Guide to Selling Your Home in Vancouver

Chapter 1
Selling Your Home in Vancouver, British Columbia

West Coast House by Pnwra
West Coast House by Pnwra

In the Greater Vancouver Region, thousands of single-family homes, townhouses, and condominiums go on the market for sell each year. On the surface, these real estate sale transactions might seem similar; however, each deal has its own dynamics.

Compared to a decade ago, today’s home sellers must deal with more paperwork and other requirements. Another important change in the marketplace concerns the number of Vancouver home buyers represented by a buyer’s agent whose sole aim centres on protecting the interest of the buyer and getting the best deal for the client.

All sellers of Vancouver real estate want to maximize the value they can receive for their home and close their transaction with minimal stress and frustration.

Careful planning helps you achieve your goals.

Creating a plan to sell your home saves you time and money, and it also ensures that you meet your objectives. The key lies in making your home appeal to a broad spectrum of buyers and maximizing the final sale price.

To reach your goal, you must “start off right,” which increases your chances of “ending up right.”

“Guide to Selling Your Home in Vancouver” functions as a source you can use to plan and execute a strategy to sell your home successfully.

Determine Your Reason for Selling

The factors that prompt a homeowner to sell vary. You might have simply outgrown your present home. This often occurs with many first-time home buyers who purchased a Vancouver condominium, town home, or starter home several years ago and who now find it necessary to move to a larger space to raise their growing families.

Some first-time home buyers have the desire to upgrade. Maybe you earn significantly more than when you purchased your home, so you want to experience a more luxurious home. Some other common reasons for selling include:

  • Retirement
  • Health issues
  • Need for repairs in current home
  • Neighbourhood changes
  • Desire to be closer to (or farther from) family

A sizeable number of home owners no longer have an interest in owning a home and prefer to live a different lifestyle. Therefore, they sell their home, rent an apartment, and spend their time travelling or pursuing other dreams.

In hot real estate market like the one here in Vancouver from time to time, homeowners simply want to cash in and claim the equity they’ve built up in their property.

Preparing for the Sale

House for Sale by Dale Chumbley
House for Sale by Dale Chumbley

Selling a home in Vancouver involves a myriad of tasks that might overwhelm you at first. Nonetheless, there is nothing etched in stone that says that stress must come with selling your home.

Make it easy on yourself. Once you have made the decision to sell your home, start looking at the process from a buyer’s perspective.

De-personalize Your Home: As much as possible, remove all signs of personal effects in the home. Pack up family photographs and valued heirlooms because you want to avoid your personal artifacts or smiling face distracting prospective buyers. Create an environment for buyers’ imaginations to run wild, as they imagine themselves and their favourite heirlooms occupying the home.

Buyers need to see themselves as living in the home.

Get Rid of Clutter: It is easy to accumulate many things after you’ve lived in a space for several years. Selling your home presents you with the perfect opportunity to get rid of items that have gone unused for a year or two. You can donate items you believe other people can use and throw away junk. Pull your books from the bookcases, and pack up ornaments and other things. Remove everything from the kitchen counters.

Put basic items in a container and store them away. This helps the space to appear larger —especially in condominiums and town homes. Approach this aspect of selling your home with a mindset of getting a good start on packing.

Remove Favoured Items: Remove any items you do not want to sell as part of the deal, which might include drapery, blinds, built-in appliances, or light fixtures. Remove anything of sentimental value to prevent potential buyers from including the object as a part of the negotiations. You might have to replace certain items you remove, like light fixtures or appliances.

Organize Closets and Cabinets: Expect buyers to open drawers and cabinets and to look in closets. Stack dishes and clean out drawers. Line up shoes in the closet and hang clothes properly. The last thing you want to have is items falling off the shelf when a buyer opens the door.

Remove Some Furniture: Homes with minimal furniture show better. Leave only enough pieces to showcase the space. Allow plenty of space in which buyers can manoeuvre. Start with furniture that no longer serves a purpose (empty bookcases) or distracts from the space. Leave enough furniture for buyers to know the function of a room.

Quick Repairs: Replace damaged or shabby flooring, such as cracked tiles or worn carpeting. Make sure drawers and doors open and close properly. Replace burnt-out light bulbs. Repair chipped plaster or damaged drywall. Paint the walls and ceiling a neutral colour.

Make Your Home Sparkle and Shine

Sparkle and Shine by Dale Chumbley
Sparkle and Shine by Dale Chumbley

Clean the windows on the interior and exterior. Rent a pressure washer to clean the siding and wash down the porch, deck, or sidewalk. Clean the cobwebs out of the corners, and replace worn rugs or other flooring.

Here are some other tips for making your home attractive to potential buyers:

  • wax the floor
  • vacuum carpets daily
  • scrub grout
  • re-caulk sinks, tubs, and showers
  • clean the refrigerator
  • hang fresh towels in the bathroom and kitchen
  • clean and deodorize stale areas
  • polish fixtures and hardware

After you complete your repairs and otherwise spruce up the property, go outside and enter again through the front door. Pay attention to your first impressions upon entering. Do you notice any odours?

Look at the floors, walls, window treatments, and furniture arrangement. Does anything seem out of place? Have your real estate agent, a family member, or friend perform a walk-through to obtain a more objective opinion.

Chapter 2
Physical Condition: Curb Appeal, Home Inspection, and Improvements

If you intend to receive top dollar for your property, you need to pay particular attention to its physical condition. Approach this aspect of the sales process in three ways: curb appeal, home inspection, and improvements.

“Curb appeal” refers to the appearance of your home from the street or as a buyer approaches on foot. Consider having your home examined from top to bottom by a professional home inspector, to obtain an objective opinion about its condition. Improvements enhance the value of your home.

Curb Appeal

Living in your home provides you with intimate knowledge of its interior features that make it a desirable place to live. Before scheduling an appointment to view a property, a large percentage of buyers routinely drive by and look at the exterior of a home. Based on their “first impression” from the curb, they decide whether to schedule a showing.

Other buyers skip the drive-by and go right to scheduling a showing. However, upon arriving at the location, if the exterior does not appeal to them immediately, it may negatively colour their opinion of your home regardless of interior attributes.

First impressions are everything. Some buyers simply do not have the ability to visualize and appreciate the value of a home if the exterior does not grab their attention. Therefore, focus on making your home noticeable.

Give buyers a head start on the mental process of making the home their own. An eye-catching exterior creates the perfect mindset for potential buyers to take the next step — scheduling an appointment or eagerly anticipating seeing the interior of your home.

The moral of the story: you can attract a large number of buyers to view your home by making the exterior as appealing as possible.

How to Survey Your Home’s Curb Appeal

House in Vancouver by Pnwra 1
House in Vancouver by Pnwra 

Drive through your neighbourhood and other areas in Vancouver. Pay particular attention to homes that catch your eye, including colour schemes. Note what appeals or repels you about the homes as you view them from the street.

Go to the exterior of your home and stand back to the end of the driveway or street to get a panoramic view of your home. Approach it as though you were looking at it for the first time.

With a pad and pen in hand, answer the following questions:

  • What is your initial impression of the home and the front yard?
  • What are the best outside attributes of the home and the lot?
  • How can you improve these items?
  • What are the least desirable features of the house and lot?
  • How can you enhance these areas?

Make this exercise even more effective by taking photographs of your home and lot. Use a digital camera if you have one available. View colour images of the home first, then examine the photographs in black-and-white, which makes the identification of areas in which you might need to make changes stand out.

CMHC has a comprehensive checklist on their website that provides guidance on improving your home’s curb appeal.

Your to-do list should include the following items:

  • Clean windows inside and out.
  • Use a power washer to remove mould and mildew from siding, roofs, gutters, sidewalks, driveway, decks, or patios.
  • Put away toys, garden tools, and other implements.
  • Clean down spouts and gutters.
  • Remove leaves on large lots.
  • Trim tree branches and low-hanging limbs away from the house.

Start your project to improve curb appeal by completing the cleaning and making any necessary repairs. Then proceed with making enhancements.

Give Your Home a Fresh Look

Painting: This is one of the least expensive ways to spruce up the exterior of your home. Choose a colour scheme that makes the home stand out to prospective buyers.

Entrance Door: A new or refurbished entrance door can totally transform the front of your home. If a new door is not within your budget, try a fresh coat of paint or sanding and refinishing the door. Replacing the address numbers, polishing or installing a new doorknob, or upgrading an attached mailbox can also improve the appearance of a door.

Landscaping: A popular way of accomplishing your objective of getting more buyers out of their cars and into your home is nice landscaping. Start with the basics edging and trimming. Plant flowers or group a colourful array of flowers in pots as inexpensive attention-grabbers. Container plants make good sense for small areas. Use rock mulch (pebbles, stones) or wood mulch (chips, bark) to add beauty at an affordable cost.

Sometimes you can make the exterior more appealing by subtraction. For example, large shrubbery or trees may become overgrown and hide the true charm of your home. Try trimming them back. Sometimes removing the obstruction can enhance your home’s overall appearance.

Other Views: After completing your work to enhance the home’s curb appeal, focus your efforts on the remaining areas. Buyers not only drive by to examine the property from the front, but they also want to look in the rear of the house and along the sides. They will attempt to view these areas from another street or your neighbour’s driveway.

In addition, buyers can drive by in the evening, so make sure your home address is clearly visible. Use exterior lighting, including accent or low-voltage landscape lighting, to display the home, plants, or other features.

Home Inspection

Home Inspection by Gabriel Farrell
Home Inspection by Gabriel Farrell

You might have heard horror stories depicting how residential real estate sale transactions have fallen apart at the closing table. Usually, the reason had to do with a “surprise or two” unveiled by the buyer’s home inspector about the home.

Avoid last-minute surprises by having your home inspected from top to bottom by a professional inspector. The inspector provides you with a complete report that lists any repair issues or defects in your home.

Follow the items outlined in the report to correct basic maintenance items, or identify significant issues up front, such as replacement of the heating unit or the need to re-roof the home. Once you are aware of potential issues, you can decide whether you want to make the corrections.

If you elect not to make repairs, you must disclose the deficiencies to your listing agent and potential buyers.

Improvements

In some real estate markets, it works to your advantage to make enhancements to your home for it to show well and receive top-dollar offers. This includes floors, landscaping, wall/ceilings, kitchen, and bathroom. Develop a plan and budget to ensure that you have the necessary resources to complete any project you start. Most importantly, complete the work before you list the property.

Focus on cost-effective improvements that return maximum value. Do not invest too much and exceed the value of your neighbourhood. Avoid expanding rooms, making unwarranted renovations, or modifying a room’s function.

Here are some suggestions for improvements you can make with which you have a high probability of recovering from the sale of your Vancouver home:

Flooring: Hardwood floors are popular with many Vancouver buyers for family rooms and living rooms. If you have hardwood floors underneath carpeting, remove the carpet and have the floors professionally refinished. If not, consider installing quality laminated flooring if its fits within your budget.

Choose a neutral colour when replacing carpet. Ceramic tile or stone make a good choice for entryways, kitchens, bathrooms, or laundry rooms.

Ceilings and walls: Pay attention to the ceilings because buyers will. The ceiling reveals signs of leaks. Remove smoke or grease stains or cracks. Patch large patches with fiberglass drywall tape, cover with compound, sand, and paint. Follow the same advice for walls. Keep in mind that a silky smooth finish and fresh coat of paint do wonders for dreary walls and ceilings. Semi-gloss paint brightens up spaces. Use eggshell for walls and ceilings with slight imperfections. Try to avoid wallpaper or panelling

Kitchen by Brian Chow
Kitchen by Brian Chow

Kitchen and bathroom remodelling: Someone once said, “It is kitchen and bathrooms that sell homes.” These projects offer the most return for the dollar. Avoid luxury finishes unless you have a high-end home because they may not return as much as minor kitchen or bathroom overhauls.

In kitchens, cabinets and appliances are usually the most important and costly items to replace. Replace them if the units are too old or otherwise damaged. Depending on the type of buyer you want to attract, it can be difficult to sell your home if you do not replace kitchen cabinets.

You might be able to get away with cabinet resurfacing, which involves the application of a veneer on the cabinet surface. You will also replace the doors and hardware. Give painted cabinets and new life with a fresh layer of paint and sparkling new hardware.

It is not always necessary to install granite countertops to make a kitchen overhaul look expensive. A nice, simple laminate top with a new sink and sparkling faucet usually suffices. Replace stained sinks and leaky faucets.

Small bathrooms, mirrors, and large windows give the room a larger, airy feel. If you install permanent fixtures, choose neutral colours. Take the same approach with the installation of colours for the wall and ceiling — whether paint, tile, or stone. If you have multiple bathrooms, keep treatments similar.

Window Treatments: Curtains and blinds represent an inexpensive way to help make a favourable impression on buyers.

Again, do not overdo the spending. Approach any enhancement from the value it adds to your home. Unless necessary, stay away from full remodelling. From the moment you list your home with a Vancouver real estate agent, make sure that all the work is completed, that systems work properly, and that your home shows well.

Chapter 3
Finding a Good Vancouver Real Estate Agent

Chances are, selling your home represents one of the largest financial transactions you will make in your lifetime. It was Henry Ford who said something to the effect of, ”When you hire people who are smarter than you are, it proves you are smarter than they are.”

The provincial Real Estate Services Act requires you to work with a licensed (licensee) real estate agent to sell your home.

Hire a Vancouver real estate agent, also known as a licensee, who has the experience and expertise to help you sell your condominium, town home, or single-family house. Find someone you feel comfortable working with who you believe can help you reach your objectives.

Your agent serves as a buffer between you and buyers. The agent filters unproductive phone calls while simultaneously attracting serious buyers — ready, willing, and able to make legitimate offers on your home.

You and your agent must have open and honest communication. This leads to understanding and trust, which form the foundation of any solid business relationship.

Attributes of a Vancouver Real Estate Agent

Screen shot 2012 03 22 at 13 04 30
Real Estate Council of British Columbia

Start the process of finding a real estate agent by speaking to family, friends, and associates about agents they have worked with to sell their homes. You can also pull names off the “For Sale” signs placed in your neighbourhood or go online to obtain contact information. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver can also provide you with the names of agents and other information related to the sale of your property.

After gathering the names of potential candidates, do the preliminary work before choosing three or four persons to interview.

Consult the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (RECBC) for information on finding a licensed agent, verifying licensure, or checking for disciplinary action for potential candidates. Visit their websites or subscribe to newsletters to gather what information you can about the agents,

Although you must work with a licensed agent, you do not have to work with an agent or firm with the REALTORS® trademark. This designation means that the agent has a membership with The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). The members must practice a strict code of business practices concerning their obligation to clients, which the CREA guarantees.

Decide if you want to work with a Vancouver REALTOR®. The bottom line remains the same: find a knowledgeable Vancouver real estate agent that understands the local market, stays abreast of the latest trends, empathizes with neighbourhood concerns, and participates in the local community.

Now you are ready to conduct your interviews. Some things you might want to look for in an agent include:

  • Understanding your project plans and goals
  • Familiarity with your neighbourhood
  • Experience selling homes in your price range
  • Provable record of high success rate, including a good list to sale ratio and a low number of days on the market
  • Works with a reputable broker
  • Strong networking ability with other agents, mortgage brokers, bankers, home inspectors, and other professionals

The agent should have experience using the Web to gain exposure for your home. This can include operating a personal Vancouver real estate website or taking advantage of the many social media sites.

The individual must also have the time to work with you and market your property appropriately. They should be accessible to answer your questions or call back with a reasonable.

Here are some questions to ask potential candidates:

  • How long have you sold real estate in the Vancouver area?
  • How long had you held your real estate license?
  • Do you handle both the sale and the purchase in real estate transactions?
  • What properties have you sold in the neighbourhood?
  • How long does it take you to return a phone call?
  • What is your commission rate?

Ask questions about the median and average sale price of properties they have listed. Find out the list to sold ratio. The agent should be able to provide you with these numbers. Make sure you request that the person bring their numbers to the interview.

Use the answers to these questions and other questions you formulate for the interview to assist you in making your selection.

The Listing Contract

Signing Contract by Victor1558
Signing a Contract by Victor1558

The listing agreement is a legally binding contract. Therefore, understand the consequence of each provision before signing on the dotted line. It is wise to consult counsel before executing the agreement.

Typically, Vancouver home sellers encounter two categories of listing agreement: exclusive listing and multiple listing. The RECBC determines the criteria each listing contract must meet. Basic requirements include:

  • Description of the home address
  • Services provided by the agent
  • Rate of commission
  • Beginning and end date of the contract

Most real estate agents want to list a property for as long a period as you will allow. The typical listing contract for the sale of a home is called an exclusive contract, which gives the agent the exclusive right to sell the home for the agreed upon period. Most agents would like at least six months on such a contract to justify any marketing efforts. Before you sign any agreement, asked for to see the sales agent record of accomplishment.

The last thing you want to do is to make the mistake of listing your property with an agent who hasn’t sold anything in 12 months.

An exclusive listing agreement obligates you to pay the agreed commission, even if you personally find a buyer for your home, unless the person is on an exclusion list.

Your Relationship with the Licensee/Brokerage

When You sign an agreement with a licensee to sell your home, under the rules of the Real Estate Council of British Columbia, the licensee becomes what is called “the agent of the seller” or agency representation. You, the seller, is known as the “principal.”

The rules state that the real estate brokerage and the licensee/agent must work to protect the interest of the principal.

The agent/brokerage has five specify obligations:

  1. Undivided loyalty
  2. Obey all lawful instruction from the principal
  3. Maintain the confidence of the principal
  4. Exercise reasonable care and skill in carrying out duties
  5. Account for all money handled on behalf of the principal

The agent should provide you with a document that describes the nature of your real estate relationship.

Your Obligations

As the seller of the home, you have an obligation to give the agent accurate information. This includes what you know about the age of the property and the condition of the home systems (roofing, heating, electrical, hot water, property tax, condominium assessments or other pertinent information). You will also need to assist the agent to obtain information on outstanding mortgages or liens against the property, zoning, and other information as required.

If you are selling a condominium or town home, gather information, such as registered bylaws, two years strata meetings, financial statements, and house rules. In addition, provide information on storage areas, parking spaces, and any other relevant information necessary for Vancouver condominium buyers to make an informed decision.

Real estate agents have different skills, strengths, and experience levels. The agent does not have to know everything about selling real estate in the Vancouver area, but find someone who has the skills to match your particular needs.

Chapter 4
Personal Privacy and Disclosure

Privacy by Gary J Wood
Privacy by Gary J. Wood

One of the very first things you want to do before placing your home on the market involves planning for the protection of your privacy. From the time you list your property for sale, expect to have an endless stream of potential home buyers. Buyers will look inside of cabinets and inspect the office or den, bedrooms, and other areas. Some buyers are more hands-on than others.

Naturally, buyers want to know who lives in the home and why you list the home for sale.

Safeguarding Your Personal Privacy

Mail: Whether you use an entrance console, dining room, or kitchen cabinet to stack your mail, do not leave mail out in the open. What if you have mail from your divorce attorney, have a letter from the bankruptcy court, or receive a notice from the IRS this is information that you want to keep private? A buyer stumbling on this information can use it to her advantage when it comes to making an offer on your home.

Most buyers will respect your privacy and not read your personal mail. Others will look for an edge if they plan to make an offer. Why take a chance? Visible documents beg for roving eyes to read them. Play it safe: place your cheque book, bank statements, and other important documents in a secure filing cabinet or lockbox.

If you have vacated the home, go by the home to pick up any mail delivered. Do not allow it to remain in the mailbox or scattered nearby on the porch or floor. If you are going through financial difficulties, all it takes is a glance from an observant buyer to know that you might have no choice but to sell out of desperation. Therefore, you can just about expect that the person will submit a lowball offer.

Drawers: expect buyers to look through your drawers and cabinets. It is perfectly natural for buyers to want to see the interior dimensions of a drawer.

Make sure you put away important and private things that you do not want anyone else to see. Before any scheduled showing of your home, double-check drawers and table counters for any signs of documents like personal correspondence, utility statements, credit card bills, mortgage statements, or collection notices.

Photographs and Awards: Remove all personal items from the wall — family photographs, degrees, citations, and other mementos. These items reveal your profession, income level, and other insights into your life and status. It is common for people to form subjective opinions about the home and its occupants. For example, if you are an attorney, some buyers may subconsciously reject the idea of buying a home from a lawyer.

Remove religious or spiritual objects. Unfortunately, some buyers form opinions about people based on their choice of religion, music, or literature. It is best to remove these items from the sight of potential buyers. Photographs can reveal information that you should simply take out of the home-buying equation.

Closet: Take care that the contents of your closet do not reveal more about you than you would like buyers to know. Play it safe by packing up everything that you do not need, such as out-of-season clothing or and other personal items. This also makes the closet appear larger. Keep only one week’s worth of linen in the linen closet. Fold sheets and towels and place them on the shelf neatly.

Computers: Shut your computer down before prospective buyers and agents arrive at the property. It only takes a moment for a thief or hacker to gain access to your personal information.

Disclosures of Defects

Personal privacy does not extend to your legal obligation to disclose any deficiencies you know about your property to the seller. Vancouver homeowners who decide to sell their properties have a legal obligation to disclose any known material fact they have about the property or material latent defects.

A material latent defect refers to a deficiency that a buyer would not be able to ascertain from a reasonable inspection of the property. It could include any condition that makes the property dangerous or unfit for habitation.

In addition, any deficiency that is contrary to the purpose for which a buyer would acquire the property (knowledge of property defects that would require costly repairs or notices from a Vancouver governmental agency) constitute material latent defects.

Below are some other examples of the items that require disclosure by the seller:

  • A basement that leaks when it rains
  • Structural defect in floors or other building components
  • Known environmental hazards like underground fuel
  • Issues with drinking water
  • Gas lines, electrical work, or other remodelling performed without proper permits

You will have to fill out a Property Disclosure Statement (PDS), which discloses general and structural details about your home. You have sole responsibility for the accuracy of the answers recorded on the PDS.

Chapter 5
Determine the Sale Price

Determine the Sale Price by Michael Coghlan
Determine the Sale Price by Michael Coghlan

Few people would deny that the most important factor a Vancouver homeowner must consider when selling their home is the “asking price.” Pricing your home means striking a balance — to place yourself in a position to not only receive solid offers but also top dollar for your Vancouver home.

If you price your home correctly, depending on the state of the Vancouver real estate market, you can receive multiple competing offers and realize a higher final purchase price. Fair market value consists in the highest price an informed homebuyer would pay for the home.

Do not confuse the fair-market value of your home with the asking price because the terms have different meanings.

Obtain a free competitive market analysis (CMA) offered by many Vancouver real estate agents. The (CMA) provides a fair market estimate of the home’s value. The evaluation provides you with a range of home values. You will learn what similar homes in your neighbourhood sell for considering the current real estate market.

The Comparative Market Analysis Process

The agent starts by pulling comparable listings and sales for your Vancouver neighbourhood.
Usually, these transactions have occurred over the last six months. The list should only contain homes within a radius of ¼ to ½ a mile. The agent must adhere to boundaries such as neighbourhood dividing lines, railroads, freeways, and other markers.

The list must only include homes that have similar construction, age, and square footage (within 10 per cent) to your home. The comparables must also have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

For cases where a shortage of comparables to your property exists, the agent may extend the boundaries to include transactions in adjoining Vancouver areas.

Sold Comparables

The analysis includes a category called “sold comparables” that helps you to compare list prices with final sales prices. You can also gain insights into price reductions during the sale process. You can also compare final sales price to actual sold price.
Appraisers use this information to assist in adjusting prices for lot size variances, amenities upgrades, and other items.

Active Listings

This group of properties reveals what properties you compete with in the neighbourhood. This information should not have a bearing on your price because sellers have different motivations for arriving at their particular price. You might want to tour these homes to ascertain what Vancouver home buyers see when they enter the homes of your competition. Pay particular attention to the curb appeal and areas like kitchens and bathrooms.

By sizing up your competition, you can determine why buyers might prefer a certain property to your home. Armed with more information about your statement of the Vancouver real estate marketplace, decide whether to make improvements or adjust your price.

Expired and Withdrawn Listings

Examining this category may reveal why a home did not sell or identify a pattern of expired listing with a particular listing agent/broker, or other information. You can also determine if the homes remained permanently off the market or re-listed. Employ the information you learn to avoid mistakes.

Pricing Your Home to Sell

Pricing Home to Sell by Venture Vancouver
Pricing Home to Sell by Venture Vancouver

If you price your home correctly, it increases the probability of your home selling within the prevailing “average number of days on the market,” such as 14 days. In a seller’s market, it can work to your benefit to overprice the property since theoretically the marketplace has more active buyers than properties available.

Pricing your home too high ends up being nonproductive. When setting your price, avoid the sort of thinking that leads to overpricing. This includes:

  • Moving to a more expensive property
  • “I paid too much at the original purchase”
  • A need to find extra money for other uses
  • Recouping the cost of personal upgrades
  • “I had better build in some negotiating room”

This aspect of selling your home really requires you to work closely with your listing agent to determine the best price level. Setting a price more than 1 to 3 per cent over the fair market value can compromise your bargaining power.

Overpricing your home compared to similar properties in the neighbourhood listed at fair market value reduces the amount of traffic you will receive. In addition, your home will lose its appeal after the first couple of weeks.

If you price the home too low, depending on the market, you will probably receive numerous offers. This could mean that you receive more than the asking price.

Pricing Strategies

After gathering all the necessary data, evaluate the information with your agent and decide on a pricing strategy.

For example, if the data shows the last three comparable sales were $200,000, you might want to add an additional 10 per cent to your asking price in a seller’s market.

In a buyer’s market, you might price your home at $198,500. This approach could give you an edge in the competition for buyers’ attention. The lower price entices more “bargain hunters” to tour your home and can result in a quick sale.

When the Vancouver Real Estate Market Favours Buyers

In a buyer’s market, it is common to have price reductions because sellers entertain fewer offers. This environment can also increase the market time to sell your home. Buyers have the upper hand, and they understand this.

Expect to receive offers significantly lower than your asking price. Smart buyers will not hesitate to ask sellers to put in new appliance, help with the closing costs, or provide some other “sweetener” to consummate a sale.

Chapter 6
Marketing Your Home to Vancouver Buyers

If your Vancouver real estate agent does not have a plan for marketing your property, the chances are you have the wrong agent. In a buyer’s market, agents intuitively know they must put more resources into marketing their listings. In a seller’s market, many agents tend to cut back on marketing resources.

However, in a seller’s market (which means more active buyers than properties available), a solid marketing program can generate multiple offers. Often, sellers receive a price far exceeding the asking price.

Experienced, high-performing agents continually employ solid marketing tactics as a normal part of conducting business, regardless of the real estate environment.

A solid marketing plan assures a constant flow of home buyers wanting to tour your property.

Below are several proven marketing tactics an agent can use to sell your home:

House in Nice Weather by Pnwra
House in Nice Weather by Pnwra

Photographs: many buyers search for properties online. Buyers like photographs — and lots of them. A listing accompanied by multiple detailed photographs of the property often spells out the difference between enticing buyers to pick up the phone to call their agent to schedule a showing versus their moving on to properties offering less but with better photographs.

Follow the steps listed below to help your photographs stand out from the competition:

  • Complete repairs and improvements before photographing the home
  • Remove vehicles from the front of the home and driveway
  • Do not photograph the house on a cloudy day or with shade obstructing parts of the house
  • Crop streets and sidewalks out of the photograph

If you are selling a condominium or town home that does not have a yard, include pictures of the pool, spa area, fitness room, tennis court, or clubhouse. If your home does have a yard, take pictures of it. Before you start shooting, clear away toys, remove evidence of pets, mow the lawn, and trim the bushes. Take long shots of the yard area.

Photograph every room in the home — even if you believe the space will not show well. You might always shoot a usable image. Turn on the lights and open drapery, blinds, and other window treatments to allow sunshine to flood the space.

When photographing a bathroom, put way the trash can, close toilet lids, and arrange the towels. Brighten up the kitchen and dining room area photographs by strategically placing floral arrangements in the room.

Each photograph should have a primary focal point — an interesting feature or unique detail that embellishes the room. This could include a hardwood floor, a stunning chandelier, or a decorative fireplace mantel.

Real Estate Signs: Think of real estate sign as free advertising. Check your homeowners’ association or strata council rules regarding the placement of signs. Many home buyers call the number to schedule an immediate showing of your home — a good indication that your home has a strong “appeal” to the potential buyer.

Virtual Tours: One of the most attractive tools for selling your home is a virtual tour.
A high-quality virtual tour leads buyers by the hand through every space in the home, providing them with a 360° view. It could also include features such as music or scripts along with the tour. Some virtual tour setups allow buyers to download or print individual photos.

Open Houses: Determine the suitability of your home to an open house. Usually, signs placed throughout your Vancouver neighbourhood direct buyers to your home. Your agent might also send out invitation to a network of other Vancouver real estate agents or advertise in local newspapers or online. Invite your neighbours to the open house.

Print Advertising: Many home buyers still search Vancouver’s local and neighbourhood newspapers when searching for a home — especially Sunday editions. Numerous real estate-related publications and newsletters also feature residential real estate listings in the Vancouver area.

Direct Mail: This marketing technique employs inexpensive, oversize, four-color postcards to capture the attention of prospective buyers. A campaign can focus on mailing flyers to your neighbours. You will be surprised how many people have relatives who want to move nearby. Another technique markets to agents in other locations to attract buyers looking to relocate to the Vancouver area.

Selling Your Home in Prevailing Market Conditions

In a hot seller’s market, finding prospective buyers does not present as much of a challenge. However, once the market leans in favour of buyers, quality marketing is worth its weight in gold. Your method of marketing — whether an open house, photographs, or virtual tours — must consistently display the qualities that make the home attractive to potential buyers.

Once the market cools down and listing inventories start to trend up, you might want to offer incentives to entice buyers into making a purchase offer, such as crediting a specific dollar amount to the buyer’s closing, paying condo association fees for six months, or providing a buyer protection warranty for the first year.

In addition, remove any undue restrictions that make it difficult for your agent to show the home, such as the absence of a lockbox on a vacant property, restrictions on the showing hours, or insistence on a 48-hour notice.

Chapter 7
Offer, Counter-offer, and Negotiation

Contract by Gunnar Wrobel
Contract by Gunnar Wrobel

An offer consists of the buyer’s terms and conditions for purchasing your home. You will receive written offers presented on a standard document called the “Contract of Purchase
and Sale.” A Contract of Purchase and Sale contains a variety of provisions that you should make sure you understand.

The typical contract includes the following clauses:

  • Purchase Price: the amount the buyer offers to pay for the property, which can differ from the seller’s asking price
  • Terms: refer to the offer price and financing
  • Deposit: usually a percentage of the offer price made by the buyer to signify the seriousness of the offer to buy the property. This deposit goes toward the purchase price once the sale closes
    Inclusions and exclusions: denote objects that are made a part of the purchase price of the property
  • Conditions: this concerns certain things or events that must take place before the deal can close
  • Closing Date: this is the date the seller transfers the property to the buyer.

Brace yourself for the possibility of receiving offers nowhere close to your asking price and terms. Buyers might offer your asking price but make the transaction subject to certain conditions.

The rules require your agent to present all offers to you. Consult with your agent and decide whether to accept, reject, or counter-offer. If you do not understand a particular clause or its consequences, have your agent or attorney clarify it for you.

Evaluating an Offer

In a seller’s market, depending on the desirability of your property, you have buyers lining up to outbid one another for your home, which has been the case in some areas of Vancouver.
When you review an offer, measure the offer against your objectives and decide what is acceptable to you.

Some factors you may want to consider include:

  • How close is the offer to your asking price?
  • Does the offer exceed your asking price?
  • Does the offer contain conditions that makes it less attractive?
  • Should you make a counteroffer?
  • Does your timeframe allow you to wait for offers that are more acceptable?

If you have yet to receive the type of offer you want, and your property has been on the market past your anticipated duration, you might want to consider accepting an offer in lieu of being stuck with paying mortgages taxes and insurance for the next month or two.

Evaluate each offer based on the price and conditions. Determine if the condition costs you more money, works against your stated objectives, or compromises your interest in any way.
Some sellers receive multiple offers from potential homebuyers. The highest offer does not equate to the best offer.

For example, one potential buyer offers you the full asking price but makes the deal subject to selling their current home. Another prospect presents a “clean offer,” but two or three thousand dollars less than your asking price. Of the two offers, the latter offer would likely make the best choice for the seller.

Be diligent for red flags in the offers presented by buyers, including offers containing terms like no cash down payment, you returning cash to the buyer, or requiring your equity to consummate a deal or refuse to include terms in writing.

This is not to say that you should not consider an offer because it contains ”creative financing” elements. Make sure you understand the potential pitfalls and financial consequences of the employing the techniques. Discuss the terms with your agent and attorney before agreeing to such conditions.

How Counter-offers Work

When you make you home available for sale, you are actually making an offer to prospective buyers. You put for an asking price and other terms, such as pre-approved buyers only or possession 30-days after the closing date of the transaction.

A prospective buyer has three options:

  • “I am not interested in the offer.”
  • “Yes, I will purchase the home at the seller’s asking price and terms.”
  • “I am interested in the property, but I do not accept the terms, and here is my counter-offer.”

The counter-offer is simply a new offer. You have the same options of response as listed above.

How to Handle Multiple Offers

Each buyer’s agent will present the buyer’s offer to you. Listen to the buyer’s agent discussion of the offer and compare what is in the Contract of Purchase and Sale. Discuss each offer with your agent or attorney. Pay particular attention to the time you have to respond to each offer.

Decide which offer to accept, or make a counter-offer. You can only counter one offer. You may advise the competing buyers of receiving multiple offers, and give them a chance to make their “best final offer” for purchasing your Vancouver home.

About Negotiations

Having someone who can negotiate with prospective buyers on your behalf underlies one of the key advantages to selecting an agent who has familiarity with your neighbourhood and the general Vancouver real estate market. Your agent has practical experience in the world of offers and counter-offers and can identify clauses and conditions that work against you or for your benefit.

Resist viewing the negotiating process as having to produce a “winner” and “loser.” It represents a natural process of conducting real estate business, where each party treats the other person with respect.

At this point, you have determined your goals and baseline requirements for selling your Vancouver home. You do not have a legal responsibility to accept an offer or make a counter-offer. You can completely ignore any offer. However, if a buyer makes an offer that meets your asking price and other terms, as outlined in the Listing Contract, you might have a legal responsibility to pay the real estate commission.

After you accept an offer, start the process of packing your remaining stuff, contacting movers for price quotes, and preparing to move.

Chapter 8
Your Attorney’s Role, Closing Costs, and Moving

Macro Canadian Quarter by Eli Christman
Macro Canadian Quarter by Eli Christman

Selling your Vancouver home could well be one of the costliest transactions you will ever make. Have a good real estate attorney look after your interests. You also need to familiarize yourself with the various closing costs you have the responsibility to pay once you sell your home. The closer subtracts these costs from your proceeds at the closing. Your agent or attorney can answer any questions you have about the costs.

For sellers who still occupy the home, there remains the process of moving out of the home once the deal closes and you turn over possession to a new buyer.

Your Attorney’s Role

If you do not already have an attorney, you might want to hire one to protect your interest as you close the transaction. Usually, the buyer’s attorney or notary will prepare closing documents to transfer the ownership to the buyer. It makes good business sense to have an attorney to protect your interests.

A good real estate attorney handles the following tasks:

  • Examine documents prepared by the buyer’s attorney and explain various provisions within those documents
  • Check to ensure your old mortgage has been discharged, if applicable
  • Relieve you of any obligation on the old mortgage if the buyer assumes responsibility for the debt
  • Insurers and confirm that you received all payments due
  • Update your signature on the transfer documents
  • Prepare an itemized statement of disbursements and ensure you receive a cheque for the balance

Closing Costs

The transference of ownership of property requires financial adjustments between the buyer and seller. Rather than you paying these costs and expenses up front, the closer deducts them from the purchase price of the home.

These adjustments include:

  • Prepayment penalty financial institutions charge for early discharge of an existing mortgage.
  • The commission you agreed to pay your real estate agent
  • Goods and service tax or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) of 12 per cent of your legal fees and real estate commission
  • Your portion of property taxes due for the current year if you have not already paid, as well as a late payment penalty for unpaid taxes
  • GST applies to new homes, land, or properties that have undergone substantial renovation
  • Unpaid Strata Corporation monthly maintenance fees, special levies, proposed assessment, or outstanding amounts under Form B

Keep in mind that information regarding the closing cost for Vancouver home sellers is approximate and can change at any time. Check with your agent, attorney, or provincial agency for current information.

Moving

Moving by Katie Tegtmeyer
Moving by Katie Tegtmeyer

You actually started the plan for your move once you made the decision to sell your home. Many of the tasks associated with preparing to sell your house helped to move you to this point. If you are leaving a Vancouver condominium, you might need to contact the management association to arrange certain aspects of your move.

The cost of your move depends on how many personal items you have, whether you are doing it yourself or hiring professional movers, and whether you will remain in the Vancouver area or relocate out-of-town.

Find out if your real estate agent, family, or friends can recommend moving companies. Obtain all estimates in writing. Make sure you understand the various insurance coverage options for your belongings. Select a licensed and bonded mover.

Even if you decide to hire movers, save yourself money by packing your own items. Gather or purchase the items you need to complete your packing, such as an assortment of boxes, markers, razor, scissors, tape, and styrofoam peanuts.

Begin packing one room at a time.

Submit a Canada Post and inform your insurance company and creditors before you leave your present home. Arrange to have the telephone, cable, and other utilities disconnected at the old home and started at your new home. Discontinue newspaper service or other deliveries
Make your move and smooth as possible by working with a checklist.

If you have a pet, plan your move carefully because animals possess a high sensitivity to new environments. Check online for information, or speak to your veterinarian about things you can do to help your pet transition to a new home with minimal anxiety.

Turning Over Possession of the Home

Once you sign the ownership transfer documents, have packed any remaining of your belongings, and received your cheque, you will need to turn possession of the property over to the new owners. Give your agent the keys to the home to transfer to the buyer.

The possession date might coincide with the actual closing date, or any such date as agreed to in the Contract of Purchase and Sale, such as 30 days after closing. You will need to pay the buyer for any time you remain in the home after the closing date.

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