Buying Guides For Real Estate In Canada.
We offer many services to make your buying process easier, faster, and less expensive. We can assist you with everything from locating a home, to supplying you with market analysis, to making and closing an offer.
One of our local Real Estate Agents would be happy to meet with you to help you find a property. Please refer to one of our local offices for further assistance.
6 Mistakes to Avoid When Trading Up to a Larger Home
Unlike the experience of buying a first home, when you're looking to move-up, and already own a home, there are certain factors that can complicate the situation. It's very important for you to consider these issues before you list your home for sale.
Not only is there the issue of financing to consider, but you also have to sell your present home at exactly the right time in order to avoid either the financial burden of owning two homes or, just as bad, the dilemma of having no place to live during the gap between closings.
In this report, we outline the six most common mistakes homeowners make when moving to a larger home. Knowledge of these six mistakes, and the strategies to overcome them, will help you make informed choices before you put your existing home on the market.
Most of us dream of improving our lifestyle and moving to a larger home. The problem is that there's sometimes a discrepancy between our hearts and our bank accounts. You drive by a home that you fall in love with only to find that it's already sold or that it's more than what you are willing to pay. Most homeowners get caught in this hit or miss strategy of house hunting when there's a much easier way of going about the process. For example, find out if your agent offers a Buyer Profile System or House-hunting Service, which takes the guesswork away and helps to put you in the home of your dreams. This type of program will cross-match your criteria with ALL avail-able homes on the market and sup-ply you with printed information on an on-going basis. A program like this helps homeowners take off their rose-coloured glasses and, affordably, move into the home of their dreams.
If you want to get the best price for the home you're selling, there will certainly be things you can do to enhance it in a prospective buyer's eyes. These fix-ups don't necessarily have to be expensive. But even if you do have to make a minor investment, it will often come back to you ten-fold in the price you are able to get when you sell. It's very important that these improvements be made before you put your home on the market. If cash is tight, investigate an equity loan that you can repay on closing.
You should plan to sell before you buy. This way you will not find yourself at a disadvantage at the negotiating table, feeling pressured to accept an offer that is below-market value because you have to meet a purchase deadline. If you've already sold your home, you can buy your next one with no strings attached. If you do get a tempting offer on your home but haven't made significant headway on finding your next home, you might want to put in a contingency clause in the sale con-tract which gives you a reasonable time to find a home to buy. If the market is slow and you find your home is not selling as quickly as you anticipated, another option could be renting your home and putting it up on the market later - particularly if you are selling a smaller, starter home. You'll have to investigate the tax rules if you choose this latter option. Better still, find a way to eliminate this situation altogether by getting your agent to guarantee the sale of your present home (see point number 5 below).
Pre-approval is a very simple process that many homeowners fail to take advantage of. While it doesn't cost or obligate you to anything, pre-approval gives you a significant advantage when you put an offer on the home you want to purchase because you know exactly how much house you can afford, and you already have the green light from your lending institution. With a pre-approved mortgage, your offer will be viewed far more favourably by a seller - some-times even if it's a little lower than another offer that's contingent on financing. Don't fail to take this important step.
Your biggest dilemma when buying and selling is deciding which to do first. Point number 3 above advises you to sell first. However there are ways to eliminate this dilemma altogether. Some agents offer a Guaranteed Sale Trade-Up Program that actually takes the problem away from you entirely by guaranteeing the sale of your present home before you take possession of your next one. If you find a home you wish to purchase and have not sold your current home yet, they will buy your home from you themselves so you can make your move free of stress and worry.
With two major transactions to coordinate together with all the people involved such as mortgage experts, appraisers, lawyers, loan officers, title company representatives, home inspectors or pest inspectors the chances of mix-ups and miscommunication go up dramatically. To avoid a logistical nightmare ensure you work closely with your agent.
7 Things You Must Know About Mortgages Before You Buy
Mortgage regulations have changed significantly over the last few years, making your options wider than ever. Subtle changes in the way you approach mortgage shopping, and even small differences in the way you structure your mortgage, can cost or save you literally thousands of dollars and years of expense.
Whether you are about to buy your first home, or are planning to make a move to your next home, it is critical that you inform yourself about the factors involved.
Industry research has revealed that there are 6 common mistakes that most homebuyers make in mortgage shopping that can have a significant impact on the outcome of this critical negotiation. If handled correctly, these issues could result in a mortgage that will cost you less over a shorter period of time.
Before you commit your hard earned dollars to monthly mortgage payments, consider these 6 issues. Effective consideration of these important areas can make your payments work much harder for you.
Pre-approval is easy, and can give you complete peace of mind when shopping for your home. Your local lending institution can provide you with written pre-approval for you at no cost and no obligation, and it can all be done quite easily over the phone. More than just a verbal approval from your lending institution, a written pre-approval is as good as money in the bank. It entails a completed credit application, and a certificate that guarantees you a mortgage to the specified level when you find the home you're looking for.
When you discuss mortgage pre-approval with your lending institution, find out what level you qualify for, but also pre-assess for yourself what monthly dollar amount you feel comfortable committing to. Your situation may give you a pre-approval amount that is higher (or lower) than the amount of money you would want to pay out each month. By working back and forth with your lending institution to determine what this monthly amount is, and what value of home this translates into at today's rates, you won't waste time looking at homes that are not in your price range.
There are a number of questions you should be asking yourself before you commit to a certain type of mortgage. How long do you think you will own this home? What direction are interest rates going in, and how quickly? Is your income expected to change (up or down) in the near term, impacting how much money you can afford to pay to your mortgage? The answers to these and other questions will help you determine the most appropriate mortgage you should be seeking.
More frequent payments (for example weekly or biweekly) can literally shave years off your mortgage. Simply by structuring your payments so that they come out more frequently, will significantly lessen the amount of interest that you will be charged over the term.
For the same reason, authorized prepayment of a certain percentage of your mortgage, or an increase in the amount you pay monthly, will have a major impact on the number of years you will have to pay and could shorten your payment term considerably.
These two payment options can cut years off your mortgage, and save you thousands of dollars in interest. However, not every mortgage has these prepayment privileges built in, so make sure you ask the proper questions.
A portable mortgage, where available, is one that you can carry with you when you buy your next home and avoid paying any discharge penalties. This means that you will not have to go through the entire mortgage process again unless you are making a move up to a much more expensive home.
An assumable mortgage is one that the buyer for your home can take over when you move to your next home. This can be a very powerful tool at the negotiating table making it much easier and more desirable for a buyer to buy your home, and again saves you any discharge penalties.
Consider dealing only with a professional who specializes in mortgages. Enlisting their services can make a significant difference in the cost and effectiveness of the mortgage you obtain. For example they can make the process faster thereby avoiding costly delays. Typically there is no cost or obligation to inquire.
8 Simple Secrets to Avoid Costly Mistakes Buying Your Dream Home
So you've finally decided to buy your next home. Problem is while you were making up your mind, other fence sitters jumped into the home market too. Now you may be facing some competition for the best properties. What to do? Just because there are other buyers in the market doesn't mean you can't come away with your dream house. But to be a successful buyer in today's real estate market you're going to need help.
Your first best move is to know a few inside tricks. As experienced real estate professionals we have many more than eight ways to increase your chances of landing a prize property despite heavy competition. The following tested tips will increase your market savvy and sharpen your competitive position. Then you'll be ready to act quickly the minute you see that perfect house.
To be pre-approved for a mortgage loan is your first step. You will go through what amounts to a mini-application process (paperwork, credit check, etc.) prior to shopping for a house. Pre-approval is more effective than pre-qualification, which only gives you a rough idea of the amount a lender will lend you—assuming no hang-ups in the credit and income checking process. When you are pre-approved, it's like carrying around a suitcase full of money. In the eyes of the seller, pre-approval makes you a very desirable “cash” buyer. That's a real advantage over another buyer whose financing is uncertain.
Once you know your specific price range, your real estate agent can regularly do a computerized market sweep for new listings. You should receive a hot list of attractive properties as they come on the market. This will give you a head start on other buyers because you will get the listings before they are advertised. Timing can be a vital part of your home buying experience.
Make yourself a “value expert” by investigating local properties to get an idea of price points, listing-to-sale-price ratios, hottest areas, and best places for a bargain. Once you know what your money will buy, your real estate agent can add up-to-the-minute knowledge of what comparable properties sell for in specific neighbourhoods and what impact specific features have on price. Working with a good agent will guarantee you the best price and terms.
Nobody wants their offer lingering on a fax machine in the listing agent's office while other buyers are putting offers on the seller's kitchen table. When the situation calls for that personal touch, you'll gain an advantage by having your agent present your offer in person. He or she may pick up critical intelligence on any competing offers by being on the scene.
An excellent way of showing the seller you are serious about buying the house is to include a good faith deposit along with the offer you make. This deposit could be as much as 5% of the bid price and surely will attract the seller's attention.
When deciding on your dream home you do not have to over pay to get it. Sure, you may have to offer something other than the asking price, such as paying some or all points, inspections, closing costs, or offering a settlement date that fits the seller's timetable. If you over pay now and have to sell your house in the future it will be harder for you to get back equal value.
You want to make sure that your contract isn't sloppy or cluttered with contingencies such as repairs. Keep contingencies to a minimum. Even better, offer to be helpful, take care of repairs, order an inspection in 48 hours, or be willing to take care of any required local certificates such as smoke detectors and water safety. Be open and flexible to try to help accommodate the needs of the seller.
What you need most in today's market is experienced professional guidance. As your neighbourhood real estate specialists we can help you get pre-approved, find a prize property, and negotiate the best deal on your next home no matter how heated the competition. Call us today. We'll help you be a cool customer.
9 Buyer Traps and How to Avoid Them
No matter which way you look at it buying a home is a major investment. For many homebuyers however, it can be an even more expensive process than it needs to be because many fall prey to at least a few of the many common and costly mistakes which trap them into either:
- paying too much for the home they want, or
- losing their dream home to another buyer, or
- (worse) buying the wrong home for their needs.
A systemized approach to the home buying process can help you steer clear of these common traps, allowing you to not only cut costs, but also secure the home that's best for you.
This important report discusses the nine most common and costly of these homebuyer traps, how to identify them, and what you can do to avoid them.
What price should you offer when you bid on a home? Is the seller's asking price too high, or does it represent a great deal. If you fail to research the market in order to understand what comparable homes are selling for, making your offer would be like bidding blind. Without this knowledge of market value, you could easily bid too much, or fail to make a competitive offer at all on an excellent value.
What are you looking for in a home? A simple enough question, but the answer can be quite complex. More than one buyer has been swept up in the emotion and excitement of the buying process only to find themselves the owner of a home that is either too big or too small. Maybe they're stuck with a longer than desired commute to work, or a dozen more fix-ups than they really want to deal with now that the excitement has died down. Take the time up front to clearly define your wants and needs. Put it in writing and then use it as a yardstick with which to measure every home you look at.
Make sure very early on in the negotiation that you will own your new home free and clear by having a title search completed. The last thing you want to discover when you're in the back stretch of a transaction is that there are encumbrances on the property such as tax liens, undisclosed owners, easements, leases or the like.
As part of your offer to purchase, make sure you request an accurate property survey that clearly marks your boundaries. If the survey is not current, you may find that there are structural changes that are not shown (e.g. additions to the house, a new swimming pool, a neighbour's new fence that is extending a boundary line, etc.) Be very clear on these issues.
Don't expect every seller to own up to every physical detail that will need to be attended to. Both you and the seller are out to maximize your investment. Ensure that you conduct a thorough inspection of the home early in the process. Consider hiring an independent inspector to objectively view the home inside and out, and make the final contract contingent upon this inspector's report. This inspector should be able to give you a report of any item that needs to be fixed with associated, approximate cost.
Pre-approval is fast, easy and free. When you have a pre-approved mortgage, you can shop for your home with a greater sense of freedom and security, knowing that the money will be there when you find the home of your dreams.
If a seller fails to comply to the letter of the contract by neglecting to attend to some repair issues, or changing the spirit of the agreement in some way, this could delay the final closing and settlement. Prepare a list of agreed issues, walk through them, and check them off one by one.
Make sure you identify and uncover all costs – large and small – far enough ahead of time. When a transaction closes, you will sometimes find fees for this or that sneaking through after the “sub total” – fees such as loan disbursement charges, underwriting fees etc. Understand these in advance by having your lender project total charges for you in writing.
Take your time during this critical part of the process, and insist on seeing all paperwork the day before you sign. Make sure this documentation perfectly reflects your understanding of the transaction, and that nothing has been added or subtracted. Is the interest rate right? Is everything covered? If you rush this process on the day of closing, you may run into a last minute snag that you can't fix without compromising the terms of the deal, the financing, or even the sale itself.
How Much Should I Expect to Pay on Closing Costs?
Whether you're looking to buy your first home, or trading up to a larger one, there are many costs – on top of the purchase price – that you must figure into your calculation of affordability. These extra fees, such as taxes and other additional costs, could surprise you with an unwanted financial nightmare on closing day if you're not informed and prepared.
Some of these costs are one-time fixed payments, while others represent an ongoing monthly or yearly commitment. Not all of these costs will apply in every situation, however it's better to know about them ahead of time so you can budget properly.
Remember that buying a home is a major milestone. Whether it's your first, second or tenth home, there are many important details to address during the process. The last thing you need is unbudgeted financial obligations cropping up hours before you take possession of your new home.
Read through the following checklist to make sure you're budgeting properly for your next move.
Your lending institution may request an appraisal of the property, which would be your responsibility to pay for. Appraisals can vary in price from approximately $175 -$300.
Depending on your down payment, your lending institution may decide to include your property taxes in your monthly mortgage payments. If your property taxes are not added to your monthly payments, your lending institution may require annual proof that your taxes have been paid.
When the home you purchase is a resale (vs. a new home), your lending institution may ask for an updated property survey. The cost for this survey can vary between $700- $1,000.
Home insurance covers the replacement value of your home (structure and contents). Your lending institution will request proof that you are insured as it protects their investment on the loan.
Any new utility that services your hook up, such as telephone or cable, may require an installation fee.
Even the simplest of home purchases should have a lawyer involved to review all paperwork. Shop around, as rates vary greatly depending on the complexity of the issues and the experience of the lawyer.
Depending upon the equity in your home, some mortgages require mortgage loan insurance. This type of insurance will cost you between 0.5% -3.5% of the total amount of the mortgage. Usually payments are made monthly in addition to your mortgage and tax payment.
A mortgage broker is entitled to charge you a fee in order to source a lender and organize the financing. However, it pays to shop around because many mortgage brokers will provide their services free to you by having the lending institution absorb the cost.
The cost for a professional mover can cost you in the range of:
$50-$100/hour for a van and 3 movers, and
10-20% higher during peak demand seasons.
Condos charge monthly fees for common area maintenance such as grounds keeping and carpet cleaning in hallways. Costs will vary depending on the building.
If the home you purchased is serviced by a well, you should consider having your water checked by your local experts. Depending upon where you live, determines whether or not a fee is charged, to certify the quantity and quality of the water.
If the town you live in has made local improvements (such as the addition of sewers or sidewalks), this could impact a property's taxes by thousands of dollars.
This tax is applied whenever property changes hands and the amount that is applied can vary.
Stop Paying Rent - A guide to becoming a homeowner rather than a home-renter
From basement suites to full houses, renting is a huge business in this country. If you currently rent, you know that paying out those hundreds of dollars every month to line the pockets of your landlord is not a pleasant task. However, like most renters you probably feel stuck in a home that isn't even yours simply because you can't save up that down payment for your own home.
This report contains details on how you can stop paying rent and start contributing to your own financial future, rather than that of your landlord. By knowing some valuable information about the real estate industry, as well as some tips and tricks about property ownership, you'll be able to start on the road from renting to owning. This report will tell you how you can:
7 Little-known Facts That Can Help You Purchase Your First Home
- Save for a down payment for your property
- Make best use of your financial institution, and other loan sources
- Consider reversing the rental roles
Purchasing your first home can be challenging. Your monthly cash flow may easily cover the proposed mortgage costs, but perhaps accumulating the down payment is what you find difficult. Or maybe you have financial reserves, but cash flow is what's holding you back. Whatever the reasons, purchasing a new property can still be accomplished, regardless of your financial standing. Consider the following facts:
Where to go from here?
Several programs exist to help first-time buyers enter the property market. These programs require that you have never purchased a home before, and that you meet basic qualification standards. It is important that you consult a professional real estate agent who is familiar with these programs, so that you may make best use of them.
In some areas it is also possible to assume a mortgage. If this is an option in your area, your real estate agent will be able to perform search on listings requiring small to no down payments.
Depending on your financial standing, you may have assets worth equal to or more than your needed down payment. If this is the case, your financial institution may be willing to lend you the extra cash needed for your down payment, while securing it against your assets.
Some sellers may be willing to lend you money to purchase the home. This is known as a ‘seller take-back' and is essentially a loan from the seller to the buyer. Instead of your monthly mortgage payments going to a financial institution, they would go directly to the seller. This loan works in exactly the same way as any other, and is subject to the rules and regulations outlined upon instantiation.
Options exist for you to borrow for certain investments to a specified level, and using those investments to leverage a significant tax return. This process can be further coupled with a first-time homebuyer's plan, and turned into significant equity.
You can also borrow against savings in an RRSP, and if repaid in a certain time period, avoid any interest payments.
If you're interested in subsidizing your mortgage payments with some supplemental income, why not consider becoming a landlord yourself? Houses and condos with extra bedrooms and living facilities are often not much more expensive than those without. If you have been pre-approved for a mortgage that allows you to purchase a larger property, why not consider renting out the extra space and having a tenant pay your mortgage?
In some areas it is also possible to assume a mortgage. If this is an option in your area, your real estate agent will be able to perform search on listings requiring small to no down payments.
Oftentimes it is possible to secure a loan, even with a poor credit rating. If you have enough equity to borrow against, your financial institution may consider lending you money to purchase a home.
It is also possible to use a ‘seller take-back' loan for the purchase, using the seller as the lender.
In some areas it is also possible to assume a mortgage. If this is an option in your area, your real estate agent will be able to perform search on listings requiring small to no down payments.
Before you begin looking for a property, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage. It is important to make sure that you know your budget, as well as your monthly payments to make sure that they are within your means. Enlisting the help of a professional mortgage specialist is a good idea when it comes to locating a loan that meets your needs. Oftentimes a professional will be able to locate more competitive mortgage rates than those offered by a single financial institution. There is usually no obligation, and the benefits of knowing your buying power while shopping for your home reduce stress and wasted time.
This report is designed to illustrate that you have options other than paying large monthly payments to your landlord. It is clear that with a little creativity and help from a real estate professional, you can make the break from renting to owning.
Make sure to consider your options - this report is not designed to make you feel obligated to purchase a home. If you're interested in more information, please contact your real estate agent.
Saving Money - A guide to saving thousands of dollars when buying a home
Buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases you'll ever make, and by following some simple guidelines you can stand to save thousands of dollars. If you're like most people shopping for a home you're probably trying to match a home that fits your needs perfectly, with the lowest possible price.
When looking for a home yourself, it's important to know how previous successful homebuyers have purchased their homes for thousands of dollars below a seller's asking price. Skills like negotiation are handy, but the fundamentals are often overlooked. This report will cover the following:
Here are some simple steps that will save your thousands when you purchase a home.
- Steps for saving thousands when you buy a home
- How sellers price their homes
Going into the home-buying process with some basic knowledge in the area can make all the difference. The following are some simple, but often overlooked, points that every homebuyer should take into account.
This seems like a simple point, but many people make the mistake of confusing what they need with what they desire. Obviously the goal of shopping around is to find a property that fulfills both, but it's important to know that in the real world this situation doesn't always occur.
When the purchase price of an item exceeds $10,000, people commonly let emotion and desire play a big role in their decision-making processes. When you're looking at home you'll find that you're drawn to certain properties for completely different reasons; some based on needs, and other based on desires. Is it better to buy the house with the basement suite for rental possibilities, or the one with more bedrooms to better accommodate a growing family? Many people make the wrong decision at this step and end up regretting their purchase for years.
It's vital that you satisfy your needs first, and your desires second. Oftentimes writing down both can aid in the home-buying process.
You should make sure that your agent offers a buyer profile system to get you all MLS® System listings that meet your exact requirements. Using one of these systems can greatly increase your chances of finding that perfect home as you will be made aware of all existing and new listings that meet your requirements.
Sellers price their homes in several different categories and it's important to consult your agent about the price of a property. Keep in mind that roughly 75% of all homes on the market are priced 5-10% above fair market value.
Selling Guides for Real Estate in Canada
We offer many services to make your selling process easier, faster, and help you keep more of your investment. One of our local Real Estate Agents would be happy to meet with you to provide a free home evaluation. Please refer to one of our local offices for further information.
Major mistakes made by sellers
From incorrect financing to lack of preparation, there are countless mistakes that a seller can make when putting their house on the market. This report covers some of the most common mistakes made by sellers during the property selling process.
If you're serious about selling your house, it's important that you know the facts. It seems like a simple prospect – just put your house on the market, show it to a few buyers, and make the sale – but as many sellers find out, selling a home can be a difficult, expensive and long prospect. By knowing some valuable information about the real estate industry, as well as some tips and tricks about selling your property, you'll be able to more effectively tackle today's real estate market. This report will tell you how you can:
10 Biggest Mistakes that Sellers Make
- Avoid making mistakes when selling your home
- Make you aware of the most common mistakes home sellers make
Selling your home can be a difficult job, especially since you're competing against hundreds of other properties. It's vital that you be aware of what works and doesn't work when it comes to home selling. Consider the following list of the most common mistakes made by home sellers:
Experience shows the right price sells a house faster than any other factor. When the listing price is more than 5% over market value, the price alone discourages buyers. That's because an overpriced house scares away potential buyers who think they can't even afford to look. Buyers who do look at an overpriced house know they can get more house for their money elsewhere.
In today's competitive market, most buyers will not even consider a house that needs fix ups. In contrast, a sparkling showcase home gets top dollar when it comes to the bottom line. What most buyers are looking for is an inviting home in move-in condition, one that looks as good as a model home. Buyers who are willing to tackle the repairs after moving in automatically subtract the cost of needed fix-ups from the price they offer. Either way, you save nothing by putting off fix-ups and likely slow the sale of your house.
A clean, bright decor is what buyers want. Probably the best dollar-for-dollar investment for selling your home fast is fresh paint. Neutral colors are best. Next to fresh paint, new carpeting--replaced for either condition or color--makes a big difference. Elbow grease can be as effective as spending cash to brighten your home. Start by ruthlessly getting rid of the junk you've accumulated. Clean each room top to bottom. Dare to make your home look better than you've ever had it looking before. Focus on the three rooms most inspected--kitchen, master bedroom and garage (if you've got one). Forget those and you may as well forget the buyer, too. In the kitchen, clear off counters and organize cupboards. Keep in mind, some prospects will judge the whole house by the cleanliness of the oven or refrigerator. In the master bedroom, move or remove furniture to create spaciousness. The ideal garage stores only cars and perhaps an orderly display of garden tools, so throw out your junk to show off room for theirs.
Your house gets only one chance to make a good first impression. That's why "curb appeal" is one of the most critical points in selling. Buyers are apt to fall in love at first sight--or not at all. If your home lacks curb appeal, chances are the first impression will not be counteracted by the most perfect floor plan or the most tasteful interior. Spruce up the view of the house from the street, including lawn, shrubs, shutters, windows, front door, mailbox. Add potted flowers out front, a wreath on the door, brass outdoor lighting fixtures--whatever will enhance your home's "buy me" look.
While it's important to fix whatever needs fixing to get your home ready for sale, undertaking a major project could cost more money than you would recover from the sale. Spending too much on remodelling projects just drains money out of your pocket. If your improvements will push your home's value more than 20% over the average neighbouring home values, don't expect to recoup the entire cost. (Some major projects, however, like replacing a roof, should be done if they are needed.)
The more buyers you appeal to in terms of financing, the greater your chances of selling faster. Be flexible, consider paying closing costs or points, providing a decorator's allowance or other irresistible buyer incentives.
One of the most important moves you can make is to reply immediately to an offer. When buyers make an offer they are, right then, in the mood to buy. Moods, as you know, change, and you don't want to lose a sale because you stall in replying.
No one wins if you enter negotiations with boxing gloves on. Instead, approach negotiations in a positive frame of mind, not as an adversary of the buyer. After all, you both want the same thing--a sale. Leave most of the discussion of price, terms, possession and other conditions up to your agent. We'll make it our business to get you the best deal.
The presence of your family can make prospective buyers feel like intruders. If you're at home when your home is being shown, be your usual friendly--but low-key--self and keep children and pets out from underfoot. It's the agent's job to show buyers what they need to see. Buyers can better focus on your home's advantages by viewing them than by socializing. If an open house is scheduled, plan to be away from home, but let us know how to reach you quickly. When you're not at home at other times, agents accompanying prospects will leave their business card. Please alert us afterward so we can follow up.
Going it alone like General Custer could invite disaster. Without a professional advisor, you probably won't sell. Even if you do sell, surveys show self-sellers often net less from the sale than sellers who use a real estate agent. Selling a house is a team effort between you and the listing agent. You'll find agents do a lot more than most people know--from bringing qualified buyers to keeping things on track to settlement.
28 Home-Selling Tips
"...discover how to protect and capitalize on your most important investment.."
Because your home may well be your largest asset, selling it is probably one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. To better understand the home selling process, a guide has been prepared from current industry insider reports. Through these 27 tips you will discover how to protect and capitalize on your most important investment, reduce stress, be in control of your situation, and make the most profit possible.
Your motivation to sell is the determining factor as to how you will approach the process. It affects everything from what you set your asking price at to how much time, money and effort you're willing to invest in order to prepare your home for sale. For example, if your goal is for a quick sale, this would deter-mine one approach. If you want to maximize your profit, the sales process might take longer thus determining a different approach.
The reason(s) you are selling your home will affect the way you negotiate its sale. By keeping this to yourself you don't provide ammunition to your prospective buyers. For example, should they learn that you must move quickly, you could be placed at a disadvantage in the negotiation process. When asked, simply say that your housing needs have changed. Remember, the reason( s) you are selling is only for you to know .
When you set your price, you make buyers aware of the absolute maximum they have to pay for your home. As a seller, you will want to get a selling price as close to the list price as possible. If you start out by pricing too high you run the risk of not being taken seriously by buyers and their agents and pricing too low can result in selling for much less than you were hoping for.
If You Live in a Subdivision - If your home is comprised of similar or identical floor plans, built in the same period, simply look at recent sales in your neighbourhood subdivision to give you a good idea of what your home is worth.
If You Live in An Older Neighbourhood - As neighbourhoods change over time each home may be different in minor or substantial ways. Because of this you will probably find that there aren't many homes truly comparable to your own. In this case you may want to consider seeking a Real Estate Agent to help you with the pricing process.
If You Decide to Sell On Your Own - A good way to establish a value is to look at homes that have sold in your neighbourhood within the past 6 months, including those now on the market. This is how prospective buyers will assess the worth of your home. Also a trip to City Hall can provide you with home sale information in its public records, for most communities.
The best way to learn about your competition and discover what turns buyers off is to check out other open houses. Note floor plans, condition, appearance, lot size, location and other features. Particularly note, not only the asking prices, but also why they are actually selling. Remember, if you're serious about getting your home sold fast, don't price it higher than your neighbour's.
Sometimes a good appraisal can be a benefit in marketing your home. Getting an appraisal is a good way to let prospective buyers know that your home can be financed. However, an appraisal does cost money, has a limited life, and there's no guarantee you'll like the figure you hear.
Nearly two-thirds of people who sell their own homes say they wouldn't do it again themselves. Primary reasons included setting a price, marketing handicaps, liability concerns, and time constraints. When deciding upon a Real Estate Agent, consider two or three. Be as wary of quotes that are too low as those that are too high.
All Real Estate Agents are not the same! A professional Real Estate Agent knows the market and has information on past sales, current listings, a marketing plan, and will provide their background and references. Evaluate each candidate carefully on the basis of his or her experience, qualifications, enthusiasm and personality. Be sure you choose someone that you trust and feel confident that they will do a good job on your behalf.
If you choose to sell on your own, you can still talk to a Real Estate Agent. Many are more than willing to help do-it-your-selfers with paperwork, contracts, etc. and should problems arise, you now have someone you can readily call upon.
Before settling on your asking price make sure you leave yourself enough room in which to bargain. For example, set your lowest and highest selling price. Then check your priori-ties to know if you'll price high to maximize your profit or price closer to market value if you want sell quickly.
Appearance is so critical that it would be unwise to ignore this when selling your home. The look and "feel" of your home will generate a greater emotional response than any other factor. Prospective buyers react to what they see, hear, feel, and smell even though you may have priced your home to sell.
The biggest mistake you can make at this point is to rely solely on your own judgment. Don't be shy about seeking the honest opinions of others. You need to be objective about your home's good points as well as bad. Fortunately, your Real Estate Agent will be unabashed about discussing what should be done to make your home more marketable.
Scrub, scour, tidy up, straighten, get rid of the clutter, declare war on dust, repair squeaks, the light switch that doesn't work, and the tiny crack in the bathroom mirror because these can be deal-killers and you'll never know what turns buyers off. Remember, you're not just competing with other resale homes, but brand-new ones as well.
The last thing you want prospective buyers to feel when viewing your home is that they may be intruding into someone's life. Avoid clutter such as too many knick-knacks, etc. Decorate in neutral colors, like white or beige and place a few carefully chosen items to add warmth and character. You can enhance the attractiveness of your home with a well-placed vase of flowers or potpourri in the bathroom. Home-decor magazines are great for tips.
You may not realize but odd smells like traces of food, pets and smoking odours can kill deals quickly. If prospective buyers know you have a dog, or that you smoke, they'll start being aware of odours and seeing stains that may not even exist. Don't leave any clues.
Smart sellers are proactive in disclosing all known defects to their buyers in writing. This can reduce liability and prevent law suits later on.
When you maximize your home's marketability, you will most likely attract more than one prospective buyer. It is much better to have several buyers because they will compete with each other; a single buyer will end up competing with you.
Let go of the emotion you've invested in your home. Be detached, using a business-like manner in your negotiations. You'll definitely have an advantage over those who get caught up emotionally in the situation.
The better you know your buyers the better you can use the negotiation process to your advantage. This allows you to control the pace and duration of the process.
As a rule, buyers are looking to purchase the best affordable property for the least amount of money. Knowing what motivates them enables you to negotiate more effectively. For example, does your buyer need to move quickly? Armed with this information you are in a better position to bargain.
As soon as possible, try to learn the amount of mortgage the buyer is qualified to carry and how much his/her down payment is. If their offer is low, ask their Real Estate Agent about the buyer's ability to pay what your home is worth.
Quite often, when buyers would "like" to close is when they need to close. Knowledge of their deadlines for completing negotiations again creates a negotiating advantage for you.
Beware of closing on your new home while you're still making mortgage payments on the old one or you might end up becoming a seller who is eager (even desperate) for the first deal that comes along
It has been proven that it's more difficult to sell a home that is vacant because it becomes forlorn looking, forgotten, no longer an appealing sight. Buyers start getting the message that you have another home and are probably motivated to sell. This could cost you thousands of dollars.
Don't try to sell by a certain date. This adds unnecessary pressure and is a serious disadvantage in negotiations.
Invariably the initial offer is below what both you and the buyer knows he'll pay for your property. Don't be upset; evaluate the offer objectively. Ensure it spells out the offering price, sufficient deposit, amount of down payment, mortgage amount, a closing date and any special requests. This can simply provide a starting point from which you can negotiate.
You can counter a low offer or even an offer that's just under your asking price. This lets the buyer know that the first offer isn't seen as being a serious one. Now you'll be negotiating only with buyers with serious offers.
If you feel an offer is inadequate, now is the time to make sure the buyer is qualified to carry the size of mortgage the deal requires. Inquire how they arrived at their figure, and suggest they compare your price to the prices of homes for sale in your neighbourhood.
To avoid problems, ensure that all terms, costs and responsibilities are spelled out in the contract of sale. It should include such items as the date it was made, names of parties involved, address of property being sold, purchase price, where deposit monies will be held, date for loan approval, date and place of closing, type of deed, including any contingencies that remain to be settled and what personal property is included (or not) in the sale.
For example, if the buyer requests a move-in prior to closing, just say no, that you've been advised against it. Now is not the time to take any chances of the deal falling-through.
"... an 80% recovery at resale is still a 20% loss..."
Whether you're considering remodelling worn-out surroundings, enlarging your home for a growing family or rebelling against yesterday's standards, you have important investment choices to make. You'll want to choose home improvements that not only pay off in recovery of the money you spend, but also help you get a better price for your home when and if you sell it. Keep in mind that, considering today's market, it may be a smarter move to sell and buy again rather than endure a major construction project. After all, even an 80% recovery at resale is still a 20% loss.
Your Reasons for Home Improvement
The first piece of advice is never, ever try and renovate a part of your home, simply for the purpose of selling. You are incurring a huge risk here. The housing market can be volatile, and you never know which amenities are going to pay-off. If you renovate for yourself, you at least know you will get value simply by the enjoyment of the change. Your potential buyer may walk into the improved room, declare they don't like it, and then change it immediately. They won't care if you just sunk $30,000 into it. If you are looking to spruce up your home a little bit, before you sell, just make minor cosmetic changes, like painting. They are fast, inexpensive and there is little risk. If you know that you will be living in a home for some time, but you also know that in the future (perhaps when all of your children move out) you'll be selling it. You should try and balance, which home improvements will pay-off the most, and which ones you would most like to enjoy. For instance, there is little point in renovating the basement, if you never go down there. It's better just to leave it a blank slate for the next homeowner.
The following is a list projecting which home improvement initiatives often produce the best results upon resale value. Naturally these numbers are not rock solid. There are many factors including your local housing market and what kind of improvements you undertake.
- Kitchen Remodel (minor) - 125%
- Basement Remodel - 98%
- Bathroom Addition - 96%
- Kitchen Remodel (major) - 92%
- Bathroom Remodel - 90%
- Exterior Paint - 90%
- Master Bedroom - 86%
So, here you can see that home improvements to kitchens and bathrooms, pay excellent dividends. Not only that but they are often the most enjoyable changes for your everyday living.
Home Improvements with a Low Return:
Generally improvement of attics and basements yield a very low return, unless of course you do something radical. Then the risk is very high, but the return could be enormous. For instance, a tranquility tank is not going to appeal to many people, but if you find a buyer that is all about tranquility, you'll make your money back, and more.
When do these improvements you should also use your better judgment in taste. Take a look around your neighbourhood and see what kind of home improvements others have done. You'll want your home to be consistent. Both for conformity, and also because certain improvements are popular with different people, and you'll want to conducted them to match the pulse of your community. You should also keep the original design of your home in mind. Be sure to use similar materials and building styles. A hybrid home of new and old can look daring and artistic, but most homebuyers are very conservative (it is a huge investment) and they may not share your artistic vision. No bold colors, no flamboyant design. Just be tasteful and respectful, and you'll be fine.
Your need comes first. So if you think that your will enjoy a bold flamboyant design go for it. Just try and limit the boldness and flamboyancy to the more cosmetic aspects of the home, i.e., furniture, paint, fixtures. Not windows and cabinets.
To really understand what home improvement is really going to pay-off, take a look at the following variables. They will give you a pretty good idea of what you should be considering when set out to do home improvements.
As was mentioned before, kitchen and bathroom home improvements often yield the best pay back. And turning a basement into whatever yields the lowest.
Often with home improvement, the small changes often add up to more than the sum of their parts. The larger the scope of the home improvement, the more risk you will incur. That said, risk could turn into a high pay-off. You really have to know who your market is and what they are looking for. The following is a list of small changes you can make, which will make a huge difference:
Upgrade or add ceiling fans
Add new doors
Garden Sanded and stained deck and fence
What is chic today can be the stifled snicker-inducing mistake of tomorrow. Take into account shifting social values. For instance, public space is rapidly dwindling. People, more and more, are looking for space where they can casually entertain. There are no more block parties, no more picnics in the park. Take this into account. Add a deck, it is the new standard for home ownership.
Do not expect that if you put $20,000 into a renovation, you will automatically see $20,000 added to the value of your home. However, even if you only can recoup $10,000 of that, if you are there long enough you easily get $10,000 of use from a new kitchen. You should also think about doing as much of the home improving yourself as you can. Having a hands on approach will give you flexibility, and a new understanding of your home, that you can apply to other home improvement projects. It will also save you lots of cash.
Not a good resale investment at all. You can tell the buyer that you just added new windows, but that doesn't really matter. Unless you can demonstrate a significant savings on your electricity and heating bill there is really no point. Therefore, replace windows if they need to be, but never just before you are selling your home.
Whether this means taking space that was poorly used before, or adding an addition, it can be a good idea. It is often important to look at design before functionality in this case. If you are improving your basement, don't put in a bar. Instead leave the space open to interpretation. Leave it open, leave it clean. Like blank slate. The same can be said for studies, solariums and offices. Let the buyer decide.
Some clients are surprised to learn it may be easier to sell and buy again than to endure a major remodelling. Call for up-to-the-minute real estate market information to help you make your decision.
Your House Didn't Sell – Now What?
"... The first thing to do is take a step back and analyze the situation..."
You put your home up for sale and it simply didn't sell. Undoubtedly, this has created a lot of stress, inconvenience and anxiety for you and your family. Perhaps you already bought another home. Maybe you needed this home sold because of a job change. Regardless of the reason, it's certainly a burden! What Should You Do?
Overpricing your property is usually the number one reason it did not sell. Assuming your neighborhood or area has homes with similar features (number of bedrooms and baths, lot size, etc.) on the market for a lower price, buyers will naturally buy those properties first. The price of your property should be competitively priced with these other homes. That means if you want to sell your home, price the home at or slightly below the comparables. Your real estate agent will help you establish the best price based on the competition. Again, pricing your property above comparable properties can easily cause it to languish.
Another problem with pricing higher than competitive properties is the price reductions. Most homeowners will reduce the price once they realize their home is priced higher than the competition. When your real estate agent enters the price reduction in the MLS® System, the property is probably at or near where it should have been priced in the first place. The problem now is you missed a lot of the buyers the first round that bought comparable homes for the same price you have just reduced your home to.
To overcome this situation, you are going to have to make sure your new, reduced price is extremely competitive. If your price reduction still leaves the asking price of your home higher than any comparables, your home will probably continue to languish. Your real estate agent will help you assess the competition and help you establish an asking price that will get the home sold.
All of the cosmetic things, such as paint, landscaping, window coverings and flooring should be in good shape. The house should be spotlessly clean inside and out! It's amazing how most buyers refuse to see “through” superficial, cosmetic shortcomings. To illustrate this point, most buyers can walk into a “perfect” home that is priced below market. However, if the house is cluttered, the carpet is worn, or the house has a strong pet odor, they move on to look at the next house. And making these cosmetic improvements costs little… mostly your time! To get the house sold, make a small investment in:
Another primary reason for homes languishing on the market is a simple lack of exposure. In a very hot market, a listing in the Multiple Listing Service alone should generate an adequate number of buyers. However, if your market is anything less than red-hot, the amount of inventory will increase and your home needs aggressive marketing.
Most buyers work with real estate agents. A good real estate agent will make sure your property is exposed to the active real estate agents in your areas by presenting your property to many of the area offices. Also, most active real estate agents have a strong network of other agents, and they're usually on the phone pushing the property to the other agent's buyers.
Make sure your property is advertised in home magazines. Many buyers pull these off the racks of grocery, convenience and drug stores when they are actively looking to buy a home. Most importantly, make sure your property is advertised in heavily trafficked web sites like the MLS® System. Well over 80% of buyers use the Internet to look for homes!
Like any profession, there are very effective and ineffective agents. Many agents work hard and employ strong marketing techniques. Many agents have a strong network and access to buyers. Many agents work hard to get your home sold. However, many do not. Did your agent simply place the house in the MLS® System? Or, did she or he inform their network of buyers about your property? How about presenting your property at sales meetings both at her or his office and other company offices? Did she or he promote your property at the local real estate board meeting, where many agents gather to share inventory? Did she or he use aggressive advertising, including real estate magazines and heavily trafficked Internet web sites?
Ask yourself, was your agent passionate about selling your property? If not, now is the time to find the agent who will get your home sold.
How to Sell Your Home Yourself
If you ask anyone who has ever tried to sell their home themselves, they'll tell you that from the moment the "For Sale by Owner" sign goes up, the phone begins to ring. Unfortunately, many of those calls will not be from prospective buyers but rather from real estate agents looking to obtain your listing.
Obviously the idea of not having to pay a commission to a real estate agent is attractive to any home seller. But because of all the issues involved in the process, selling a home on one's own can be as challenging as many home sellers will attest to. The key is to be properly prepared. If you are not, your home could remain on the market longer than you expect because you are not attracting and getting offers from qualified buyers. This can be the point where many homeowners become frustrated and consider giving up their dream of selling their home themselves.
However, there are sellers who successfully accomplish selling their own homes. You can be one of them. This industry report has been especially prepared to assist home sellers, such as yourself, understand the elements involved so you, on your own, can sell your home quickly for the most amount of profit.
To help you prepare, here are 10 inside tips that you should be aware of before you make the decision as to whether or not this is the right approach for you.
Correctly setting your asking price is critical. Setting your price too high can be as costly as setting it too low. Home prices are determined by fluctuations in the marketplace, not by your emotional attachment or by what you feel your home is worth. In order to establish a realistic price for your home, objectively compare the price, features and condition of all similar homes in both your neighbourhood and other similar ones that have sold in recent months. It is also important for you to be familiar with the terms of each potential sale. Terms are often as important as price in today's market. Carefully budget your selling costs and prepare a net proceeds sheet to calculate your best estimate of what you will take away from your home sale. Prospective buyers may also request this kind of analysis of buying costs.
First impression is crucial. Make sure your home makes a positive statement by carefully inspecting all details and viewing it through the objective eyes of a buyer. Don't gloss over needed repairs and fix-ups, as your prospective buyers won't. Your job is to ensure that your home stands out favourably from the competition.
Not surprisingly, there are many important legal contracts and documents that you must assemble, complete and understand. A partial checklist of forms that you will require for prospective buyers and for legal documentation is as follows:
- Seller's Disclosure
- Buyer's Advisory
- Purchase Contract
- Preliminary Title Report
- Termite Inspection
- Mortgage Payoff
- HOA Disclosures & Restrictions
- Loan Application Forms
- Lead Based Paint Disclosures
- Property Profile Fact Sheet
- Buyer's Cost Sheet
- Home Warranty Order Forms
- Personal Property Exclusion List
- Property Survey (if applicable)
- Home Inspection Order Forms
Beyond the sign you will put on your lawn, you should find effective ways to spread the word about your home. Local buyers can be reached through the newspaper, but this is only a small part of the market you are after. Be sure you include the many buyers who could already be working with a Real Estate Agent. To locate them, target as many top agents as possible in your market to see if the criteria of their buyers match those of your home.
Because out-of town buyers are also important targets, you should create a strategy to reach these people as well. Above all, you should be very service-minded and make it easy for pre-qualified buyers to view your home. Ensure there is always someone available to answer the phone, check messages frequently, and be ready to give qualified prospects a tour of your home as soon as possible.
Keep emotion out of the sale of your home, and the best way to do this during a showing is to remain physically in the background. If a prospective buyer says something negative about your home, it is better to counter-balance this point of view by illustrating the positives rather than becoming defensive.
Don't waste your time entertaining buyers who could never afford your home. Research their financial steadiness with respect to job security, salary, debts, liabilities and credit standing.
There will be many details to resolve before a sale can be considered final: price, terms, inspections, possession date, buyer concerns and objections. Make sure you fully understand the contract you have drawn up so you can in turn explain details and ramifications to the buyer and make any amendments to the sale that are necessary. The contract you use should be thoroughly examined by your real estate attorney. Some real estate brokers may be willing to help you do this. While this is going on, manage the buyer's interest in your home so that it doesn't wane during negotiations.
Your objectives during negotiations are to control the pace and set the duration. Try to determine what your buyer's motivation is. Does he or she need to move quickly? Do they have enough money to pay your asking price? Knowing this information will give you the advantage in the negotiation because you will know up front what you will need to do in order to get what you want.
Studies have shown that it is more difficult to sell a home that is vacant. It looks forlorn, forgotten, simply not appealing. It could even cost you money. If you move, you're also telling buyers that you have a new home and are motivated to sell fast which can, of course, gives them an advantage at the negotiating table.
The flip side of “understanding your buyer” is to “understand yourself”. Your reasons for selling will affect everything from your list price to how much time and money you will invest in getting your home ready for sale. Your motivation will help you determine what is more important to you: the money you walk away with, the length of time your property is on the market, or both. Different goals will dictate different strategies. As someone who wants to sell without a real estate agent in an effort to save the commission, it is likely that money is one of your primary considerations (see inset box below). Whatever your reasons, however, it is very important to keep them to yourself so as not to place yourself at a disadvantage at the negotiation table. When asked, simply say your housing needs have changed.
To analyze whether or not you will end up ahead by choosing to sell on your own, consider the fact that most buyers do use a real estate agent because it doesn't cost them anything for this service (i.e. the seller pays the agent's fee). Be cautious as buyers, investors and speculators who seek out For Sale by
Owners are typically those in search of a bargain. The low-ball offers from these types of buyers will often net you much lower in the long run. What you will have to judge for yourself is the following:
Be as prepared as possible with your marketing, negotiations, evaluations, showings and all legalities.
Consider what it will cost you to effectively market your home and assemble all necessary materials from the “for sale” sign to any contracts?
What price will a buyer offer you as a For Sale by Owner minus the costs identified in point 2 above. Is this net price higher than the price an experienced agent could net for you minus his/her commission?
Why It Is So Important That Your Home Is Correctly Priced and Marketed Properly
"... Your home is your castle--even when it's for sale..."
Let's say your terms are competitive: your timing's clearly set. Now, what about your asking price? Without question, price is your most important sales tool. Here's why:
The period of best opportunity for selling a home at a reasonable price is the first four weeks after it is put on the market. Buyers who have seen most available listings are waiting for just the right house to come on the market. If your house is priced right from the beginning, you are in the best position to attract the maximum number of buyers able to pay the price your home is worth - and to sell your home within your timetable.
If your house is under priced, you may be swamped with lookers and perhaps get many offers. But you could lose thousands on one of your family's largest investments.
If your house is overpriced, lookers are apt to be few and far between, with little chance of any offers to pay your unrealistic price. You may lower your price later, but by that time you will have missed many of the most interested buyers.
Arriving at an asking price involves up-to-the-minute research and experienced judgment. Besides enlisting my help in checking out the current real estate market conditions and financing trends, the basic steps include:
Measuring your home against similar neighborhood homes that have recently been sold or are currently on the market.
Determine what features make your house stand out among others currently on the market. After all, buyers are comparison shoppers. Weighing the spending of a reasonable amount of money on cosmetic fix-ups that might enhance the marketability of your house and earn the highest possible sale price.
The right price is usually within 5% of market value (a constantly changing factor) and usually results in a fair-dollar sale within a reasonable amount of time. As we say, "price sells."
A price more than 5% over market value may have these results:
Buyers may resist inspecting your home because they can find better values elsewhere. (Overpriced houses tend to sell the competition first.)
Potential buyers who can't afford the price don't bother to look--or to make offers.
A buyer willing to pay an over market price may have difficulty getting financing. Lenders may not approve a loan if the appraisal is lower than the contract price. (The delay from a failed sale can mean missing out on the critical first 30-day marketing period.)
Your unsold home will begin to get "stale," as the marketplace assumes there is "something wrong" with the house.
To make up for lost time you might be inclined to lower the price below competing houses in order to move it.
Setting a price below market value usually isn't preferable because you may be losing money. If time is more important than money and you need a faster-than-average sale, you may consider setting a bargain price to attract the greatest number of prospects. Market value delivers the optimum number of prospects at the best price for a quick sale.
When you're ready to sell your home, take advantage of my real estate expertise to help you price your home to sell.
Only a professional market analysis can give you the accurate, reliable foundation you need to price your home right. When you ask me to make a fair-market analysis of your home, here is what I do:
Evaluate your home's location and lot size; your home's age, size and condition; the number of bedrooms, baths, total rooms; the kinds of extra feature you have (such as improvements, built-ins, garage, tool shed, spa).
Examine the condition and appearance of your homes exterior and interior. I can help you determine what repairs or refurbishing may be needed to sell your home at its best price.
Review the assessed value of your home, its previous sale prices, your maintenance and utility costs and your local taxes.
Compare your home with similar area properties currently for sale or recently sold.
Note current real estate market conditions with a practiced eye; also current interests rates and lenders' criteria.
Passing the Home Inspection - What Buyers Are Looking For
When you put your home up for sale you place it directly under the scrutiny of buyers. Superficial changes, such as new paint and resurfaced floors can do a lot to enhance your home's appeal, but when it comes to an offer, most serious buyers will seek the assistance of a professional home inspector to ensure that the house is sound beneath the surface.
During most home inspections there are over forty problem areas that will be examined for correct function and condition. It is important that you are aware of what areas buyers will examine, and what you can do to ensure that these are in proper working order. In most cases you'll be able to conduct a reasonable inspection yourself, if you know what to look for. This report will elaborate on some of the more important home inspection points, and will include information on:
- Home Inspection areas and what to look for
- How to make sure your home is as good beneath the surface as it is above
Selling your home can be a difficult job, especially since you're competing against hundreds of other properties. It's important that you ensure that your home is in top condition, and doing a pre-inspection in anticipation of buyers doing the same is extremely important. Below are some areas that you should inspect:
Plumbing is of high priority when it comes to home inspections. Defective plumbing is classified in three ways namely leaking, clogging, and corrosion. A visual inspection will detect leaks and corrosion on pipes. Turning on all faucets in the highest bathroom and then flushing the toilet can gauge water pressure. The sound of water flowing through your pipes often indicates that the pipes are undersized. Additionally, if water coming from the pipes is dirty or contains debris, then the pipes are most likely rusting. The home inspector will evaluate all of these.
The basement or crawl space is often the most revealing area in the building and usually provides a general picture of how the building works.
An inspector will check your walls for a powdery white mineral deposit a few inches off the floor, and will look to see if things you store right on your basement floor have suffered any moisture-related damage. Mildew odours are also a red flag for home inspectors. Difficult to eliminate, and indicative of other problems, an inspector will certainly be conscious of them.
Depending on severity and location it could cost you between $400 and $1,100 to seal a crack in your basement foundation. Another option is to add a sump pump and pit, which could cost around $750-$1,000. Finally complete waterproofing of an average 3-bedroom home could cost between $5,000 and $15,000. It's important to factor these costs into the calculation of what you want to net on the sale of you home.
Just as detrimental to a home seller as basement dampness are mould and mildew problems in the attic. Improper ventilation, insulation and vapour barriers can cause water and moisture to accumulate in the attic. This moisture and associated mould and mildew can lead to premature wear of the roof, structure and building materials. Oftentimes costs associated with fixing this damage can be in excess of $2,500.
The major problem associated with roofing problems is leakage, which can occur for a variety of reasons. Physical deterioration of asphalt shingles, mechanical damage from a windstorm or ice build-up as a result of poor drainage are all common causes of roofing issues. Leaky gutters and downspouts can also damage siding and exterior walls. Remember that it is only a matter of time before external damage becomes an internal problem.
Rotting wood, an issue particularly prevalent in older homes, can occur in many places such as door or window frames, trim, siding, decks and fences. Building inspectors will oftentimes probe the wood to check its integrity – and are particularly sceptical of woodwork that has been freshly painted.
Brickwork commonly succumbs to water damage, minor ground and foundation settling and a host of other time-related changes. Redoing brickwork can be expensive, but when left unattended can sag, warp or even collapse. It's particularly important to inspect your chimney for signs of moisture damage and structural integrity as problems in this area can lead to falling bricks and collapsing roof stacks.
Inadequate wiring can occur in many forms. Home inspectors will look at octopus plugs and extension cables as indications of inadequate circuits and potential fire hazards. Also your home should have a minimum of 100 amps service, and this should be clearly marked. All wiring should be copper or aluminium.
Unsafe electrical conditions are created when more amperage is drawn from a circuit than is intended. 15 Amp circuits are the most common in typical homes, although larger circuits are used for appliances such as stoves and dryers.
Older homes will also contain fuse panels rather than circuit breakers. Replacing a fuse panel with a circuit panel can often cost hundreds of dollars, but will be a factor that the home inspector will examine.
A home inspector will scrutinize heating and cooling systems for efficiency and performance.
Insufficient insulation, and an inadequate or poorly functioning heating system, are the most common causes of poor heating. A home inspector will check the age of your furnace to see if it exceeds the typical life span of 15-25 years. Additionally, in a forced air gas system, the inspector will place the heat exchanger under particular scrutiny examining for cracks and damage as a potential source of carbon monoxide in your home. If the heat exchanger is damaged it must be replaced as it cannot be repaired.
Cooling systems are of equal importance. A home inspector will examine your air conditioning unit to evaluate size, installation, noisiness, dehumidification and cooling ability. A home inspector will pay particular attention to the exterior compressor/condenser units to make sure they are free of debris and have sufficient room in which to operate.
A home inspector will examine your home for proper locks on windows and patio doors, dead bolts on the doors, smoke and even carbon monoxide detectors in every bedroom and on every level. Installing these components can add to your costs, but will demonstrate an adherence to basic security standards in your home. A purchased security system will also be examined.
An inspector will most definitely examine the underlying footing and foundation of your home. A cracked foundation or unstable footing can cost thousands in your home's value.
When Smaller is Sweeter - How to Take the Money and Run
Your house is quiet except for the hum of the refrigerator or the voices from the TV. The rooms are filled with pictures and memories, but the children have grown and gone. You spend hours each week cleaning rooms you never use. Are you an “empty nester” who needs a house for the future? Is it time to downsize or to move into another home more suitable for your retirement years? Here are some tell tale signs:
Your current home is too large for your lifestyle. Rather than close off the extra rooms or rent out the excess space, you may opt to move to a smaller home.
You are retired and your income is lower than it was during your prime working years. You may want or need to sell your current home and move to one with a smaller mortgage payment or less upkeep. Maybe you could live more comfortably in a lower cost-of-living area. If you have loaded up a home equity loan, selling the home could give you welcome cash to eliminate those payments.
As you approach your golden years, your wish is to have a home with hew, if any, stairs, or one which could easily converted to be handicap-accessible if the need arises.
You prefer a location where the weather is more to your year-round liking and where there are activities you like – golf, tennis, boating, or socializing with seniors – during your leisure time.
There is no capital gains tax on the sale of your principal residence. The profit on the sale of your home is tax free, which can provide you with an additional nest egg amount to use for your pleasure and leisure.
Getting it Sold
Once you have decided to sell and move, take a critical look at your current home. Even the best-maintained homes begin to show age.
Before you list your home for sale, be sure it's in “move-in” condition. Make needed repairs and replacements so the house will show at its best.
Remember, homes that sell fastest and for top dollar show like a model home and are merchandised like a model, too. How does your home compare with other homes for sale, including new homes? Do you want to undergo major renovations, or would you prefer to make price concessions to help your home compete?
Here are some specific questions to ask yourself:
- Are kitchen appliances up to date and in good working order? Does the kitchen have popular features like a microwave, or and island?
- Up-to-date homes often have a master bedroom suite. Does yours? Does the master bathroom have a spa or soaking tub or dual-shower heads?
- Do you have a home office? Is telephone wiring adequate to support an office phone, computer modem, fax machine?
- Have you built any additions - a deck, patio, carport, sunroom - without first obtaining a building permit or without passing inspection?
- Do carpets and tile need to be replaced? Will a professional cleaning make them look like new?
What do the walls look like? Do they suffer from puppy-bite or kitty-scratch? Should old, tired wallpaper be removed? Do walls and woodwork need repainting?
- Can you make closets and counters look larger? Are there items you can pack away and do without until after you move?
- Are shrubs and trees neat and does the yard look well kept and attractive?
- How does your home compare to others currently for sale now? What can you do to make it say, “Buy me!”
Price is one answer. If you've owned your home for years, chances are good you've got some serious equity. Perhaps you can afford to be flexible on price in order to get it sold. After all, to get the best possible sale today, a house must be in tip-top condition in every way: price, condition, terms and exposure. That's where we come in. Give us a call.
How You Know it's Time to Move
- Reason #10: When you first bought the house, you were out in the country, but now that same house is part of the city scene.
- Reason #9: You can't get anything repaired because "they stopped making those parts years ago."
- Reason #8: The swing set out in the backyard has grown roots.
- Reason #7: The plumber's phone number is on your speed dial.
- Reason #6: You're on a first-name basis with the handyman.
- Reason #5: The children's rooms have all been turned into guest bedrooms.
- Reason #4: The newspaper lining the guest room dresser is dated July 4th, 1976.
- Reason #3: You have to move the furniture to see the carpet's original colour.
- Reason #2: You can't do anything to the exterior of your home without getting approval from the "Board of Historic Places".
- Reason #1: You haven't visited half the house in the last six months.