Do I Have to Sell My House?

Once rare in our area, multiple offers, often above asking price, are becoming more common, leading clients to ask: “If I receive a full price offer, do I have to accept it?”

In short, the answer is no. The fine print on the listing sheet states that “This is not an offer or promise to sell that could bind the seller to the buyer, but an invitation to submit such offers or promises.” The seller can even counter a full price offer and ask for more money. In seller’s market, the seller has the advantage and can ask for whatever price they want.

Recently, we’ve been seeing some brokers and sellers listing properties below market value to encourage multiple offer situations and prompt bidding wars. This practice is unethical and discouraged by the real estate board.

I advise my clients to price their home at their bottom line sale price. I conduct a thorough competitive market analysis and suggest a listing price that will generate strong interest and attract financially qualified buyers. The risk with setting the listing price below market value is that buyers who are qualified at a low price range will visit and present offers when the owner knows they aren’t going to sell at that price, wasting the buyer’s time, the seller’s time and the broker’s time.

Pricing is a balancing act and the real estate landscape has changed significantly in our area over the last year and a half. Previously, brokers would list properties slightly above the market value, expecting prospective buyers to present opening offers slightly below market value. Negotiations would then take place through counter offers until a mutually agreeable price was reached. It wasn’t unusually to see as many as 7 counter offers. These days, counter offers are rare. Multiple offer situations are now the norm, with prospective buyers offering their best offer on the first offer. If the seller were to counter at a higher price, the buyers would likely walk away.

 

Overbidding

Another trend we’re seeing is overbidding on an offer to purchase. Buyers are anxious to do whatever they can to have their offer accepted amidst all the competition. The downside to overbidding that buyer and their brokers need to be aware of is that they may not get financing. Banks require a property evaluation before they agree to financing. If the bank evaluator appraises the property below the selling price, they can ask for a larger down payment from the buyer or only provide a mortgage for their evaluated price, which can be a problem for prospective buyers who are already pushing the limits of their budgets with their offers.

High ratio mortgages, between 5% and 19% down, can appear less desirable on an offer but are worth considering if the selling price is well above market value. The CMHC, which guarantees these mortgages, is less likely to send an evaluator to appraise the property’s value, so an offer above market value is less problematic in terms of financing.

 

Should you take the highest offer?

In my opinion, conditions can be more important than price in an offer. We’re increasingly seeing buyers making huge offers, only to ask for significant price reductions after the building inspection. I encourage my clients to carry out pre-listing building inspections which they can show to buyers before they make an offer, so that there are no surprises and no inflated price reduction requests.

So back to the original question, “do I have to sell to the highest bidder?” You are absolutely not bound to accept the highest offer. You can look at other conditions in the offer, like source of funds and building inspections, when making your decision. Note, however, that you’ve signed a contract with your real estate broker. Clause 7.1 (2) in the brokerage contract states that, if your broker brings you an offer that meets all the criteria you set out (price, dates, inclusions, exclusions) and you refuse that offer, they can demand to be compensated. I have yet to see a broker exercise this clause, but as the seller, you do need to keep in mind that it is a possibility.

 

If you have questions about pricing your home for sale, please feel free to contact us. We’d be happy to discuss the best strategy for you.

Protective Flood Zones

We’ve just experienced a winter with very little snow followed by a very dry spring. We’re dealing with low water levels throughout the region and facing the prospect of a drier than normal summer. For many homeowners and prospective buyers, however, the threat of seasonal flooding is an ongoing concern.

Gone are the days when a homeowner could build a house anywhere on their property. As development has increased, municipal and provincial governments have passed laws intended to protect homeowners, their neighbours and the environment. These include rules regulating construction in flood zones.

Flood zones have received a lot of media attention in the past few years but our area has always experienced floods – it’s part of living by the lake. Major flooding usually only occurs every 20 years or so, but those of us living in Hudson, Rigaud and Vaudreuil in 2017 and 2019 know firsthand they can happen more often. I can remember Main Road by the ferry being flooded a few times during my childhood. My dad even had to rescue our neighbours by canoe in the 90s when water surrounded their home. Coming together through floods has become part of our community identity.

 

New flood zone laws

Most municipalities have mapped their waterfronts and produced flood line maps showing the 20-year and 100-year flood lines. By law, homeowners can’t alter the shoreline, remove trees or add structural elements such as sand/soil or retaining walls below the 20-year flood line.

Prior to the 2019 flooding, it was possible to build between the 20-year and 100-year flood lines provided certain conditions were respected. Since 2019, however, most municipalities have created new bylaws to prevent construction below the 100-year line. In 2019 the Québec government produced a Special Planning (ZIS) flood map imposing strict regulations and a moratorium on construction below the flood lines.

You can’t build a new house in a flood zone, but what about houses that are already in the flood zones? These houses have acquired rights to be there but are subject to restrictions when it comes to renovating or rebuilding. For example, you can’t add an extension to an existing house and you can’t demolish a house with the intention of rebuilding in the same spot.

There are certainly risks associated with owning a home in the flood zone. If the home is damaged during flooding and the cost to repair it is more than 50% of the home’s value, the government will force the owner to demolish it and reconstruction will not be allowed.

Following a flood, home owners must have their homes evaluated to determine the degree of damage. The town will provide the owners with the names of three local evaluators to choose from. If the evaluator determines that the level of damage is less than 50% of the value of the building, the town can grant the owner a major renovation permit to repair the house. Otherwise, the house will have to be demolished.

In Hudson, you can get a major renovations permit to renovate up to 49% of a home, which can include implementing preventive measures like lifting the house, raising the foundation above the high water level or reinforcing the foundation to withstand flooding. Depending on the size of the house, these measures can cost $50,000 and up, but they can help ensure the living space stays dry. If you want to renovate more than the 49% of the house you may have to do it in stages, applying for a second renovation permit once you have finished the first phase of renovation.

In addition to the potential cost of preventing or repairing flood damage, it’s important to look into the availability of mortgages and insurance when considering buying a home in a flood zone. Some banks will not issue a mortgage for a house in a flood zone while others will require a risk evaluation. Insurance companies will charge higher premiums for flood protection or, increasingly, refuse flood coverage altogether.

 

Why buy in a flood zone?

A well-built older home that has been through previous floods with minimal damage may be an acceptable risk for some buyers. If the foundation is solid and the living area high above the water line, flooding can be an occasional inconvenience instead of a catastrophe. New products designed to protect homes from flood waters can also help minimize damage and subsequent repair costs.

So build it high, keep it dry and enjoy the view!

 

*The information contained in this article is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. It is not a substitute for the advice or services of a notary or lawyer.

 

 

Downsizing

The real estate market is booming. Prices are rising to levels we’ve never seen before in Hudson, Saint-Lazare, Rigaud, Vaudreuil and the surrounding areas. It’s an excellent time for homeowners who’ve been considering downsizing to take advantage of the current market conditions, pocket some money and enjoy life!

Where will I go?

The biggest concern when you’re considering downsizing is, where will you go? While a strong market can make it more challenging to find a new home, there are opportunities for those who want to stay in the area. If you’d like more information about upcoming listings, please contact us. We’d be happy to talk to you about different housing options that will soon be available.

 

What do I do with all my stuff?

If you lived in your home for a long time, you’ll have accumulated lots of memories and all the stuff that goes along with them. The first thing you’ll need to do is decide what you want to keep. I recommend buying garage sale stickers in green, yellow and red. Use these to mark everything in your house – green for the items you want to keep, red for those you don’t and yellow for the things you’re undecided about.

Once you’ve sorted your belongings, you can then decide if you’d like to sell what you won’t be keeping or if you’d like to donate it.

 

Selling your stuff

  1. At auction. This is an option more sellers should consider. An auction house will evaluate the items you have for sale. They can then sell them at the auction house to the highest bidder or organize a tag sale in your home. I often work with Robin Pridham of Pridham Auction House. He and his team have the experience and the expertise to get your unwanted belongings sold with a minimum of stress on your part.
  2. Do-it-yourself. If it’s something that you enjoy doing, you can try to sell your belongings yourself, whether by holding a garage sale or using sites such as Kijiji, VarageSale or Facebook Market Place. Just know that doing it yourself can be extremely time consuming and stressful.

 

(NOTE: At the time of publication, there is a ban on garage sales in red  and orange COVID zones in Quebec, so do be sure to check the rules if you plan to hold a garage sale).

 

Giving back to the community

Another option available to you is donating your unwanted furniture, household items and clothing to one of several charities in the area.

 

  1. Maison NOVA/La Boutique NOVA. These two stores – Maison NOVA for furniture and household goods and Boutique NOVA for clothing – are very special to me because they were founded by my mother, Janet. She works there every day! All the proceeds from your donated items support NOVA Hudson, which provides community health care and support. La Boutique NOVA/Maison Nova (450) 202-6682

 

  1. The Hudson War Memorial Shop. Known locally as “The Bunker”, the shop accepts donations of clothing and small household items. Proceeds are used to fund the library and to support charities like the Old Brewery Mission and Chez Doris in Montreal. The Bunker  (450) 458-4814

 

  1. La Source d’Entraide Saint-Lazare. La Source accepts donations of clothing, household items and non-perishable food items. They operate a boutique and a sewing workshop and proceeds go to the Saint-Lazare food bank. La Source d’Entraide (450) 455-8000

 

  1. The Hudson Firemen’s Auction. The Royal LePage Annual Firemen’s Auction is always looking for special treasures like paintings, antiques and collectibles to auction off. All proceeds go to funding the Hudson Firemen’s Christmas Basket campaign, which delivers food and gifts to local families in need. You can contact me directly to make a donation.

 

  1. Local churches, the Hudson Village Theatre, Le Nichoir and many other local organizations also hold fundraisers throughout the year. Daycares will accept craft supplies; old eyeglasses can be dropped off at the optometrist’s to be donated to people in developing countries and old bicycles can be donated to Cyclo Nord-Sud.

 

What about the other stuff?

Once you’ve sorted everything, you’ll no doubt be left with things that can’t be sold or donated. Old electronics, paints, construction materials, etc. can be brought to the Ecocentre in Rigaud or Vaudreuil for recycling. There are local entrepreneurs who can bring your recyclables to the Ecocentre for a small fee. I’d be happy to recommend someone. Another option is to hire a company like 1-800-GOT-JUNK to take them away. As a real estate broker, I can help you get a discounted rate on their services if you choose to go with them.

For the rest, you can make your life easier and rent a small dumpster from Robert Daoust & Fils for under $500. Truthfully, whenever I do renovations in my home, I get excited because I know the dumpster is coming! While the contractors are working, I am sorting and purging my stuff.

 

Still too much to deal with?

If coordinating with the different organizations is more than you can handle, there are ways we can help you. We recently arranged with clients to have them leave all of their unwanted belongings in the home they were leaving. Once they were settled in their new home, I coordinated with the charities and the removal company to empty their old house.

 

Going through a lifetime worth of stuff can seem overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. A good plan can make the transition to a smaller home easier. You’ll be enjoying your new life before you know it!

 

Pre-Listing Building Inspection

Recently, I had a client comment that she hadn’t realized how much work a real estate broker does after the offer to purchase is accepted. Getting a signed offer is just one part of the sales process. Getting from the signed offer to the notary’s office to finalize the transaction is just as important – and sometimes just as challenging.

 

The building inspection

 

The building inspection is one such challenge and it can cause the delay or even the cancellation of a transaction. A building inspection is a very common condition included in the Promise to Purchase. It’s intended to give buyers some protection against purchasing a property that might have major flaws that could affect its value or its safety, such as foundation cracks, roof leaks, mould issues and more. While the building inspection has its limits, it gives potential buyers a better idea of the overall condition of the property.

 

If the building inspection uncovers important issues with the property, the potential buyers can ask the seller to fix them before both parties go to the notary. The buyers also have the option to cancel the purchase entirely, leaving the seller right back at square one.

 

Disclosing the building inspection results

 

What sellers might not know is that, should a buyer walk away from a sale because of a building inspection, the seller must then declare the issues uncovered to every future buyer interested in making an offer. Transparency is important to avoid future lawsuits, but sometimes inspectors’ opinions differ. What if the inspector was inexperienced, overestimated the issue or was, simply, wrong? It happens.

 

After a bad inspection, owners should bring in experts in the field to verify the building inspector’s findings. This can take time and money, especially if the inspector pointed out several issues. For example, a foundation expert will charge hundreds of dollars to just to come and give their opinion, and while they’re carrying out their own evaluation, the seller may be missing out on new buyers.

 

The pre-listing building inspection

 

So how can a seller help ensure a negative inspection doesn’t jeopardize their sale? In my 20+ years as a real estate broker, I have seen many deals die because of building inspection issues. I would have to say that the majority could have been avoided if the owners had just invested the $500-$700 on a pre-listing building inspection. And all the heartache and stress of a failing deal could have been avoided, too.

 

A pre-listing building inspection allows the owner to find any issues, big or small, that might make a potential buyer hesitate. They can then choose what to fix. If there is a costly repair the owner doesn’t want to deal with ahead of time, they can simply declare it in the Seller’s Declaration and the buyers can make their offer accordingly. This way, there will be no surprises after offer negotiations.

 

The seller should chose a well-respected local inspector – one real estate brokers have used in the past and trust. The buyers can then decide whether to make the inspection a condition to their offer or to just read the one provided. For the seller it means a stronger offer with a higher closure rate. Remember: building inspection clauses can delay an offer becoming firm by an average of two weeks.

 

The only negative to doing a pre-listing building inspection is the $500-700 cost to the seller, but if it helps them make thousands of dollars more selling their home, isn’t it worth it? I recommend all my sellers do pre-listing building inspections and the ones who have, haven’t regretted it.

 

Pre-listing inspection reports save time, stress and money!

 

Information made available in this guide in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. It is not in any circumstances a substitute for the advice or services of a notary or lawyer. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website.

Sellers Declaration

The Sellers declaration is what I like to call a CYA form (cover your a..) It is a form for the seller to declare to best of his knowledge, everything he knows of importance about his home to a buyer. It is to protect the seller, buyer and real estate broker so everything is transparent.

Examples of questions are; How old the furnace is, does the property conform to local by-laws, does the property have a septic tank and so on.

It is also for the seller to declare everything that is wrong with the house, is there or has there ever been, carpenter ants, a flood, foundation repairs, problems with equipment (furnace…), has it been a Grow house (drugs grown in the house), has there been a suicide or violent death in the house…

It is a 7-page questionnaire that became a mandatory form in July 2012 of chiefly residential homes with 5 dwellings or less, including immovables held in divided or undivided co-ownership(condos). It must be completed and signed at the same time as the brokerage contract.

The answers must be in good faith and to the best of the sellers’ knowledge, if the seller doesn’t know he leaves the question blank or ticks don’t know if there is that as an option.

The seller must clarify his answers and provide supporting documents if he has them. If the window leaked, what was done to fix it? If changed provide receipt if available.

One question in particular seems silly but has good reason to be on the questionnaire is,

D7.3 To your knowledge have the ever been ice accumulation or icicles hanging from the roof in winter?

The question is to see if the roof has a ventilation problem, has it ever had big icicles, ice damning… The seller in this example answered no, I personally don’t think anyone can answer no, every home has had icicles at one point. I always tell my seller to add – only small icicles, if that’s the case. Or answer no and add no large icicles on the side of the document. As the seller is signing this document and it becomes a legally binding document integrated within the Promise to Purchase, answer it carefully!

Buyers that are interested in the property will be given a copy of the declaration, so they have all the information regarding the house and can better decide if they wish to present a Promise to Purchase. Should they write an offer they must sign a copy of the declaration acknowledging receipt of it and its contents. Building Inspectors and Banks also receive a copy of the declaration.

The Declaration is to reduce the risk of legal action for the sellers by making sure buyers are well informed and have better knowledge of the condition of the property.

I advise my sellers to fill the form out in detail, don’t leave anything out. If there was a silly dishwasher leak 5 years ago, put it in! If the leak caused more damage than you believed the buyers and their inspector will have been informed and they will have had the chance to look out for signs of an issue during the inspection. Better to deal with an issue before the sale than in court after! CYA!

 

Information made available in this guide in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. It is not in any circumstances a substitute for the advice or services of a notary or lawyer. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website.

Why Listing High Can Backfire

“Let’s try it at a higher price first, then reduce to the broker’s suggested price later if we need to.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard clients say this. While it is a pricing strategy that gets used a lot, in my experience, it isn’t usually the best one.

Say your experienced local broker suggests listing at $349,000 but you want to try higher – $399,000 for example. You list your home at 399,000$ and all the buyers who have been looking rush to see your home in the first two weeks. They have seen everything on the market already, so they know what they can get in the $399,000 price range. And your home doesn’t compare; it’s either smaller or not as renovated as the other homes they have seen. As a result, you don’t get any offers. Meanwhile the people in the under $350,000 price range won’t visit your home because it’s out of their price range, even though your house would have been perfect for them.

Sellers often say to “tell the buyers to make an offer” but buyers in the higher price bracket won’t make a low offer on your home because they want something bigger or more renovated. Buyers in the lower price bracket won’t make an offer because they won’t even visit a home they can’t afford on paper.
So where does that leave the seller? Cleaning and prepping their house for visits that won’t yield offers. When the broker finally convinces the seller to reduce their price, the buyers in the lower price range think there is something wrong with the house because it has been on the market for so long.

I’ve seen sellers wait too long to reduce and miss the busy Quebec spring market. Buyers overwhelmingly want to move in July once school is out. There is also the quirky July 1 moving date that can affect first time buyers. Tenants in Quebec have to give notice to their landlords by March 31 that they are cancelling their lease June 30. Thus, they must buy a home by the middle of March in anticipation of a July 1st move. The sellers of these homes must then buy a new house with occupancy for July 1st, creating a snowball effect for 2nd and 3rd time buyers who all end up having to move around July 1st. Why do you think movers in Quebec can charge 3x their normal rate the last week of June?

If you over-priced your home and missed the influx of buyers in the spring market you can take a break from all that cleaning because you won’t see as many visits during the summer holidays. Mind you, this year maybe a little different with the travel restrictions.

In today’s market, many savvy home owners and brokers are pricing spot on or just under market value to create a frenzy in the first few days of listing and encourage multiple offers, which in turn drives the sale price over the listing price. Lately, seeing 3 to 5 offers on a property within two days of listing is a common occurrence. In the last two weeks alone, I have seen listings selling from $2,000 to $30,000 over asking within two days of listing the property. The owner only had to clean and prep for a day or two and it was sold – no months of visits!

So, if your home has been on the market for months and you’re still waiting for the right buyer, remember there are three reasons a house doesn’t sell: Location, Condition and Price, and price fixes the first two!

The moral of the story is don’t over price your home and hope for offers. Work with an experienced local broker with strong a marketing strategy, price it right, price it tight and you won’t have to hope –  the offers will come to you.

Certificate of Location; What is it Really?

A Certificate of Location is a document, prepared by a land surveyor(arpenteur), consisting of a plan(map) and report on the current situation and state of immovable (the piece of land and all things attached to it, house, shed, servitudes) with respect to titles, lot regulations, zoning regulations and municipal bylaws.
In the standard Quebec Brokerage contracts and Promise to Purchase forms (offer) the seller undertakes to provide the broker/buyer with a certificate of location describing the property in its current state. This means that since the certificate was made, no physical change, no zoning change, no cadastral change (Quebec’s cadastral reform started in 1994) were made. No fences/pools/windows have been added or removed, no extensions to the buildings, no buildings removed or made smaller and no landslide bylaws and no flood area changed.
The Certificate is required by the notary and the bank during the sale of the property. The notary needs it to preform a title search. It will show the notary if there are any discrepancies between the measurements, encroachments or illegal views on a neighboring property. The Board of Notaries and the OACIQ (Real Estate Association) requires that the certificate must be made within the last 10 years. Due to the frequently changing municipal by-laws and the law in the Civil Code referring to ten-year prescription that allows acquiring a right of ownership.
A listing real estate broker has a duty to check the certificate of location and tell the seller to order a new one if necessary. Using a local broker to your area is important as they will be aware of bylaw changes in your neighborhood that you may not be. An arpenteur/surveyor can take from 3-6 weeks to deliver a new certificate, depending on the time of year! There is a law that I have only seen enforce once recently, that says a notary should receive the certificate of location at least 20 days prior to the signing of the dead of sale. So again, I cannot stress this enough, as a seller you should order you new certificate before you list your home!
If a new certificate is required, it will be at the seller’s expense. Locally it cost between $750 to $1200 plus tax for a new certificate on a single-family non-waterfront home. Waterfront homes are more expensive due to the mapping of the 20 year and 100-year flood lines (the highest water level in the last 20-100 years). Houses close to ridges, ravines and wetlands can also be more expensive as the arpenteur needs to map the height of the slope, map the landslide risk zones or the proximity of the wet area.
In the past when selling an empty lot, a surveyor would do a plot survey (with or without installing markers) instead of a certificate of location, as there are no buildings to locate on the land. A survey on large plots of land can be expensive, I recently had a quote of $5000 for 100 arpents. Luckily for sellers, empty lots are not required to have a survey to be sold unless mutually agreed upon in the offer. However, surveyors are now offering to do certificates of locations on the first part of the lot closest to the road. They will ‘locate’ any servitudes, neighbor encroachments and if there is a stream on the property the surveyor will locate the protect zone around the stream (see example of stream protected zone in diagram above). As the surveyor is only surveying a small portion of the lot, the cost of the certificate is approximately the same as a single-family home.
As a seller it is imperative you understand the importance of having your up to date certificate of location ready before you get an accepted offer on your property. If you receive an offer with a 30 day closing at the notary signing and your certificate is not valid, you may have to delay the signing or you could incur extra costs to put a rush on the certificate or pay title insurance to protect yourself and the buyer. If the certificate unveils a surprise of an encroachment, the signing may have to be delayed in order to clear the title. Your buyers may not want to or cannot wait for you and render the offer null and void or charge you for cost incurred for the delay in the signing.
Don’t let a out of date certificate make a smooth transaction turn into a nightmare!

**The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.**

Preparing for visits

The most common complaint I hear from sellers is the need to keep their house clean and ready for visits. More than a few clients have told me they wish they could just move out until their house is sold!

Preparing your house for visits by potential buyers is extremely important and yet, I’ve seen houses where the owners clearly didn’t understand this. If you don’t clean you house before visits, even the best broker is going to have trouble selling it.

Smell

You might not realize that your home has a smell to it, but someone visiting it for the fist time will – especially if it smells bad!

Some culprits to consider:

– Pets. Make sure the cat litter is clean and, if possible, out of the house. Dog beds smell like dogs, so wash them regularly while your home is on the market, and store them into the garage during visits.

– Basements. Basements tend to be damp, so they need dehumidifiers. Musty-smelling basements are a huge turnoff for potential buyers.

– Cooking odours. Do not cook especially fragrant foods like bacon, curry or fish the day of a visit. The smell lingers and visitors might find them offensive. The smell of baking cookies, on the other hand, can leave people with a positive impression of your home.

– Fragrances. Do not go overboard with scented candles or scented room sprays. They can be overpowering, and visitors will think you’re trying to hide something.

To try instead:

– Flowers. A beautiful bouquet can freshen up any room. With a little TLC, they can last a week or two and are worth the investment.

– Natural cleaning products. Replace your usual cleaning products with all-natural, lemon-scented products that leave a pleasant fresh smell without being overpowering. Another option is plain vinegar, which leaves no smell at all once it dries.

Sight

De-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter!  You want potential buyers to be able to imagine themselves living in your house. With this in mid, pack away as many of your personal effects as possible, clear out closets and cupboards, and minimize furniture. Then give your house a thorough cleaning.

Kitchen and bathrooms are especially important to buyers, so make sure that yours look their best. They should sparkle! The bathroom should feel like a spa, so buy some new fluffy towels and a bathmat. Clear countertops of personal items and – please – make sure the toilet lid is closed!

Aside form the obvious de-cluttering and cleaning, you should also think about:

– Packing it up. Purchase a few large plastic storage bins and when visitors come, quickly sweep everything off the counters and tables into the bins. Then store them in the cupboard with the lid closed – or better yet, put them in the trunk of your car and leave with them.

– Lighting. Bright rooms are more welcoming and look bigger. So turn on all the lights and open the curtains and blinds (unless the view is terrible!).

– Access. Walkways should be cleared of snow, wet leaves and toys. Potential buyers shouldn’t have to come in through the back door because you haven’t bothered to shovel the snow. Every visit should start by way of the front door. For your visitors’ safety, stairs should be kept clear as well.

– Details. Finally, when was the last time you clean your light switch plate covers? You may not notice the smudges and fingerprints, but I assure you the buyer will.

Sound

Soft music is always welcome, but the key word is soft – as in turned down, low background music. The buyers aren’t there to rock it out!

 

Get out!

You, your kids and your little dog too! Buyers don’t feel comfortable wandering around someone’s home while the owners are watching them. Buyers will rush through their visit so as not to inconvenience them.

If you can’t leave, try to be as inconspicuous as possible. Do not be that owner who follows around the buyers to show them all the good qualities of your home. This backfires more often than is successful.  For example, if the you tell the buyer there are a lot of kids in the area, the buyer may imagine he will be over run with kids screaming, when truly there are only 5 kids living close by. Everyone interprets things differently!

 

Make a good impression

Often, after a day of visits, I hear buyers giving nicknames to the houses we’ve seen. Do you want to be the dirty house or the dream house? The smelly home or the house with the great light? How about the bra house? The owner of one home we visited had her bras and underwear hanging to dry in the bathroom! I have even had the naked house, where a man walked out of his bedroom bearing all. You can imagine how that visit ended!

So take a good look around your home. Walk around and look at it as though it were your first time seeing it. Will it make the right impression?

You may think buyers look past your belongings and your clutter to the house and its layout, but most of the clients I’ve worked with are influenced by how the house is presented. You want buyers to walk away remembering all the positives – that’s when you’ll get an offer.

***The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.***