— We take our content seriously. This article was written by a real person at BREL.
In case no one has told you this yet, selling your house is a lot of work, and it’s stressful. Here are 19 things you probably won’t be expecting when you list your house for sale:
- You have an incredible amount of stuff. I know you think you don’t, but when it’s time to start prepping your house for sale and clearing all your clutter, you’ll realize just how much has accumulated. Throw out, donate and store your stuff – think of it as pre-packing for your upcoming move after a successful sale. [Related: What To Do With All That Stuff]
- Your feelings will probably be hurt by what the Stager recommends. If you’re working with a full-service agent, they’ll probably send in their Stager (don’t worry, the agent usually pays). If they don’t work with a stager, at a minimum you can expect your agent to walk through your house, room by room, and tell you what needs to be done to improve the saleability of your house. I won’t lie – this part of the selling process is personal…and it’s usually pretty painful. Keep in mind: their goal is to market your home to its highest and best use and appeal to as many Buyers as possible – it’s not a personal attack on your decor style. Professional stagers know what Buyers want to see and what catches their attention, online and in person. It’s OK if you hate that bowl of red apples- trust the people you’ve hired to do their thing and trust that it will contribute to a faster sale, a higher price, or both.
- Your renovations may not have added as much value as you think. We call this the HGTV curse – the idea that everybody has been brainwashed into thinking that if they invest $10,000 into renovating before they sell, that they’ll make $20,000 in return. Truth: it doesn’t always work out that way, in fact sometimes, people lose money on the work they’ve done. Truth. Before you invest even a penny into renovating pre-sale, call in an experienced REALTOR. They’ll be able to tell you what’s worth doing and what’s not.
- Some agents are rude: they may show up for a showing appointment late, or not at all. And many of them will leave their shoes on, despite the sign that tells them to remove them. I can’t defend this behaviour, but at least, I can warn you. With 50,000+ agents in the GTA, you can expect a good chunk of them won’t respect your time (sorry).
- While your property is on the market, you’ll have daily stress about the number of showings: shouldn’t there have been more showings by now? What’s normal? An experienced agent should be able to predict mostly what to expect for the type of property you have and tell you in advance what’s normal in your neighbourhood and for the time of year you list. The number of expected showings will change depending on how long you’re on the market, and hopefully, your agent will let you know at the first sign of something that isn’t normal and expected so you can react and adjust accordingly.
- While your property is on the market, you’ll wonder about every showing: was that my Buyer? Did they like it? Are they going to make an offer? In most cases (at least in Toronto), your agent won’t actually be at the showing, unless he or she is bringing their own potential Buyer through the home. Good agents will ask for feedback – but they’ll usually wait a day or so to do it so as not to signal desperation. Unfortunately, most agents won’t actually give much, if any, feedback.
- Between the time after you’ve accepted an offer and the close, you’re responsible for making sure that nothing happens to the home. Buyers are entitled to the home in the same condition it was in when they purchased it, so if something breaks, you’ll need to fix it before close. If it was already broken – hooray! Not your problem. It goes without saying (I hope) that you’ll need to maintain home insurance until you don’t own it anymore.
- On that note: sometimes, sales don’t close on the day they’re supposed to, and while this is a huge pain, you may want to consider extending the insurance on your home a day or two past the closing date, just in case. If you don’t do that, and something goes wrong, and the closing gets delayed, don’t forget to call the insurer and tell them to extend your insurance! You don’t want to be the person telling the ‘if only I would’ve’ story at a cocktail party.
- You need to disclose defects. As much as I’m sure it’s fun to fantasize about not telling potential Buyers about what’s wrong with your home, that’ll hurt you in the end. As a Seller, you have a legal duty to disclose anything that could impact the new Buyer’s enjoyment of the house. [Related: Houston We Have a Problem: The Need to Disclose Defects]
- You’re likely to be expected to leave the property in “broom-swept” condition on closing. Your Agreement of Purchase and Sale probably stipulates that you can’t just move out and leave your home a mess. Think karma and have your house professionally cleaned before you move out.
- When agents bring their clients back to see your property a second time, that’s a good sign, but far from a guarantee of an offer. Also true: most condo Buyers only visit a property once before putting an offer on it. I don’t know why it just is.
- Your Buyer will probably see your home for the first time online. Gone are the days when REALTORS introduced Buyers to properties…motivated Buyers are online, obsessively checking listings, multiple times per day. If your home doesn’t look good online – spectacular photos and wicked marketing copy – and they aren’t falling in love right away – you’ve got a long road ahead of you. Sorry.
- You’re going to become all stalker-y. While you’re listed, you’ll wonder about your competition, how many showings they’re getting and how busy their open houses are. Truth: We’ve had Sellers go undercover to their competitors’ open houses. Truth: We’ve done that too. You’ll also wonder how much everything around you is selling for. Totally normal. A good REALTOR will pre-load you with all that intel.
- Buyers don’t care what’s convenient for you-they want to see your home on their own schedule. Sellers who turn down showing appointment requests often don’t realize the risks they are taking. Our stats show that 50% of the showings that get refused don’t get rebooked. Toronto Buyers are fickle that way, and you may have just refused a Buyer with buckets of money who wants to close when you do.
- In our experience, in central Toronto, the average condo gets an offer after 12-15 showings, and the average house gets an offer after 8-10 showings. Those are totally unscientific stats, but in our experience in selling hundreds of homes, it’s almost always the case – at least if the property is property staged, photographed, priced, marketed and it’s easy for agents to show.
- Leaving your home every time there’s a showing sucks – but it’s worth it. No Buyer can comfortably look through your home while you’re there, watching their every move. You’ll spend a lot of time at Starbucks, in your condo lobby or at your in-laws – but that discomfort will pay back, I promise.
- Unless you own everybody’s dream home (most of us don’t), expect some low ball offers and don’t let your feelings get hurt. Even in bidding wars, we see low ball offers regularly. A good agent will be able to justify your asking price and negotiate the price to market value. Don’t be afraid of negotiating. Before I was an agent, I walked away from an offer on my own property – it was $20K below asking and I wouldn’t even consider negotiating. My feelings were hurt, and there was no moving on. Looking back, that was really bad strategy – those Buyers never did come with an improved offer, and it took another week to sell.
- Bidding wars don’t always work. I know you read about crazy bidding wars all the time, but it doesn’t always work. Getting multiple Buyers at the table at the same time is an art, and depends on your property, your neighbourhood, your competition, your asking price, the marketing and more. Don’t assume you’ll get a bidding war – and be prepared with a backup strategy if you don’t.
- Every property sells when the price is right. It doesn’t matter if you own a really gross house full of mould or a condo next to the party room and across from the elevator – there’s a market for every home (at least in the current market in Toronto). [Related: How to sell your house FAST]
Richard Davis says:
Wow, this is very detailed and helpful, especially for first time home sellers. Great blog by the way and thanks for sharing!
Anita Rotheram says:
You might want to mention the stress of a home inspection, imagine for example, an inspector makes an incorrect assessment. Also, different options for addressing solvable inspection findings that aren’t deal breakers