Tips for selling your home in a buyers' market

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Any home will sell if the price is low enough but that's of little comfort to people trying to sell their homes during a buyers' market.  

In this market, sellers need to be realistic about the price they set. Forget about last year's property tax assessment or what homes in their neighbourhood sold for during the last two years, as those valuations are long gone.  

Instead, to prevent overpricing your home in a slumping market, base your list price on active comparable sales not recently sold homes.

I like to underprice my property to make it stand out. Next, I give my home, inside and out, a thorough clean. An unkempt house and/or landscaping gives the impression that you haven't been maintaining the house properly and that there could be other issues.  

Forget about last year's property tax assessment or what homes in their neighbour sold for during the last two years as those valuations are long gone, advises Mark Ting. (Christer Waara/CBC)

If need be, hire a professional to do a deep clean. This means cleaning such things as the inside and outside of all your appliances, restoring your grout, and getting rid of any unpleasant smells.

Painting and doing some minor renovations are a must. In a hot market, buyers are willing to look past imperfections like chipped tiles or a broken bannister but not in a slow market.   

Don't give the buyers any excuses to grind down your selling price. Clean, paint and fix what you can — as my handyman friend is fond of saying "do your best and caulk the rest." A fresh layer of caulk around your moldings in the kitchen or bathroom does wonders.

Consider hiring a home stager or borrowing some furniture, paintings and the like, to make your home more appealing to potential buyers. (Dale Wilcox/DWP)

Presenting in best light

At this time, I wouldn't recommend doing a major renovation. We are nearing the end of spring so you should be listing your home as soon as possible before we hit the slow summer months. Instead, work with what you have but present it in its best light by using a professional photographer.  

You may also want to consider hiring a home stager or borrowing some furniture, paintings and the like, to make your home more appealing to potential buyers.

If, after a couple of months, your property is receiving little or no interest from buyers then it might be time for a change. Consider pulling your listing and re-listing with another Realtor.

If you did your part by setting a realistic price, making yourself available for showings, and taking the time to clean/paint/stage your home, then the problem is likely due to the valuation/appraisal or marketing — which is the Realtor's responsibility.  

I've only replaced my Realtor once in my life and it wasn't easy. He was a great guy who spent a fair amount of time and money to market my home but for whatever reason it didn't work.   

When you are trying to sell your home, which for most people is their largest financial asset, it's okay to put your needs before those of your Realtor's.

My top takeaways for sellers

  • Many of my recommendations seem like common sense, but so many sellers fail to adhere to them. All the cleaning, painting and repairing pays major dividends in the long run. Do not underestimate the importance of first impressions.

  • When choosing a Realtor be selective. Don't make the mistake of choosing the realtor who says they can get the most money for your home. Have them justify their appraisal and grill them on their marketing strategy. They also need strong negotiation skills.

  • Be accessible for short-notice viewings — particularly in the first two weeks after listing.

  • Consider every offer. Even if you believe an offer is too low it doesn't mean you have to accept it. But I would still try to negotiate.