You’re selling your house! You’re either pumped or feeling sick to your stomach. No worries, get these four things right (plus a bonus item at the end), and you’ll be selling like a pro!

Here they are in order of importance:

    1. Price it Right
    2. Clean it Up
    3. Offer a Competitive Commission
    4. Make it Easy to Show

 

Here’s the breakdown:

1. The Price is Right (or at least it better be)

You can’t sell a $100 bill for $110. You need to set a fair price for your home.

Pricing your home involves sitting down with your listing agent—me, I hope—and reviewing comparable listings. Comparables (or comps) are homes of similar size, condition, quality and area that have recently sold. You’ll take these numbers and add or subtract them to arrive at a list price for your home.

It’s tricky business, for sure, because you haven’t been inside the comparable listings. You don’t have a feel for what they were really like, and you don’t know the circumstances surrounding the sale. Were there competing offers? Were the sellers under duress? Did the buyer knowingly overpay because they were under pressure to buy? 

You have no way of knowing, so reason and good judgment are required when looking at the comps to determine your asking price. 

Remember, buyers looking at your home have seen others in the area in your price range. They’ll immediately know if you’re well priced based on homes they’ve already seen. Create a strong impression on buyers, and be rewarded with an offer close to your asking price. Turn the buyers off, and they move on. A price drop later on won’t usually bring them back.

2. Clean the Darn Thing Up

Swiffer the crap out of it.

You wouldn’t put your car on Marketplace without throwing the McDonald’s bags out of the back seat and wiping the dash, so why would you put your home up for sale and expect a great price if it’s a mess?

Buyers use all five senses when they’re shopping. House smells bad, dirty baseboards, broken light switch—it all makes buyers wonder; “if this is the best they can do when they have it up for sale, how well do they take care of it on a day-to-day basis.”

So, wash the windows, wipe out the cabinets, clean the fridge—you get the idea. 

Strangers will be looking in your closets, opening doors, strolling through your storage area and taking a peek in your pantry. Don’t give them anything to look at. You’re moving anyway, so rent a storage bin for the good stuff, take your old bowling trophies to the thrift shop and take the console T.V. to the dump. Buyers will show their appreciation by making a better offer, and your partner will show their appreciation by baking a cake. Or something like that.

3. Offer a Competitive Buyer’s Side Commission

Chum the water and let the sharks feed.

Here’s how REALTORS® get paid: sell a home. That’s the short answer, and it’s also the long answer—no steady paycheque. So make a dollar offer that grabs their attention.

Most home sales (90%+) involve two Realtors—the one that lists the home and the one working with a buyer that makes the offer. When you list your home, you pay a total commission and then split it, offering a portion to the Realtor that brings the buyer (writes an offer).

If the commission you offer to the buyer’s Realtor is lousy compared to similar homes for sale in your area, you won’t generate any excitement. Remember, Realtors have all the buyers. You’re trying to find a buyer.

For example, three homes are for sale on your street, and the others offer 2% to the buyer’s Realtor. You negotiated a lower commission and are offering 1%. At that rate, you can be sure Realtors aren’t going to push their clients in your direction. Now, we can’t make someone buy one home over another, but buyers are always looking for advice. “Which one do you think is a better house?”, “What did you think of that last house?” What would you like them to say? Good things about your house, of course!

You’re not going to get Realtors working hard for you if you offer a poor commission. You’ve put yourself at a disadvantage compared to your competition. Your competition is other homes in your area in the same price range.

4. Make Your Home Easy to Show

Let them know you’re open for business.

In today’s fast-paced world, buyers want to see homes on their schedule. It can be inconvenient for sellers, but you need to play the game.

Let’s say you get a showing request for later in the day, and I call you to confirm. You tell me you haven’t had a chance to clean up, it’s supper at 6 pm, and your husband’s got a sore tooth—ask them to come by tomorrow. They won’t. Buyers move it down or off the list. They make the assumption you aren’t very motivated to sell.

Every showing request is a potential winner. You never know where or when your buyer will appear. Make the atmosphere friendly for potential buyers and create an advantage for yourself.

Bonus!

Your Realtor needs to be as invested in this as you are.

You should interview your Realtor, lots of people don’t—you should. Your Realtor needs to communicate in a way you understand, be available at all times, take great pictures and provide a compelling write-up.

Does it all seem like a lot of work? It is, but if you do the work you’ll be rewarded with a better offer. It works that way.

Curtis

PS: A wise man and good friend named Bill Nasby introduced me to these ideas when I first started in real estate. Bill was a Realtor and, later in life, a real estate coach (don’t laugh, there’s a big industry in coaching Realtors).

His original list was “Price, Wages (buyer’s side commission) and Access.” I added “Clean it Up” to the list. You could skip the cleaning if you don’t care how much your home sells for 🙂

CB

All buyers should understand Double-Ending. REALTORS® like it because they get paid more, but for you, it could be a disaster. 

Here’s a Common Scenario

You’ve been following the market online for a while and finally found a home that looks perfect for you. You took a drive past, and it’s everything you thought it would be. Priced right, good area—exactly what you’re looking for. What Now?

Well, because you aren’t working with a Realtor, you call the name on the sign. This person is known as the listing agent. You explain, excitedly, that you are considering making an offer. The listing agent jumps all over it and offers to show you the home. He tells you to bring a cheque.

You have a look, and the home doesn’t disappoint—it’s the one! You tell the Realtor (whom you’ve just met) you want to write an offer. That’s fine, right? He’s a Realtor, so why not let him write the offer for you?

Double-Ending Explained

First off, I’ll tell you how Realtors get paid. The short answer is to sell a home. This is also the long answer. We receive a commission on the successful sale of a home. Unless we work part-time at the Home Depot, we have no other income.

Further, the seller supplies the commission we earn—buyers don’t pay commission. The Realtor representing the buyer then gets paid a portion of the total commission offered by the seller. It’s usually a 50/50 split, so if the seller’s full commission is 4% of the sale price, 2% goes to the agent that brings the buyer (writes the offer), and 2% goes to the agent that listed the property. 

Most home sales in Regina (90% plus, I’d guess) involve two Realtors, one representing the buyer and the other the seller. From time to time, though, the listing agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a transaction. This is known as double-ending. Realtors like this because they can earn both sides of the commission split or “double” the amount of money.

Here’s the Problem With It

It’s a conflict of interest. The Realtor has “inside” information on both parties.

I guarantee the listing agent listens carefully to every sound that comes from your mouth. Clues about your financial ability, motivation and where your head is at.

The listing agent also has a relationship with the seller. He knows why the seller is moving and usually knows how much they’ll take for the home. He may even be good friends with the seller.

With This in Mind, Can You be Sure the Listing Agent is Acting in Your Best Interest? 

How do you know he didn’t overhear (or maybe you just told him) that you would pay $275,000 for the home but would like to offer $265,000 to see if the seller will accept it. When the counter comes back at $275,000, you’ll wonder if the Realtor sold you out.

Realtors follow rules (I must stress) to ensure this doesn’t happen and all parties are treated fairly. When a Realtor acts for the buyer and the seller in a transaction, they must not discuss money or motivation with either side.

This means that when you look to the listing agent for advice on how much to offer or inquire as to why the seller is moving, they have to close their mouth and tell you they can’t help you. You’re on your own to try and figure out how to proceed.

Doesn’t Seem Very Helpful, Does It. So What Should You Do?

The best solution is to have a different Realtor from another brokerage work on your behalf. They can serve you better by helping you come up with a strategy to get the property for a good price and make sure all the inspections are done correctly.

Since Realtors are free when you buy—we get paid by the seller—it doesn’t cost you any money to have better representation.

Having someone that doesn’t have an interest in the subject property working on your behalf ensures you get fair and impartial advice.

Curtis

How much do you think they’ll take for it? It’s a great question and one I get asked all of the time. Here’s the answer: How should I know?

Several years ago I was representing a buyer purchasing a condo in Windsor Park. He had split up with his wife and was looking for something with enough room for his kids when they stayed with him.

We found a great place and made an offer of $247,000 for a condo priced at $259,900. We received a counter offer of $255,000. This was more than my guy was willing to pay and he asked me if I thought they might take something in the low $250’s.  As are the rules, when an offer is made and a counter offer presented a buyer cannot then counter the counter offer. If the buyer wants to pursue it further they need to re-open negotiations with a new offer.

I called the listing agent first to see if we would be wasting our time writing a new offer or if there was room to move, responded flatly “how should I know”. How should I know? You’re her REALTOR®, don’t you guys ever talk.

Then I thought about it some more. First of all, the answer I got was partly self-serving on the listing agents behalf. Instead of getting on the phone with the seller he wanted me to write a new offer. This way all he had to do was email it over to her and he was done for the evening.  But, I could also see he was right. Realtors don’t know what people will take for their home. We can gather clues as to motivation from past conversations but we don’t own the home. People don’t always do what’s good for them.

Selling is an emotional time. Have you ever got caught up in situation and made a decision that, looking back on, wasn’t your finest? People blow it occasionally, sometimes more so when money is involved.

A better question, and one that I can answer is “how much should they take for the home”.

Base your buying decision (in part) on how much a home should sell for and not what the seller is asking. What people should do and what they actually do doesn’t always line up. Instead of getting angry with the Realtor, which was my first reaction, I took it as an opportunity to learn.

We ended up getting the condo for $253,000. My guy still lives there.  Curtis P.S. Whether you agree or disagree with this I would welcome your feedback. Let’s start the conversation and get you moving in the right direction.

CB

As I wrote this, I was sitting at the kitchen table of an open house I was hosting in Harbour Landing. I was in an apartment-style condo meaning it has halls and an elevator. The great thing about this development is they allow pets. If you can’t stand pets, then I guess it’s the not-so-great thing about this development.

My open house happened to be happening in a ground floor unit with a sweet patch of grass just outside the living room window. For two hours, it was a steady stream of steady streams. Right.

The point, of course, when you buy a condo, you need to make sure the building is right for you.

This can mean spending extra time in the unit or just in the parking lot watching what’s going down. Is there heavy traffic? Are dogs peeing on the front window? Do the people coming and going look like the type you can get along with?

If not, it’s time to consider a different development.

Once you move in, it’s too late.

CB