— We take our content seriously. This article was written by a real person at BREL.

We’re getting a lot of calls these days from future Sellers. Some were already planning on selling spring 2020 while others have had changes in their personal circumstances that are necessitating a sale. With COVID-19 on everyone’s minds and changing our daily habits, what’s a Seller to do?

While our advice to ‘Pause, Watch and Wait’ during the COVID crisis hasn’t changed, we wanted to share some specific to-do’s for future GTA Sellers who want to sell when the market and economy begin to re-open.

Here are 8 things you can do right now, in anticipation of listing your home for sale after the initial wave of COVID-19:

Plan B: Getting Ready to Sell Post-COVID-19

1. Declutter and Make Repairs

Put this unplanned home quarantine time to good use and get to work preparing your house or condo for sale: 

  • Declutter everything: the closets, the cupboards, the basement, the garage; the bathrooms, the kitchen, the living room, the bedrooms. 
  • Get ready to depersonalize: While you can hold off on depersonalizing your home until you’re truly ready to list, take this time to make a plan for the photos mementoes and personal items you’ll need to tuck away before listing your home for sale. 
  • Tackle the repairs you’ve been avoiding: Fix the leaky faucet, re-caulk the bathtub and tackle the scratches on the walls. Most hardware stores are offering curbside pickup or online delivery and if you need to bring in a pro, the folks at Jiffy on Demand are still working and have altered their methods to maximize safety. 
  • Freshen up your front and back yards. Consider:
    • Cleaning the soot, moss and grime from walkways and decks
    • Freshening up the paint on the door, railings and front porch
    • Making sure your front steps are in great condition
    • Replacing the mailbox and house numbers
    • Doing an early spring yard clean-up
    • Cleaning the outside of your BBQ and getting a new cover for it
    • Cleaning your patio furniture and going online to buy some new throw pillows
  • Pro Tip: Now is not the time to tackle a big renovation if you’re planning on selling post-COVID. With much uncertainty about what the market will look like, err on the side of being conservative.  

Related: 30-Day Home Prep Guide

2. Choose Your REALTOR

Pre-COVID, it was common for Sellers to meet with potential REALTORS in their home. The good news? It’s actually easier to research, interview and assess REALTORS virtually, and given how fast the market and selling process are changing, the sooner you have an agent by your side, the better.

By hiring an agent now, you’ll benefit from their ongoing guidance and counsel as things change and evolve over the next weeks and months. For example, at the BREL team, our future post-COVID Sellers benefit from:

  • Our usual ‘listing presentation’ and ‘onboarding’ experience, delivered virtually, outlining our services, client experience and guarantees
  • A virtual staging consultation with our in-house Designer, to help plan and prepare for the eventual sale
  • Ongoing communication about what’s happening in the market, as it happens, and how it relates to the value of their home
  • First-access to the processes and strategies we’re developing to cope with the anticipated restrictions and changes to how we stage, market, show and sell homes in a post-COVID world.
  • Expert advice about timing: When to list and whether you should buy or sell first.
  • Paperless paperwork and digital signing of documents

When it comes to choosing a REALTOR, make sure to:

  • Ask your friends and colleagues. There’s nothing like having first-hand knowledge about an agent’s services and expertise.
  • Search online. Before you schedule any calls or virtual appointments, visit the agent’s website. It’s a great reflection of the kind of marketing you can expect when they sell your home, and you’ll be able to see what services they provide and how they are managing through the COVID crisis.
  • Read reviews. You’ll find real estate agent reviews on Google, Yelp, Zillow, Real Satisfied and Facebook. If you’re like most people, you already research restaurants, hotels, cars and appliances, so you already know what to look for: the number of reviews vs the competition, overall ratings and trends in reviewer comments.

Related: 15 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Listing Agent

3 – Plan for Staging

Many experts anticipate a surge of new listings to come on the market when the economy begins to re-open, and we hope that will be matched with a surge of new and motivated Buyers. The one thing we know for sure? Showcasing your home in the best possible way will be even more important in a post-COVID world – and for most people, that means bringing in professional stagers.

At the BREL team, our in-house staging team is, like most of us, staying home right now. They’re spending their time delivering virtual staging consultations and coming up with creative ways to deliver staging as the economy opens up. Our warehouse of furniture and accessories is ready and waiting.

Related: Staging with BREL

Related: A Staging FAQ

4. Talk to Your Mortgage Broker or Bank

If you’ll be selling and buying at the same time, ask your lender if you can carry over or port your existing mortgage to a new property and ask about your bridge financing options if you aren’t able to close on both properties on the same day. If you were previously pre-approved for a mortgage, double-check that you still qualify for the same amount.

If you’re selling and not planning to buy right away, ask about any mortgage penalties you’ll be responsible for if you break your mortgage early.

Related: All About Bridge Financing

5. Make a Budget

You’ll want to be ready for all the expenses related to selling your home. That might include home preparation costs, professional cleaning and staging, a pre-listing home inspection or status certificate if you’re in a condo, real estate commission, legal fees, mortgage penalties or bridging costs and moving costs. If you’ll also be buying, you’ll want to be prepared for those closing costs too. 

Related: Costs to Sell Your Home

Related: Costs to Buy a Home

6. Gather Your Documents

You’ll need to be able to easily access:

  • Utility bills
  • Tax bills
  • Details of any renovations or improvements
  • Rental contracts
  • Warranties
  • Mortgage details
  • Survey (if you have one)
  • List of any ongoing issues with the home (or past issues you might need to disclose)

If you own a condo, you’ll also need to:

  • Gather details about maintenance fees and what’s included
  • Read the minutes from the last AGM package and any correspondence you’ve received from the board. Are they planning an increase in maintenance fees? Are they considering a special assessment? Are there any pending lawsuits? Planned maintenance or renovations?

7. Get Educated

There’s a lot to know when selling a home and now is the perfect time to get educated. While we anticipate the process to change and evolve in response to the physical and social distancing measures in place post this initial stage of coronavirus (from property showings, to open houses and offers), it’s a good time to get familiar with: 

  • The legal documents you’ll be signing
  • The offer process, conditions and closing
  • Current market conditions, recognizing that things are changing every day (and that it’s impossible to accurately predict what will happen, given the unprecedented nature of a pandemic). We’ve put together some resources to help keep future Buyers and Sellers informed

Related: Understanding Paperwork for Sellers

Related: Ultimate Seller Reading List

8: Keep a Positive Mindset

No doubt, these are strange times as we all try to cope with the fallout of COVID-19. While our world may be on pause right now and ‘normal’ may never be the same again, people will still buy and sell homes when the time is right.

In the meantime? Do everything you can to stay positive and be ready to take action. The only worse thing than not being able to follow your original plan to sell your home, is not being ready to go with a Plan B.

Stay Informed about COVID-19 and Toronto Real Estate:

We’ve got 4 ways for you to stay connected about the latest news and statistics:

  • Chat with us: If you’re thinking of buying or selling this spring or summer, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Rest assured, we’re not the kind of agents who’ll spam, harass or pressure you – we’re just here to help whenever the time is right for you.
  • Sign up for our Real Estate in the Time of COVID weekly email: If you’re not quite ready to chat, that’s OK too. We’ve started a weekly email to provide our future Buyers and Sellers with the latest information. You can sign up for it here
  • Bookmark this page of our website, where we’re collecting our COVID resources & blogs.
  • Follow us on Facebook

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