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Do your homework before listing your house

Jennifer Wilson-Speedy
May 21, 2010
Toronto Star

Thanks to a record number of “Sold” signs going up around the GTA in April, many homeowners are choosing real estate over renovating to achieve their dream home.

“I think people have confidence right now,” says realtor David Visentin of Love It or List It (Mondays at 9 p.m. and Thursdays at 11 p.m. on the W Network). We’re “seeing a lot more coming out on the market right now.”

In fact, Visentin, who handles the “list it” portion of the show, says it’s a “fantastic time” to sell in most parts of the city.

While eager sellers may be ready to stick that sale sign on the lawn immediately, Visentin cautions that even in a great market, it’s still important to do the legwork before letting potential buyers into your home.

The first step, he says, is for would-be sellers to consider their current situation and what comes next. “Think about what they want, where they are going to go . . . what they need to get out of their home,” he advises.

Once your priorities and plans for your future home are firmly in place, it’s time to focus on your current space. Start by finding out what your home is worth, suggests Visentin. “That usually takes getting three opinions of value,” he says. “A lot of people only get one (but) even if you decide on the realtor you’re going to use, get two more.”

Three sets of comparables “gives you a better chance of really understanding what your house is worth,” he explains. While you may end up with three copies of the same information, you could also get a better picture of what’s been sold recently in your neighbourhood and what buyers are looking for.

“The more information you can get, the better off you are,” he says, adding that you shouldn’t take anything into consideration that was sold more than a year ago.

A real estate agent you can trust is also key. When chatting with potential agents, “You need to question them a little bit. Find out where they sell, how long they’ve been selling in that area,” he says. Look for someone with experience who you feel you can trust, and who is also knowledgeable, prepared to negotiate on your behalf and is going to be there when you need them, suggests Visentin, noting that you don’t want to miss out on a home showing or offer presentation because your realtor is not available

But the biggest mistake sellers make is “listing your home when it isn’t ready to be listed . . . when it doesn’t look the way it should.”

Even in a bustling market, you still want to make your home look as good as it can, he says, noting that even if you’re going to get six or seven offers, it’s worth putting in the extra effort to push all those offers a little higher — meaning your home might sell for thousands more.

And he says, “there are ways of making your home look better without spending money.” Perhaps the most important of these is decluttering.

“So many people don’t do it,” he says, telling the story of a home with beautiful kitchen counters covered with stuff. Despite the kitchen being fairly large, the clutter made his clients fear it wouldn’t be functional for them, so he ended up actually doing some clearing up during the showing to help give them a better idea of the space.

In addition to clutter making a space feel smaller, “People need to look at wall space, where they can put stuff – not where you put it,” he explains. Plus, “people fall in love with (the seller’s) stuff, and that leaves with them, so there’s no point leaving it out.”

Finally, he says, “always be out of the house. That doesn’t mean stay in the basement, that means get out.” He says that buyers tend to rush through the home when the owners are there. He also suggests you avoid talking to prospective buyers, because, if all goes well, this is a person you’re going to be negotiating with and you don’t want it to get personal. Instead, he says, “Let the real estate agent do their job.”

Posted on Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 01:14PM by Registered CommenterElaine in , | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

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