FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
For Home Sellers
For most people, selling a home is a rare event, maybe every 5-10 years or more. There are hundreds of little details and decisions that go into listing a home, and I think its in your best interest to have a good understanding of what we do, why we do it, and what your role is in the process. I have collected many questions, and below are all of the answers, in chronological order.
Before We Meet
Q: I’m ready to sell my home and I need an agent. What should I do first?
A: The first step is to assess your own personal goals for the sale of your home. We often talk about goals and priorities for home buyers, but it’s equally important when selling. Do you want to sell for an average price and pay as few fees as possible? Do you want to sell for top dollar and are willing to invest in your home to make greater returns? Do you want personal, ongoing service, advice and expertise, or do you think the sale of a home runs a natural course that requires little direction? Just like in any industry, there’s a wide range of service and price options, and it’s important to consider the pro’s an con’s of each option and clarify for yourself what you priorities are.
Q: So I’ve decided I want a high level of service for the lowest cost, can you help me?
A: This is what many home sellers want and so I’m here to help! No one wants to get ripped off with ridiculous prices for poor service, and I am on a personal mission to eradicate this common problem. Once you think about your goals, you need to decide how much value you want for the money, because that’s just as important as what the front-end cost is.
Q: What is your business position?
A: The Village Guru is about creating value through providing high-level service for fair prices. We target clients who are looking to create a collaborative relationship with us, so that we all work together to prepare and market the home to achieve the highest possible sales price. We strive to make you that extra 1-2%, or more, than the average sales price of comparable homes on the market. Now that is an excellent sales experience.
Q: Every agent seems to say the same things and promise the same things, so how can I tell any difference other than choosing by price?
A: Since I’m in the industry, I can see glaring differences, so I advise you to take your time and do your research. Here’s an easy first step: check out the agent’s website. In this day and age, there is no excuse for not having one. Is the website sloppy or well planned? Logical or confusing? What information do they share with you to help you be informed? A website is an excellent indication of they way the agent thinks, how they will communicate with you, and how they will market your property. Later I will discuss points for when you meet with agents in person, but for now, the website will tell you enough to start.
Q: What makes you different?
A: I am different because I am one of the very few agent who starts actively working for you long before your home is listed for sale. Many agents only use the MLS listing contract, and that can only be signed immediately before your listings goes live on MLS. This means you haven’t really hired them until the very last minute, and their contributions towards preparing and staging your home are understandably minimal. They might get you a staging consult or something to that effect. I however, sign an exclusive contract with you first, which allows me to start working with you right away. We will discuss your options, goals, budget, desired ROI, etc, so we have a firm plan that we are all a part of. I bring in my wife who is a professional stager and decorator to help you with all the decisions for getting your home ready. She will give you an achievable plan, help you pick materials, paint colours, give you floor plans, declutter advice, and on and on. You get personal, high level service through the entire process, not just when your house is for sale. All of the work done before the home is listed is a critical factor to selling for the best price.
Q: I don’t see your signs around everywhere, do you do much business?
A: Since I’ve niched The Village Guru into a client-service model, my business works best to a maximum of 60 clients per year. I’ve seen and I know that service starts to suffer when the volume goes higher than this. A business model that is centred on the lowest possible fee requires a high-volume of listings to keep the business afloat. As the number of listings goes up, time available to each client goes down, and this invariably results in less personal communication and service. The high volume model also requires heavy advertising to keep attracting listings, but a billboard has NO relationship to quality of service you receive, or even more important, getting an excellent sales price on your home.
Q: Why aren’t you with one of the big brokers? Why Better Homes & Gardens?
A: Many of the large brokerages charge agents very low fees, and therefore need to have hundreds of agents to stay viable, and their service level suffers. With Better Homes & Gardens Signature Service Brokerage, they provide quality support that is rare indeed. My Broker is fully available to his agents whenever needed, so if there are unique or complicated situations, agents never have to “guess” on your legally binding sale. Our receptionists are top notch and handle bookings, showings and records with professionalism and ease. It’s not until your listing is active that you will appreciate a quality brokerage.
Q: How long have you been a Real Estate Agent?
A: I started my business over 7 years ago. This is my full-time enterprise, which might sound like an odd thing to point out, but very critical. There are over 30,000 agents in the GTA, most of whom do less that 5 deals per year. You cannot get top results from an agent who does this part-time, and has other obligations. Some might be just starting out and have real potential, but 99% of them have only one foot in the door and you will be hard-pressed to find the expertise, experience and service you require.
The No-Obligation Quote for Fees
Q: Don’t you need to come to my home to do give me a quote?
A: No, that’s what’s so great about it! It’s natural to want to know what it’s going to cost you to sell your home before you might even be ready to get the process started. In the past, agents wouldn’t discuss this information unless you were willing to have them in your house and pressure you to sign the listing on the spot. Since the advent of the Internet, this hostage-style meeting has lost its effectiveness, as home sellers are more educated and savvy. I don’t see the point for you to have 5 awkward meetings with agents just to get you the information you want.
Q: How are you able to give me a quote without seeing my home?
A: To provided you a quote for my fees, it’s more important for me to know the neighbourhood you live in ($1 million homes need to be marketed differently than $300k homes), and the mix of services you are interested in. As you can see on my Quote Page, I have created 3 general packages that can be customized any which way you like. Based on all the information, I will prepare you a few options that will meet your goals which will still provide the necessary marketing for your home.
Q: Aren’t you afraid you won’t be the lowest cost?
A: Not at all. This is a great filtering system for me as well, as my target client is not the person who wants the lowest price above all else. I am happy to provide different service options based on your budget, but ultimately I am looking for clients who appreciate that my expertise and services will produce better results for them.
Q: How do real estate commissions work?
A: Every agent is allowed to set their own commission rates. I’ve heard of everything from 6% to 1% , and everything in between. Nothing in this world is free, and there is a trade off between fee, the time spent with you, money spent on your listing, and the quality of service you receive.
Q: Does your fee include the fee to the buying agent?
A: When an agent says they will list your home for 1%, it’s a bit misleading because yes, you are highly advised to pay the buyer agent. So what is more likely, is that you will be paying somewhere in the range of 4%-6% total, with 2%-3% of this getting paid to the buyer agent. This doesn’t cover all scenarios and all agents can individually set their own rates.
Deciding to Work Together
Q: Why do you share all of this information on your website?
A: I want to eliminate the traditional high pressure sales tactics played in my industry. I want you to know everything you could possibly need to know BEFORE we meet. I want you to see the system I use down to the littlest detail, because make no mistake, the devil is in the details. Anyone can say they do “staging” and “marketing” and provide “website presence” but the delivery of these services vary drastically. The only way you can know the difference is to take your time to review everything in a calm, relaxed environment to make an informed decision. When you call me to your home, my goal is that you already feel pretty confident about my abilities so that we can focus on building rapport and a personalized strategy for your home.
Q: Where do you work?
A: I sell homes in Mississauga and Oakville. With rare exceptions for past clients and family, I don’t leave this area. Again, my client-service model is based on local expertise & ensuring I have as much time for clients as possible. I know Mississauga and Oakville like the back of my hand, so I am not interested in spending hours on the highway to do a listing in Markham. Any agent who says they can work the whole GTA can absolutely do so…….but how well they can do it is the question. So call me first, and if I can’t help you, I can refer you to an equally service-minded, professional realtor from my network throughout the GTA and beyond.
Q: What can I expect from you?
A: You can expect to get a high level of service, and the best possible price for your home. Believe me, this is purely self-motivated. When I do such an awesome job that I just knock your socks off, you are far more likely to send your friends and family to me when they need help. So click here to see The Village Guru Seller Guarantee to see my principles of respect, truthfulness, communication, and professionalism.
Q: Who is your ideal client?
A: My ideal client is someone who wants to build a collaborative relationship with me. Someone who recognizes that I have industry knowledge that the average person doesn’t have, and that I have the experience to provide you the advice, information, and guidance you need to make the best decisions. I love the home sellers who call me up and tell me, “Jeff, I’ve been looking all over your website and I love what you do. I want to sell for the best price I can get and I want your services to do it”. This may sound cheesy, but when both my clients and I put our 100% positive effort towards the sale of their home, we get the best results time and time again.
Q: What should I be wary of when interviewing agents?
A: Most of all, look out for high pressure sales lines that seem too good to be true or to get you to sign on the spot.
- “I have a buyer for your home! If you list with me we can make this happen quickly“. All of us agents have a buyer database, but to state with 100% certainty that one of them will buy your home before they’ve even see it? That is a stretch indeed, don’t fall for it.
- “I can save you $10,000 or more than other agents!” I just got a flyer like this at my home, and in TINY 4pt font it’s stated only if the agent represents both you and the buyer in the contract. This doesn’t happen very often, and what if a good buyer offers on your home who already has an agent? They are focusing on front end savings that may never happen, instead of providing the services required to get top dollar. Lesson: read the fine print!
- “I’m the number one agent for [this area, in gross sales, for the West GTA, for teams in in Mississauga, for [company]] etc., etc., etc. There’s A LOT of agents saying they are #1 any way they can. If someone really pushes this, think twice because a) statistics can be twisted 800 ways, and b) as we’ve discussed, volume has no relation to how well the home sells or the quality of service you receive.
Q: What should I look for when interviewing agents?
A: See My Video About This. Once you’ve got it down to a few people who you feel are the most competent, choose the person whom you actually like. Someone you would enjoy working closely with, and communicate well enough with to share your thoughts and feelings. Selling a home gets stressful no matter how smoothly the process goes, because it is an uncommon life event with a lot hanging on the line. Few people take into account the value of working with an agent who can help you through the rough spots when you’re feeling the pressure.
Q: How long is a normal contract?
A: I often sign an exclusive listing first, for an average of 20-60 days while we are working with you to prepare and stage your home. Once your home has been staged and photographed, we then sign the MLS contract for an average of 90-120 days to get your home listed to the public and on all the websites.
Q: Who does the listing belong to?
A: Most people do not realize that a listing belongs to the brokerage company, not an individual sales representative or broker. In case anything goes wrong, you should always ask about your exit strategy before you sign. If you have a problem with a real estate agent, the broker may let you switch to another agent within the company, but they are not obligated to let you out of the contract. You can’t be forced to sell your home, but they can suspend the listing for the duration of the contract in which case you can’t sell it with anyone else either. So make sure you like your agent, you like the brokerage, and you know your options and responsibilities of the contract.
Q: So I like your services, your fee, and the info you have shared with me. Is it time to meet now?
A: Yes, as I mentioned before, I want you to know my services and what I will do for you long before we meet. The meeting is to ensure that we like each other and that we communicate well; things you have to find out in person. I want to discuss the individual sales strategy I would create for your home and, barring that we just don’t vibe well together (which does happen occasionally), I come prepared to sign the contract and get started working for you. If you have any major reservations, confusions, or questions, let’s figure all that out before we have a meeting so that you have the time to digest the information.
Preparing & Staging Your Home
Q: Does every home need to be prepared and staged?
A: Click here to see a video about this. Almost all of them, to some extent or another. This could be anything minor like a little furniture re-arrangement and editing, to larger tasks like replacing some fixed elements (like flooring or tiles) to get a higher return on investment. The goal is three-fold;
- Make the Home feel as Big as Possible
- Make the Home feel as Bright as Possible
- Make the Home look as Updated as Possible
I say “as possible” because it’s all relative; I’ll calculate the % of return you will see for the work you do, how much you think you can accomplish, and how much you want to sell for. We weigh all the considerations to come up with a realistic plan.
Q: What do you charge for preparing and staging a listing?
A: This high-value, hands-on service is included as part of my service fee – you pay nothing extra out of your pocket. A lot of agents say they offer “staging” but its usually a basic consult and nothing more. What I include to you is far more than this, so that you know we are here assisting & advising every step of the way. A staged home will always sell for more money than a home not staged, so this is always a cornerstone of my sales strategy. Click Here to see a video about this
Q: What’s the first step?
A: Hopefully the first step is that you’ve hired me before you start doing any of these updates on your own. I will set up a meeting for you to meet my wife who has her own Interior Decor & Staging Company, Style by Stephanie. She is very much a part of the team and is just as invested in the process. She will meet with you to discuss your budget, resources, helpers, time, etc. Based on this she will create a plan that is achievable and hits all the major points. This is not the time to stress you out, or give you a ten-mile list of must-do’s and then walk away.
Q: What are the most common recommendations?
A: The most common recommendations are:
- Maintenance Repairs
- Adjusting Furniture Arrangements
- Updating Light Fixtures
- Economical Kitchen/Bath Updates
This is all based on what has been proven to provide the largest return on investment. Staging is as much about knowing where to ignore as much as where to invest. Don’t look at your closets, kids rooms, dens or basements if your kitchen or bath need attention.
Q: How do you help me prepare my home?
A: Preparation is all the little things you need to do before you stage, because staging can’t mask functional issues with a home. It includes;
- Maintenance issues: Anything that will negatively impact the sale should be addressed if possible. If you need a plumber, electrician, tiler, drywaller, handyman, etc., we can put you on touch with one.
- Sorting/De-cluttering: If you’re not familiar with the keep/sell/donate/toss method, or if the process will be stressful and you require someone to be objective, Stephanie can come to help guide you.
- Painting: Almost every home needs a fresh coat of paint since walls and baseboards get scuffed over time. She will provide you the actual colours that will best suit major elements such as your flooring and cabinetry.
- Shopping: If she has recommended updating elements like tile or light fixtures, she can meet you at the store to review your options or, send her a text with the ones you are considering and she will help you decide.
Q: How do you help me stage my home?
A: Staging is the art, the cherry on top of all the hard work you’ve put into your home. Its what will make your listing photography absolutely demolish any competition that isn’t staged.
- Furniture Arrangement: Stephanie will review your furniture and suggest any changes that will improve the traffic flow and/or perceived space in the room. Size is king, and furniture arrangements impact how big a room feels.
- Art & Accessories: Stephanie always brings in, at no extra charge, accessory pieces to create a pleasing colour story and vignettes that are perfect for the camera. She is always considering what angles the photographer will use when setting up a room.
- Vacant Rooms or Homes: Are you a little low on furniture? We can provide, at no extra charge, small furniture items like kitchen chairs and tables, accent chairs and tables, and prop beds (not for sleeping on). If you require a large dining room table, a sofa set, or a master bedroom set (queen or king), we will look at all options, such as inquiring if you have friends or family you could borrow from, or perhaps renting them from a rental company. Renting large furniture would be the only scenario where there would be an extra fee.
Q: What’s the best timeline to do all of this?
A: That is very much up to you, and how much time you have versus how much you want to do. It can be very stressful, especially if you have younger children, to say that you will work every free minute you have in order to be prepped and ready to go in 10 days. Most often, clients require 3-6 weeks to prepare the home, and as I said before, we are a part of this process in any way you need. This is also the time to ask for help from any friends and family you can. Moving is a huge life event and is made much easier with more hands working together. From help watching your kids while you do some work, to help with painting or moving boxes, the people who love you most might be your best asset…(I find offers of food and drink to be excellent motivators as well).
Q: Is it important to get every item on the list completed?
A: Yes and no. The more you do the better impact you will see, and we’re not talking marginally better, but exponentially better. However, it’s very easy to get caught in the process, where the more you do, the more you see that needs fixing and you don’t know where to draw the line. A house is never perfect or completely finished, and we will be there to assess progress and let you know when you’ve reached the point where any extra work is no longer going to improve your sales price or outcome.
Pricing Your Home for Sale
Q: How do you come up with a price I should list my home for?
A: There are so many variables depending on the strategy we choose for your home.
- I always review what comparable properties have recently sold for, I look at the condition of the homes versus the price, and I make adjustments for any differences in lot size, square footage or notable features like ravine lot vs a busy street, etc.
- I write down the price range that I think your home can sell for and bring it to our meeting. I like to write it down so that you know I’m not just agreeing with any price you might say in order to please you, but that I’ve provided my researched opinion.
- We then discuss strategy; how much do you want to prepare and stage the home, how quickly do you want to sell, how many buyers are in the market for your style of home, and so on. Once we have set out the goals for your listing, we can decide where on the range will be the listing price for your home.
Q: Is it always best to list a bit high?
A: The price range I provide you includes a lower and higher end. This is all dependant on your goals, the presentation of your home, and so on. Many home owners want to list on the higher end of the range, and if you present a highly desirable product, it makes sense. If you get buyers to emotionally fall in love with your home, good things tend to happen.
Q: How high is too high?
A: If you want to list at a price above the range I have provided you, you are entering a precarious situation. When a listing is more than 10% overpriced, most buyers assume that you will be inflexible and unwilling to come down to a price that seems fair to them, and so no one makes an offer.
Here is an example of the kinds of conversations I’m willing to have with you that many others shy away from. I will agree to list at whatever price you want, but I will always be open and honest about what the sales data indicates. I will tell you right from day one that if we don’t get enough interest in the house, that we will be discussing a price adjustment after a few weeks before the listing goes stale and has stigma. I’m not afraid to have these kinds of conversations with you because you need to know the most likely scenario of every choice you make, and what is the next best step to get you to your goals.
Q: What about listing low to create a bidding war?
A: This has become famous in places like Toronto, spurred on by fast rising sold prices and a huge influx of buyer demand. It can work in certain scenarios, but it’s not my everyday strategy. For it to work, you need to have an area that is in extremely high demand, so this is only a handful of areas of Mississauga. The need to buy a house in that area for the purpose of future value must be more important than overpaying to beat out other buyers. Second, I’ve seen a lot of attempts for multiple offers in the suburbs where every offer was the same market-price offer; no frenzy or war over the home. And lastly, I’ve seen owners stating they will accept offers on a specific date, only to get no offers at all, and ruined any advantage they had. So when we consider your location and goals, we can decide if this is an appropriate strategy or not.
Q: How do I know who’s telling me the right price?
A: Trust no one, trust the sales history. First, an agent should show you, in detail, no glossing over, ALL of the comparable homes that have sold in your area. Ensure that all the homes are actually comparable to yours because just one or two homes that should or shouldn’t have been included can throw the numbers right off. The sale prices on the homes that sold 2,3,4,5+ months ago should be price adjusted for market appreciation. Second, the price provided to you should be written down. An old tactic is to get you to say what you think your house is worth first, so that the agent can immediately agree with you and everyone is happy, right? If you want to mess with agents say a really ridiculous price and see what their reaction is. What’s life if you can’t have a little fun?
Marketing Your Home for Sale
Q: All agent sound like they offer the same marketing, is there really any difference?
A: This is a very good and very critical question. There absolutely is a difference, and if the marketing of your listing is poor, it’s like casting a fishing net with holes in it; you can lose a lot of potential buyers. The best marketing shows a potential buyer exactly what they want to see at every stage, answers all their questions, so that they move through the entire process to produce offers. The highest sales price come from generating high levels of interest from the most possible buyers.
Q: How can agents submit an MLS listing differently?
A: Below are a list of frequently committed listing FAILS
- A listing with no photos – buyers demand photos, many pass on homes that don’t have pics
- A listing with poor/dark/confusing photos – buyers like to get a real sense of the room, not guess it
- A listing with no additional media links like virtural tours, floor plans, etc. – Buyers want to see every angle of the home to get a feel for layout and size
- A listing without room measurements – this is how buyers determine if they think your home is big enough for them; always include the measurements
- A listing without description or features – there’s space to describe the home and its best assets, amenities, school zone, etc. There’s no excuse for not completing this.
So as you can see there is a huge variance of what information is provided to buyers, and to lose a buyer who might be good for your listings at this stage is a wasted opportunity.
Q: How can an agent get my listing different levels of website exposure?
A: Beyond your listing being posted to MLS and that agents’ website, there is the OPTION – it does not happen automatically – to share your listing across hundreds of other broker websites. This is a collaborative service that the agent has to sign up for long in advance. This creates far more exposure for your listing, with the thousands of people searching thousands of websites and listings all the time. Go to www.thevillageguru.ca to see an example of this.
Secondly, I encourage my seller clients to agree to allow other agents to advertise the listing. There is a box on the listing paperwork, “Allow for Advertising”. If another agent wants to create a web page or a blog post about your listing, this is all the better for your exposure. This can only happen if you agree to it on the paperwork, and sadly I see this boxed checked ‘no’ on so many MLS listings, its incredible.
And third but not least, certain of my service packages include Google advertising, where I can advertise your listing to people who have typed in specific search terms into Google. For example, “Waterfront Homes For Sale in Mississauga”. I also post to Kijiji if you permit, because this website ranks high. Without getting too technical, it provides a strong backlink to your listing page. These are strategies I use that are uncommon in my industry, to produce higher website exposure for your listing.
Q: How can agents use social media differently?
A: Marketing on social media is tricky, and a lot of businesses have ruined it. People don’t use social media to be inundated by ads and promotions, so it’s easy to tick people off. I tread very carefully with my fans, and try to engage them through pretty house photos and reno ideas. This way when I do post a listing, it stands out, yet my fans aren’t sick of hearing about “me” all the time. I have happy, engaged and local fans who actually look at my posts.
Second, certain of my service packages include dedicated Facebook advertising, so I can advertise to people who have visited your listing on my website. I can link my website traffic to Facebook so that it can advertise to just these people. Very smart and cool things are always evolving and it’s important to be in the know.
Q: What are the differences in media packages out there?
A: Since there’s more and more professional companies who offer real estate agents some very good media packages, I get really ticked when agents don’t use them. No agent is a professional photographer or artist, and should always be hiring professionals for photography & website tours, video tours, and print items like feature booklets. Some of my packages include hiring for floor plans, because buyers love all of this. They love to know the layout and the look of the house before they decide to go see it. They can keep a beautifully designed, full-colour feature booklet that reminds them of your home when they go to view other homes with just an MLS data sheet printed out. Media helps to create the feeling buyers develop for your home, and you want it to be a good feeling!
Q: Do you always advertise in the newspaper and other publications?
A: I do advertise for any home owner who wants to see their listing in the newspaper and that is no problem at all. But I want to be really honest about newspapers. Since the internet took over, they are almost useless for selling a home. With the Internet, even open houses are posted on Realtor.ca and so the return on investment for newspaper advertising is extremely low, especially compared to website advertising. So when I have a client who is looking to save some money, this is usually one of the first items I recommend.
Q: What are your thoughts on Open Houses, do they work?
A: Open houses are great for creating a neighbourhood buzz, mostly because the majority of your guests will be your neighbours! lol This is not necessarily a bad thing, they may have family or friends wanting to move into the area, in which case they will be our best advocates. But most serious buyers have agents, and will book a private viewing to see the home. So do open houses actually attract the buyer who buys the home…….almost never. There are also security issues to consider and agents must have very strict protocol to keep your home and themselves safe. So I always discuss the topic with every owner to decide what their personal preference is.
Q: How do you know if we are getting enough viewings to see a good offer?
A: There’s sort of an “invisible hand” principle at play that always holds true.
- Never worry about the first day or two you are on the market. It is such a build up to listing day that owners want to see a bonanza, but it rarely happens. Many realtors search once a day at best, so it may be a full 24 hrs before buying agents see your listing. For the public, it might not hit Realtor.ca for 48 hrs, so there is a dead-zone there where you might not get many or any viewings.
- By the second or third day, I absolutely want to see bookings. The first 2 weeks is when all the buyers in the market who would like your home will book a viewing. I know the listing is on track if we see at least 15-20 viewings in the first 2 weeks.
- After about 3 weeks, if the home was priced too high for the market (aka – minimal viewings & no offers), I will be recommending a price reduction which will have 2 effects. Buyers who were already in the market and ruled out your home because of price may now come back to consider it as an option. New buyers entering the market will see the home priced within fair market range and will be more enticed to make an offer.
In short, once you get around 15 viewings from buyers who are looking for a home like yours, then you should see an offer. If no offers come, the price was too far out of range for them, even if they did like your home.
Q: What’s the best schedule for allowing showings?
A: In a perfect world, you, the kids and the dog are able to go away for 4-5 days so that your home is completely available to agents and buyers. The home stays tidy and clean, and there’s no naptime or activity schedules to work around. However, I completely understand if this isn’t feasible, in which case I want you to be more specific about the times your home will be available. You are allowed to say no showings after 8pm or between 2pm-4pm. Having your home “showcase ready” can be a large part of the stress, so let’s plan to manage it as best as possible.
One thing I would recommend you to avoid, unless you have tenants, is requiring 24 hours notice for bookings. When agents are out with their buyer clients, criteria can change pretty quickly. Agents often do new searches in their car after viewing a home, and your home might fit the new criteria. Asking for 24 hrs stalls the process, and buyers will skip your home and move on to others available sooner – possibly losing a good buyer.
Listing Your Home For Sale
Q: How do home showings work?
A: When your home is listed for sale on the MLS, any real estate agent (from our team or another company) who has a client who is interested must book a showing to see the property. How the process works:
1. Agent calls our office to book a showing time.
2. Our office calls you to confirm that time and date works for you.
3. Once that you confirm the appointment is ok, our office calls the other real estate agent’s office back (not the agent personally) and confirms that they work for the company.
4. Once everything checks out, at that time our office will give the lock box information to the other agent’s office who will then give it to them. At no time is the lock box info ever given to a real estate agent over the phone without confirming their identify.
Q: Do I have to be present for showings?
A: No, we have lock boxes which allow agents to access your home after you confirm the showing. I actually encourage home owners not to be present when showings are going on because it makes the buyers uncomfortable and many times they rush through the property without taking a close enough look.
Q: Do I need a lock box?
A: You are not required to have a lock box, but if you want to take my advice and not be present for showings it will be hard to do without one.
Q: How long are showings?
A: Showings are typically scheduled in hour time slots, for example 1 to 2pm. If the property is getting a lot of interest and showings booked we can shorten that time frame down to 30 minutes to accommodate everyone.
Q: What happens if a real estate agent is late for an appointment?
A: I wish I could say that never happens but every once in a while you get an agent running late who doesn’t call the office to let us know that. If you are home you have every right to refuse them entry at that point. I know it’s not a good answer but statistically you are bound to run into an agent who is late, or doesn’t turn off the lights, or causes some other minor inconvenience. If that happens let us know and we will deal with it. At the same time you kind of have to expect it and thats why the quicker you sell the less you will have to deal with the small number of unprofessional people out there.
Q: Should I let someone look at my home without an appointment?
A: Never. Our system is set up to confirm the identity of the person and also keeps a record of who entered the property. If they haven’t booked an appointment tell them to call our office and we can confirm it very quickly if that’s the case. Anyone can go to Staples and have business cards made up, not saying that is the case but as my Grandmother always said, better safe than sorry.
Q: When can I expect to start getting showings?
A: This is a tough question to answer because it all depends. As soon as your listing goes on the system it is available for 40,000 or so realtors to see so if someone happens to be looking they may see it and book right away. On the other hand, many agents set their clients up on what is called auto listing feeds where they will receive an email once a night with everything listed the day prior. That’s why we aim to list our properties on a Thursday, that way we show up in a buyers inbox Friday morning, just in time for the weekend.
Q: My house was just listed but I don’t see it on www.mls.ca or www.realtor.ca, how come?
A: www.mls.ca and www.realtor.ca are websites that take their feed off of the local MLS board, but they are not the MLS. It can take anywhere from 24-48 hours for your listing to show up on the public site, it happens automatically and we have no control over when that happens. That’s another reason we like to list on Thursday, that way it gives it enough time for the listing to show on the public sites by the weekend, when most home buyers are looking.
Q: When I can expect to receive agent feedback?
A: We have a process where we automatically request feedback from any agent who books an appointment. We also do follow up calls to all agents who don’t reply to try and get any relevant feedback. Having said that the realty is that 50% of agents at best will ever return a phone call for feedback. Your best feedback is whether you get an offer or not within a reasonable time.
Q: How long will it take to get an offer?
A: It all depends on how you decide to price your home. We review all the market statistics with you when we meet and take that into consideration when recommending a sale price. If you price near market value you should sell within the average time, if you are over priced it will take a lot longer. For example, if homes similar to yours in your area take an average of 2 weeks to sell, and you’ve been on the market 60 days, that would indicate to me that home is over priced.
Q: How do we accept offers?
A: This will be a part of the strategy that we set up for your listing, but in most cases, I find it works well to accept offers as they come. The agent will either ask to send it to us and give us a set amount of time to consider it, or they will ask to meet so that the agent can present the offer to you in person. The agent must register the offer with my office, and then I will contact you.
Q: What about verbal offers?
A: There is no such thing. No buyer is serious until they are willing to put pen to paper. Often, it’s a ploy from an interested buyer to scoop info from me before they submit a written price. There’s a term I use from my old Navy days, “Loose Lips Sink Ships”. We don’t discuss anything until there’s a real offer on the table.
Q: Do you review the offer with me?
A: I always review the offers with you. Negotiating an offer is my favourite part of my job. If we have done a good job so far, there will have been lots of viewings and the offer has come in quickly; within the first 2 weeks. This gives me a very strong starting position because I can state how much interest there is in your home. Finding every way to sit in a position of advantage when negotiating a sale is key. We need buyers to love your home, and to believe that if they don’t act quickly, they will lose out to someone else.
Q: What happens in a multiple offers?
A: A listing can receive multiple offers even when we didn’t make it our strategy. If we present a very desirable product, and have many viewings quickly, it is very possible to get more than one buyer putting in an offer. Again, the buyer agents must register the offer with my office, because once it’s registered then I can let all the other buyers know there’s an offer and now is the time to offer as well. Once we have received all the offers, we review them and you have 2 choices. A) You choose one that you will continue to negotiate with, and the other offers are discarded, or B) you push them all back for their best offer, if all the prices and/or terms are so close you can’t decide. There is the risk that none of them come back with a second offer, so we will discuss what is the best strategy given the situation. You CANNOT work with 2 offers simultaneously.
Q: What is a bully offer?
A: If we have planned for a specific date or time to receive and review offers, a bully offers is when the buyer disregards these instruction and tries to push their offer through before the other offers come in. I don’t set times to review offers unless I am incredibly confident in the amount of offers we have registered. So it’s rare that accepting a bully offer is your best course of action. It is also speak to the way they do business, and it a bit of a red flag for possible issues down the road. It is also disrespectful to the other buyers who are willing to abide by our requests. A few years back, a buyer client of mine was prepared to submit their offer into multiple offers, only for the listing agent to accept a bully offer hours beforehand, for a LOWER price than what we were about to offer. So that seller did not come out ahead by accepting the bully offer.
Q: What if most offers come in around the same price and one offer is substantially higher than the others, should I take it?
A: This is where my experience drives my instincts for who I think is the most solid buyer. Many things can fall apart after a deal is signed and you want to find the buyer who appears to be the most likely to complete on the sale. Deposit cheques don’t show up, deals are scuttled over minor issues on home inspection, and if the price is ridiculously high, the bank can call it out as too high and not provide the buyer financing. So my answer is maybe yes but more often no, because when something looks too good to be true……..it usually is.
Q: Can you represent both the buyer and seller?
A: Most sellers ask their agent to represent both them and the buyer if the opportunity arises, so that they can negotiate down the commission. I’ll tell you why I don’t like “double-ending” and in 8 years, the situation has never presented itself. Instead of advocating on your behalf, I become more of a customer service agent. I have info about you that I can’t share with the buyer, and I have info about the buyer that I can’t share with you. I know your bottom dollar and their top price. Both your priorities are conflicting and I can’t do my best job for anyone. I’d much rather stick with you and refer the buyers to an agent in my network, so that we can really push to get the best price we can, and it still gives me an opportunity to give you the best price I can.
Q: What would be considered the strongest offer?
A: Money is only one of many considerations. If you had an offer that was slightly lower than you wanted but the buyer had no conditions of finance or inspection, that is just like money in the bank. Once you sign it, it’s a done deal and the home is sold firm immediately. As I mentioned, there’s a lot of ways for a deal to fall apart on conditions, so to have no conditions is king. Also, if you need a specific closing date, say if you have bought a home already and you don’t want to own 2 homes with 2 mortgages, getting your closing date might have value to you as well. I try to spy out a solid buyer by the way the buyer agent behaves; are they playing games or trying to pull tricks? Are they forthright, and on the level? The strongest offer, in the end, is the one that comes from the buyer who will actually close on the deal.
The Offer Accepted
Q: What do we do now?
A: It all depends, if there are conditions as part of the Agreement then we work to ensure the buyer(s) are able to fulfill them. This might include granting access to the home for an inspection or bank appraisal. Common conditions include a home inspection, financing and a review of status certificate for condominiums. Regardless of the condition type, It’s important to note that while it’s easy to relax during this time, the home is technically still for sale and in most cases it is up to the buyer to waive the condition(s) making the deal binding. During this time we still market the home and recommend allowing showings in case the deal falls through.
Q: How does the home inspection work?
A: The home inspection gives buyers a chance to do their due diligence, and make sure the home is in the condition they thought it was when making an offer. Generally speaking, the home inspector is looking for mechanical, electrical, foundation, and building code issues that could affect the house.
Q: What happens if something is discovered on the home inspection?
A: It all Depends on the way the home inspection clause is worded in the agreement. Typically, home inspection clauses in residential real estate are written in a way that gives the buyers the power to either waive the condition (accept the home as is) or not to do anything and the deal expires. In most cases where an issue is discovered, the two sides can negotiate some sort of arrangement to remedy the situation- however it is up to both sides to agree.
Q: When does the deal go firm?
A: Once we have received the deposit and the signed waivers for any conditions on the sale, such as finance, inspection or status certificate (condos), then the deal goes firm and the home’s status is changes to sold.
Q: Do things ever changed after it goes firm?
A: Yes, nothing is done until it’s done. Sometimes the seller or the buyer wants to change the closing date, and this can be done if both parties agree.
Sold Firm to Closing Day
Q: We are sold firm, what’s the next step?
A: If you haven’t already found your next home, now is the time to start that process. Click here to see my Service for Home Buyers.
Q: What can I do to get organized for the move?
A: Start collecting a variety of moving check-lists and fuse them together to build your own comprehensive list
- List out all contacts, businesses, services, financial and investment companies, insurances companies, utilities, etc., who will require your address change
- Contact Canada post for mail delivery changes
- Purge before you pack – Keep, Sell, Toss, Donate. Also take hazardous material to the dump or arrange for junk removal. Plan a garage sale or sell items online. Give what you can to charities. This all makes moving easier.
- Research and do you due diligence on moving companies. Cheapest is rarely best.
- Arrange for moving day assistance from friends and family – someone to watch your kids, pets, help move, etc so that it goes more smoothly
Q: Do I have to move out of my old home and into my new one on the same day?
A: No. There is a product called bridge financing that many people take advantage of. It allows you to take possession of your new home a few days or weeks before you close on your current home. This allows you to move in more slowly, clean or paint before you have to move all the furniture in and many people find it much less stressful. It does cost a little extra so you need to decide what’s more important to you.