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4 Questions to Ask Your Listing Agent
It’s a seller’s market in Delta and all the Lower Mainland and real estate listings are a hot commodity for agents right now.
As the property owner, it’s up to you to decide which real estate agent you want to hire to represent you in the sale of your home.
Choosing between several qualified, eager representatives isn’t necessarily a straightforward task. How do you differentiate between agents and select the one that’s the best fit for you?
By asking a lot of questions.
Start by creating a short list of prospective agents using referrals from friends and from your own personal research of agents specializing in your market. Next, make an appointment to go over the following all-important questions with each potential agent. (Hint: if the agent refuses to answer them, it’s a good sign that he or she is probably not the agent for you.)
“What is my house worth?”
The prospective real estate agent will most likely prepare a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) for you, indicating the market value of your property. The CMA – and more importantly, the discussion that accompanies it – will provide you with valuable clues in guiding your decision.
Don’t just go with the agent who throws out the highest number, because there’s no guarantee that the agent will be able to achieve that sales price. Rather, listen to each agent’s reasoning. Consider which agent was best able to identify your property’s strengths and weaknesses, and who demonstrated the most thorough knowledge of current market conditions.
“How will you market my property?”
In a hot seller’s market, properties may sell with minimal marketing effort. But you don’t just want your property to sell – you want it to sell at the highest possible price, and to achieve this, your agent is going to have to have a marketing plan.
Inquire about each agent’s marketing strategy, noting services that will enhance your property’s appeal (professional photos, staging, etc.). Learning about the agent’s marketing efforts will also help you understand the services that come with the fee you are paying.
“What would your pricing strategy be?”
For most sellers, the goal is to get top dollar for your property in a reasonable time frame. Ask each agent how he or she plans on helping you achieve this goal. You may be surprised at the variety of answers that you get: some may suggest pricing below market value, while others will plan to list above; some will have creative ideas about when to begin accepting offers, etc.
The answer to this question will give you a sense of the agent’s ability to think outside the box and to use market forces to help you maximize your sales price.
“What are my duties and responsibilities?”
The right real estate agent doesn’t just care about selling your property – he or she cares about you, too. Building a trusting relationship with your real estate agent is the key to a positive and successful experience.
The answer to this question will demonstrate how your agent intends to work with you to sell your property. The best real estate agent will see you as a partner in this transaction, and this question can provide important clues regarding expectations, communication, and cooperation.
Now that you know what questions to ask, I’d love to share my answers with you. If you live or own in the Delta, Surrey, South Surrey/White Rock areas and are looking to sell your property, let’s chat – contact me here!
Beware the Door Knocker!
You’re at home and you hear a knock on the door. When you answer it, an unfamiliar face is standing on the other side. The stranger introduces himself or herself as a Realtor® specializing in the local market, and he or she wants to know if you’ve contemplated selling your home.
The “door knocker” can come in many other forms: you might get a phone call, an email, or a letter in the mail. Regardless of how he or she contacts you, the goal is the same: he or she wants to list your home for sale.
In a seller’s market like we’re currently experiencing, competition for listings is fierce. Inventory is low, multiple bidding scenarios are commonplace, and listings are where all the action is.
You can’t blame a Realtor® for trying to secure your home as a listing – after all, that’s a real estate agent’s job! The person at your door could very well be a qualified, experienced agent who may be your key to a successful property sale. On the other hand, the agent at your door might also be inexperienced, have a weak understanding of the market, or be working on behalf of a buyer who takes first priority.
How can a homeowner weed out the good from the bad? Here’s what you can do to separate the good opportunities from the bad ones.
As a prospective seller, you are allowed to shop around before deciding on a Realtor® to represent you in the sale of your property. Don’t just go with the first agent that approaches you. Instead, do your homework and take the time to talk with a few different Realtors®. Get their opinion on the real estate market and on the value of your home, and take the time to discuss how they will help you get top dollar for your property. Once you’ve listened to a few different perspectives, you will have a good idea of who is best suited to help you sell your home.
Traditionally, many real estate agents base the value of a property (and thus the listing price and acceptable sale price) on comparable sales of similar properties nearby. While this works in a steady market, it’s not quite as effective in a market where prices are on the rise – which is exactly what we’re experiencing right now.
Although historical sales do form part of the picture, determining a listing and sale price requires a deep understanding of the current state of the market, future trends, and the unique attributes of a property. The best Realtor® will consider all of these factors, helping you get the most out of your property sale.
Question the Double Ender
When a real estate agent is “double ending”, it means that he or she is representing both the buyer AND the seller in a property sale transaction. This practice is legal and not uncommon, but the client should be aware of potential conflicts of interest that may occur.
For example, let’s say that you have listed your property with Agent A. Six offers are on the table – one of which is presented by Agent A on behalf of one of his or her other clients. Can Agent A really be impartial in advising you on which offer to accept?
Real estate agents can and do “double end” ethically – but not always. If you have any concerns, take the time to voice them. A professional, responsible Realtor® will be happy to discuss the matter with you openly and honestly.
6 Tips for Going on a Property Tour
Selecting your dream home can be an exciting process, but it can also be a little overwhelming. Visiting house after house can be tiring, and after awhile, all the houses may start to blend together, making it difficult to make a decision.
That’s why it’s a good idea to get organized. By preparing yourself ahead of time, you will get much more out of the property tour, meaning you’ll be better equipped to make those big decisions involved in buying a home. Here’s how to make the most of a property tour.
Have a Budget
For most people, the budget is the single largest constraint in making a home purchasing decision. Knowing what you can and can’t afford will narrow down the properties that are accessible to you, and it will save you from wasting time looking at properties that are not a realistic option. It’s a good idea to sit down with a mortgage broker or lender to set your budget before viewing properties.
Know What You Want…
You probably have a few ideas about what you want in a home – and what you don’t. Take some time to sit down and outline your “needs” (e.g., enough bedrooms to accommodate your kids, a particular location, etc.) and your “wants” (e.g. a two-car garage, a fireplace, etc.) This will help you know what to look for on your property tour, and will help you prioritize the factors that are important to you.
… But Keep an Open Mind
The truth is, it’s not always easy to find a property that ticks all the boxes and that fits your price point. Knowing what is important to you matters, but you should also be willing to be flexible. Your dream house may exist – it just may be in another neighbourhood than you were considering. Or maybe your wants and needs can be met within your goal budget, but in a town home, not a single family home.
On a property tour, you’re probably going to see a variety of properties – some perfectly tidy, others a bit of a mess; some staged, others clearly not. Some items may be distracting – a couch that is definitely not your style, family photos adorning the walls, dog toys on the floor – but remember what it is you’re buying. It’s not the couch, the photos, or the dog and its accessories; it’s the home itself. Focus on what really matters, like layout, finishes, construction, room sizes, etc.
If you’re having trouble focusing, grab a snack, a water bottle, or head outside for a fresh air break. You’ll come back feeling energized and refreshed.
Don’t be afraid to jot down some notes and comments on the property MLS sheets, in your personal planner, in your phone, etc. These notes may jog your memory later that evening when you’re having trouble differentiating between the properties.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the properties that you’re seeing. We may not know all the answers, but we can always follow up to get them for you. When you’re confident and well informed, you’re better equipped to make decisions, so ask away!
7 Tips For Moving Day
Whether you’re buying or selling a home, there’s going to be some moving involved – and let’s be honest, there are probably a million things you’d rather be doing. We’re here to help you with some tips that will help making your move as efficient and painless as possible.
The Right Box Makes the Difference
Forgot about using flimsy cardboard boxes to move your stuff – they’ll cause you more grief than they’re worth. We provide our buyers and sellers with 50 Frogbox boxes to help with packing needs. These sturdy plastic containers are both convenient and eco-friendly. The process is straightforward: your boxes will be delivered to you at your old place prior to the move, and they’ll be picked up later from your new home after you’ve unpacked.
Set Up a Tool Box
Start by organizing important items that will help you with your packing. Designate an area for your moving supplies and stock it with scissors, tape, markers, Ziploc bags, and tools that you might need to take apart and re-assemble furniture.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
The earlier you start, the saner you’ll remain throughout your move. Depending on your timeline, space out your packing as much as possible. Try to tackle one room per week – or if you’re on a tighter schedule, aim for one room per day.
Keep, Donate, Trash
As you pack up your possessions, you’re probably going to come across some items that you don’t need anymore – in fact, you’ll probably find a few things that you didn’t even know you had! This is a great opportunity to get rid of some clutter before your move. Sort your items into three general piles: items you will take with you to your next home (keep); items that can be donated to a local non-profit (donate); and items that you will take to the dump (trash).
Snap a Photo
As you’re unplugging your media systems or breaking down furniture, keep your cell phone or a camera nearby. Snap a photo of what the finished product is supposed to look like, along with a few shots of any complicated steps involved in the dismantling process. This will save you a few headaches when it comes time to re-assembling your items.
Get Some Help
Tackling a move solo is not for the faint of heart. When you’re buying or selling a home, you have a lot to deal with – from paperwork to painting to picking up new furniture – so consider calling in the pros to help you with the heavy lifting. It’s money well spent for the peace of mind you’ll get.
Don’t Delay the Unpacking
We know – after you’ve spent hours/days/weeks packing up your old house, the last thing you want to do is deal with that daunting stack of boxes. Avoid procrastinating – the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be done, and the sooner your new place will feel like home. Slow and steady might be the right approach to packing, but when it comes to unpacking, your best bet is to get it over with as quickly as possible!
This Is Why Staging Works
Staging works. Period.
Our listing packages offer free home staging with one of our professional stagers because we firmly believe that a professionally staged home will sell faster and at a higher listing price.
It turns out that we’re not the only ones who think this. The National Association of REALTORS®’s 2015 Profile of Home Staging reveals some key statistics that prove that staging works.
Staging Affects How a Buyer Views Your Home
A whopping 96% of REALTORS® working closely with buyers agree that home staging affects some (47%) or most (49%) buyers’ views of a home. In other words, staging matters. Only 4% believed that staging does not have an effect on how a buyer views a home.
Staging Eases Visualization
The idea of staging is to de-clutter, de-personalize, and to bring the home up to a modern standard that is appealing to most people. This neutralization serves an important role: it helps buyers picture your home as their home. 81% of REALTORs® representing buyers agree that a staged home makes it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as their future home.
Staging Can Boost the Selling Price
More than half (52%) of REALTORs® representing the buyer’s side think that staging a home will increase the dollar value of the sales price. The bottom line is that a staged home sells for more – and with the A-Team, staging services are included in our listing package, so you don’t need to pay a single cent more to receive this benefit.
So What’s Involved in Staging?
In short, staging takes your home from good to great. Our professional home stagers not only have a keen eye for design, but they offer a neutral and impartial opinion on how to make your house attractive to potential buyers.
Their suggestions aren’t a critique of your personal style – they’re simply tips on how to turn your home into a blank canvas for a potential purchaser.
Think of it this way: in a non-staged home, a buyer might walk in and feel as though they’re trespassing on someone else’s private life – after all, they’re walking through a stranger’s home.
The idea with staging is to have a buyer walk into your home and think, “Wow – I can totally see our favourite painting hanging on top of the fireplace here, and I would add our green pillows to the couch to make it perfect. The dog’s bed would go in that corner, and we could put all of our books in these bookshelves.”
Now in which scenario do you think a typical buyer is more likely to make a move? Sure, there’s a bit of work required on your end. For one, you’re probably going to have to do a bit of packing and cleaning – just consider this a head start on the move you’ll eventually need to make anyways.
Questions on staging? Want to learn about the other perks of our listing package? Contact us today and we’ll help you get started!
Photos provided by one of our talented professional stagers, Lena Pereira, with Westside Staging Solutions.
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