Q&A with Guelph Real Estate Agents

Recently I asked a few of the real estate agent’s in my network for their tips: for first time home buyers, increasing the sale price of your home, and avoiding common mistakes when selling privately. If you are looking for a real estate agent in Guelph or Toronto, one I recommend is Wins Lai. This post is a Q & A with answers from…

Collette Aeschlimann of Royal Lepage

Anita Van Rootselaar of RE/MAX

Kelly Caldwell of Home Group Realty

Dean Manton of RE/MAX

Patty Strome of RE/MAX

What is your #1 tip for first-time home buyers

Collette says… Don’t become house-poor. Be financially comfortable with your first purchase and do not necessarily max out your pre-approval amount. There are a number of closing costs to take into consideration and because in the worst case scenario, things may happen the day after closing, you must have some reserve funds to deal with potential emergencies. There are also personal emergencies that may happen (ie. becoming unemployed, incurring an injury that is not covered by OHIP, a car accident that is not covered by insurance, and the list of unfortunate possibilities goes on..) so it is important that one is not strapped for funds. Many buyers still want to have the ability to do leisure activities as well so buying a home that is reasonably within your budget is key.

Anita says… Get your team ready: trustworthy Realtor, Savy mortgage person, respectable lawyer, diligent home inspector.

Kelly says… Have an experienced Realtor represent you in the transaction. Many times, buyers elect to “go it alone” with the notion that, if they work with a seller’s agent, they will get a deal. In actuality, the seller’s agent represents the seller’s financial best interests – which are usually not met by giving buyers a “deal. Take some time to find the agent who is right for you. Interview a few real estate agents, always ask for references, and never overlook the importance of personal chemistry. You want to be sure that you’ve found someone who is a good match for you, professionally and personally. Then, you’ll have someone skilled, and hopefully fun to work with, representing your financial best interests in the transaction.

Dean says… Take your time. First time buyers are usually so excited about buying their first home that they want to do it right away. This can lead to buying a home that is in poor condition, over paying for a home or just buying the wrong home for them. First time buyers should take their time and get to know the market. Once they have seen what is available and at what price they will be able to make a better purchasing decision.

Patty says… Know the lingo. When a first time buyer approaches me, I will ask them if they were pre-approved. If they have been, were they told if they were pre-qualified or pre-approved? Many first time buyers, get the two mixed up. Being pre-qualified just means you could possibly be approved up to a certain amount not that you are. I also want to make sure that the interest rate they were approved for will not increase prior to them finding the home they want.

What is your #1 tip for raising the selling price of a home?

Anita says… Styling the home to suit a wide range of buyers.

Kelly says… I’m a big believer in good old fashioned sweat equity to raise value and ensure a fast sale, which after all is almost equally important for many as getting top dollar. Three things can cost very little but make a big impact: 1) Minor repairs; 2) De-Cluttering; 3) Staging.

For minor repairs, pre-sale days and weeks are the time to finally clear up that “honey do” list. Buyers see even small items in disrepair and question the pride of ownership of the sellers, which in turn leads them to wonder if there are problems “behind the walls,” etc. Better to have folks walk through marveling at how well taken care of the house is.Next, de-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter. By the time your bedroom looks like a hotel room, it’s ready for showing. Yes, really! Kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, and even garages – all should be as sparse as possible.

Finally, I’m a big believer in Staging, so I always provide that service for my clients. Sometimes just simple rearranging of furniture makes a very big difference in how a room shows and photographs. Gather up the paint cans and go through each room to do minor touch-ups – or apply fresh, neutral coats of paint if you are handy with a brush and a roller.

Staging to boost curb appeal is also a great and cost-effective strategy. Add some fresh mulch or cheery annuals and a new welcome mat. By the time people have gotten to the front door, they’re already thinking positive thoughts.

Dean says… Price close to market value. Assuming that the home is in good condition and properly staged, my #1 tip for getting the highest price is to price the home close to market value. This may seem counter intuitive but the closer the list price is to the market value, the better chance you have of attracting multiple offers. Properties that attract multiple offers usually sell for full price or even higher. Properties that are over-priced usually sit on the market for longer and sell for less money.

Patty says… Trust your realtor. To get the best market value for your home when selling is to trust the realtor you are hiring! As a realtor, we see and hear what the buyers are looking for. If we tell to paint your orange wall, we aren’t trying to insult you, just that not every one loves the colour orange. Put away valuables – this means items of personal/sentimental and those with dollar value. Anything you wish to take with you to your next home ie. dining room chandelier should be replaced or removed- this could make the difference in selling your home. Clean your carpets, polish hardwood floors, keep the lawns outside well maintained. There is only one chance to make a first impression! Lastly, always have your home ready for the last minute appointment- this could be the one buyer who will be the right one! — Patty Strome

What is a common mistake homeowners make when trying to sell without an agent?

Collette says… Disclosure or lack thereof. When a property is listed with a real estate sales representative, there are obligations by the licensed realtor to determine all that needs to be disclosed. Obviously there are limitations to this but a realtor must be diligent in trying to determine any defects that will have an affect on the transaction. Disclose, disclose, disclose is what one learns throughout the courses to become licensed. Many homeowners who list a property privately are not aware that non-disclosure can be cause for legal action later if it was found that a defect was known by them. This non-obligation to disclose by FSBO properties can pose a risk for potential buyers. — Collette Aeschlimann

Anita says… Pricing too high. Marketing their home at a price the market will not accept it at… not realizing the 2 year ‘holdover period’ after the sale of the property. — Anita Van Rootselaar

Kelly says… Underestimating the work involved. Selling privately can be a really good strategy for certain individuals, but I think one common mistake is that it’s easy to underestimate the work involved in selling a home – as well as the emotional stress that is part of the process.

Often, you have put your heart, soul, and lots of dollars into making your house a home. Then, the time comes to sell. People may start out thinking that their house will just “sell itself,” but soon enough learn that there is a lot of time to be spent (and sadly often wasted) accommodating showings and handling offer negotiations. A high percentage of private-sale offers fall through, for example, on financing.

In reality, buyers are tough… very tough. They have no emotional attachment to your home and will walk through it, start to finish, looking for problems and reasons to chip away at the price. And let’s be clear: private sale buyers want a deal. For the private seller, this can be particularly stressful because, let’s face it, we all like to think our homes are our castles and no one wants to hear that our plaid wallpaper isn’t absolutely fabulous!

Dean says… Cooperating with the buyer’s agent. The biggest mistake that private sellers make is, if they are unable to sell their homes after a certain period of time they will offer to cooperate or pay a commission to a buyer’s agent. This is a bad idea because the buyer’s agent works for the buyer. He has a duty to get the best deal for the buyer and sell the property for as little as possible. He doesn’t expose the property to any other buyers or agents and doesn’t market the property in any way. For a little more commission, the seller can hire their own agent who has a duty to the seller and sell the property for as much as possible. He/she will introduce the property to all other agents and market the property to all buyers. Seller’s who hire their own agent will most likely end up with more money in their pockets when all is said and done.

Patty says… Selling your home privately is a lot of work. You have a sentimental attachment to your home. Can you honestly take any criticism from a potential buyer? Do you know how to pre-approve a buyer? Are you available 7 days a week and with notice of a few hours to show your home? When you price your home probably took the 5% commission off, well so will the potential buyer and now you lost a total of 10% of the market value. Not only that, but the exposure realtors create with the amount of websites we have access to.