5 Ways to Sell a Home Faster, For More Money

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Daily Real Estate News |      Wednesday, April 25, 2012

24/7 Wall St. recently asked real estate experts and several real estate organizations to weigh in on how sellers can get their house sold at the best price and in the shortest amount of time.

Here’s what they had to say as some of the best ways to get the “sold” sign out this spring:

  1. Pay attention to “curb appeal”: First impressions are critical, and homes with inviting landscapes and exteriors tend to sell better, agents say. Pay attention that the driveway is in good condition, lawn well-kept, and the house looks freshly painted.
  2. Set the right price: Real estate professionals know how to set the price and prepare a home for sale. Agents use comparable sales of homes sold in the last 60 days to help set the most realistic price for the sales price of a home. By setting a realistic price from the beginning, sellers should be reminded that this will prevent having to drop the price of the home several times before getting it sold and having it linger on the market. If no recent comps are available, some experts recommended sellers get an appraisal, which will also offer a realistic price that the bank may be willing to take when a buyer tries to qualify for financing the home.
  3. Talk about energy efficiency: Many buyers don’t fully understand “green” homes but they understand savings. Sellers should point out any features in their homes — such as energy-efficient windows or appliances — that could save buyers money with utility costs.
  4. Give the home Web appeal: Good photographs make a home stand-out online and help lure more potential buyers to the front door. Realtor.com says that more than 6,300 photos are viewed per minute on listings posted at its site.
  5. Make it move-in ready: Fix any needed repairs, such as water stains, creaky doors, and windows that don’t shut. Flaws in the home — even if relatively minor — can distract buyers, and should be fixed before the home is even listed. Some agents recommend that sellers get a home inspection prior to putting the home up for sale, which can help sellers be proactive in identifying any potential problems that could potentially derail a sale later on. Once a problem is uncovered, sellers are obligated to disclose it or fix it.
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Canadians worried about mortgage rate hikes

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As concerns over the state of the Canadian real estate market abound, a new survey says nearly half of Canadians are unsure about their ability to afford their homes if rates rise by as little as two percentage points.

The survey commissioned by the Bank of Montreal study finds 43 per cent believe an interest hike would either hamper their ability to pay or leave them on unsure footing.

Regionally, residents of Alberta were the least concerned, with 73 per cent saying that rising rates would not affect their ability to afford their homes, while residents of British Columbia were the most concerned. Just 48 per cent B.C. residents are comfortable in their ability to handle higher rates.

The survey results come as banks and economists warn about the rising debt levels of Canadian households.

It also comes as some of Canada’s biggest banks have started raising variable mortgage rates, even though the Bank of Canada’s overnight interest rate remains unchanged.

Earlier this week, both RBC and TD raised the posted rates on five-year mortgages.

That could signal the end of the era of cheap borrowing that has encouraged many Canadians to take on houses they may not have been able to otherwise afford.

BMO anticipates that the Bank of Canada will begin increasing interest rates from the current one per cent next year.

Fixed or variable?

Many in the mortgage industry have recently advised homeowners to take on the previously less-popular variable mortgage rates as interest rates had remained low since the end of the recession, when the Bank of Canada pushed its overnight rate down to an emergency low 0.25 per cent.

But looking ahead, some industry watchers say now is the time to consider switching to lock in longer term rates with shortened amortization periods.

“Our interest rate outlook now projects that fixed mortgage rates will trump variable. While the decision ultimately depends on the individual, the low rate combined with a shorter 25-year amortization will significantly strengthen household financial stability,” said Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

In a report issued last week, Porter and colleague Benjamin Reitzes argued that with the U.S. recovery gathering steam, central bankers on both sides of the border are becoming more comfortable with the economy and less so with historically depressed interest rates.

Already, financial markets have priced in a near 50 per cent chance that Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney will start hiking his one per cent policy setting before the year’s end, they noted.

Both Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Carney have recently flagged the danger to the economy of Canadians becoming increasingly indebted, mostly through taking advantage of low rates to buy homes or take out home equity loans. Household debt to disposable annual income is above 150 per cent and likely to rise further toward the 160 per cent level that preceded the housing collapse in the U.S., say analysts.

With files from The Canadian Press

Should you get a cottage-country real estate agent?

ARTICLE FROM COTTAGE LIFE

Should you get a cottage-country real estate agent?

By         Kim Pittaway

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Photo by Ted Anderson

 

The Question

Any licensed agent can sell cottage-country property—does it matter where the agent is from?

The Answer

While it’s technically true that any agent can sell cottage-country property, it may be smarter to go with an agent who knows the region.

Consider this true tale shared by one realtor: A Toronto buyer opts to use his Toronto agent as he searches for a family cottage. They find the perfect property: a relatively new cottage on a bay. They look at it in November. The bay is skimmed over with ice and a dusting of snow. The cottage is stunning. The Sold sign goes up. The buyer makes plans for a dock, perfect for his boat and for his teenaged kids to dive into the water from. Which all comes to naught when spring arrives—and he discovers that his beautiful bay is only half a metre deep.

Look for an agent who is a member of the local real estate board and is knowledgeable about the local lakes, advises John Sallinen or Re/Max Parry Sound-Muskoka Realty. “That kind of agent will know, okay, you and your family of teens love pwcs, but on this lake, they’re all canoe people, and if you buy there, you’re going to be the black sheep of the lake, so that might not be the lake you want to be on,” he says. He suggests using a local lawyer as well. “We have a local cottage development that went in in the 1960s, and the developer did not transfer all of the rights of way correctly,” he says. Local lawyers know that when properties in that development change hands, they need to ensure that the seller has clear access and title—and if not, to ensure that the seller, rather than the buyer, pays to clear it up. “I’m not saying an outside lawyer wouldn’t notice it,” says Sallinen, “but a local lawyer would be unlikely to miss it.”

Chris Winney of Royal LePage Pro Alliance Realty in Land O’ Lakes suggests localizing yourself, as well—by picking up the local news-paper regularly as you’re cottage-hunting so that you’re in the know about regional issues and concerns. “And talk to the neighbours. A neighbour is going to give you the honest truth about what the water’s like, what the lake’s like, what the community is like.”

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519-296-0135 FAX

BMO: No housing crash in the cards for Canada

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How about a little good news to start the week out right?

A special report published today by two Bank of Montreal economists stated that while the Canadian housing market will cool, it will not crash as some have predicted.

In their report, Dr. Sherry Cooper and Sal Guatieri acknowledged that Canadians were frequently confronted with predictions of an imminent collapse of the country’s overvalued housing market. However, the two senior economists argue that “the housing market will more likely cool than correct, even in condo driven Toronto.”

The pair likened the Canadian housing market to a balloon instead of a bubble. A bubble simply pops whereas a balloon’s air seeps out slowly in the absence of a pin.

Cooper and Guatieri noted that “With the exception of a few regions, valuations remain only moderately high across the country, especially when low interest rates, demographics, construction costs, land-use regulations and foreign capital inflows are considered.”

Phew! That’s a relief isn’t it? Especially when international observers from The Economist magazine to the International Monetary Fund have taken the time to issue warnings that our housing market is overvalued and destined for a significant correction.

We like to think that nobody knows the Canadian housing market better than Canadian economists, so we read the BMO report with great interest. Here’s a few more highlights from the document:

  • Canadians are not close to an American-esque debt wall that precipitated the sub-prime crash in 2007, Canadians have nowhere near the debt burden that Americans did
  • Canadian household debt levels relative to income are not as worrying as some have suggested
  • A cool down is likely and Canadians should expect starts, prices and sales to slow this year
  • Except for a few remaining hot spots, the Canada-wide housing boom has cooled
  • In Toronto, a lack of single-use rental apartment construction has shifted the rental market into condominiums
  • Few signs of overbuilding across the country, housing starts are hovering moderately above household formation rates
  • National prices have steadied since mortgage rules were tightened in March

Canadian home sales edge higher in December

Canadian home sales edge higher in December Published January 16, 2012 UncategorizedLeave a Comment

OTTAWA – January 16, 2012 – According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national resale housing activity posted an increase from November to December 2011.

Highlights:

  • Sales activity rose 1.8 per cent from November to December.
  • Annual activity totalled 456,749 sales in 2011, up 2.2 per cent from 2010.
  • The number of newly listed homes increased 3 per cent from November to December.
  • A simultaneous increase in sales and new listings kept the national resale housing in balanced territory.
  • The national average home price was up just 0.9 per cent on a year-over-year basis in December, marking the smallest increase since October 2010.

Sales activity recorded through the MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose 1.8 per cent from November to December 2011, marking the fourth consecutive monthly increase.

Activity rose in more than half of all local markets, including some of Canada’s most active, with monthly declines posted in most of the remaining markets.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) national sales activity came in 4.6 per cent above year-ago levels in December. It also stood above the five- and ten-year average for December sales.

A total of 456,749 homes traded hands via Canadian MLS® Systems in 2011. This stands broadly in line with the average over the past ten years, and represents an increase of 2.2 per cent from annual levels reported in 2010.

“The momentum in sales activity provides clear evidence that low interest rates continue to draw homebuyers to the housing market,” said Gary Morse, CREA President. “While buyers have become increasingly cautious, the hand off for sales activity going into the New Year suggests that Canada’s housing market will continue to benefit from low interest rates in 2012, and continue making a significant contribution to Canadian economic activity. Even so, prospects among housing markets and neighbourhoods differ, so buyers and sellers should talk to a local REALTOR® to understand how trends are shaping up where they live.”

The number of newly listed homes rose three per cent on a month-over-month basis, reversing an equivalent monthly decline in November. New listings rose in almost 70 per cent of local markets, including some of Canada’s most active.

With sales and new listings having climbed in tandem, the national housing market remained in balanced territory in December. The national sales-to-new listings ratio, a measure of market balance, stood at 54.8 per cent in December, down slightly from 55.5 per cent in November.

Based on a sales-to-new listings ratio of between 40 to 60 percent, just over half of local markets in Canada were balanced in December. This result is little changed from November.

The number of months of inventory represents the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity, and is a further measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. Nationally, it stood at 5.8 months at the end of December, down from 5.9 months at the end of November. While it has held fairly steady near six months since April 2011 onward, it peaked in August, with December marking the fourth monthly decline and a return to where it stood at the end of the first quarter.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in December 2011 was $347,801. This stood just 0.9 per cent above the average selling price in December 2010, marking smallest increase since October 2010.

“Momentum for national sales activity and average price remains positive but is slowing, which suggests that the continuation of low interest rates is not causing the Canadian housing market to overheat,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “High end home sales seem unlikely to spike again in the first quarter like they did at the beginning of 2011, so national average price momentum may wane further over the next few months. With interest rates widely expected to remain low throughout 2012, homeownership will remain affordable, and continue to support home sales activity.”

PLEASE NOTE: The information contained in this news release combines both major market and national MLS® sales information from the previous month.

CREA cautions that average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in centres comprised of widely divergent neighbourhoods or account for price differential between geographic areas.

Statistical information contained in this report includes all housing types.

MLS® is a co-operative marketing system used only by Canada’s real estate Boards to ensure maximum exposure of properties listed for sale.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is one of Canada’s largest single-industry trade associations, representing more than 100,000 REALTORS® working through more than 100 real estate Boards and Associations.

Further information can be found at http://www.crea.ca/public/news_stats/media.htm.

When Is The Best Time of Year to Sell a House?

Posted on Property Wire

Monday, 12 December 2011 09:31
Heather Wright

 

Is there such a thing as a best time of year to sell a house? Certainly, seasonal factors come into play when trying to sell a home, but there are other things to consider as well, like the tug and pull of supply and demand, as well as unique local market conditions.

No matter when a home goes on the market, one should take a few things under consideration that will likely affect not just the ability to sell a property, but more importantly the ability to get your asking price. Timing, it seems, is everything.

 

The Economy

While the economy does not follow the predictable ebb and flow of the seasonal changes in real estate and in buyer attention, the economy, it’s state and it’s prospects boil down to property values, and consumer confidence. When the economy is under fire, people are nervous about their jobs. There is generally a reluctance to spend, accumulate debt or make major purchases.

The market will tell you what a home is worth. The problem is, during an economic downturn, the market may value your home lower than you had hoped, or than from when you started.

That may succeed in removing a number of buyers from your pool. For those that must buy a property though, the economy will play less of a factor in the decision to purchase, but it may give them power at the bargaining table, and it may be more difficult to get the desired price. Interest rates figure into this as well. The lower they are, the more your pool of buyers may increase as well, as the cost to borrow comes down and people, in theory can borrow more.

Springtime

In a country like Canada, where there are four distinct seasons, seasonal influences play a large part in creating good selling conditions.

Wintertime brings with it a series of challenges, among them the weather, holiday distractions and lack of interest from buyers.

When the snow thaws though, and greenery re-emerges from the ground, buyers tend to re-emerge as well. The spring tends to be the peak of the market, simply because the timing suits people in general. The weather is more favourable, properties generally can be better displayed, and moves and property closings can more reasonably be managed through the summer months, so for those with families relocating is less disruptive.

According to data, home sales begin in February, with closings peaking through late May, June, July and August- and this has been a consistent trend since the early 2000’s. For sellers then, they will likely have the opportunity to engage more traffic and interest in their homes.

Patience is a Virtue

While the springtime may typically be a more optimal time to sell, there will typically be more competition on the market.  Sometimes, if a seller is flexible on their dates, it may be advisable to wait until the spring market to list, simply because of the flood of buyers onto the market. Often, a property will sell for more, and sell much faster because of volume.

As there will be more properties on the market, the seller really needs to take time to make their property stand out, using the slow winter months to actively prepare their homes to list.  For some, it can take weeks, or even months to de-clutter and re-organize their properties to best reflect the space, and the positive attributes.

Advise sellers that, even though you may list in the spring, the selling process begins now- behind the scenes.  Think staging before selling.

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Can you sell your home by email?

Be careful what you say in an email about the purchase or sale of a house.
Be careful what you say in an email about the purchase or sale of a house.

Shutterstock

By Mark Weisleder |                 Fri Nov 11 2011

Over the course of three days last October, Marc Girouard and Kelty Druet corresponded by email about the sale of Druet’s condo in downtown Moncton, N.B.

After a series of emails and an offer and counter offer, Druet agreed to sell unit 203 at 850 Main St. for $155,000, or so Girouard thought. But Druet changed her mind and the case landed up in court.

There a judge decided that even though a formal agreement of purchase and sale was not ever signed, a deal was a deal. Since Ontario has similar laws to those relied on in New Brunswick, the same result could happen in Ontario.

Here is what happened:

October 22, 2010: Girouard was looking on Kijiji for a condo to rent and found the unit listed there. He spoke to the tenant who passed him on to Druet. They spoke and discussed the possibility of him buying the condo and agreed to carry on their discussions through email.

October 24, 10:56 a.m. Druet sends Girouard this email: “After giving the idea of selling my condo some more thought, I have come to a decision. I would sell it to you for $160,000, conditional that you take over the mortgage and pay the legal fees associated with the purchase. (I estimate at $800.) Please let me know your decision.

October 24, 12:16 p.m. Girouard replies: “Thank you Kelty. I will meet you half way @155,000.00 and pay legal fees and assume existing mortgage.”

October 25, 2:57 p.m. Druet: “Sorry for the late reply — I’ve been thinking about it. I will accept your offer. How would you like this to go?”

October 25, at 3:33 p.m. Girouard: “Great, are you in Moncton any time soon? I can have a sales and purchase agreement drafted for your review. Is a November 15 closing acceptable so not interfere with your tenants, that I am told are vacating on that date? Is the mortgage holder a Moncton or Halifax bank?”

October 25, 6:37 p.m. Druet: My partner has been in Peru the last few days and I just got to speak with him. He was not agreeing with the price so I am sorry but I cannot sell to you.

Girouard replied he had a deal and would not release Druet from the contract. The case went to court in Moncton and the decision was given on August 9, 2011.

The judge decided that if these emails were actually written and signed, they would constitute a binding agreement. He noted that the Internet and emails have become a way of life for business and individuals. Even though such things as the closing date had not been settled, he still found that there was a basis for a legally binding agreement.

In Ontario, the Electronic Commerce Act, which governs the electronic signing of documents, is confusing when it comes to the legality of signing agreements for the sale of land, so it is possible that in Ontario the result of this case may have been different. I am not so sure.

The lesson here is clear. Be very careful what you write in an email regarding any sale or purchase of a home. Also, if you are sending any notice in a real estate deal via email, always ask for confirmation of receipt from the other side. You may not find out that the email has hit someone’s spam file until you have missed an important time deadline.

Remember to always have the advice of an experienced real estate agent or lawyer before doing anything by yourself. In this case, the seller did not want to sell their condo but had to do so, based on this very simple exchange of emails. Do not let this happen to you.

Mark Weisleder is a lawyer, author and speaker to the real estate industry. Contact Mark at mark@markweisleder.com

For Sale By Owner

Have you ever tried to sell your home yourself? If you ask someone who has tried this method they will tell you that from the moment they put up the “For Sale” sign the phone began to ring. However, many of those calls are NOT from prospective buyers but rather realtors looking to obtain  the listing. Selling your home and saving on the commission may sound attractive, but because of all the issues involved in the process, selling a home on one’s own can be challenging and downright frustrating.

The following are several tips to help you in the decision of selling the home yourself or getting a professional such as myself.

Prepare your Home for Sale: Look at your home through the eyes of the buyer.  Do you need a fresh coat of Paint, are your walls damaged and need repair? First Impressions are the key! Make sure that your home stands out above the competitions.

Gather Legal Documents: There are many important legal documents and contracts that you will have to prepare and understand here is a list of some of them.  Seller Property Information Sheet, Agreement of Purchase and Sale, Mortgage Verification, Property Survey, Deposit Receipt, Exclusion List,  Property Profile Fact Sheet, Loan Application, just to name a few.

The Price is Right: Correctly stating your price is critical.  Setting the price to high can be as costly as setting it too low. In order to establish a realistic price for your home, compare the price, features and conditions of all similar homes in both your neighborhood and other similar ones which have sold in recent  months. Make sure that you remove all emotional attachment and do not price according to what you feel the home is worth.

Marketing: Other than the sign on your lawn there are several ways to get the word out about your home. Local buyers can be reached through   newspaper ads. However, this is a very small and expensive way to attract  buyers. Many potential buyers are already working with Realtor. So in order to target these buyers contact as many top agents in your area to see if the criteria of their buyers matches your home’s. Also, there are many out-of-town buyers, so you will want to find a strategy to reach them as well.  You will have to be very service minded and make it easy for pre-qualified buyers to view your home. Also, make sure that someone is always available to take calls, or messages and arrange for viewings of your home.

The Showings:  Keep your emotions and your opinions to yourself. You are emotionally invested in the home and any negative comments could result in a defensive response for either party.  You must remain positive and point out all the good features of your home without sounding to artificial. Keep it real!

Qualifying your Buyers: How do you know the person on the other end of the phone line can even afford your home?  Don’t waste your time, research their financial status with respect to job security, salary, debts, liabilities and credit rating. Also, bear in mind that criminals use this opportunity to “case your joint”, only to break in at a later date.

Negotiations: It’s all in the details; price, survey, insurance, terms, inspections, closing date, buyers concerns and objections, inclusions and exclusions,etc. Make sure you fully understand the contract the you have drawn up so you can explain it to all the parties involved, from the buyer to the mortgage broker and then the real estate lawyer. Making sure that your buyer does not lose interest in the mean time.  Your objective during the negotiations is to control the pace and set the duration. Try to determine the buyers motivation. Do they have enough money? How much do they like the place? Are they pressed for time? Do they need the property in a hurry? Knowing all if this will give you the advantage and the ability to get what you want for your home.

Why are you Selling?: Keeping this information to yourself is important in the negotiation process.  Your reason for selling will affect your list price and also how much time and money you are willing to invest in getting your home to market. As someone who wants to sell without a real estate agent in an effort to save the commission, it is likely that money is one of your primary considerations. Whatever your reasons, it is very important to keep them to yourself so as not to place yourself at a disadvantage a the negotiation table. When asked simply say your housing needs have changed.

Will you really save in the end without a realtor? Consider that most buyers do use a real estate professional to assist them in the purchase of their home. This service costs the buyer nothing and they get the sound advise of a real estate agent. Be very careful with buyers, investors and speculators who seek out “For Sale By Owner” they think they are going to get a bargain. The low ball offers from these types of buyers will often net you much lower than had you dealt with a realtor in the first place. We know the market, we know what your house is worth, we know what you deserve for your home.