Bought But Can’t Sell? 7 Tips for Homeowners in a Hurry

For the first time in years, the number of Toronto real estate sales has dropped for consecutive months. April saw transactions fall by 3.2 per cent compared to last year and in May, total sales were down by more than 20 per cent compared to 2016. At the same time, the number of new listings jumped, suggesting the potential for a buyers’ market if supply starts to exceed demand.

Many are attributing this to Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan, which introduced a proposed 15 per cent Non-Resident Speculation Tax on foreign buyers, as well as additional taxes for real estate speculators and “paper flippers”.

With it becoming common for buyers to find and close the sale on their new home before selling their old one, many are now in the position of having to sell quickly in a slowing market. Here are seven tips for homeowners looking to sell in a hurry, whether you’re looking to offload a Toronto condo or detached home.

Clear ‘er out

“The most important thing is that the home is staged and marketed properly,” says Chantel Crisp, a broker with Zoocasa Realty Inc. Whether you hire a pro or do it yourself, de-cluttering and staging your home are key steps in ensuring a quick sale.

“Buyers don’t want to feel like they’re walking in to someone else’s home,” says Crisp. “It should look like a model home version of your house.” Tuck away as many family photos and personal memorabilia as possible so they can look at the home as a blank slate. The same goes for pets: they should be boarded offsite during open houses and visits. Also, store away their bowls and kitty litter box.

Clean ‘er up

You can’t underestimate the value of curb appeal. It certainly won’t help expedite the sale if people already have misgivings about your home before they even cross the threshold. Options range from a few potted flowers at the entranceway, to repainting or replacing a battered garage door or siding. On the inside, “no crazy colours,” says Crisp. Painting over vibrant colours in more neutral tones is a low-cost fix with a potentially huge return on investment.

Fix ‘er up

Before committing to buying an older home, many buyers like the peace of mind of having a home inspection. But not wanting to put any conditions on their offer, many (myself included) have hired home inspectors to check for major red flags before making an offer on a home. To simplify the process for buyers, you can hire a home inspector yourself to assess the building, and remedy any major issues before listing it – or price the property reflecting the changes that will need to be made. You can post a digital copy of the report with your listing, and have hard copies available for buyers to review while in the home.

Related Read: Should You Ever Drop Your Offer to Purchase Conditions?

Price it right

Listing a home with an artificially low price in the hopes of creating a bidding war has been a common tactic for years. But if offer night comes and goes without a sale, consider relisting your home at a price closer to what you hope to sell for. “You have to be realistic about how much competition is on the market right now,” says Crisp. “It’s better to sell for $10,000 less than you would have two weeks ago than have the house sit on the market and a start to develop a stigma that, ‘There must be something wrong with it.’”

Be flexible

While you may be stressed about the looming closing date on your new property, flexibility on the closing date on your current home might help you sell it. Speak to your mortgage provider to find out about qualifying for a bridge loan to cover the gap between closing dates.

Photo shop

Hiring a professional photographer is a relatively small investment to help expedite the sale of your home (and many agents will cover this cost for you). The more photos your listing includes, the better. “Use the best photo on your listing first, even if it’s not an exterior shot,” advises Crisp. “You want your house to be the best looking one on the market.” To help with that, make sure you’re putting your best foot forward by carefully staging the photos: make the beds; clear the dishes from the sink; close the lid on the toilet bowl; and clear as much clutter as possible. If you’re selling in the fall or winter, you’ll want to be sure to include as many photos of the garden and yard in full bloom as possible. Virtual tours with 360-degree views of principal rooms and floor plans with measurements will also help your listing stand out.

Brag it up

Make sure your agent sells more than just your home in the listing information. Easy access to good schools, public transit, highways, stores and restaurants within walking distance, and parks and other public spaces are all key selling points. In short, the more detailed your listing is the better.