13 Secrets Real Estate Agents Want You to Know
Thinking of putting your house on the market? These expert tips from realtors can help you get the most for your property.
Real estate tips from the pros
Putting your house on the market? Choose the right renovations before you list. “Big-ticket items like a new roof, windows or a furnace add the most value,” says Barb Sukkau, president of the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Keep it clean
If you think staged homes look impersonal, that’s the whole point—you want your buyer to imagine themselves living in your house. One of the most important real estate tips your agent will offer is to be ruthlessly unsentimental about packing away knick-knacks and family photos. Kill all clutter!
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Fix little signs of wear and tear
And yes, that includes scuff marks and chipped baseboards. Even if your home is otherwise in great shape, the buyer may perceive it as needing work, which could hurt you in price negotiations.
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Tell your selling agent everything about your home
Any flaws you knowingly conceal—lead in the drinking water, for instance—could come back to haunt you later in the form of a lawsuit.
Choose your price wisely
Consider setting a price that’s slightly below the market value for your area. This can help generate offers for your listing, creating a buzz that could result in a bidding war.
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Don’t limit yourself to popular times
Spring is the traditional start of house-hunting season, but as a buyer, you’ll find deals if you purchase during the colder months. “A home listed in the fall often means the seller has to move, rather than just wants to move,” Sukkau says. “Sellers tend to be more motivated from October to December.”
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If an agent tries to take you to every house on the market, no matter how unsuitable, beware. That said, says Sukkau, stay open-minded. “Buyers often tell me they want a certain thing but end up buying something else,” she says. “Broadening your parameters can lead to a great find.”
Stick to your budget
Resist the urge to look at homes beyond your price range, even if the market is red-hot. Those monthly mortgage payments are relentless and they add up over time.
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Bid like a pro
How to survive a bidding war on your dream home: an experienced agent can guide you through these negotiations, but make sure to arrive with a pre-approval letter from your lender, and include an escalation clause to limit how high you’ll go.
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Go for an emotional appeal
If you’ve got your heart set on a property but can’t afford to outbid other buyers, try your luck appealing to the seller’s emotions. With your offer, include a “love letter” explaining what the home would mean to you, stressing how much you value what they’ve put into it and what you could bring to the community.
Trust the pros
A small minority of homes sold in Canada change hands in “for sale by owner” transactions. The biggest motivation: sellers want to save money on agent commissions, though there are pitfalls aplenty. “Real estate is a complicated transaction,” says Sukkau. “It’s also difficult to price a home and market it properly without an experienced agent’s help.”
For more real estate tips, check out out our guide to house hunting.
Realtors aren’t always pulling in fat commissions
In Ontario, the standard is around five percent of the purchase price, split between buying and selling agents.
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Commissions are always negotiable
According to Sukkau they depend on the services provided and the market. Full-service agents may provide professional staging, photography, drone flyovers and other tricks to gussy up your listing, but you’ll pay far less for a more bare-bones approach.
Now that you’ve got these real estate tips under your belt, find out 13 things you should never do if you’re planning on selling your home.