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Ask a Realtor: How Can I Help Sell My House?

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"Ask a Realtor" appears Thursdays. Have a real estate question for Susanne? Please email her at asksusannehudson@gmail.com, and she will publish and answer the questions of most general interest.

Q. How can I help sell my house?

Yes, you've hired an experienced agent, one who knows your neighbourhood and has a successful track record. They will be proficient at marketing, negotiating and closing the deal. But you have to be totally onside. If you don't get into the process, your house will take longer to sell. And working with your agent can be fun. When this "project" is successful it will mean a profitable outcome for you! After the initial prep part of the process, your involvement will take just minutes a day.

Getting it Ready

It's your house or condo, but now it becomes a marketing tool. You have to get rid of the clutter; clean out the cupboards, the garage, perhaps rent a storage locker to store all the extra furniture, junk in the basement etc. Get the small repairs done that you've put off doing, the windows cleaned, carpets cleaned, paint rooms that need it, touch up the exterior trim.

Throw out magazines. Get new bath mats and put out your best towels. Depersonalize the house: no family photos on the fridge door and put the toys away. Beautify with plants and maybe get a new urn or two for the front porch to reflect the time of year. Grass cut, hedges trimmed, etc. If you have no interest in doing any of this talk to your agent about having the house professionally staged, hire a gardener to deal with the grounds etc.

Deciding the Listing Price

Pricing is everything and make sure you have an agent who knows the market, the recent sales in your neighbourhood and specifically your street. Your agent may bring along a couple of other agents for the evaluation and that is often a good idea. You and your agent will discuss a probable price range and how to achieve that. Should there be holdback offers or offers anytime? Which is the best marketing strategy?

Give Your Agent Free Reign Re: Marketing

Your agent will want to do an open house for agents and perhaps a lunch. These are both good ideas for getting agents into the house. A "For Sale" sign is a must. Agree to open houses for the public on the weekend. If you're doing holdback offers, discuss having a pre-listing home inspection.

Your agent will also suggest that it's best for you to leave the house for showings and half hour showings can easily turn into an hour, so don't rush back. This is an important purchase decision for the buyer and you want to give them time to look at everything in the house!

Keep the House Looking its Best

You will get telephone notice from the agent's office regarding showings and your agent will go over the daily times set aside for showings with you. Every showing counts and you should leave the house neat and tidy with the overhead lights on, every day. If no showings have been booked for that day, before you leave for work, leave the lights on. It's a long day and showings may be booked later.

Remember, it is still your home but for the purposes of selling it's now a "model suite"!

Listen to the Market

Fair market value is what an unpressured buyer would pay to a knowledgeable and unpressured seller for a property that has had reasonable exposure to the market. When you list the property, the price is an educated estimate of value. If, however, you are getting resistance to your price and it doesn't sell in a normal length of time for your neighbourhood, it might be wise to take a reduction.

Discuss this with your agent. You can take a reduction now or at the time an offer comes in. But sometimes a timely reduction results in renewed interest in the property and, if you're lucky, two offers!