Selling Frequently Asked Questions

questionDo you have questions? If you are like most people, selling a home is not something you do very often. As markets and times change, so does the process of selling a home. We want to keep you informed and make it simple. 

Over the years, we have learned many helpful tips that can make selling your home go smoothly. Let our experience and expertise work for you by answering your questions.

Click on the question links below to read the answer.

An entire book could be devoted to answering this question. To be as concise as possible, a successful sale requires that you concentrate on five considerations:

  • Price
  • Terms
  • Home condition
  • Location
  • Market exposure

Since you cannot control all of them, you may have to overcompensate in one or more areas to offset a competitive disadvantage in another.

A Multiple Listing Service–or MLS–makes it easier to reach a large number of prospective buyers and dramatically increases the property’s exposure. This is a real estate agent’s best resource for finding a buyer a home.

It is a system under which participating brokers at the Real Estate Board agree to share commission on the sale of houses listed by any one of them. For example, if you list your house with one broker and another actually sells it, they split the commission. The advantage to you is clear: more people have an interest in selling your house and your home is exposed to more buyers.

Some people think that they can save a considerable amount of money by selling on their own. They look at the average commission on a house and hear success stories of people selling on their own so they think they can do it as well. Right now, approximately 1-2% of Canadian homeowners handle their own sales. In order to join the ranks of successful sales, you need to realistically assess exactly what is involved. It involves: pricing your house correctly, determining whether or not a buyer is qualified, creating and paying for your own advertising, familiarizing yourself with enough basic real estate regulations to understand (and possibly even prepare) a real estate contract, and coordinate the details of a closing. The biggest downsides are the demands of your time and the possibility that a mistake may cost you the money you are trying to save.

The best reason for working with real estate brokers is the enormous amount of information that they have their disposal; information that can help make your house sell faster and easier. Professionals know about market trends, houses in your neighborhood, and people who are most likely to buy there. They also know how to reach the largest number of people who may be interested in your house, and are trained in areas like screening potential buyers and negotiating with them. Finally, they are always “on-call” and are willing to do the things most of us do not enjoy. Read more excellent reasons here: 30 Good Reasons Why You Should Use a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home.

Today, people are moving further and more frequently than they used to. The result is that they pool of potential buyers for your house is much larger and spread wider than ever before. Real estate brokers have responded by developing increasingly sophisticated marketing techniques that define likely buyers, where to find them, how to reach them, and how to persuade them to buy one house over another.

A good place to start is by talking to friends, neighbors, and relatives–anyone whose recommendation you trust. Many real estate agents build a major portion of their business form referrals. To do this, they must provide an extremely high level of caring service to the people they deal with. This should be your first choice in choosing a qualified real estate agent. Please see Our Unique Marketing Approach for more details.

A second way is to work with an agent who guarantees his or her service; someone who is willing to put their reputation and money on the line if they do not provide the service that you deserve. At Eximus, we are confident that we will provide you with that exceptional service. We offer an “Easy Exit” guarantee whenever listing a property. If you are not satisfied for any reason at any time, your property can be taken off the market immediately.

Another way to find an agent well-suited to sell your house is by responding to a real estate whose marketing efforts are particularly appealing and successful. The very existence of such self-marketing efforts suggests that the real estate agent may have more to offer you than the agent who picks up the phone when you call the local real estate office.

We like to think that good training and experience make the best agents; but the truth is that not every agent is right for every seller. That is why we suggest the following formula to help you decide whether a particular agent will work well for you:


Competence: When you first meet with your real estate agent, they will do their best to how you that they have what it takes to sell your house. You can expect to see a portfolio of credentials, past achievements sales volume, and letters of recommendation. Look for evidence that their background is relevant to your needs; someone whose portfolio includes success with houses in your price range or type of property, and someone whose method of business is to provide the best service to their clientele.

An agent who subscribes to on-going training and who keeps up with the latest trends in the industry is going to be much more value to you than someone who stopped learning the day they go their license. There are several top real estate trainers who bring their programs to our area on a regular basis. These trainers talk to top real estate agents across North America daily and bring that accumulated experience to their teaching.

Comfort: The real estate agent you choose should be very interested in what your goals and needs are. They should also be someone that you get along with as you are going to be very involved with this person.

It takes a unique combination of those two characteristics–competence and comfort–to inspire the confidence and trust a homeowner needs to maintain peace of mind through the process of selling a house.

It is tempting to work with a real estate agent that pacifies or flatters you with the price you want to hear, but do not be fooled. These real estate agents will end up doing you disservice in making your home a non-productive listing.

Both. In legal terms, a real estate sales representative (agent or real estate agent) is an individual trained and licensed to act for other people looking to buy or sell a piece of property. While that definition applies to both broker and sales agent, only the broker (i.e. RE/MAX Little Oak) is permitted to collect fees and/or commission for such work. Thus, the sales agent–with whom you have most of your day-to-day contact with–works on behalf of, and is compensated by, the broker.

Unless our house is nearly new, chances are you that you will want to do some work to get it ready to market. The type and amount of work depends largely on the price you are asking, the time you have to sell, and of course, the present condition of the house.

If you are in a hurry to sell, do the “little things” that make your house look better from the outside and show better inside. Several specific ideas for making low-cost improvements are discussed below.

“Curb appeal” is the common real estate term for everything prospective buyers can see from the street that might make them want to take a look. Improving curb appeal is critical in generating traffic. While it does take some time, it does not need to be difficult or expensive provided you keep two key words in mind: neat and neutral. Remember, when a family looks at a house, they are trying to picture it as a home they could possibly live in.

Try to make it easy for prospective buyers to imagine your house as their home. Clear as much from your walls, shelves, and countertops as you can. Give your prospects plenty of room to dream. See our Preparing Your Home Checklist for more ideas.

Certain home improvements are useful to almost everyone and have been proven to add value or speed to the sale of houses. These include building a deck or patio, finishing basements, some kitchen remodeling (updating colors on cabinets, countertops, appliances, panels, etc.), and new floor and/or wall coverings, especially in bathrooms.

However, professional renovators have found that, no matter how much you improve a given house (whether you do $1,000 to $50,000 worth of work), you are unlikely to sell it for more than 15% above the median price of the other houses in your neighborhood. That is why you might want to ask your agent’s opinion about the viability of recouping the cost of any major renovation you have in mind before you start the work.

You know your talents best. However, be warned that it is not a good idea to engage in larger jobs involving mechanical systems (heating, electrical, plumbing, etc.) or work that must meet local building codes, unless you are licensed to do so. Your efforts could make you responsible for more than you realize if something you worked on goes wrong after you sell.

In a word: realistically. See the section further on about the criteria that professional appraisers use to value a home. Today’s residential real estate market is no place to look for easy profit. That is not to say that you cannot get what your house is “worth”; you just get what it is worth today. You have to be realistic about its value and price it accordingly. A good place to start is by determining the fair market value.

Simply put, the fair market value of a house is the highest price an informed buyer will pay, assuming that there is no unusual pressure to complete the purchase; it is usually not the asking price.

To get an estimate of fair market value for your house, call us anytime at 604-850-5040 and ask for a free Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) of your house. The analysis will give you a realistic figure based on the most recent ad relevant transactions in the local real estate market. Also, check our online service Tell Me the Value of My Home. 

Generally speaking, the owner’s asking price–the advertised price of a house when it goes on the market–is set 3-5% above estimated market value. You can assume that some negotiation will be necessary to reach an agreement with a buyer. However, too large of a variation in price above market value will result in reduced showings.

Homes that are overpriced will not sell and will end up becoming stagnant on the market. The longer your house sits on the market, the less interest it will generate. Potential buyers start to ask, “What is wrong with this house? Why has it not sold yet?” Reducing the price later does not generate nearly as much new interest as a new listing does. It also contributes to the stigma that there may be something wrong with it. This can also weaken your negotiating position once you do have an offer.

Real estate agents suggest asking prices based on a variety of information that you may not have at your disposal, including recent listing and selling prices of houses in your neighborhood. If you are not completely confident in their suggestions, you may want to order an appraisal.

Next, establish clear priorities. If you had to choose, are you more concerned with selling quickly or getting the most money possible? Do you think the agent’s suggested asking price is reasonable? What would you pay for the house if you were the buyer?

Someone else–a neighbor or relative–may point out advantages or disadvantages about your house that you had not thought of. Third party views will help you start thinking of your house as a commodity with positive and negative selling points. Then you should decide on a price that you feel is competitive and consistent with what other houses in your area have sold for.

Most buyers also leave room for negotiation when they make an offer. Thus, a certain degree of flexibility is usually called for on the part of both the buyer and the seller. A range of 1-2% above the mid-point of your property’s market value range is often best.

While it is ultimately your decision to accept or reject an offer, or present a counter-proposal, a goo agent can be of great assistance to you during the negotiating process.

As negotiations proceed, we will advise you of your options in responding to each offer from the buyer. A cool, rational manner in what is often a long, emotionally-charged process, will usually net you a significantly higher price.

As soon as you decide to sell it. If you want to get the best price for your house, the key is to give yourself as much time as possible to sell it. More time means more potential buyers will probably see the house. This should result in more offers. It also gives you increased time to consider more options if the market is slow or initial interest is low.

Peak selling seasons vary from year to year in our areas and weather sometimes has a lot to do with it. Keep in mind that there are also more houses on the market during the prime seasons so you will have more competition. While there is seasonality in the real estate market, it is better to time your sale based on your needs and not market predictions.

Probably not. Even if you are under no pressure to sell, waiting for better market conditions is not likely to increase your profit potential. Real estate industry analysts will tell you it is possible to sell your house in any kind of market–provided it is effectively marketed. Again, it is better to time your sale based on your needs and not on market predictions.

You should definitely try to be out of the house during any showings your agent has scheduled. If you do need to be at home, do not “hang around” or follow them through the property. People often feel uncomfortable speaking candidly and asking questions when the current homeowners are present.

Average listing times vary from 30 to 180 days according to market conditions in a particular neighborhood, type of property and price range, as well as terms, condition, location, and exposure. Selling in any market is easier if you keep time on your side. Most professionals will tell you that allowing yourself at least three to four months of listing time will put you in a position to get a better return from their marketing efforts.

Besides commission, the most important matter you negotiate at the time of listing your house with a broker is the duration of the listing contract. Terms vary, but listing agreements are seldom for less than three months or greater than one year.

So what if you find yourself dissatisfied midway through your contact? While the listing contract is legally binding, a few brokers offer homeowners an “out” if they are unhappy with the service they are receiving. The Eximus Real Estate Team offers an “Easy Exit” guarantee whenever listing a property. If you are not satisfied for any reason, at any time, your property can be taken off the market immediately.

If you do not have to sell in order to buy a new home, renting your existing property may be one option to think about. Consider the advantages and disadvantages. If you are being transferred, you may be able to obtain a short-term rental in your new location while you are becoming familiar with the new area. Either way, we can usually help by advising you how much you can expect to pay for rent in the new neighborhood, or what you need to charge for rent to cover your mortgage payments and other costs you will entail as a landlord.

You are advised in a buyer’s market to sell your property first with a long closing with enough time to be able to find another home on the market without being rushed. That time is usually 90-120 days. Since the average closing time is 60 days, you will then have 30-60 days to find your new home and close in the normal time period.

In certain situations. If the purchaser’s building inspection reveals major problems with your house’s structure or mechanical systems (heating, electrical, plumbing, etc.), the buyer may wish to negotiate the price downward on the basis of anticipated repair costs. Therefore, even though the repairs will not be made until after the sale, you do pay them.

Sometimes, repairs may be required before the transfer of the title takes place. This is especially true tin sales that involve financing that is insured or guaranteed by the government.

You may have also heard about lawsuits involving vendors who failed to disclose major problems before the sale, like an addition to the house that was not built to code. That is another good reason to retain a lawyer or agent who knows as much about the condition of your property as you do. It is also a good idea to get the buyer’s written acknowledgment of any major problems when you accept their offer.

No. In Canada, all closing details are carried out by the lawyers for the respective parties and their conveyancers. However, good agents are also extremely helpful in the days immediately prior to the closing. We stay in constant contact with the lawyers and conveyancers, especially in the last couple of weeks before closing, and will inform you of every step.

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