Best House Selling Tips

We’re getting ready to put our house up for sale this week and have been researching the best house selling tips to try and make our house look as appealing as possible to potential buyers.

Related: 4 Hidden Costs When Buying And Selling Your House

Of course we would like to receive a full market value offer for our house.  As with investing, this is best accomplished by maximizing value and minimizing fees.

Best House Selling Tips

Let’s begin with maximizing your value.  Less is definitely more, so get rid of anything that you won’t need right away (or at all).  Rent a storage unit, have a garage sale or donate items to charity.

Replace your cabinet hardware, door hardware, light fixtures and plumbing fixtures.  This is a quick and inexpensive way to update your home.

Fixing the small stuff can leave a big impression in the eyes of the buyer.  Finish putting up that light fixture or patching that small hole behind the door.  When potential buyers see a few minor things that need to be done, they might wonder what else needs tending to.

A fresh coat of paint goes a long way.  Stick with neutral colours as they appeal to a larger market.  And home staging is a great way to help the buyer imagine themselves living in your house.

You also need to think about where the buyers are going to look when viewing your home.  The electrical panels, storage room, garage and closets should be clean and tidy.  If you have small kids or pets, a good carpet cleaning does wonders.

Save the big renovation projects for the new owners.  Chances are they will have their own ideas about what should be done with the house.  Remember that you want a return on investment for any projects you take on.

If finishing the basement will cost you $15,000, you better make sure that it gets you at least an extra $20,000 on your asking price, otherwise why bother?

When it comes to listing your home, don’t just swing for the fences.  Do your research along with your real estate agent (if you have one) and make sure that you are not listing your home too high compared to the market, especially in a slow season.

Related: Saving Real Estate Fees

A good rule is to under price your home by 1% in order to attract more potential buyers and increase the chances of an offer.  Who knows, maybe you’ll receive multiple offers and start a bidding war?

An over priced home may sit on the market for a long time and buyers will begin to wonder what’s wrong with it.

Minimizing Fees

One of the best house selling tips is to minimize fees, and of course the biggest fees when it comes to selling your home will be from your real estate agent.  Expect to pay around 5% of the sales price with a full service agent.

With the average sale price in Canada around $340,000, that’s a $17,000 bite out of your profits and definitely something to factor into your overall budget.

You can investigate other avenues like a For Sale By Owner listing service such as Property Guys.  In the past you could pay commissions as low as $349 for using their service, but you couldn’t get access to the MLS website.

Related: New Mortgage Rules For Canadians

Now that agents can just list your home on MLS for a flat fee (around 0.5% of the sales price) there has been a rush of companies looking to offer this service for you.

In fact, our home builder works with a real estate agent who will list our home on MLS and the builder will cover the listing costs for us.  We will still be responsible for the buying agent’s fees, but we will save thousands of dollars.

As with all discount services make sure that you understand all of the details before rushing into an agreement.  There’s no such thing as a free lunch, so remember that the less work the real estate agent does for you, the more work you will have to do yourself.

Related: 4 Reasons To Avoid Using A Mortgage Broker

The last of the house selling tips I will mention is that you don’t have to take the first offer that comes your way.  It’s been said that your real estate agent won’t look out for your best interests when it comes to receiving a full offer, since a lower offer doesn’t affect their commissions very much.

You on the other hand have a big incentive to get the most value out of your house.  Be reasonable when you negotiate, but understand that an extra $1,000 from an offer means $950 for you and only $50 for your real estate agent.

Readers, please share your best house selling tips.  Has anyone used a For Sale By Owner or flat fee listing on MLS?  Do you have any good negotiation tips?

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  1. My Own Advisor on March 9, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Good post!

    Another sale tip: put some baked goods out for showings. Makes your place feel more homey and shows folks you care.

    I liked your comment about pricing. Listing your home for the right price is probably the most important factor is determining whether your house will sell or not. Too many people want to squeeze every single penny out of the sale. That’s fine, but in the long-run, a $1,000 here or there over your lifetime doesn’t mean much. You can spend that much on one car repair.


    • Echo on March 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      Thanks Mark! While I do want to sell my home for the “right” price, I also realize that I don’t have the luxury of time on my hands either, since we need to sell this house to pay for the new one. Ultimately I’m better off taking $1k or $2k off the price to ensure a quicker sale.

  2. Financial Uproar on March 9, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    My tip would be to pound the agent on fees. I’ve seen agents accept listings for about half what the regular listing would be. If you’re firm, you’ll find an agent to accept it.

    If the average commission is $17,000, go for $10,000 flat. You’ll find an agent to take it.

    • joe cepeda on March 9, 2011 at 10:34 pm

      Real Estate agents are struggling to make a living in this market.
      “Pounding” them isn’t the best way to get results.
      The right agent is worth his or her weight in gold. Those pros know what they are doing and deserve to be paid the right fee.
      I’ve had bad agents and good agents and have begrudged the bad agent’s fees but never the good ones.
      My two cents worth. 🙂

  3. joe cepeda on March 9, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Great article.
    I’m curious though as to what market you are in?
    Here in Arizona, the market is real bad. House prices have come down by more than 50% so selling a house is a major problem for someone who bought it at the peak of the pricing.
    So, no matter what you do to increase the attractiveness, or saleability, the price is just not going to be all that great. Competition is fierce as well.
    We had two houses on auction next to mine. One had no takers and the other ended on a contract where the seller became the banker.
    The price of the houses was one third what they sold for three years ago.
    I hope your experience is a lot more pleasant than this.
    All the best.

    • Echo on March 9, 2011 at 11:18 pm

      Hi Joe, thanks for your comments. We are in Alberta and prices haven’t come down very much during the recession, but they have plateaued. Nothing like what has been going on for the past few years in the U.S. (particularly in place like Arizona).

      Honestly in a situation like that my best “tip” would be to not sell at all if you can ride out the tough times. Even if we end up buying at the top of the market we will still be putting 25% down on our new house to give is some cushion if the market tanks in the future.

      • Rob Walker on March 10, 2011 at 8:35 am

        I agree about waiting – especially in the US.

        But I wonder how long is too long, as in at what point should you decide that you’re going to either not get what you want or will actually start costing you money?

        Are there any good calculations out there for what sort of loss you should take?

        Great article!

        • Echo on March 10, 2011 at 9:21 pm

          Thanks Rob,

          As for how long is too long, it’s really tough to say as every situation is unique. How much loss you are willing take completely depends on your own situation.

          Having 25% or more equity in your house to begin with sure helps with your cushion, but it didn’t help in some U.S. states that declined 40% or more.

  4. Paula @ on July 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Paint and carpet definitely go a long way, as do “curb appeal” details like planting flowers near the entrance. Conversely, if you’re buying a house and you find one that’s basically a good house, but the owners DIDN’T polish those little details (like paint, etc.) you might be able to get a lower price!

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