I get lots of questions, either in person or more and more often by email and through my latest and greatest chat widget. I always think, just like in school, if one person has a question, many others do too. So here are some recent ones from home sellers.
Question: Should I get my home inspected before putting it on the market?
Answer: It is not a bad idea to get your home inspected before putting on market. That way you’ll know the issues and can address them before you list your home for sale. Also, you can leave the inspection report out for people to read while visiting your home with their agent or during an open house. Having a pre-sale inspection may also speed the conditional sold time up as well if the home buyer decides that he does not need to do another inspection.
Question: Can I list a home which is rented?
Answer: As a landlord your tenant needs 24 hours notice for all showings. If you can’t reach him by telephone or email, you have to deliver a notice for all showings. Also, you should be aware that the tenants rights are very strong and if there is at lease in place, the new owner must take over the tenants until the end of the lease. Some lenders prefer that the premises are currently being rented. Some investors do too. However, if the rents you are receiving are at below market values, you have to continue honouring them and then only make increases in line with rent control board standards.
Question: Can I withdraw my home from the market before the listing agreement expires?
Answer: Although you’ve entered into a contract with your real estate brokerage and agent to sell your home, you can cancel or withdrawal your listing from the market by mutual consent. If you can cancel the listing, you are free to re-list with another agent right away. However if you withdraw the listing, you must wait until the listing time is up before you can re-list again.
Question: Do we have to allow agents to show my house at all times?
Answer: Although it is best to make showing your home as easy as possible for agents and their clients, you can certainly put limits on showing times and notice needed for showings. Often this is the case if there are young children or a newborn baby in the house or if one of the spouses is a shift worker. Typically agents like to plan their days and will give at least four hours notice and as much as 24 hours notice. However sometimes clients feel an urgency to see houses as soon as they are listed and in this case little notice is often given.
Question: How can I protect myself in a real estate transaction?
Answer: The best way to protect yourself is to hire a professional full-time real estate agent. (That was an easy one)
Question: How can I improve my chances to sell quickly?
Answer: Home buyers use a process of elimination when shopping for houses. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1) Price your property right.
2) Make a good first impression.
3) Keep the house clean and neat and ready to show at a moments notice
4) Repair or replace anything that’s in need of repairing and replacing. It’ll cost you less if you do it, than if you leave it for the homebuyer to do.
6) Open your curtains and let the natural sunlight flood in.
7) Turn on your lights inside and out.
8) Don’t stick around for showings (and don’t park up the street and watch). It’s hard for buyers to imagine living there when you’re living there.
9) People do not love your pets as much as you do.
10) Don’t talk to anyone. That is what your agent is for.
Question: Is a yard sign and a lockbox absolutely necessary?
Answer: Yard signs provide excellent exposure for your home. Not only are they big markers for realtors and for people living in the neighbourhood to alert them of the home for sale, they are expected – people get confused if there is no sign on the lawn. A yard sign is probably the best bang for your buck.
Lockboxes are a good idea. Without a lockbox, you’re asking the showing agent to visit the listing agent’s brokerage, sign out the keys, show the house and returned to the listing brokerage with the keys. That’s a lot of extra work for the cooperating agents, especially since he is likely showing other houses at the same time. One of the first rules of selling is to make it easy to buy.
Question: Should I allow for open houses?
Answer: Open houses, even in this Internet age, are still a surprisingly effective tool for selling houses. They are not only great for word-of-mouth advertising around the neighbourhood, they also bring in buyers that are either just starting their search or are very actively searching.