1. Select a Good Realtor® – This is an important first step of the listing process. Ask friends for a referral or interview a couple of Realtors® to find the right fit. Ask lots of questions about their marketing process: Will they be taking professional photos/video? Will they include a floor plan? (Many buyers start their search on the Internet, so having the guidance of a good Realtor® to pre-qualify them for you is important.) Check out Vancouver Property Finder for an example. Finally, whoever you decide to work with, make sure that they are knowledgeable and that you are comfortable with them.
2. Review the Market – Your Realtors® should provide you with a competitive market analysis that includes relevant past sales, as well as current market information. You and your Realtor® will use this information to create your pricing and market strategy. Keep in mind that you can price your property at whatever price you want….it just might not sell, so listen to your agent and ask why they are making their particular recommendations. It helps to put yourself in a buyer’s shoes and HONESTLY ask… Would you pay your listing price?
3. Set Time Lines – Work with your agent to set out a time line. How long it will take to get the property ready to list for sale? The home needs to be clean, and staged before the photos are taken. As well, plan the expected dates for the first couple of Open Houses well in advance. Ask your real estate agent if they will host Agent Open Houses, which are important for marketing your property to other real estate agents who will bring along qualified buyers to view your home. Because it is difficult to keep your home show ready, it helps to hold a few open houses during the first two weeks of listing your home. This creates maximum exposure through bulk showings. Decide what your plan to move on will be. Have an exit strategy from the beginning.
4. Ready Your Home For Sale – Sellers should review their home with their agent to evaluate what needs to be done to prepare the home for sale. Staging was already mentioned, but it does not mean that you must work with a staging company, although they certainly can help. You want your property to be presented in the best manner possible. Ideally repairs need to be completed, such as filling and painting any nicks or scratches in paint, repairing cracked counters or leaky faucets and replacing worn out hardware. Create curb appeal by cutting the grass and planting flowers. As well, give your home the “white glove” treatment by cleaning and tidying top to bottom. Finally, de-clutter: Clear off counter tops, pack away any out-of-season clothing and shoes and empty all your closets to the bare essentials, so they look only half-full. You want a potential buyer to feel as though NOTHING will need to be done except move in!
5. Reviewing the Offers – Once you have attracted a buyer your agent will help you with the process of reviewing the offer/s. As the seller, you have the choice to allow the Buyer’s agent to present the offer to you and your Realtor® together. Or, you can choose to review the offers, one-on-one with just your own real estate agent present. You will want to evaluate the total package of information. For some sellers price is the most important consideration. However, there are other factors to consider, such as the Completion and Possession dates, and the subjects. Every case is different and you have to really consider the total package and what matters most to you. These factors becomes part of your negotiation strategy.
6. Negotiate the Price and Terms – Your agent should be able to explain different scenarios and strategies with you. Work for a “win-win” deal. There always needs to be give and take in a negotiation. Seldom is it a one way deal. If you feel the other side is being unreasonable, be prepared to walk away. (It also helps to try to imagine yourself in the other person’s position and think how would you respond.)
7. We Have a Deal! – Once both sides have agreed to terms, this is the phase called Accepted Offer or a Subject Offer. An Accepted Offer means there are no subjects to the deal, the date and price are agreed to, and the sale is firm. A Subject Offer means that the buyers will have a set time period to do their due diligence before deciding to proceed or not. During this period the property will be exclusively tied up by the buyer and you will not have the ability to accept any other offers until they do or do not remove subjects. If and when they decide to remove subjects, it becomes a firm deal.
Dates – In BC we have three dates on the contract: Completion, Adjustment and Posession. The Completion Date (always a weekday) is the date when the lawyers register the title and transfer money. This is normally a day or two ahead of the Possession Date and Adjustment Date (which are often the same day but not always). The Possession Date is the day that you take possession of the property (commonly the day people move in). The Adjustment Date is often the same because that is when the new owner starts paying for charges such as taxes and strata fees.
9. Pack Up and Moving Out – Once you have moved out it is customary to leave the home in a clean state and according to any stipulations in the contract (if you agree to have the carpets cleaned you must follow through). You are required to leave any appliances and any other items that were written into the contract (no substitutions are allowed unless otherwise indicated in the contract.) You are not supposed to leave anything behind except for any related building keys and perhaps the warranties and manuals for the appliances if you have them.
10. Transfer the Title – A few days before the Completion Date, the seller goes to meet with either a lawyer or Notary Public to sign all the documents and make sure that all the details on the contract have been processed correctly. It is important to take appropriate photo ID and bank account info with you to the lawyer. The proceeds from the sale will be available on or after the completion date, as the money needs time to be moved from one lawyer’s trust account to another.
Now you are free to move onward and upward, possibly entering the buying process yourself (see Lets Make a Deal!)