There are several reasons to sell your home. You may be moving to a new city or upgrading/downgrading your home to keep pace with your changing life. Whatever the reason is, this is where to begin.
This easy guide covers every step of selling your home from start to sold and ways to ensure you’re getting the best offer for your home in Calgary.
Realtors vs. Direct Selling
As a home seller, you can typically take one of two paths: working with a Realtor or handling the home sale on your own.
Working with Realtors gives you the homeowner a more of a hands-off approach to selling your home. Realtors handle everything from writing the MLS listing, taking photos, scheduling showings and open houses, recommending repairs or staging tips, to walking you through the closing process. Plus, they can use their expertise of the Calgary market to help you get top dollar for your home and connect with a broader network of buyers.
When using a professional Realtor, you have to pay Realtor fees. Agents in Calgary typically earn on average 4% of the home’s selling price (7% of the first $100,000 and 3% of the remaining balance), which can eat into your profits. If someone other than your listing agent sells the home, the commission is split between them. Also, not all Realtors are equal. As a homeowner, you need to find one you trust and feel confident about their ability to sell a home.
The other popular option is to sell your home privately. This puts you in control over every aspect of the process, from generating an MLS listing through taking photos to managing showings and more. However, this role can be time-consuming, and without experience, your home will likely take longer to sell or might not sell for as much.
Another option is to partner with companies that buy houses, reducing the hassle of selling your home. These companies are known as iBuyers. With the aid of data and tech, they can make a cash offer on your home instantly based on a proprietary valuation model. If you choose to accept the price, you can close in as little as a couple of days. It’s typically a simpler, more convenient and guaranteed alternative to the traditional home sale, as you get paid and can move on your own time and schedule.
iBuyers tend to be confused with Home Flippers but they are different. While the former focuses on buying homes in good conditions at fair-market value, the latter targets distressed homes, make major renovations, and then sell at a significantly higher price. This option is ideal for you if:
- You’re moving to a new house or city, and you need to sell your current home quickly to avoid double-mortgage and/or holding costs.
- You’re going through a divorce and need to be done with selling the house so you can move on to what’s next quickly.
- You’re just too busy to go through the stress, delays, and uncertainty of the traditional sale process.
There is no single best solution, and homeowners should consider all of the advantages and disadvantages and select which works best for them before pursuing an option.
Listing Your Home for Sale
MLS listings tend to contain the same information (home description, square footage, photos, etc.), but the way you present these details matter. Do you know the difference between a strong MLS listing and one that’s “just okay”?
First and foremost, your listing should be written to sell, not just to inform. Include your home’s best features and help the buyer envision themselves actually living in the home. Take high-quality photos that highlight what makes your home special.
You should also include common information that most home buyers are looking for, such as your home’s age, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and lot size.
Before you list your home, you’ll need to set your asking price. It helps to do a market assessment to see what similar homes in your area are selling for. If you want to get more from your home, you can make some improvements that will increase the value.
If you’re using a Realtor, they’ll handle the listing process for you. If you’re planning to sell a home privately, you’ll need to pay to list it on the market before you can post it to various Calgary real estate websites, including Realtor.ca.
Tap for more on how to write captivating MLS listings.
Preparing for Showings and Open Houses
Preparing your home for buyers can make or break a sale. Most buyers don’t want to walk into a home that shows obvious signs of damage, looks dirty, or simply makes the buyer feel the home isn’t worth what you’re asking for it.
Getting your home ready for buyers to view isn’t free, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Focus on only the improvements that will likely cost less than the value they add.
For example, perform minor repairs or touchups, such as painting the outside trim, fixing holes in the walls, or replacing broken light fixtures. Add curb appeal by replacing the mailbox, changing out house numbers, or planting flowers. Give your home a good cleaning inside and out to make it appear well maintained.
You may also want to do a little home staging to make your home feel larger and boost your chances of selling. Remove bulky furniture, reduce the content of your closets and cabinets by half, and take out anything that personalizes your space. This is an excellent opportunity to toss junk you don’t plan on taking with you or to sell items to make a little cash.
It’s also vital to keep your home clean and tidy in between showings. In some cases, Realtors may want to schedule last-minute showings that don’t give you much time to pick up after yourself. Make it a point to clean and organize daily to keep your home in show-ready condition at all times.
If you’re selling your home privately, you have more control over when it’s shown. This gives you more time to prepare for potential viewings or open houses but you may miss out on opportunities when you can’t be available for a potential buyer’s requested viewing time.
Using companies that buy houses that buy houses for cash eliminates this step altogether.
Inspections and Appraisals
Inspections and appraisals are part of the home selling process, but the seller’s role in each one varies.
Buyers may be required by their lender to get an appraisal on the property to ensure they’re not lending money on a house valued below the mortgage amount. When appraisals are required, the buyer pays for it regardless of whether the buyer’s loan is approved or denied.
The lender will arrange for an appraiser to come to your home to assess its value. Things like location, home age, the current economy, the Calgary housing market, and interest rates will all affect the final result. Homeowners may also choose to get an appraisal when determining how to price their home.
Property inspections are highly recommended for buyers, and in some cases, they may be required. This inspection is done at the buyer’s expense and is usually only initiated if the buyer has made an offer on the home. A home inspector will come to your property to look for potential issues, take photos, and collect as much information as possible about the property from the inside out. Buyers may be present for the home inspection so the inspector can explain their findings before compiling them in a report.
Buyers may be able to back out of the home sale if the inspection report reveals unpleasant findings. Because of this, as a seller you may find it beneficial to arrange their own home inspection. If there are any surprises, you’ll have the opportunity to fix them to avoid scaring off serious buyers.
Negotiating with Buyers
Successful home selling is also about knowing how to negotiate. You won’t often find a buyer that will offer you exactly what you’re asking for, nor will you be inclined to accept the first offer.
Consider the following negotiating tips to ensure you come out on top:
- Offer a home warranty that covers the cost of repairs and replacements on the appliances and systems in your home (usually good up to a year). This adds value to your home without the need to drop your asking price.
- Put a time limit on your counter-offer. When you counter an offer, you’re in a legally binding negotiation that prevents you from accepting a better offer if one comes along. Give the buyer a short timeframe to accept your counteroffer to either receive a quick decision or get them off the hook.
- Create your own competition. Schedule an open house but refuse to take any offers until after the open house is over. This can make your property seem desirable and make buyers take quick action. They also know that low-ball offers aren’t likely to win, making them more willing to make you a fair offer you can be happy with.
- Be open to contingencies. Your listing price isn’t the only thing that can make or break a deal. Buyers may have contingencies, such as when they can take occupancy or how much of the closing costs they’re willing to pay. If you want to stay firm to your price, you may have to be flexible in allowing contingencies to satisfy your buyer.
Closing on Your Home
When you accept an offer, your home goes through a closing process that officially transfers it from you to your buyer. There are several steps involved in the process, with most closings taking a month or longer.
Here’s a breakdown of you, homeowner’s responsibilities:
- Get a copy of your deed, mortgage, survey/real property report, and property tax bills.
- Give a set of keys to your lawyer a few days before closing.
- Get meter readings on the day of closing so you’re only paying for your share of the utilities.
- Make sure you’re completely moved out before you sign the paperwork.
- Don’t cancel your home insurance, but not until after closing.
- Have a cheque ready if you’re paying for any part of the closing costs or Realtor fees.
As long as your buyer is prepared to fulfill their responsibilities, you should have the money in hand before the end of business on closing day.
Speaking about responsible buyers, Properly can help simplify each stage of the home selling process. We eliminate the need for preparing your home for buyers, cut out the back-and-forth of negotiations, and reduce the time to closing so you can sell your home and move on to wherever life takes you next. We do this by buying your home directly from you for a competitive, fair-market price, on your own schedule.
See how it works and start simplifying the way you sell your home!