As I write this, snow is flying. Looking outside you would think you were stuck in a snow globe. You would never guess that spring is approaching. The clocks have all “sprung forward,” and we have seen a couple bursts of warm weather, but it’s all been followed by freezing temperatures and massive amounts of snow. Just last week the East coast has had one of the biggest snowstorms they have seen in a long time. None-the-less, spring is officially here. Eventually the weather will warm, snow will melt and before you know it, Edmonton will become a sandy, slush-covered mess, and Edmontonians will be gearing up to enjoy our beautiful river valley, golf courses, camping, fishing, biking, and everything other outdoor activity we can think of. Another thing that many Edmontonians start thinking about as the weather warms is buying or selling their home! Now is the time when many people, year after year, start planning to move. It happens every spring like clock-work. You have recovered (somewhat) from the holidays, the weather is barrable to imagine lugging boxes in, and you want to get it all sorted before summer holidays begin and vacations become the priority. It happens every year. With this sudden burst in activity comes positive and negative factors that may affect your plans. I have outlined a few things to expect that just might help push you ahead of the pack.
So, you want to sell your home this spring- fantastic! It’s a great time to do it! Buyer activity is at its highest, the weather is good, and everyone wants to be in their new home before the kids start summer vacation, or they take their annual trip to the family cottage. Well, you are not the only one. Many others are also planning to list and sell their home this spring. Maybe even some of your neighbours. It is important to keep that in mind when discussing strategy.
A few things to consider before putting your house on the market:
Timing – Timing is everything. You want to make sure you don’t jump the gun and list too soon before activity really starts picking up. Listing too soon could cause you to sit on the market. Once the market finally picks up, people will have already seen your listing online a hundred times and they start to look past it, or think there is something wrong with it because it still hasn’t sold and the newer listings that come up start looking more appealing because they haven’t been sitting for 45-60 days already. On the flip side, you certainly don’t want to wait too long and miss the prime selling season altogether. Listing too late, after the most serious buyers have already found something and moved on to summer plans, can be equally disastrous. With less demand, you run the risk of having to sell for less than you would have a few weeks earlier, or not selling at all! The point is, you need to plan strategically about when you are going to list your home.
Preparing your home – Getting the home ready for sale is of utmost importance. No matter how hot your timing is, to think you can just slap a For Sale sign on the front lawn and your home will sell the next day is not a realistic expectation. The truth is you are going to be competing with many other sellers. Some with more recent upgrades, or more square footage, or a fancy new appliance package. Whatever the case, you need to make sure your home is showing at its absolute best. I’m not saying that you need to start renovating your home, or replacing appliances, or redoing the landscaping, but you want make sure your home is looking its best. I go over some more specific ways to accomplish this in a previous blog. For a quick list, you can:
1) declutter – getting rid of clutter is huge. People really have a hard time looking past too much stuff.
2) Maintenance – taking care of the “honey-do” list. Clean up the yard, paint the front porch, clean out the gutters, maybe putting some stuff in storage until the home sells. The point is to make sure the items left in your house make the space look better, not take away from it. If there is a similar home listed for sale for a similar price, you want to make sure that yours is the one they choose. Some simple repairs and maintenance might just be the difference.
3) You might also consider hiring a home stager. They can either come in with some furniture that will improve how your home shows. Or they can advise you on what to do with your current furniture to optimize the space.
Pricing your home – I know, the more money the better. I totally agree; however, there is some strategy here- in fact, a lot of strategy. You need to make sure that although you are trying to get the most money possible for your home, that you don’t overprice it. Overpricing can be devastating to your plans. It can cause people to ignore it completely, leaving your listing to go stale and sit dormant. To think you can try to overprice and then just drop it after a while can be a very risky strategy as well. You may miss out on the “right” buyer while overpriced, or people may be put-off by your pricing and won’t want to deal with you, or they’ll think there is something wrong with the property. Any way you look at it, you are not doing yourself any favours by overpricing your home. Another risky strategy is to under-price it to get peoples attention with the hopes of a biding war to drive the price up. This can be a great strategy in the right market, but if the market is leaning more toward the buyer, you can really shoot yourself (not to mention any neighbours who may be hoping to sell and will be relying on the comparable price you have sold for) in the foot and end up leaving money on the table when it does eventually sell. The best strategy is to just list your home right, right out of the gate. With the amount of information at everyone’s fingertips these days, it is best to just be realistic from the beginning and not test the market too much. To hear more about this year’s market from some of the experts, you can read a recent blog post I wrote for the 2017 Real Estate Market.
Marketing – This is really going to depend on how you plan on listing your home. Depending on your location and the current market, the way you list can really make or break your selling plans. Having a well-educated marketing plan is crucial for most sales. You want to be sure your home is getting in front of the right people at the right time. Yes, there are some areas and homes that will sell quickly no matter what type of marketing you do; however, for the most of us, there needs to be some real thought and execution in it. Marketing plans can vary from area to area and property type to property type. It’s not just as easy as throwing it on the MLS anymore. It needs to be promoted and marketed to the right people, and listed on the MLS in the right way. It is best to talk with your local real estate expert to find out what their plan would be to sell your home in the least amount of time possible for the most amount of money. And I can be reached here. The idea is to get people excited about your home, and make sure the right people see it.
Purchasing a home in the spring market can be absolutely amazing! The inventory is typically higher than any other time of the year giving you lots to choose from, or making it more likely that the perfect house in the perfect area is ready for you to jump on. The weather is pleasant for house hunting, it’s the perfect time to buy a home and be settled before summer starts. It’s pretty well the best possible time to buy, right? Well, maybe so, but there are still some things you will want to consider and be aware of before you head out and start shopping.
Here are a few tips:
Be ready – I’m sure you know to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you head out shopping. But this time of year, it is more important than ever to have your financings 100% in order before you start shopping. The fact is, there is more inventory in the spring market, but there are also more buyers. Buyer’s who might be looking for the exact same thing as you! The chance of being in a multiple offer situation increases, and having the confidence of knowing that you can obtain the appropriate financing might be the difference in you getting or not getting your dream home. I have to also mention that it is not unheard of to be told you are “pre-approved” and than not get the financing at the last minute because of some over-looked detail in your latest tax return, or job history, or credit score. Make sure you sit down with your bank or mortgage broker and confirm you are good to go.
Know what you want – Sit down with the people that are affected by this purchase, or by yourself if it’s just you, and really think about what you want and need. Think about where you want to live, what type of property you want, how many bedrooms/bathrooms, whether you need a finished basement, or an oversized garage. Do you want something that is ready to move in to, or would you prefer to do some renovations and make it exactly the way you like it? Should it be brand new suburb, or do you prefer a more mature and established area. Whatever it is, make a list. Write it down, and, when you start shopping, try not to stray from it. You will also need to be somewhat realistic here. There is no such thing as the perfect home, and there are always some things that you will need to sacrifice to get the other things that are more important. But make sure you know what is most important and do your absolute best to stick to your list. It can be very easy to get off track when you see a home with shiny new appliances, or renovations, or a beautiful new ensuite bathroom, but will add an hour to your daily commute, or take your kids out of their school and away from all their friends. Just make sure you know what you want and need in your new home and stick to it!
Expectations – I previously mentioned that there could be someone looking for the exact same property as you. It’s true, there very well could be! You need to be ready to jump as soon as you find the right home. I’ve seen it so many times- a buyer is not quick enough to write an offer, or waits to think about it for a day or two and misses out on the home of their dreams. It becomes the one that got away, and they compare every other home to it. It ultimately leads to ongoing disappointment and can be very hard to get over. You need to be in the mindset that this is what I want and I’m ready to go for it, and when you find the home you’ve been looking for- pounce on it like a tiger pouncing on a gazelle! Go get it! It’s your home and no one is going to stop you from getting it. The reality is that nowadays, most of the search happens online and it is not uncommon that one of the first couple homes you view is the home you want. You can pick through and narrow your search down before you even step out the door to start looking. You need to focus on getting the right home, and not worry too much about seeing as many homes as possible. Frankly, when you view too many homes, they all start blending together, and your priorities start changing, and before you know it your off track completely! I’m not saying don’t look at several homes, or to jump on the first home you see, because you need to see enough homes to feel personally comfortable with your decision, but just make sure you’re not overdoing it and possibly missing out on the right home just to feel as though you’ve seen them all.
I hope you have found some of these tips helpful, and if you would like to sit and talk more about strategy for selling your home, the purchase process, expectations, or anything else real estate, I would be happy to help! You can contact me directly here, and please feel free to follow our blog for regular market information, news, and more tips. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
The most important thing is to enjoy the process. This is a very exciting time, and you want to make sure to enjoy it. It goes by fast!