself in today's market. Here are a few of the reasons why:
1. You are limiting your exposure to potential buyers (less than 10% of what a good real estate broker will generate) which theoretically means your home will take ten to fifteen times longer to sell on the market.
2. The longer a home is on the market the lower the selling price is. Why? Because most buyers think that if the home has not sold after this long... there must be something wrong with the home.
3. The selling/buying process begins AFTER the buyer leaves your home. Most sellers think that all it takes is for someone to see their home, fall in love with the great decor... and the offer automatically will follow. Remember that the buying process begins after they leave your home. If a real estate sales representative does not represent the buyer, and they are looking on their own…they usually leave the home and start to talk themselves out of the buying process. If the buyer is represented by a real estate professional Realtors® are trained on how to overcome buyers remorse--a very common occurrence.
4. Because of the limited exposure you will very likely end up with a lower selling price. Remember, in order to generate the highest price possible for your home… selling means exposure. You need the maximum exposure possible, to generate the highest price possible.
5. Most buyers find it extremely awkward to negotiate or even to talk directly with sellers and therefore avoid FSBO properties.
6. Lack of negotiating experience and lack of pertinent information often will result in a lower selling price, or worse yet, a bungled contract and possible lawsuits.
7. The majority of qualified buyers are working with experienced real estate professionals.
8. Many serious buyers will pass by a FSBO home merely because they recognize that it is not in the real estate mainstream, this can some times make them wary.
9. As most local buyers now retain an experienced real estate sales person to represent them as their buyer-agency, you will probably be negotiating against an experienced professional.
10. Expected savings in broker's fees will also be greatly reduced if you offer a selling commission to entice real estate sales representatives to bring potential buyers.
11. If you are planning to use a Lawyer to help you negotiate the offer, then your lawyer's fees will be considerably higher.
12. Only real estate sales representatives have access to the up-to-date market information. News reports cannot approach the timeliness or specificity available to real estate sales people. Further, real estate sales representatives are involved in home sales much more frequently than the average homeowner is. This familiarity leads to a degree of expertise that provides an edge on negotiating and successful selling.
13. You only pay the commission to the real estate broker, if they successfully sell your home at the price you are happy with.
14. Accepting an offer is one thing, ensuring a safe and successful closing is quite another. Real estate transactions usually always have problems on closing. At times, expecting the Buyers and Sellers Lawyer's to fight it out or resolve the problems, can sometimes mean the deal is lost. This is the time that your experienced real estate professional, can be the most important. Your Realtor® can act as a great mediator. Lawyers MUST act only on their client's instructions and are not paid to negotiate.
As a homeowner, we begin to accumulate papers and documents the moment we choose to purchase a home. Offers to purchase, mortgage documents, home inspection reports, homeowners insurance, renovation receipts, and appliance warranties are just some of documents that you may need to refer to in the future. The ability to locate these important papers easily can save you time, and even money.
Royal LePage Canada legal consultant Penny Egan recommends locating and organizing all these documents in single multi-tab filing system. “No need for an elaborate system—a simple accordion file with labeled flaps will do,” says Egan, suggesting the following categories.
Contracts and legal papers
These documents include the deed, surveys, inspections and any other reports. You will need these records again if you decide to re-finance or sell your home.
Create a folder for your homeowners insurance policy, as well as mortgage insurance, if you hold a policy. Also use this space to keep copies of correspondence related to any past claims.
Purchase and market data
Keep a copy of the original listing of your home, and as information comes available from homes sold in your area, slip this information into the file to include ongoing comparable market data.
Keep your tax bills and record of payment for as long as you own the home. If you have business-use-of-home expenses on your federal tax return, you may need these items if your tax returns are audited.
Home maintenance and improvements
Create a folder for receipts for repairs, maintenance and home improvements. You may also wish to include a log of regular maintenance tasks.
Warranties, manuals and receipts
Keep your warranties, manuals and receipts for all appliances for as long as you own them.
If you were ever to lose any of your possessions due to fire or burglary, having a home inventory can make it easier when filing an insurance claim. Make a list of valuables in the home and take photos of each room for visual documentation, including close-up photos of jewelry and other valuables.
Organizing your home files may take of time initially, but is time well spent in the event you need the documents on refinancing or sale.
Moving to a new home can be stressful for everyone involved, including your pets. “We often see homeowners who are anxious about their pet's adjustment to a new home,” says Yvonne Ratigan, vice president at Royal LePage Canada. “By planning ahead, you can ensure your pet is happy and safe in your new home,” Ratigan says, offering these tips to help things go smoothly.
Visit the vet. Schedule a visit with your veterinarian for a check-up and ensure all vaccinations are up to date. Use this time to arrange for copies of your pet's records, and ask for a recommendation for a veterinarian in your new location. If your journey is a long one, ask for advice on how to care for your pet during transportation.
Research by-laws and pet licensing in your new area. What are the requirements concerning domestic animals in your new area? To find out, contact the local Humane Society or an animal shelter run by the municipality. Ask about licensing and by-laws concerning the responsibilities of pet owners. Also check into the availability of leash-free areas for dogs in your new community.
Special considerations for rural areas. If the area you are moving to is a rural one, be sure to learn the rights of farmers when neighbouring pets venture onto their property. Often, farmers have special privileges when it comes to protecting their livestock. An unleashed pet, who ventures onto a farmer's property, could be considered a threat.
Transitioning your pet to your new home. Take your dog for several walks each day to help him become familiar with the new area. Avoid walking the dog immediately before you plan to leave the home for errands or work. Plan to be home for a period of time after those initial walks, so that the dog associates the new area with a positive outcome. Leaving immediately after your walk can increase anxiety. Cats on the other hand, should remain inside for several weeks until they become comfortable in the new home. Cats are known to run away to search for their old home, so safe containment indoors is paramount.