Market Analysis: It’s More Than Picking a Price

So, you’re selling your home.

To decide on the right selling price, your real estate agent will have used information available through the Real Estate Board’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system to compare your home to others that have sold recently in your area.

Together you’ve gone through the comparables and opted for a price you’re happy with.

You know that he or she will now start marketing your home through the MLS system and advertising it in newspapers and online.

Your real estate agent may also hold an open house and contact other agents to promote your home. But what you may not know is that throughout this process, your agent is continuing to analyze the market to ensure that your home is still well-priced and will recommend adjustments if the situation changes.

Take a couple named Ann and Christopher. Their detached, three-bedroom home was similar to others in their neighbourhood, but Ann and Christopher had renovated the entire upstairs to create a new master suite and built a deck accessed from the kitchen. It had more to offer than did neighbouring homes. So when their agent, Michael, saw that the home across the street was selling for $10,000 less than their home, he was quick to review details of that home, consult with Ann and Christopher, and change the market tactic to emphasize the special features of their property.

When Michael received negative feedback during Christopher and Ann’s open house, he told them and together they decided what to do about it. If there was a rumor of a new highway in the area or a new school to be built, Michael would know about it and could then consider the impact on his clients.

Michael’s job as a real estate agent involved constantly monitoring the market factors and responding accordingly. The result was a quick, successful sale of Ann and Christopher’s home.

How Your Bedroom Can Help Sell Your Home

A great master bedroom will help sell your home. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money, time and effort trying to impress buyers. Following are 11 easy ways to spruce up your master for little money:

  • De-clutter and de-personalize. Buyers want to see themselves in the master bedroom. Don’t surround them with the trappings of your life.
  • Clean, clean and clean some more.
  • Make necessary repairs.
  • Paint. You don’t have to go for beige (or gray, which is the new beige), but emphasize the room’s spaciousness with lighter colours. Don’t forget the ceiling.
  • Move some of the furniture out to add to an airy, uncluttered feel.
  • Heavy drapes might be nice at night, but during the day they can feel confining. Take them down and buy inexpensive sheers. Add blinds for light control.
  • Speaking of light, add more task and ambient lighting, and leave lights on to minimize shadows and illuminate dark corners.
  • Buy a new duvet cover.
  • Hang inexpensive artwork or a mirror and lose the family photos.
  • Don’t cover hardwood floors with carpeting or put furniture in front of a window with a view.
  • Clean out the closets so buyers can see the space and decide if their clothes will fit.

Selling Your Home? Avoid These Costly Mistakes

You often hear about naive buyers and the mistakes they’ve made, but what about the slipups by sellers?

Yes, believe it or not, sellers also make mistakes.

And sometimes those mistakes mean lost sales and longer days on the market.

The most prevalent mistake by sellers is insisting on too high a price. Sellers may want a big return on their investment because they’ve invested time, money and emotion in a home. However, sellers may have to lower their expectations, as things like upgrades or a home’s location on a busy street may not be to everyone’s taste.

Sellers should listen to their real estate agents. An agent has the comparables, understands the local market and knows what a home is really worth.

Sellers also can be inflexible about arranging appointments. By not showing in the evenings or on Sundays, sellers are reducing the pool of potential buyers. Many sellers also want to be there for showings or open houses, which is a big mistake. Potential buyers may feel uncomfortable and won’t be able to see themselves living there.

Fatigue is a problem among sellers. It may be difficult to keep a home in show condition, but it is necessary. Dirty dishes, unmade beds and dust bunnies will not get a seller the best price. Neither will toys and unpleasant reminders of Fluffy and Fido.

Pets, by the way, should also be out of the way during viewings.

Many sellers also find the process of negotiations difficult. Sellers shouldn’t take lowball offers personally. Low bids can be, and often are, increased. Sellers should respond quickly to every offer, and they should not stall while waiting for a better one to come in. Sellers who are in a hurry can offer incentives like paying closing costs.

Last, sellers should not wait for spring.

Sellers can attract serious buyers during the off-season by highlighting fall landscaping or promoting the property as a cozy winter retreat.

How to Give Your Home a Light and Airy Feel

The properties of natural light are well-known. It expands your space, brightens dark corners and gives your home an airy feel. If you’re selling your home – or even if you’re not – try adopting some designer tricks to increase your home’s natural wattage.

Paint is one of the least expensive and most effective ways of lightening up your home. Light colours reflect light and bounce it back, making a space look larger. And yes, painting your woodwork cream or white is allowed and does increase your light quotient.

Mirrors also bounce back natural light, but they should be used sparingly. Bring in the outdoors by hanging a mirror opposite a window.

Light-coloured gauzy curtains or plantation shutters also contribute to that airy look. Louvered blinds can be tipped to take advantage of the sunlight as it makes its way around the room. And don’t forget that slipcovering your furniture in lighter-coloured fabrics is another easy way to lighten up.

If you’re prepared to make structural changes, adding a skylight to a dark room is effective, but trimming back outdoor trees and shrubs that are filtering the light may do the trick for less money.

For open houses, turn on indoor and outdoor lights. Even during the day, inside lighting can make your dwelling feel homey, prevent harsh shadows from sunlight and brighten dark corners. Dust and vacuum well, as illuminated dust bunnies won’t do anything for the appeal of your home.

Thinking of Buying a Fixer-Upper? How to Do It Right

With proper due diligence and the right real estate agent, buying a fixer-upper can be a satisfying and lucrative experience. Buying a bad one, though, can lead to disaster.  Here are some tips to help you avoid problems:

Location: A bad house in a desirable neighbourhood is almost guaranteed to pay big dividends for the savvy buyer. Here’s where a good real estate agent – as a specialist in local neighbourhoods – can be worth his or her weight in gold.

Mass Appeal: You’ll want to look for a home that appeals to the largest number of buyers. That means three or more bedrooms and more than one bathroom.

Sensible Layout: Look past the current floor plan and figure out how the home will work. Today’s buyers look for openness and rooms that flow seamlessly.

Bang for Buck: Avoid costly makeovers like shoring up sagging foundations. Instead, think cosmetic fixes. Plaster and paint, new bathroom fixtures, and even a new roof and energy-saving windows are relatively inexpensive and can turn your ugly duckling into a beautiful swan.

Potential Problems: An investment in a good home inspector can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. You can try requesting a home inspection and a roof certification as part of the deal. Ask your real estate agent about any nearby landfills, reports of contamination and other conditions that could affect resale value. You may even want a structural engineer to examine the property as a condition of sale.