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Unclutter Your House


 When you're getting ready to sell your home, one of the most important things you can do is to unclutter it. You may love your collectibles, but it's best to put them out of the way when your home is on the market. Uncluttering means removing items from view and being thoughtful about what items you plan to put back in a room.    


Initial listing price



Should You Start Out with a HIGH Listing Price? Due to change in real estate market conditions, more sellers are competing for fewer buyers. So once again, it is important to challenge a long-standing "myth" of real estate.

"The initial listing price isn't that important because the price can always be adjusted down later." Many sellers believe this. It is a myth. Not true.

If most buyers first viewed your house because of a newspaper ad, a magazine, the internet, brochures, or the sign in your front yard, the initial listing price probably would not make a difference. The house would always be "new" to those seeing it.

But most buyers do not come to your house because of various types of advertising. That is the another myth.

Sure, buyers call on an advertisement, they often look at that house, but not always. Once they talk to an agent, they may discover it isn't what they need at all.

However, they are talking to an agent. That agent knows the current inventory and will know of other property that does fit their needs.

Those are the properties that buyers look at, and this is how most buyers end up looking at your house, too. Because of other agents, not because of your advertisement.

Hardly anyone buys the house in the ad.

As a result, you need to get other agents interested in your property, and this is where your listing agent comes in. The listing agent gets buyer's agents looking at your home.

Those agents have clients who called in on other properties.

Buyer's agents are not swayed by advertising. They look at the needs of the client, where the client wants to live, location, condition, and other details of the property. And most importantly, price.

If your house is overpriced, agents are going to show similar homes that are priced more attractively. Your listing will get passed over.

Agents pay most attention to homes newly on the market. There are fewer NEW listings than current listings. It is easier to keep an eye out for what is new, compared to the vast number of current listings.

New listings are on the "hot" sheet circulated in real estate offices. The MLS computer identifies new listings. Your listing agent may hire a service to distribute fliers to all the buyer's agents. There are office previews and MLS tours to showcase new listings. A lot of attention is focused on what is new.

With agent's looking at newly listed homes so aggressively, a properly priced home gets attention.

An overpriced home gets passed over.

You may be thinking, "But I'm willing to negotiate!"

Buyers aren't thinking in advance about how much you are willing to negotiate. They are comparing your asking price to other asking prices.

Plus, when your house is new on the market, you may not be willing to negotiate as much as you will later, once you've realized your error. Keep in mind that statistics show, quite often, the first offer is the best offer.

So what happens if you overprice in the beginning and get more realistic later?

You don't have all those important Buyer's Agents looking at your listing because it is new. A price reduction later in the listing cycle often gets overlooked. It is just one of many listings, not one of a few new listings.

As time passes, you could actually become desperate to sell because you've accepted a new job or because you have already bought a new home.

That is a recipe for receiving lowball offers, so you could end up selling for less than if you had priced the home correctly in the first place.

Agents know this stuff, but many sellers still mistakenly believe they should "price it high" because they can lower the price later, if necessary.

That is not the best strategy.


Combating Moisture Problems At Home


One of the most frequent complaints among Canadian homeowners, regardless of the age of the house, involves moisture. Too much moisture in a house causes condensation and frost on the windows in the winter, and creates musty odours in basements and closets all year long. More importantly, dampness creates mould growth, which can lead to serious health problems for the home's occupants, and ruin clothes, carpets, furniture and other possessions.

Solving a moisture problem in a home can be as simple as turning on the fan in the bathroom, or as complex  as installing new windows, insulation or ventilation systems.

In new homes, drying construction materials in the house can release up to 2,250 litres (500 gallons) of water during the first year. In older homes, common causes of moisture include poor insulation at exterior wall corners, wall and ceiling junctions and in finished basements. Roof leaks at chimneys, flashings, skylights and eavestroughs are often the source of the problem, as are foundation leaks and plumbing leaks, particularly at toilet bases and under sink drains.

But there are many other potential sources for moisture and the mould it may cause, and some are easy to eliminate.

For example, turning on the bathroom fan during your shower will send all the moist air outside instead of throughout the home. Make sure your bathroom fan is vented outside and not into an attic. The same goes for your clothes dryer -- it should be vented outside. If you commonly dry clothes in the house on a line, try taking them outside. Dry your firewood outside too.

Indoor pools, hot tubs, greenhouses, and even house plants and aquariums can also raise the humidity level in a home.

Another frequent problem is that equipment such as humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and heat-recovery ventilators are not properly maintained and instead of helping the situation, they encourage mould growth.

It's a good idea to know the level of relative humidity in your house if you are experiencing moisture problems. It suggested that you buy or borrow a hygrometer and watch the changes in relative humidity that occur throughout a typical day in different rooms of the house during the heating system.

A humidifier should not be used in a house unless the relative humidity drops below 30 per cent, and that humidity should not exceed 55 per cent in winter. Levels lower than 30 per cent aggravate skin allergies and respiratory infections, while higher levels increase the spread of mould, bacteria and virus.

Another way to combat mould growth is by keeping air circulating in out-of-the-way areas, by pulling furniture and stored items away from exterior walls and basement floors, and by keeping closet doors ajar. It is suggested keeping drapes and curtains open, making sure that warm air registers are not blocked, and setting the furnace fan to run continuously.

Also, of course, direct water away from the house through downspouts and landscaping.

If the easy solutions don't help, it may be time to look at some serious changes to the home. Adding insulation at the exterior wall corners, wall and ceiling junctions and in finished basements may help. Increased ventilation is also an option. A bathroom fan with a dehumidistat set at 45 per cent relative humidity or less is an option. It must be capable of continuous mechanical operation, and for that reason must have a low noise rating.

Other more expensive solutions may include installing a heat-recovery ventilator, which provides the home with a continuous supply of fresh air from outside, while venting the stale indoor air to the exterior. It also transfers heat from the outgoing warm air to the incoming cool air. It is found that that when outdoor conditions are mild and damp, such as in coastal areas or rainy spring days, ventilation won't be very effective at removing moisture. It suggests that a good way to help your home "dry out" after summer is to leave windows open on warm, dry fall days. That helps move the moist air outside before winter arrives.

When the frost is on the windows, they are often the first things to be blamed -- and sometimes when they are replaced, the problem still remains. However, if you've tried all the above ways to reduce moisture and you still have a problem, it may be time to replace old windows with high performance, low-e windows. The best ones are filled with inert gases to provide extra energy efficiency. As an option to replacing windows, sometimes adding weatherstripping or window film can help.
 


Summer Lawn Care Tips


Mowing height adjustment is probably the most important practice to prepare lawns for hot weather. Mow at heights around three inches or slightly higher. If in doubt, set the mower as high as it will go. Lawns maintained at higher heights usually develop deeper roots and dry out slower than closely mowed turf. Lawn growth will slow as the weather gets drier and hotter. Questions also arise concerning lawn watering practices for the summer. Most lawns as grasses such as naturally slow down and may go dormant in the heat of summer. Decide to water lawns all summer as needed to keep them green or let lawns go dormant. Do not allow lawns to turn brown and then water them back to a green condition, as this depletes energy reserves and stresses the plant. Water lawns deeply and infrequently, applying about 1 to 1-1/2 inches per application, depending on site variables. Water early in the day if at all possible. Water should soak down into the soil. If allowed to go dormant, lawns only need about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water every 2 to 3 weeks to keep root and crown tissue alive. Once more favorable cooler and drier weather returns, the lawn should break dormancy and green-up again. It's best to hold off until later in the season for most other lawn care practices, including fertilizing, seeding, thatch control, and applying weed killers.. For now, help your lawn by proper mowing, watering, and keeping foot and vehicle traffic off the grass as much as possible during the heat of the summer months.


Lock-Box & Ease of Showing


That brings us to ease of showing. If you don’t allow your agent to put a lock box
on your door you will miss out on a huge part of the showing market.

Here’s how that agents works: when an agent has a couple coming in from out of
town to buy a house, the agent will prepare a list of possible properties to show

the couple. The properties are based on a previous in-depth interview to
determine the couple’s needs. After searching the MLS computer system, the agent will print a list of possible properties.

The first thing a highly organized agent will do is check out the showing
instructions, separating the possible showings into two piles: properties with lock

boxes and properties for which the agent must make an appointment or pick up a

key. Because most agents and buyers are on a very tight schedule, the agent will 

place all the easy-to-show properties on the "A" List with a showing schedule in
30- to 45-minute increments.

If the agent must make an appointment to show your house, you’re going to miss
the first few rounds of showings because your house is going to be placed on the 

"B" pile. If the buyers don’t find a house that meets their needs in the first few

days, the agent goes back to the second pile of properties and starts showing the

ones without lock boxes or houses whose instructions demand an appointment by calling the listing agent.

Suppose this couple falls in love with a house on the first few rounds of showings.
Even if you have the best house in the city in the best condition -- you’ve lost that
sale. So for every showing you do get, just think of how many you’ve missed.

If you are selling your home, you should not be present when an agent brings a potential buyer to view the property.  Successful marketing means that buyers need to be able to imagine the house as their future home.  Nothing puts a damper on that more than having the current owners hanging around.

That is one reason why the lockbox is such a key tool for real estate agents.

A lockbox is a hollow metal box that attaches to the front doorknob or some secure place nearby. Inside the hollow area is another matchbox sized box that contains the key to the house.  When an agent opens the lockbox, that smaller container slides out. 

The lockbox gets its name because it is a locked box.  A stranger cannot come by, open the box, get the key and gain entry to the house. Only agents can do that.

But the main purpose of the lockbox is that it facilitates the sale of the home.  Without it, selling or buying a home would be much more difficult.  

Think of the alternatives. 

Without a lockbox, the seller would have to be present when the buyer came by with their agent, and that does not really help to sell the home.  Sellers could leave the door unlocked, of course, but in today’s security-conscious world, that is not a great idea. 

One possibility is that the seller could give a key to their listing agent, but then the listing agent would always have to be present when another agent brought a buyer to the home.   Showings would have to be scheduled tightly and that would be an inconvenience to the listing agent and the buyer’s agent……and it would be an inconvenience to the buyer

Allow your agent to put a lock box on your house and never require an
appointment to show. You’ll get much better traffic and a quicker sale that way. 

Price and Condition

Price It has been seen that overpricing the property is one of the main reasons the Property does not get sold. If you list your house higher than market value and then drop your price later, your house will be "market worn." Your final selling price will probably be lower than if you had listed it correctly in the beginning.

Let’s say you list your house for $250,000 but it’s really worth $240,000. Buyers in the $240,000 range will never see your house because they’re not looking at $250,000 houses. They can’t afford them. And $250,000 buyers will be comparing your house to others that are truly worth that price, meaning those houses will sell while yours just sits there. In fact, many agents will show an overpriced house for comparison when they’re trying to sell their listings those are more realistically priced.

 

Your house is worth what today’s market says its worth, regardless of what the house was worth one, two, five or ten years ago.

Condition

Buyers are looking for model-home conditions. The paint inside and out should be near perfect. Everything should be kept perfectly straight and orderly. In fact, a buyer should be able to move into her house without doing anything, including cleaning the carpet.

Although it may be difficult, a seller really has to walk through the house as if they are a potential buyer, being very critical and asking whether they would purchase a home in this condition. If you don’t feel you can do that, hire an interior designer to do it for you and to suggest what needs to be done to prepare your house for the most important show time you’ll ever have.

Another common question that many sellers ask and that is what do I do about pets, especially dogs. The results of a recent survey stated that 60 percent of all people are extremely scared or highly allergic to animals. What does this mean to a seller? Its very simple -- you need to make other arrangements for your family’s pets. Of course, these pets are family members and you probably don’t want to board your pet. That’s okay, but you may not sell your house in a timely fashion or at its full market value.

The things that make your house stand out the most is price and condition.

Conclusion 

To recap, few of top reasons a house won’t sell today are: Price and Condition


Things to remember while showing your house on sale


Your house should always be available for show, even though it may occasionally be inconvenient for you.

Let your listing agent put a lock box in a convenient place to make it easy for other agents to show your home to homebuyers. Otherwise, agents will have to schedule appointments, which is an inconvenience.  Most will just skip your home to show the house of someone else who is more cooperative.

Most agents will call and give you at least a couple of hours notice before showing your property. If you refuse to let them show it at that time, they will just skip your house. Even if they come back another time, it will probably be with different buyers and you may have just lost a chance to sell your home.

Try Not to be Home

Homebuyers will feel like intruders if you are home when they visit, and they might not be as receptive toward viewing your home. Visit the local coffee house, yogurt shop, or take the kids to the local park. If you absolutely cannot leave, try to remain in an out of they way area of the house and do not move from room to room. Do not volunteer any information, but answer any questions the agent may ask.

Lighting

When you know someone is coming by to tour your home, turn on all the indoor and outdoor lights – even during the day. At night, a lit house gives a "homey" impression when viewed from the street. During the daytime, turning on the lights prevents harsh shadows from sunlight and it brightens up any dim areas. Your house looks more homey and cheerful with the lights on.

Fragrances

Do not use scented sprays to prepare for visitors. It is too obvious and many people find the smells of those sprays offensive, not to mention that some may be allergic. If you want to have a pleasant aroma in your house, have a potpourri pot or something natural. Or turn on a stove burner (or the oven) for a moment and put a drop of vanilla extract on it. It will smell like you have been cooking.

Pet Control

If you have pets, make sure your listing agent puts a notice with your listing in the multiple listing service.

The last thing you want is to have your pet running out the front door and getting lost. If you know someone is coming, it would be best to try to take the pets with you while the homebuyers tour your home. If you cannot do that, It is best to keep dogs in a penned area in the back yard. Try to keep indoor cats in a specific room when you expect visitors, and put a sign on the door. Most of the time, an indoor cat will hide when buyers come to view your property, but they may panic and try to escape.

The Kitchen Trash

Especially if your kitchen trash can does not have a lid, make sure you empty it every time someone comes to look at your home – even if your trash can is kept under the kitchen sink. Remember that you want to send a positive image about every aspect of your home. Kitchen trash does not send a positive message. You may go through more plastic bags than usual, but it will be worth it.

Keep the House Tidy

Not everyone makes his or her bed every day, but when selling a home it is recommended that you develop the habit. Pick up papers, do not leave empty glasses in the family room, keep everything freshly dusted and vacuumed. Try your best to have it look like a model home – a home with furniture but nobody really lives there.


What is curb appeal?


The welcoming quality that belongs to a home, visible from the street, as one of the biggest assets homebuyers look for. It is noted that no matter how well the inside of a home has been cared for, or how well the interior matches the requirements of a prospective buyer, if the curb appeal is not welcoming many of those in the market for buying a new home will drive by without a desire to make an appointment for seeing the home.

There are many inexpensive ways to improve the quality in the curb appeal of a home. The following is a list of ideas for those who may be ready to put a house on the market. These improvements are relatively easy and inexpensive projects that can create a welcoming appeal and at the same time, may add more value to your home.

SHRUBBS TRIMMING

Like many other signs of neglect, shrubbery and other greenery that looks unkempt may prompt an unwelcomed question in prospective homebuyers: what else on the home's premise has been neglected? Many may assume that if shrubbery has not been cared for then perhaps the rest of the home has not been maintained properly.

Keeping the greenery neat and well-shaped sends the signal that the home has been cared for. Performing this task is very inexpensive and should take no more than an hour or two of time to complete. Keeping the shrubbery in line with other greenery or outdoor decorations presents an eye-pleasing picture from the street.

If shrubbery is so large that is prevents visitors from walking up steps to the home, having them taken out may need to be considered. Aside from making the home appear much smaller, it may present a safety hazard. It may also appear to prospective buyers as something that must be taken care of, before ever entering the home.

Trimming shrubbery is a very easy job, but there are professionals who are more than qualified to perform this task if desired. Expect to pay approximately thirty five to forty dollars per hour if you decided to hire a pro.

LAWN, PLANTS and FLOWERS

A nicely manicured lawn is perhaps the best way to show pride in home ownership. While the lawn and other trimmings, such as flowers and plants, are not in themselves an actual part of the home they do surround and adorn it.

By keeping a neat manicure to the lawn, and pruning plants and flowers, the home can be showcased as a complete package. Keeping the areas around trees, lawn ornaments, and sidewalks trimmed and neat adds a layer of neatness, too, to the home.

Flowers, especially, add a nice touch under windows, on porhces, and in beds. They add color and depth, making the home appear cared for and enjoyed.

RAILINGS, PORCH IN GOOD REPAIR

With time and the elements, porch railing can become wobbly. This presents not only an eyesore but a safety hazard, as well. Railings can cause damage to the steps they are attached to, increasing the cost of any future repairs that may be necessary to ensure a safe step up to the porch or door.

Many times all that is required to fix wobbly railings is a tightening of a few bolts. Most porch railings are held in place with lag bolts, large screws with a bolt-type head. If they become loose, simply turn them clockwise with an adjustable wrench; this should tighten them.

Sometimes, if railings are screwed into the brick of a home, the sheath may become busted or worn. If this is the case, they need to be replaced. These are relatively inexpensive to purchase, and replacing them is not a difficult task. When removing the screws and sheaths, the railing will come off. All that is needed in replacing the old sheath and screws is a screwdriver and perhaps twenty minutes of your time. Check for security once you have replaced these items and have once again mounted the rails onto the porch.

Once again, there are professional contractors who can be hired is so desired. Expect to pay anywhere from forty to one hundred dollars for the job.


SHUTTERS

Shutters can add a nice touch to a home. In good shape, they add another dimension to the brick, stone, or other exterior finish. In bad shape, they can send a signal of neglect to prospective buyers.

More often than not, a simple sanding and a coat or two of exterior house paint can do wonders for shutters in need of a sprucing up.

It takes a little extra time but if possible, remove the shutters from the house before sanding, if necessary, and painting. An excellent work table for this project can be made from an old door, placed upon two sawhorses. Clean the shutters off with a clean cloth, then lightly sand and paint. Either spray paint or brushing the paint on is fine for this job. Give one or two coats, if desired, and allow ample time to completely dry before mounting the shutters back onto the home.

PAINTING

Many homes are brick, with a small amount of wood trim, such as is found on porches and perhaps a small area on the ends of the home. The elements over a number of years can leave the paint on these areas cracked or dull in appearance.

Providing a touch up of paint will add a fresh look to the home. Depending on the size of the area, purchase an appropriate amount of exterior paint and allow between two to three hours to complete this job. Sometimes sanding may be necessary before the paint can be applied; this step will help cure the new coat of paint much better than if simply applying the paint to a cracked surface. A palm sander is a very practical tool to use for this part of the project.

HOUSE NUMBERS

This job may seem insignificant; however, if a prospective buyer is unable to find your home due to a lack of a visible address, all your previous efforts in adding a pleasant curb appeal may have been in vain.

If you have a house number engraved into the exterior of your home, make sure it is visible from the street. If they are recessed into the brick or stone, paint the numbers so they will easily stand out. An excellent method for this small task is to use a cotton swab, dipped in paint, and apply carefully to the engraved numbers.

A house number mounted on to the house, over the garage, for example, should also be visible from the street. If the numbers are rusted or have pieces missing, it's a good idea to paint them, or replace them entirely if there are indeed pieces missing.

The same is true for numbers on mailboxes; if they are incomplete, it's a good idea to replace them, either with new numbers or by stenciling them on to the mailbox

Following these tips can add a cared-for look to your home, often inviting a prospective buyer to take a closer look.


Quick ways to prepare your home to sell


Are you confident that you are going to get top dollar for your home?

It's not always easy to look around your home and see what's wrong with your home. You look at it every day.

But home buyers are going to take notice. Don't worry, though, there are some small ways to make your home feel like it's been recently updated – and you don't have to pay an arm and a leg. Sometimes it's the small things that make a big difference.

Here are a few quick ways to spruce up your home in a budget of a few thousand dollars, so you can get more attention and sell it faster (at a better price!):

Paint with warmth –Instead of using white, which can seem cold, use pale colors like soft taupe or off-white.

Painting is actually the most profitable improvement you can make.

Clean up your kitchen –Clearing the countertops will make a kitchen more appealing. Adding a few new appliances will modernize it. Remove child-proofing clasps on the cabinets. Spending $300 on cleaning and de-cluttering your home, and you could add $2,000 or more to the sale  price.
 
Light it up –Light makes rooms appear bigger and more welcoming. Open the curtains and blinds. Turn on lights, even in daylight. Shine up those mirrors. Wash those windows, inside and out.

Clean the floors –Buyers, like everyone, prefer to see clean floors, whether it's hardwood, linoleum or carpet.

You can cover stains in the carpet with a nice new rug. Ikea is a good place to find rugs for under $500.

Landscape your outside entrance –Add a few new flower pots, small shrubs or hanging plants to spruce up the outside. Spending just $400 to $500 on fresh landscaping, according to the survey, can boost your home's value by $1,600 to $1,800.

Refresh your bathroom(s) –Quick fixes like replacing old tiles, fixtures and shower curtain will make the bathroom appear more updated. Bleach and scrub in between tiles. Add a vase of flowers to cover bad odors or just add a warm touch.

You can also speak to your agent about what they recommend, since he/she is familiar with what your home looks like, and what is going to make the biggest difference to potential home buyers.


Your Plan


1. Find the right representative
The experience and knowledge of a dedicated real estate professional can be priceless. A good Realtor® forms a powerful team with his or her clients that makes it possible for them to have a smooth, successful, stress-free sale.

2. Determine your needs/wants for the sale and for your new home
Selling your primary residence can be tricky because you have to simultaneously be thinking about where you would like to buy. First weigh your priorities – selling price is certainly important, but having a quick and efficient sale can often be worth accepting a slightly lower offer. Talk to your agent and make sure you’re comfortable with where your priorities are.

At the same time, you should be compiling a needs/wants list for the home you will buy. You will probably have to act fairly quickly when your house sells, so any amount of preparation you can do will serve you well.

3. Prepare your house for showing
Underprepared homes can be sales disasters. Your home will never get as much attention from potential buyers as when it is first listed, so clearing clutter, cleaning, making repairs, and putting your home’s best foot forward is essential. Don’t “open for business” until your home is ready to be seen as favorably as possible.

4. Find out what your local market looks like
Being realistic about your market is the key to a smooth sale. There is no substitute for a professional real estate representative when it comes to local market knowledge.

5. List away!
Lots of photos and online exposure are the key to getting a good response for your listing. Working with an agent who uses Point2 Agent software is a great step in the right direction. Now just “open” the house and sit back and wait for the flood of eager buyers! 

 


Your Comparative Market Analysis


I can give you an educated idea of what your home’s value is based on experience, local knowledge, and comparable actual sales in your area! I am happy to be able to provide this service free of charge.

   
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Sheela Choudhari, Real Estate Sales Representative
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Markham

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