The spring market is just around the corner and you have decided to list your property for sale. Now you are wondering what must be done in order to be competitive among sellers and attract potential buyers to bring you their best offer. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” We could not agree more with the former president of the United States of America in stressing the necessity of preparation. Selling real estate involves more than putting a sign on the lawn with your contact information, especially in the market we are now experiencing in the Greater Toronto Area where inventory is spending more time on the market before being sold off.
First impressions are significant in real estate. A BMO study found that eighty per cent of potential buyers know if the home is right as soon as they enter the home. In 2018, Strutt and Parker provided further evidence to support the initial research on buyer psychology as it pertains to real estate conducted by BMO. Strutt and Parker found that eighty-four per cent of would-be buyers agree that the most important thing about buying a property is that you “get a good feeling when you walk through the front door” and three-quarters of respondents agreed that first impressions are everything when viewing a home.
The amount of consideration, or money, that you receive for your home will not only reflect the local and regional market conditions, but it will also reflect the perceived value of the condition of and the finishes within your home that is conveyed to a purchaser. Since everyone does not want to settle for anything less than top dollar, listing and selling your home requires planning and preparation.
Prior to spending the time and money necessary to prepare your home to be listed for sale, look and what is currently for sale and what has sold in recent weeks or months in your neighbourhood or condominium to garner a sense of the competition and what exactly buyers are looking and paying for. Moreover, you may want to consider a pre-listing home inspection report. A home inspection prior to listing has a two-pronged approach. Firstly, it will provide you with an in-depth report regarding the condition of the structure and any major defects, so you can decide which, if any, defects you want to remedy prior to listing. Secondly, it can quell a prospective buyer’s misgivings about your home. Since you are providing prospective buyers with disclosure of material information pertaining to the current state of your home prior to their submission of an offer, prospective buyers can make an informed decision about price and they may even forego the condition of a home inspection. In short, this makes for a cleaner offer.
With that being said, whether you have opted to select a pre-listing home inspection or not, read through our list of suggestions below. The extent to which you focus on each item depends on your timeline, budget, and the amount of sweat equity that is physically feasible.
- For those of you that own freehold properties, curb appeal is crucial to a first impression. During winter, ensure that walkways are clean and free from debris, snow, and ice. Likewise, during the warmer months, make sure that the lawn, trees, and shrubs are manicured. Create a welcoming façade by painting a faded door and window trim.
- Once inside the home, consider major and minor repairs. This can range from small holes in the drywall to upgrading the fuse box to a panel containing circuit breakers or a kitchen and bathroom remodel. If your budget and timeline does not permit major repairs or upgrades, just keep in mind that prospective buyers will take these defects into account in their offer submission. Where budget and time permits, you can think about modernizing the look of the kitchen and bathrooms. Granite and quartz countertops with under-mount sinks are customary in new construction. Install or upgrade the backsplash, since it is a typically a smaller surface Decide whether to use a separate flooring for different areas of your home, like porcelain tile and hardwood, or the same type of flooring throughout the same level of the home to provide a seamless flow to the observer.
- Declutter and depersonalize. Remove personal photos and affections and avoid leaving valuables vulnerable. Remember, prospective buyers will be inspecting your home thoroughly, so to avoid theft or speculation into your personal life, remove items of monetary and personal value, such as jewelry, family photography, and religious icons. This is also done to mimic a model showroom whereby potential buyers can mentally fill the space with their visions of their future memories. If you have the space in a part of your home, the garage, shed or, if your budget permits, rent a storage locker or a portable storage unit to keep your belongings while your home is listed for sale. Doing so opens your space and keeps the flow going. Prospective buyers should be able to move freely in your home and walk around furniture unobstructed. Remove oversized furniture by deciding what to keep in storage, throw away, donate, or sell.
- Make the surfaces sparkle and shine! From the floor to the counters to the ceiling, clean all surfaces until they gleam.
- Tone down colour. Accent walls and the dramatic colours in your home could leave a bad impression on a buyer. Paint the rooms neutral tones and like tan and white. This is particularly useful in rooms that are not well-lit.
- Brighten your home. Uncover all windows to bring in as much natural light as possible. Improve lighting by changing light bulbs, fixtures or, where it is financially feasible to have electrical work completed, consider pot lights. In the least, add table and floor lamps to dim areas of the home.
- Eliminate bad odours. Bake a batch of cookies or bring the outside in by accentuating your spaces with fresh flowers for open houses and private tours. Hide the litter box and place air fresheners throughout your home.
- Complete a faux reno. If you cannot completely revamp the look of the kitchen, consider refacing the cabinets with a coat of paint. Spruce up the look of the hinges, knobs, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, and handles on cabinets and drawers. One of the most common features buyers point out is window treatments. Install or upgrade your window treatments with modern roller or solar shades.
In deciding to sell your home, it is important to be mindful of your audience. Buyers are particular when it comes to making a significant financial decision and rightfully so. Adequate planning and preparation will enable you to stand out among the competition and increase the viability of achieving positive results.