You may want to read the previous chapter on setting the price of the house you are selling here.
Living room by Jonas Forth
Open Houses and Showings
Your house should always be available for showings, even though it may occasionally be inconvenient for you. Most brokerages will call and give you at least a couple of hours’ notice that a showing has been booked on your property. If you refuse to let agents show it at that time, they may just skip your house and not come back. Try not to be home during showings, because it tends to make prospective buyers uncomfortable. They want to be free to fully explore your home without feeling they have to tiptoe around your feelings.
Your Realtor® may hold at least one open house at a set time; often, one is held just for other real estate agents, who are invited to preview the home on their clients’ behalf. Another, usually held over the weekend, is for the general public. During these open houses, it is certainly important for you to vacate the home, and take your pets with you if possible! Many people may be coming through the home and examining it very closely. They will be supervised by your agent and likely asked to sign a register as well, which your agent will use to follow up to see if any buyers are interested.
How will agents bring people into your home when you’re not at home? Use of a lockbox is very common. The lockbox is easy to operate and has a code that only you, your Realtor® and the other Realtors® showing the property are privy to. A copy of your key(s) is placed inside the lockbox, which is hung at the front door or gate, and returned to the lockbox once each showing is over. This is also a very handy system pre-and-post-sale, when contractors, inspectors and other professionals may need access to your home while you’re away or at work.
Photo by Travis Isaacs
The first step in getting your home ready to sell is to ‘de-personalize’ it. There may be ‘personality’ – but there shouldn’t be a person! No personal pictures and keepsakes should be laying around or hanging on the walls, because you want buyers to view it as their potential home, which means taking yourself out of the equation.
Clutter collects on shelves, tables, desks and counter tops, in drawers, closets, garages, attics, and basements. You want as much open clear space as possible, so every extra little thing needs to be cleared away. Getting rid of clutter is the hardest thing for most people to do because they are emotionally attached to every knickknack in the house. After years of living in the same home, clutter collects in such a way that may not be evident to the homeowner. However, it does affect the way buyers see the home, even if you do not realize it.
Turn on all the indoor and outdoor lights – even during the day. At night, a lit house gives a ‘homey’ impression when viewed from the street. Do not use scented sprays to improve the air quality in your home, as many people find the smells offensive or aggravating to their allergies. Instead, avoid cooking dinner in the evenings, which is when most showings will take place. This should be good news for the hardworking family chef, who deserves some time off!
If you must, a pleasant aroma can be created with pure essential oils or vanilla extract and a fragrance diffuser. You could also purchase an ozone spray that helps to remove odours without creating a masking odour.
If you have pets, make sure your listing agent mentions that on your MLS listing. You don’t want pets to run outside and get lost when the house is open, and you don’t want someone with severe allergies to come in for a tour and get an unpleasant reaction.
It should be obvious, but we’ll say it anyway: get rid of trash before showings and keep the house (beds, bathrooms) tidy all the time. It may be a hassle, but it’s only temporary. If you need to rent a storage locker for extra belongings or a service to remove a serious accumulation of possessions, or a company to bring in new furniture and professional décor, ask your Realtor® for advice and referrals to trusted professionals.
Try your best to have your house look like a model home – a furnished home where nobody really lives!
Information and Presentation
Photo by James Fleeting
Every home is unique, the marketplace is always in flux, interest rates and mortgage rules change, and new buyers begin the search for homes each day. It’s no wonder that Realtors® craft marketing plans specifically for individual homes and market conditions!
Before it is placed on the market, your homes ought to be in ‘show’ condition. Your Realtor® will help you with suggestions on what (if anything) to repair, remove and add for best results.
Real estate agents do more than price homes for sale; they also consider what sale terms, such as a flexible closing, will help speed the selling process. Prices may include a seller take-back mortgage or other arrangements to augment the incentive to buy.
Once listed, it’s likely that your home will quickly go ‘live’ on the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service). Ads will be placed in newspapers and online, and your house may appear in the Realtor®’s booklets, the front window of his/her brokerage, etc. Networking with both local and out-of-town agents is also common. Open houses are an option in many communities. In Toronto, some creative Realtors® occasionally host open houses on weekday evenings (especially in condo buildings) to accommodate a wider range of shoppers.
Now that you know how to best prepare for marketing your house, learn how to deal with offers and closing.
If you find this guide helpful and want to read about more tips, sign up and get the Pdf printable version of our Free Report on Buying and Selling Your First Home in Toronto!