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How To Maximize Your Return When You Sell Your Home.

How To Maximize Your Return When You Sell Your Home.

The “secret” to making top dollar when you sell your home isn’t really a secret at all—I’ve been “revealing” it to my clients for years. But because it involves a lot of discipline and elbow grease, many people decide to cut corners. And that’s when the price you could command begins to drop.

Do not be one of those people. During my years in real estate, I’ve seen countless examples where well-considered, well-placed investments of time and a little money have dramatically improved the sales price and increased the speed in which a home has sold.

My report will show you how even minor home improvements can substantially improve the value and marketability of your home. In today’s economy, there are no guarantees that you will recoup what you spend to improve the value of your home—all the more reason it’s important to pick the right investments.

But even when you don’t recoup all the money you invest to upgrade, many improvements can give you an important edge over other homes on the market. And the failure to make some improvements can leave you at a distinct disadvantage as buyers compare your home with the competition. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen time and again.

Spend time before you spend a dime

Unless your home is in mint condition or you’re selling it as a “fixer-upper,” there’s probably a long list of repair or remodelling projects to consider. These can range from relatively simple jobs, such as painting a bathroom, to more complex room-addition or remodelling projects.

In considering any home improvement project, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions: Why are you doing it? Is it work that really needs to be done—a paint job or replacing a leaky roof? Or is it an amenity you’d like that you think might appeal to a potential buyer—a hot tub or home office addition, for example. Will it add value to your home, or have no impact at all? Or will it make your home more difficult to sell?

Some investments—like painting and yard work—involve relatively little cash outlay and yet return many times your cost. Other improvements that you think add value have no significant impact. Adding a swimming pool is a good example. Besides the hassles of maintenance, a pool can reduce your home’s appeal among families with small children because of safety concerns.

Planning is everything

If there’s one piece of advice I would give every homeowner regardless of the circumstances, it’s this: Plan first; then do. Careful planning on your part is a prerequisite to undertaking any home improvement project, major or minor. In fact, the quickest way a “minor” project balloons into a major one is when you haven’t thought things through in advance. I’ve seen more people get in over their heads because they didn’t think things through before starting work.

Whether you hire someone or do the work yourself, expect to spend more time and money than you initially anticipate. But by choosing well, you can ensure that the work you do adds the greatest value at the lowest cost.

Be methodical. Try breaking your list into “exterior” and “interior” projects, then break it down further by room or outside area. Decide which projects you’re going to take on yourself and which will require outside help, and then do a rough cost estimate for each job.

One rule of thumb to keep in mind is that if you do the work yourself, you’ll probably recoup more than what you pay out for some improvements. You can probably save anywhere from 10 to 30 percent by removing hired labour from the equation. On the other hand, you might pay more for work done by professionals, but the improvements can speed up the sale of your property.

Whether you should tackle the work yourself or hire professionals depends on several things. Do you have the time? Can your friends or relatives help you, or are you going to do it all yourself? How skilled are you and your helpers in the task at hand?

You may decide to split the job—the contractor does the major work and you do the finishing. Doing at least some of the work yourself can still save you money. Whatever you do, the key lies in doing it well. If that means hiring a professional, do it. A poorly done job can do you more harm than good.

Now let’s take a look at some projects you might consider, beginning with some simple steps that can reap huge dividends.

Catch ’em at the curb

“Curb appeal” isn’t just catchy real estate jargon. It recognizes the fact that many buyers form their first, and often strongest, opinions before they step out of the car. Remember, buying a home is first and foremost an emotional commitment, especially for first-time home buyers. You may have a long list of logical reasons your home is a good catch, but a buyer is reacting emotionally to what he or she is seeing.

Knowing this, you can use a buyer’s emotions to your advantage. First, take a good, hard look at the first impression your property makes. What do people see? If it’s flaking paint and an unkempt yard, they may be seeing a home that needs a lot of work.

Here are some investments in your home’s exterior that I’ve found through firsthand experience can pay huge dividends:

Paint

It should come as no surprise that surveys show that painting the exterior of your home results in the greatest return on time and money invested when compared to other improvements done for selling purposes. An investment of $1,000-$2,000 can mean adding $3,000-$4,000 to your asking price. And if you can do a good job yourself, your profit is even greater.

Even if your home doesn’t need the full treatment, check the trim around windows and doorways for cracking or peeling, and do any necessary touch-up work.

Landscaping

Another key first impression is made by the grounds of your home. If you can improve the attractiveness of your landscape without spending a lot of money, you can add a good 5 to 10 percent to the value of your home.

Minimally, you should prune existing trees, shrubs and bushes, clean out dead plants and weeds from flower beds and replace them with colourful flowering plants. Because landscaping can become a high-maintenance headache if not done carefully, choose hardy perennials that require minimal care.

If you have a damaged lawn, you may need to take additional steps. The easiest step is to repair damaged sections with new sod. While seeding is cheaper, it won’t produce grass overnight. A good patch job can make for a great quick fix.

Other lawn problems—dead areas due to lack of sunlight or a tree’s root system—can be solved by planting ground cover or creating additional flower beds.

Like a new paint job, a relatively inexpensive upgrade of existing landscaping can bring far greater returns than what you spend. But don’t do anything that would be deemed excessive by neighbourhood standards. The idea is to make your home more attractive, not stand out as an oddity.

The driveway

Because it’s big, dark, and usually takes up a significant portion of the property in front of your home, a driveway can affect a buyer’s first impressions. If yours is in good condition, make sure you keep it swept and neatly edged where it meets the lawn. If yours is cracked, buckled or oil-stained, fix it. Patching concrete can be a problem because matching color is difficult; tar and asphalt are relatively easy to match. Whatever you do, be careful you don’t create a bigger problem through quick-fix solutions—use high-quality patching materials and sealers.

Decks and patios

These can be popular additions that add value, especially with smaller homes, because they add living space. But make sure that whatever you do is consistent with your home’s architectural style and integrates well with your outdoor areas.

The garage

If your garage has that rough, unfinished look, consider drywall and matching switch and outlet plates. At a minimum, make sure all switches and outlets work. And give everything a good cleaning.

Don’t neglect the minor details

It’s often the little things that really stand out. If your mailbox is in poor shape, replace it. Varnish or repaint your door if it needs it. A door knocker and brass kick plate can also be a nice addition. Spruce up the entryway with new light fixtures, potted plants and other decorative touches.

With the exception of adding a deck or patio, most of the steps I’ve touched on here can be accomplished in relatively little time and without a lot of money. But the difference in the impression your home makes on prospective buyers will be dramatic.

Ironically, some of the big-budget items you might consider spending your money on will do little to enhance the marketability of your home. Aluminum siding, for example, is prized by some and loathed by others. Hot tubs may or may not appeal to potential buyers. Watch out for changes that you may find appealing but end up limiting your home’s appeal to others.

Besides swimming pools, other investments you probably won’t see a return on are tennis courts and automatic sprinkler systems. Unless they’re for your own enjoyment, don’t waste your money.

One major expense you may have to consider is a new roof. But if you think you can pass the cost along to a buyer, forget it. Everyone expects a good roof, and they’re not going to pay extra for it. And a roof in poor condition can kill a deal quickly.

Making the best second impression

As with the exterior, I’ve found that there are plenty of interior tricks to punch the right emotional buttons in prospective buyers. In all rooms, certain minimum standards should be met:

These are the minimum standards:

• Make sure all plumbing and electrical systems are in good working order

• Repair cracks in the wall

• Paint – as is the case outside, a fresh coat of paint throughout the house will more than pay for itself

• Remove wallpaper

• Replace missing molding

• Replace cracked or broken window glass

• Make sure window and door hardware match

• Install new floor coverings

• Install new light fixtures

• Make sure switch and outlet plates match from room to room

• Upgrade insulation in drafty or hot rooms

As is the case outside, a coat of paint can literally make the difference between a sale and no sale. Be sure to stick to neutral colors—white or off-white. It tends to make everything look new, clean and bright.

Be sure to paint everything: inside closets, cabinets, pantries, etc. If a prospective buyer opens a door and sees dirty walls or shelves, you’ve just wasted the advantage you had gained by painting in the first place.

Like paint, new carpeting should also be in a neutral shade. This helps buyers visualize their own furniture in your home.

Wallpaper, like wall colors, makes a personal statement about the owner’s tastes. Remove it. Buyers want to visualize what they would do with your house, and wallpaper gets in the way of their dreaming.

Many buyers value good wood floors, so sand and refinish yours if they can be restored. Otherwise, you might consider new flooring. If your home is short on storage space, consider how you can add shelving, cabinets or other storage systems to remedy this deficiency. You may also consider replacing windows and doors with more energy-efficient models.

Taken individually, each of the above improvements may not seem like much. But you’ll find that the cumulative effect of fixing even relatively minor problems will be dramatic. A crack in the wall, a carpet stain or a light switch that doesn’t work can send a negative signal that results in the loss of a buyer. I’ve seen it happen.

Now let’s take a closer look at improvements on a room-by-room basis, starting with your two most important rooms.

Kitchens and bathrooms have long been the top two remodelling projects, and you can expect them to remain so for years to come. They are the rooms that most consistently make or break a sale. A new or updated kitchen, a sparkling bathroom…these are features that help to sell a home.

The kitchen

If you can get away with a remodel rather than a new kitchen, do it. Because the kitchen is so important, sellers sometimes over-improve them to the point where there is no chance of recouping their investment when they move. Don’t fall into this trap.

Add a new coat of paint, refinish the cabinets and counters, change drawer pulls and handles, install new appliances, put down a new floor—but don’t gut and start over if it isn’t necessary. When adding new appliances, be aware that many buyers consider brand name to be an important factor.

If you don’t paint everything, at least repaint the ceiling bright white. You’d be surprised how much it can lighten up the room. Another great way to brighten a kitchen is to add a skylight.

If you do choose to put in a new kitchen, keep in mind what sells. Buyers are looking for lots of cabinets and counter space, new appliances, and an easy flow between the sink, food prep areas, stove and refrigerator. Think sunny, spacious and clean.

The bathroom

New fixtures, wall tile and flooring can make a big difference. If the bathtub is in poor shape, you can replace it, but a less expensive option may be to re-enamel it. If you keep the old tub, at least re-grout and re-caulk it. A good bathroom remodel or expansion can easily return more than 100 percent of its cost when you sell.

If you’re feeling ambitious, adding a half-bath or second bath to a one-bathroom house is another option to consider, space allowing. Whatever the family size, one bathroom never seems adequate to most people.

Bedrooms

For most people, the master bedroom is the third most important room in the house. If you have a large home with four or five small bedrooms and the floor plan allows for it, you might consider combining two rooms into a master bedroom. If you have a two- or three-bedroom home and a decent-sized lot, you might consider adding another bedroom.

Trends to watch

A more recent hot remodelling trend is the “great room”—combining the kitchen, dining and family room into one larger living area. While lagging behind kitchen and bath remodels, it is definitely a trend on the rise. Living rooms, family rooms and formal dining rooms, on the other hand, are diminishing in popularity.

Another relatively new wrinkle is the home office. With more home-based businesses and more companies allowing employees to telecommute, more people are looking for office-ready space in their homes. A recent survey conducted by Builder magazine found that nearly a third of buyers in their 20s, 30s and 40s plan to use a room as a home office. Other rooms that are showing up on more buyers’ wish lists are exercise and media rooms.

Questionable projects include fireplace additions and installation of elaborate security systems. You can find professionals who will argue for and against both of these projects. But with concerns about home safety on the rise, security systems appear to be moving into the “desirable” column.

Many of these projects are relatively inexpensive and will easily pay for themselves. With some projects, you may not recoup your investment, but you will have removed impediments to a sale. If you don’t take care of things like leaky plumbing, drafty windows or outdated light fixtures, you’re giving a buyer ammunition to use against you during negotiations.

Home improvement “don’ts”

There are several things you can do that can actually lower the value of your home or make it more difficult to sell. Here are a few rules to keep in mind:

Do it well, or don’t do it at all

You may be tempted to do a lot of work yourself to save money. That’s fine if you know you can do a

good job. But if doing it yourself means a sloppy paint job or bubbles in the vinyl flooring, then I suggest hiring a professional. Hiring an expert can often be cheaper and faster in the long run. This is especially important when dealing with electrical systems or plumbing problems.

Don’t over-improve

Any project that raises your home’s value by more than 20 percent above similar homes in your neighbourhood should be reconsidered. The reason is simple. Say your home is typical in a neighbourhood of $100,000 homes, and you make $50,000 in improvements. Buyers looking for a $150,000 home are looking in neighbourhoods where that is the norm, not the exception.

Don’t plan on moving soon if you’re spending a lot

You probably won’t recoup your investment if you plan to move in less than two years. If you plan to move sooner, spend less money and focus your efforts on the most egregious problems. For example, turn a bad kitchen into a decent one rather than a chef’s kitchen.

Don’t make unique improvements

Sure, you may love the built-in bookcases on every wall of your guest room, but prospective buyers will probably view them as a nuisance to tear out—which means they’ll be less willing to meet your price. Also, avoid remodels that make unusual use of a particular room. Anything that limits flexibility will limit interest in your home.

Don’t create a mess

Make sure your floor plan will make sense when you’re done. Be careful not to make changes that impede the natural flow of the house—closing off halls, doorways, etc. Room additions in particular are often done very poorly. If it looks like something tacked on to the original house, don’t do it. Adding a bedroom whose only connection to the rest of the house is through another bedroom should also be avoided.

As you can see, squeezing every last dollar out of your home sale can be a fairly involved process. But when you consider the end result—a quicker sale and top dollar for your efforts— I think you’ll find that a few well-chosen home improvements are worth both the time and money.

BUY SMART

8 Cool Home Buyer Tips For Today’s Real Estate Market

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 you don’t want to get away.

Eight Simple Secrets To Avoid Costly Mistakes Buying Your Dream Home Today

1. Get Pre-Approved.

To be pre-approved for a mortgage loan is your fist best move.  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.

2. Beat The Competition To New Listings

Once we know your specific price range and tastes, we can regularly do a computerized market sweep for new listings.  We’ll send you a hot list of attractive properties as they come on the market.  That way you’ll get a jump on other buyers before the new listings are advertised or help open.  Timing can be everything today.

3. Do Your Research.

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, as your buyer specialists, we’ll add our up-to-the-minute knowledge of what comparable properties sell for in specific neighbourhoods and what impact specific features have on price.  Together we’ll guarantee you the best price and terms.

4. We Can Present Your Offer In Person

Nobody wants their offer languishing 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 us present your offer in person, plus we may pick up critical intelligence on any competing offers by being on the scene.

5. Prove You Mean Business.

There are few better ways to show you are serious about buying a property than by including a good faith deposit along with your offer.  A competitive deposit could be as much as 5% of your bid price to be sure it gets the seller’s attention.

6. Don’t Lose Your Head.

Just because the market is active doesn’t mean you should be willing to pay any amount to get your dream home.  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.  But don’t go crazy.  Remember you may have to sell this house one day, and overpaying now will make it harder to get your value back when you sell.

7. Keep It Simple And Clean.

Make sure your headache-free contract itself isn’t messy, or overly cluttered with unnecessary contingencies, especially repairs.  Keep contingencies to a minimum.  Better yet, offer to be helpful, such as order an inspection in 48 hours or be willing to take care of any required local certificates such as smoke detectors or water safety.  Be flexible.  A buyer who will accommodate a seller’s needs is a smart buyer.

8. Don’t Be A Lone Wolf.

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.

When presenting your home to prospective buyers, first impressions are crucial. Buyers begin judging your home the moment they see it, and generally they prefer homes that are well-maintained, clean and clutter-free so they can picture themselves living in. That is why home improvements particularly if they address the anticipated needs of buyer can boost your home’s saleability and sale price.

Here are a few proven, cost-effective tips that will help your home look its best:

Exterior

• Mow and rake the lawn, trim hedges, weed and edge gardens

• Sweep sidewalks and driveway, pick up any litter

• Repair gutters and eaves, touch up exterior paint

• Plant extra flowers for color, or place potted plants beside the front door

• Clean or paint front door, polish front door hardware, ensure doorbell works

Interior

• Clean and tidy the entrance, clear stairs and halls, store all excess furniture

• Eliminate unpleasant ordors such as cigarette smoke, animal scent, or musty areas

• Brighten interiors with fresh, light-toned paint

• Brighten rooms by installing high wattage light bulbs and turning them on

• Shampoo carpets, clean and wax floors

• Organize kitchen countertops — removing appliances if necessary — to make them look spacious

• Clean kitchen countertops, cabinets, appliances, washer and dryer

• Organize and clean out closets to make them look larger

• Clean and freshen bathrooms, put out clean towels, minimize clutter

• Clean mirrors and windows so they sparkle

• Organize and clean garage and basement

• Perform necessary minor repairs and touch-ups to walls, windows, fixtures, etc.

Tips for Showings and Open Houses

• Be absent so buyers feel more comfortable making comments

• Light the fireplace, open the drapes, play quiet background music

• Keep pets outdoors

These are just a few ideas to get you started. I know what today’s buyers are looking for and can provide

more ideas that will maximize your home’s appeal. Remember, a few easy and inexpensive improvements can produce big returns on your investment.

20 Secrets To Increase Your Home’s Value and Pocket More Cash When You Sell

Everyone has a favourite pair of old shoes. You know the ones – they’re broken in and fit just right. But those old shoes would never get a second look if they were for sale.

The same goes for homes. Those that appear shop-worn, like an old pair of shoes, don’t appeal to today’s buyers.

Your home has only one chance to make a good first impression. The secret to getting the most for your home when you sell is to spend some time, effort, and money beforehand getting it ready to sell. If you make the right improvements today, you’ll sell faster and pocket more cash tomorrow.

By making “market smart” improvements, you’ll come out ahead. Of course, every home can benefit from lots of elbow grease. But you can realize bigger returns when you go a step further with a few “best-foot-forward” improvements. The secret is NOT to undertake major remodelling projects before you sell. Spending too much on too many projects just drains money out of your pocket.

Before deciding which fix-ups are right for your home, call on us – your neighbourhood real estate specialists. Together we can strategically pick and choose the smartest fix-ups that will really make a difference.

Here are 20 secrets successful home sellers use to impress prospective buyers and bring a top-dollar sale. Keep in mind the secret is in selecting the smartest makeovers that will have the maximum impact on your home’s value and marketability.

On The Outside

1. Resurface the driveway and redo the walk so your home makes the right “cared-for” first impression;

2. Install a new front door with new door hardware to make your entry welcoming, then paint or stain the door surround;

3. Replace the garage door and install an automatic opener;

4. Put in a new flower bed, green up the lawn, and replace any overgrown bushes in front;

5. Power wash your siding and deck, and repaint the trim or, if needed, the whole house;

6. Consider sought-after double-pane windows or storm windows and doors that keep the temperature indoors comfortable all year round;

7. Install or upgrade porch and pole light fixtures to give your home a touch of elegance;

8. Redo the roof and gutters to guard against hidden leaks.

On The Inside

  9. Repaint all interior walls using a neutral colour to make the whole house shine;

10. Install new carpeting or ceramic flooring;

11. Refinish wood floors to give that “new house” look;

12. Hang new chandeliers, recessed or track lighting to make pleasant rooms brilliant;

13. Keep things cool with attractive ceiling fans;

14. Add elegance by replacing switch and outlet plates and register vents with new brass ones;

15. Make over the kitchen; new countertops and appliances will help it sell; today’s buyers want a disposal and dishwasher; consider replacing or refacing cabinets to bring them up to date;

16. Replace bathroom lighting, toilet seats, medicine cabinets and bathroom hardware to bring a sparkle that goes beyond clean;

17. Update your home’s energy efficiency, possibly with a new furnace or additional insulation and new weather stripping so it costs less to operate;

18. Install cable TV lines and an extra phone line to the best room for a home office – even if you don’t need them – to upgrade your home’s electronic capabilities;

19. Reorganize and add closet shelves to make closets function better and appear more spacious;

20. Buy that new living room sofa or family room furniture you planned for the new house to improve the look of the home you’ll be selling.

Benefit Now And Later

Now’s the best time to choose and make some “best-foot-forward” improvements. If you fix up now, you – as well as your future buyer – will enjoy living with the market-smart makeovers you’ve made.

It’s true “you’ve got to spend money to make money,” especially when it comes to selling a home today. Call on us to make sure you spend it wisely in ways that really make a difference.

20 Secrets To Increase Your Home’s Value and Pocket More Cash When You Sell

Everyone has a favourite pair of old shoes. You know the ones – they’re broken in and fit just right. But those old shoes would never get a second look if they were for sale.

The same goes for homes. Those that appear shop-worn, like an old pair of shoes, don’t appeal to today’s buyers.

Your home has only one chance to make a good first impression. The secret to getting the most for your home when you sell is to spend some time, effort, and money beforehand getting it ready to sell. If you make the right improvements today, you’ll sell faster and pocket more cash tomorrow.

By making “market smart” improvements, you’ll come out ahead. Of course, every home can benefit from lots of elbow grease. But you can realize bigger returns when you go a step further with a few “best-foot-forward” improvements. The secret is NOT to undertake major remodelling projects before you sell. Spending too much on too many projects just drains money out of your pocket.

Before deciding which fix-ups are right for your home, call on us – your neighbourhood real estate specialists. Together we can strategically pick and choose the smartest fix-ups that will really make a difference.

Here are 20 secrets successful home sellers use to impress prospective buyers and bring a top-dollar sale. Keep in mind the secret is in selecting the smartest makeovers that will have the maximum impact on your home’s value and marketability.


On The Outside

1. Resurface the driveway and redo the walk so your home makes the right “cared-for” first impression;

2. Install a new front door with new door hardware to make your entry welcoming, then paint or stain the door surround;

3. Replace the garage door and install an automatic opener;

4. Put in a new flower bed, green up the lawn, and replace any overgrown bushes in front;

5. Power wash your siding and deck, and repaint the trim or, if needed, the whole house;

6. Consider sought-after double-pane windows or storm windows and doors that keep the temperature indoors comfortable all year round;

7. Install or upgrade porch and pole light fixtures to give your home a touch of elegance;

8. Redo the roof and gutters to guard against hidden leaks.

On The Inside

  9. Repaint all interior walls using a neutral colour to make the whole house shine;

10. Install new carpeting or ceramic flooring;

11. Refinish wood floors to give that “new house” look;

12. Hang new chandeliers, recessed or track lighting to make pleasant rooms brilliant;

13. Keep things cool with attractive ceiling fans;

14. Add elegance by replacing switch and outlet plates and register vents with new brass ones;

15. Make over the kitchen; new countertops and appliances will help it sell; today’s buyers want a disposal and dishwasher; consider replacing or refacing cabinets to bring them up to date;

16. Replace bathroom lighting, toilet seats, medicine cabinets and bathroom hardware to bring a sparkle that goes beyond clean;

17. Update your home’s energy efficiency, possibly with a new furnace or additional insulation and new weather stripping so it costs less to operate;

18. Install cable TV lines and an extra phone line to the best room for a home office – even if you don’t need them – to upgrade your home’s electronic capabilities;

19. Reorganize and add closet shelves to make closets function better and appear more spacious;

20. Buy that new living room sofa or family room furniture you planned for the new house to improve the look of the home you’ll be selling.

Benefit Now And Later

Now’s the best time to choose and make some “best-foot-forward” improvements. If you fix up now, you – as well as your future buyer – will enjoy living with the market-smart makeovers you’ve made.

It’s true “you’ve got to spend money to make money,” especially when it comes to selling a home today. Call on us to make sure you spend it wisely in ways that really make a difference.

10 Reasons Why You Should Use A Realtor When Purchasing A Pre-Sale Deal

Buying a condo through a “presale deal’ is when you make an initial lump sum payment for the right to receive a finished unit at the end of the deal.  It is a popular practice especially in the Lower Mainland, where there a number of condo projects currently under construction.

Some huge advantages to buying through a presale is that you can make portions of the down payment throughout the construction period and may have a limited say in the final design and finishes of the unit.

Having a realtor support you in your presale purchase is a best practice for the following reasons:

1. The Sales office of the building works for the builder, your realtor works for you

Your realtor works for you, is accountable to you and has your best interests at heart, whereas the sales agents are working for the builder and may not give you the right advice when it comes to purchasing the unit. While you may think you are getting a better price going directly to the sales office, you are doing this at the risk of your contract safety, and your realtor could have negotiated the same price for you.

2. Your realtor will be invited to VIP events

By virtue of his/her profession, a realtor will be invited to VIP events, which will give them access to the best floor plans and price per square foot of the development, before it is released to the general public.

3. It costs you nothing to use a realtor

In the case of presales, the developer pays the realtor a commission. So you get the experience, knowledge and services of a professional realtor for free, allowing you to concentrate on your day-to-day activities.

4. The risks are less when you use a realtor

 By working with a realtor you will be made aware of the risks associated with the presale deal – legal, financial or personal. Should any unfortunate circumstances arise, such as a softening market, you are in a better position to address these types of risks with a realtor, than if you went ahead on your own.

5. A realtor will have contract knowledge and expertise

Realtors have been trained to understand and interpret real estate contracts. Having a realtor present to review the contract, terms and disclosure statement is very important, especially since presale contracts vary from developer to developer. Presales contracts are not the standard MLS contracts that protect the buyer and seller, the former are more inclined to protect the developer, so a realtor would be able to view the contract with your interests in mind.

6. A realtor can help you with, and smoothen the negotiation process

Developers prefer to work with realtors as clients who work with a realtor are made aware of the project ins and outs, thereby making the whole process smoother.  This allows the sales team to spend more time on other clients. While price may stay firm, certain fees can be removed or capped within your agreement, which you would not have known about, if you did not use a realtor.

7. You get an unbiased view of the development

The sales staff at the development has one goal – sell units! They will sell you on the positives and skip over the negatives regarding the property. A realtor on the other hand, is obliged to show you the whole picture, ensuring that your best interests are at heart.

8. A realtor has expert market knowledge

A realtor has a number of resources on hand to give you an accurate idea of what comparable properties are priced at, so that you are not paying over market rates. You may be influenced by the slick presentations given by the sales agents. They may even offer you a discount on the unit, but this discount may have already been pre-negotiated with the developer and built into the profit margin. Also, a realtor will also be aware of the reputation on the builder  – you as a member of the public may not be aware of this.

9. A realtor will take the emotion and stress out of the transaction

Buying a home is not a regular occurrence in anyone’s lifetime.  It can be stressful, time consuming and emotional. A realtor is trained to bring a perspective to the process, allowing you to stay focused on your goals and see the bigger picture. They negotiate on your behalf, keep you aware of various developments and issues, and are there to lead you through the whole transaction.

10. A realtor can help you market the property

If you are an investor and are looking to assign your unit, your realtor can help you find a buyer, as certain types of advertising is not permissible by the developer. With tools such as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), you will get a far greater sales audience.

The most important benefit of using a realtor when entering into a presale contract is that they have your best interest at heart. A realtor will represent you honestly, efficiently and ethically, and will assist you in making the best decision for your needs.

Looking to get into a presale? Please contact us or call us on 604 913 1000/ 604 695 1000 and we will be able to help you with our experienced real estate professionals.

Essential Tips That Get Homes Sold Fast (And For Top Dollar)

Selling your home is one of the most important steps in your life. Here are 29 essential tips you must know….

For most people, selling their home means cashing in their biggest asset. In other words, it must be handled with great care if you hope to protect—and capitalize on—your investment.

This guide was written with one goal in mind: to give you the tools you need to maximize your profits, maintain control, and reduce the stress that comes with the home-selling process.

1) Know why you’re selling

The reason you look closely at why you want to sell is that your motivations play an important role in the process. They affect everything from setting a price to deciding how much time and money you’ll invest to getting your home ready for selling.

For example, what’s more important to you: the money you walk away with, or the length of time your property is on the market? If your goal is a quick sale, that can dictate one kind of approach. If you want to maximize your profit, the sales process will almost certainly take longer.

2) Once you know, keep it to yourself

Your reasons will affect how you negotiate the sale of your home, but they shouldn’t be given as ammunition to the person who wants to buy it. For example, a prospective buyer who knows you must move quickly has you at their mercy in the negotiation process. When asked, simply say that your housing needs have changed. Your reasons are nobody’s business but your own.

3) Do your homework before setting a price

Settling on an offering price shouldn’t be done lightly. Once you’ve set your price, you’ve told buyers the absolute maximum they have to pay for your home. The trick for the seller is to get a selling price as close to the offering price as possible. If you start out by pricing too high, you might not be taken seriously by prospective buyers and their agents. A price too low can result in selling for much less than you had hoped for.

Setting your home’s sale price can be a fairly easy process. If you live in a subdivision comprised of homes with similar or identical floor plans, built in the same time period, then all you have to do is look at recent sales in the neighbourhood to give you a good ballpark figure.

But many people live in older neighbourhoods that have changed quite a bit over the years. Every home in your neighbourhood may be different in minor or substantial ways—the house next door may have added another bedroom, for example, or the one across the street might have been built recently to fill a vacant lot. As a neighbourhood evolves over the years, you may find that there aren’t any homes that are truly comparable to your own.

If you decide to sell your home on your own, the most common way to set a value is to look at homes that have sold in your neighbourhood within the past six to 12 months, as well as those now on the market. That’s certainly how prospective buyers will assess the worth of your home.

You can usually learn what homes have sold for in your neighbourhood by making a quick trip to City Hall; home sale information is in the public records in most communities (but not all).

If this sounds like a lot of work, you may decide to hire a Realtor.® Your Realtor® will do all the market research and provide you with comps showing where your home should be priced to best meet your goals—a fast sell, maximum profit, etc. The best way to get to know your competition, identify features that are popular and learn what turns buyers off is to check out other open houses. Plan on spending a few weekends touring other homes on the market to learn what other sellers are asking. Be sure to make note of the floor plan, condition, appearance, size of lot, location and other features.

4) Go home shopping yourself

The best way to get to know your competition, identify features that are popular and learn what turns buyers off is to check out other open houses. Plan on spending a few weekends touring other homes on the market to learn what other sellers are asking. Be sure to make note of the floor plan, condition, appearance, size of lot, location and other features.

If you visit enough homes and pay close attention to the details (and what other “buyers” are saying), you’ll develop a good understanding of how different features affect pricing. And then you can apply what you’ve learned to the task of setting your price. But don’t forget to include in the equation what homes are actually selling for, not just simply what people are asking. And remember, if you’re serious about getting your home sold quickly, don’t be more expensive than your neighbour.

5) Know when to get an appraisal

Sometimes you can use a good appraisal to your benefit in marketing your home. And if you get a VA or FHA appraisal, you can use it to let prospective buyers know that your home can be financed. However, an appraisal costs money. It also has a limited life. And you may not like the figure you hear.

6) Your tax assessment means almost nothing

Some people look to tax assessments to assign a value. The problem here is that assessments are based on a number of criteria unrelated to property values, so they often don’t necessarily reflect the true value of your home. Have you ever heard of two identical homes in the same neighbourhood with dramatically different assessed values because one was purchased more recently than the other? Well, it happens quite often.

7) Find a good Realtor

Nearly two-thirds of the people who sell their own home say they wouldn’t do it themselves again, according to research by the National Association of Realtors®. Sellers surveyed point to difficulties in setting a price, marketing handicaps and liability concerns among the primary reasons they would turn to a Realtor® next time. And selling a home yourself usually eats up more time and effort than you might initially expect.

Once you understand how much work it will be to sell it yourself, talk to a Realtor® you trust even if you decide to strike out on your own. Many top professionals are more than willing to help do-it yourself sellers with the paperwork, contracts, etc. Plus you’ll have a relationship with an agent if problems do arise that require professional help.

If you decide to work with a Realtor,® contact four or five—you probably met a few that you liked during your open house tour. Explain to each that you’re thinking about putting your home on the market and you’d like to meet to talk about pricing and marketing. By having this group “evaluation” done, you should end up with a fairly tight price range to help guide your decision. Any Realtor® who is substantially higher or lower than the group should be able to justify their estimate. Just as you should be concerned with too low of a price, beware of an agent who gives you the highest price—they may be trying to buy your listing.

A good Realtor® knows the market and your neighbourhood in particular. They will supply you with information on past sales, current listings, a marketing plan, something on their own background, and references from past clients. Take the time to carefully evaluate candidates on the basis of their experience, qualifications, enthusiasm, and personality. Most importantly, make sure you choose someone who is going to put in a lot of hard work on your behalf.

8) Give yourself room to negotiate

Make sure you leave yourself enough room in which to bargain. If what you ask for is unacceptable to the buyer, and their first offer is unacceptable to you, then you better make sure you have someplace to go that is acceptable to you.

Start with the absolute minimum price you would accept, then pick the price you’d get if the world were perfect. This gives you your range to keep in mind when working with your Realtor® to negotiate the sale.

In setting your asking price, review your priorities. Do you want to maximize your profit or sell quickly? You’ll price high for the former and closer to market value if the latter is the case.

9) Maximize your home’s sales potential

Each year, corporate North America spends billions of dollars on product and packaging design. The lesson here is that appearance is critical—and it would be foolish to ignore this when selling your home.

You may not be able to change your home’s location or its floor plan, but you can do a lot to improve its appearance. And you should. The look and “feel” of your home generates a greater emotional response than any other factor. You may price your home to sell, but a prospective buyer reacts to what they see, hear, feel and smell.

10) Rely on other people’s judgement as well as your own

The key to effective marketing is knowing your product’s good and bad points. In the case of your home, accentuating the good can mean a faster sale for more money; failing to deal with the bad can mean months on the market and a lower-than-desired sales price.

The biggest mistake you can make at this point is to rely solely on your own judgement. Remember this is your home, a place of fond memories. There are bound to be emotional issues that can impair your ability to make an honest assessment of your home’s strengths and weaknesses.

In evaluating what improvements you can make, don’t be shy about asking others for their opinions. But make sure you’re getting an honest answer; some may try to spare your feelings, just what you don’t need. Fortunately, your Realtor® won’t be shy in discussing what should be done to make a home more marketable.

11) Clean like you’ve never cleaned before

Pick up, straighten, unclutter, scrub, scour, dust…well, you get the idea. If your living room feels crowded, take out every piece of furniture you can get away with. If your home still isn’t ready to appear in House Beautiful, then clean some more. Remember, you’re not just competing with other people’s homes—you’re going up against brand-new homes as well.

12) Fix everything no matter how insignificant it may appear

The step that squeaks, the light switch that doesn’t work, the hairline crack in the bathroom mirror— they might be minor annoyances to you, but they can also be deal-killers. The problem is that you never know what will turn a buyer off. And even something minor that’s gone unattended can suggest that perhaps there are bigger, less visible problems present as well.

13) Remove all traces of you from your home

When you toured other people’s homes, you may have felt some discomfort. This probably occurred because you saw, heard or otherwise sensed something that made you feel as if you were intruding into someone’s life.

The last thing you want others to feel in visiting your home is that same sense of discomfort. Avoid this by making your home as neutral as possible. Anything that interferes with a prospective buyers’ ability to see themselves living in your home must be eliminated. A few carefully chosen knickknacks and family portraits may add warmth and character to the home, too many are a distraction. Avoid unique or trendy color schemes—paint and carpet in neutral shades of white or beige.

14) The little touches can make a difference

While personal items can detract, other small touches can help make your house a home to buyers. A well-placed vase of flowers, accent pieces of sculpture, potpourri in the bathroom—all can enhance the attractiveness of your home in a subtle, soft-spoken way. Try perusing any of the home magazines for tips.

15) Don’t let a smell be your downfall

Odd smells kill deals quickly. All traces of food, pet and smoking odours must be eliminated. Even when you’re sure they’re gone, don’t encourage prospective buyers to imagine things. If they know that you’re a smoker or that you have a dog, they’ll start smelling odours and seeing stains that may not even exist. Be safe—don’t leave any clues.

16) Disclose everything

Smart sellers proactively go above and beyond the laws to disclose all known defects to their buyers— in writing. If the buyer knows about a problem, he can’t come back with a lawsuit later on.

17) The more prospects, the better

By maximizing your home’s marketability, you’ll increase your chances of attracting more than one prospective buyer. Why is this better? Because several buyers compete with each other; a single buyer ends up competing with you.

18) Don’t get emotional during negotiation

The extent of most people’s experience in the art of negotiation begins and ends at their local auto dealership. And few of us have pleasant memories of haggling with car salesmen. But if you can just let go of the emotion you’ve invested in your home and approach negotiations in a detached, businesslike manner, you’ll find the process to be a lot less painful. In fact, you might even enjoy it—and you’ll definitely have an advantage over prospective buyers who get caught up in the emotion of the situation.

19) Know your buyer

In the negotiation process, your objective is to control the pace and set the duration. And the better you know your buyer, the more easily you can maintain control.

As a rule, buyers want the best property they can afford for the least amount of money. But knowing specifically what motivates your buyer enables you to negotiate more effectively. Maybe your buyer needs to move quickly. Or the maximum amount he can spend is just a little below your asking price. Knowing this information puts you in a better bargaining position.


20) Find out what the buyer can pay

As soon as possible, try to find out the mortgage amount the buyer is qualified to carry and the size of his down payment. If he makes a low offer, question his Realtor® about his client’s ability to really pay what your home is worth.

21) Find out when the buyer would like to close

When a buyer would “like” to close is often when they need to close. Knowing this gives you his deadline for completing negotiations—again, an advantage in negotiations.

22) Don’t sign a deal on your next home until you close the deal on this one

If circumstances conspire to force you into closing on your new home while you’re still making mortgage payments on the old one, you might end up turning yourself into a seller who is eager (or desperate) for the first deal that comes along.

23) Don’t move out before you sell

Studies have shown that it is more difficult to sell a home that is vacant—it looks forelorn, forgotten, simply not appealing. It could even cost you thousands. If you move, you’re also telling buyers that you have a new home and are probably motivated to sell.

24) Don’t give yourself a deadline

Forcing yourself to sell by a certain date adds unnecessary pressure and puts you at a serious disadvantage in negotiations.

25) Don’t take a low offer personally

The first offer is invariably well below what you both know the buyer will end up paying for your property. Don’t get angry or feel insulted; evaluate the offer objectively. Make sure it spells out the offering price, adequate earnest money, amount of down payment, mortgage amount, a closing date and any special requests. Now you have a point from which you can negotiate.

26) A really low offer may mean the buyer’s not qualified

If you feel an offer is inadequate, now would be a good time to make sure the buyer has been qualified to carry a mortgage of the size this deal would require (if you haven’t learned this already). Ask how they arrived at their figure, then suggest their agent use comparables to establish what homes are going for in your neighbourhood.

27) Don’t take a lowball offer seriously

An unacceptably low offer should not be taken personally or seriously. Rather, it should be countered, even with the slightest of reductions in your asking price. This lets a buyer know that their first offer isn’t seen as a very serious one.

28) Make sure the contract is complete

The best way to avoid problems is to make sure that all terms, costs and responsibilities are spelled out in the contract of sale. A contract should include the date it was made, the names of the parties involved in the transaction, the address of the property being sold, the purchase price, where deposit monies will be held, the date for loan approval, the date and place of closing, type of deed, any contingencies that remain to be settled, and whether there’s any personal property included (or not) in the sale, among other things.

29) Don’t deviate from the contract

Resist the temptation to diverge from the contract. For example, if the buyer requests a move-in prior to closing, just say no. Now is not the time to take any chances of the deal falling through

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