My husband and I want to put our house up for sale this spring, but it all seems so overwhelming. How should we get started?
Due to an editing error, the version of this column that ran in the Toronto Star incorrectly stated that brokers and salespeople are qualified appraisers. Although some brokers and salespeople are also accredited appraisers, many are not. The version of the column below includes the correct information on this issue.
The composer Gustav Mahler once said: “Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer!” He meant that people head outdoors for sunshine and fresh air as the days become longer, but his words reflect another truth of human nature: people like to list their homes when winter has departed.
Putting your home on the market can seem a little overwhelming at first. The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) has some useful tips to help you get started.
1. Interview at least three salespeople: Find the right real estate salesperson — shop around and determine who is a good fit with you, and your real estate needs and goals. Ask about their references, professional experience, general approach to buying and selling, services they provide and how much they charge.
2. Look them up: Check out your shortlist of candidates using the search tool on the RECO website. It will tell you if somebody is registered to trade in Ontario, and if they have had any disciplinary actions against them.
3. Read and understand everything before you sign: Before you sign a listing agreement with a brokerage, make sure you know what it means, how long it will be in effect, which services are included and what all the different clauses mean. If your salesperson offers you any rebates or incentives, or if you have any other special considerations, get them in writing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or request a clarification. It’s also a good idea to hire a lawyer who understands real estate law early in the selling process to take a look at both the agreement and the purchase and sale documents that will follow.
4. Set a listing price: This is one of your most important decisions and the starting point in your negotiations; the eventual selling price could be higher or lower. There will be closing costs, such as real estate commissions, legal fees and moving expenses. Your salesperson can give you a recommended listing price based upon comparable sales data from similar properties in your area.
You could also have an appraisal done by a qualified appraiser — some salespeople are also qualified appraisers. Similarly, it may be a good idea to have a pre-listing home inspection done to see if anything needs to be repaired or replaced. Registered real estate agents may be able to refer you to appraisers, home inspectors, and other professionals you might need.
5. Agree upon a selling strategy; discuss Open House safety: Many sellers are happy with just a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) listing. Others want added services, such as staging the home, or advertising campaigns. It’s important that you and your sales rep agree on your sales strategy, and that you get any extra services included in the listing agreement. If you want to have an Open House, discuss safety ahead of time.
Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.