Image: Donna Griffith | Styling: Stacy Begg & Karen Bruce
Three real-estate experts reveal what you need to know before you buy or sell your home.
Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or a seasoned seller, there are lots of things to know and factors to consider to ensure you’re making the right decision about your home. If you have lots of questions about the process, you’re not alone. So, we checked in with the experts to get answers for you.
Daniella Quattrociocchi, Maryann Kenfelja and Michelle Bailey are the real estate sales representatives of Halcyon Agents with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada and here, they answer your need-know-questions about buying and selling.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when trying to sell their house?
“The biggest mistake a seller can make when getting their property ready for market is misjudging the amount of time and effort required to adequately prepare,” says Maryann. “Oftentimes, people think that selling a house is nothing more than putting a few pictures on MLS. They look at their neighbours who might have sold for a high price, and don’t realize the amount of effort that it took to achieve that result,” she says. “Gone is the market frenzy of yesteryear. Today’s buyers have options and they will wait for the best property. Sellers must view their properties with a critical eye and try to imagine their home as a potential buyer would see it. This is where a realtor adds value and can guide you through the steps necessary to market your home in an effort to attract a smooth transaction and a top dollar result!"
What’s the easiest, quickest and cheapest thing sellers can do to their home that will have the greatest impact?
“Decluttering the home has an immediate psychological reward for both the seller and for prospective buyers,” says Daniella. “Use decluttering as an opportunity to pack and purge. Put away everything that is not currently in use, remove personal effects, family photos and unnecessary decor. Furniture may have to be removed to make a space appear bigger and brighter. Complete tasks that you may have been putting off (such as organizing closets, tidying up your den or work space, organizing your kitchen cupboards, washing out the fridge and cleaning the garage). If possible, invest in a professional cleaning service to come through right before the home hits the market. A clean and well-organized house goes a long way with a potential buyer."
What are the top three questions buyers should ask about a home they’re interested in?
Michelle recommends asking these three questions: Have there ever been any floods or water damage in the home? Have there been any major improvements or repairs to the home and if so, were professionals used and do you have the proper permitting? What is the age of the mechanical systems?
What are your best tips to help a buyer negotiate the best price?
Use a realtor,” says Maryann. “A realtor has access to information and has the required skill set necessary for you to make an informed decision and protect your best interests when negotiating the best price."
How important is staging to the selling process?
“It is very important to prepare your home for sale,” says Daniella. “Other retail sectors heavily depend on marketing to attract buyers, why would you not take the marketing of your home, your biggest investment, just as seriously? You only have one chance to make a first impression and there are often simple improvements or changes that can be made to help you put your best foot forward. Set the scene for the wow factor!"
What are your top staging tips?
“Declutter and edit,” says Michelle. “Neutralize loud wall colours and smells in the home. Make sure spaces are well lit with a consistent warmth of lighting. Curb appeal is important, tidy the lawns, re-edge flower beds, add fresh mulch and clean exterior lights. You may wish to paint the garage and front doors to suit a new trend."
How can a buyer make their offer stand out?
“Every situation is different and as such, every offer will be unique,” says Maryann. “Your realtor is there to guide you and gauge how to best construct your offer to suit the negotiation at hand. Your realtor will know your story, build a kind rapport with the other realtors involved and be able to present you, their client, in the best light possible."
How can a buyer get a comprehensive overview of the home’s history?
“Working with a professional realtor will allow for you to be provided with the best comprehensive history of the home possible by using search tools, reports and asking the right questions,” says Daniella. “A realtor will work in your best interests and protect you from the unknown. Hiring a professional inspector is also an important factor in flagging any signs of unreported issues that may serve as a problem later."