Preparing Your Home For Sale!

Before you place your property on the market, it’s important for essential property repairs, cosmetic improvements and in some cases, major renovations to take place. This will help you maximize your financial return and increase the chance of it selling faster.

To ensure you prioritize your time and financial resources on projects that will maximize the value of your property, and avoid “over-improvements” that will do little or nothing to improve your home’s value, consider the general guidelines below. I can then provide you with advice on the required updates and repairs specific to your property type and neighborhood.

GENERAL GUIDELINES

  • In general, home Buyers and real estate investors seek the least expensive property in the best neighborhood they can afford. Repairs and improvements should be made so the property shows well and is consistent with the neighborhood’s standards and preferences. At the same time you should minimize capital investments and over-improvements that may not be recovered from the sale.
  • If you have an older property, you may wish to get a professional home inspection before putting your home on the market. This will help you identify and address any major repairs that may be required. I can assist you with this task.
  • Unless you are prepared to significantly compromise on price, some home repairs are essential. These include repairs to broken mechanical and heating systems, gutters, broken appliances, major fixtures and structural deficiencies such as leaky roofs.
  • Cosmetic improvements, including fresh paint and landscaping, are quick and affordable ways to help a home “show” better and often result in positive returns.

 EXTERIOR UPDATES

  • Repair loose siding, damaged roof shingles, eaves, gutters and cracked windows for your home and garage.
  • Secure loose shutters and awnings.
  • Wash windows, gutters, mailboxes and doors.
  • Repair cracked pavement and walkways on your property.
  • Ensure lawns and gardens are attractive and well maintained.
  • Sweep the entryway, porch and sidewalks daily.

 INTERIOR UPDATES

  • One of the fastest and most cost effective ways to update a home is with a fresh coat of paint. Repaint walls in a neutral color with broad consumer appeal.
  • Kitchen and bathroom renovations often result in a positive return on dollars invested.
  • Repair all broken appliances, fixtures, lighting and hardware, such as dripping faucets and shower heads, sticky doors, cracked tiles and broken appliances.
  • Steam clean carpets.
  • Depersonalize your home so potential Buyers can envision living in it. Remove personal photos, memorabilia and collections, if possible.
  • Keep in mind that cluttered rooms and storage areas give the impression that they are much smaller than their actual size. Remove clutter from all areas and if necessary, put furniture and personal items into offsite storage.
    Clean every room thoroughly.
  • Remove all items that won’t be included in the sale of the home. This includes lighting fixtures or hardware (or let me know in advance so I can exclude them from the contract).

CONDO DOCUMENTS

If you are selling a condominium, you will also need to prepare the detailed documentation relating to your unit and Strata Corporation in advance, as potential Buyers and investors will request them upon writing an Offer or before removing their “conditions” from their Agreement of Purchase and Sale. These include:

  • Title search
  • Registered strata plan
  • Financial statements of the strata corporation
  • Property disclosure statement
  • Building envelope report
  • Strata and AGM minutes for the past two years
  • Other legal documentation required for your jurisdiction

I will assist you to obtain your Condo documents.

SHOWINGS

To optimize the value of your home in the eyes of potential Buyers and investors, it’s important to ensure that your home is presented in the best possible light.  Prior to any showings or Open Houses, complete the steps in the attached checklist (Please leave the house during a showing or open house to ensure that potential Buyers have the chance to evaluate and experience the home at their leisure.)

PROPERTY INTERIOR

  • Ensure that every room is sparkling clean and tidy
    • Ensure fixtures and appliances are clean
    • Sweep floors and vacuum floor coverings
    • Remove garbage from all bins
    • Clean the kitchen counters, sink and appliances
    • Ensure dishes are put away
    • Put out clean towels in the kitchen and bathrooms
    • Make sure the bathrooms are extra clean
    • Remove clutter from countertops and coffee tables
    • Make all beds and tidy up the closets
  • Ensure that every room is well-lit
    • Open drapes to maximize natural light during the daytime
    • Turn on all lights
    • Avoid or eliminate odors from pets or cooking
    • Keep your home 100% smoke-free when your house is on the market
  • Clear all stairways, hallways and foyers of clutter
  • Add finishing touches like fresh flowers and candles to main rooms, including the living room, dining room and master bedroom
  • Keep pets out of your house, and preferably off the property during the showing

PROPERTY EXTERIOR

  • Ensure entrance, garage and porch areas are free of clutter
  • Ensure driveways and walkways are clear of vehicles, garbage cans, snow, ice, etc.
  • Cut the lawn, weed and trim the yard, groom flower beds, hedges and garden
  • Clean the garage/work areas

Keep money, jewelry, small electronics, personal documents and other valuables out of sight and secure.

OFFER BASICS

 

I will help you evaluate and negotiate Offers from potential Buyers in order to protect your legal interests, and to ensure you are optimizing the price and conditions surrounding the sale of your home.

 

OFFER DETAILS

The offer you receive will include: the legal name of the potential Buyer(s), the legal name of the Seller(s), the legal address of the property, the price the Buyer(s) is offering to pay, desired inclusions (items in or around the home that the Buyers wish to have included in the sale, such as appliances, lighting fixtures or window coverings), amount of the Buyer’s deposit, desired dates the potential Buyer would like to take legal and physical possession of the home, legal “conditions” upon which the contract becomes final (such as satisfactory home inspection report or financing approval), and the date the Offer expires. We will examine the Offer closely together.

POTENTIAL RESPONSES

You can respond to an Offer in one of three ways:

  1. Accept as is: your signature(s) finalizes the contract and it becomes a binding legal contract.
  2. Counter Offer: you may make changes to the Offer, such as adjustments to the price, closing date or conditions. When you do so, the prospective Buyer may accept, reject or make another counter Offer in response. Only when one of the parties signs an unconditional acceptance of the other party’s Offer does it become legally binding.
  3. Rejection of the Offer: you may simply reject the Offer and the sale will not go through.

OFFER ACCEPTANCE

Once both parties come to an agreement the Offer is considered “accepted” and they will have a set period of time in which to satisfy the legal conditions agreed to in the contract, such as completing a satisfactory home inspection or securing financing. Only after all conditions are waived do you have a legally binding document.

CLOSING DAY

The closing or completion day is the day the Buyer takes legal possession of the property.

PREPARATION

You will need to select a lawyer to help you complete the sale. If required, I can provide recommendations and provide the lawyer with a signed copy of the contract. As closing day nears, I will monitor the progress of your transaction to ensure there are no last minute issues and concerns. You will need to arrange to meet with your legal counsel before the completion date to review and sign documents. Remember to bring photo identification and a personal cheque to this meeting to pay for legal costs (Your lawyer will advise you further on this point).

CLOSING DAY

On completion day, legal ownership of your property will be transferred to the Buyer. Your lawyer will receive funds for the sale from the Buyer’s lawyer and your lawyer will provide you with a statement of adjustments. This list itemizes all costs payable at completion, including legal fees, taxes and other completion costs. Finally, funds will be used to discharge your mortgage, if applicable, with any remaining proceeds transferred to you in the form of a bank draft.

 

CLOSING COSTS

Closing costs associated with selling a home include adjustments, professional fees,  mortgage discharge fee, capital gains tax (if applicable) and legal fees.

POSSESSION DAY

On possession day, I along with your lawyer will help you coordinate the handing over of keys to the Buyer.

Congratulations!

Helping You Find Your Home!

Here is how I will guide you through the entire home buying process, from viewing homes and financing, to making sure the final contract is in your best interest:

  • You will have full access to all homes available on the market, even listings not available to general public, through my professional affiliations, and VIP lists.
  • My expert local knowledge of the city should be invaluable to you, not just in terms of real estate, but also schools, neighbourhoods, the local economy.
    Every local real estate market absolutely has its own trends and opportunities. This can vary greatly, even one neighbourhood to the next. It’s my job to steer you into opportunities and out of traps.
  • What is the true market value of the home you are interested in? Is it priced too high? Is it a bargain? I help many home-buyers … , and I will make sure that you get the best value for your money.
  • Negotiating with sellers can be stressful. I will help you negotiate, so that the final contract includes your best possible terms and conditions.
  • You should know absolutely everything about the property you are buying! You and I will view every home that you are interested in, together. And prior to closing we will make you fully aware of any and all inspections available to you.
  • Contracts are full of complicated terms and clauses that can greatly affect your future life in your new home. I will give you the full benefit of my real estate knowledge and experience.

When ready, please contact me.

Choosing the Right Agent

Choosing the right agent is one of the most important steps towards the successful sale of your property. They’ll be doing all the hard work in your sale, from listing and marketing your home to negotiating sales and taking care of the legal aspects — all crucial to the success of your sale.

Think of choosing an agent as entering into a business partnership: because that’s exactly what it is — a partnership where both parties stand to gain from a successful result. Here’s a list of 20 questions you should ask:

1. How long have you been in the real estate business?
2. How long have you been affiliated with your company?
3. Are you a full-time real estate agent or do you work elsewhere 9 to 5?
4. Do you have a specific written action plan to present to me now?
5. What marketing samples can you show me? (e.g. Brochures, Flyers, Ads)
6. What do you hand out to Buyers? Can I see one now?
7. Is your marketing national, international and global?
8. How many homes have you personally sold and closed in the past 12 months?
9. What percentage of your listings expire as unsold?
10. What is the average Days-On-Market for your listings?
11. What is the List-To-Sale Ratio on your listings?
12. The internet is the way of the future, what Internet marketing and networking do you do?
13. Will you personally answer all the calls and internet inquiries about my home?
14. Once I hire you, do I talk directly with you, or am I put forward to your office receptionist?
15. Will you keep me informed and up-to-date on all showings and feedback?
16. Will you follow up with the agents who show my home to their Buyers?
17. Will you invest your own money and put a marketing plan in place for my home?
18. Will you provide the potential Buyers a connection to a great Mortgage Broker?
19. Who can qualify Buyers who are interested in purchasing my home?
20. How will you protect my equity in this sale?

Forms of Agency Relationship

From ONTARIO REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATION, WORKING WITH A REALTOR®

Explaining Possible Forms of Agency Relationship

Representation
When a real estate company is a “seller’s agent,” it must do what is best for the seller of a property. A written contract, called a listing agreement, establishes seller agency. It also explains services the company will provide, establishes a fee arrangement for the Realtor’s services and specifies what obligations a seller may have.

A seller’s agent must tell the seller anything known about a buyer. For instance, if a seller’s agent knows a buyer is willing to offer more for a property, that information must be shared with the seller. Confidences a seller shares with a seller’s agent must be kept confidential from potential buyers and others. Although confidential information about the seller cannot be discussed, a buyer working with a seller’s agent can expect fair and honest service from the seller’s agent and disclosure of pertinent information about the property.

Buyer Representation
A real estate company acting as a “buyer’s agent” must do what is best for the buyer. A written contract, called a buyer agency agreement, establishes buyer agency. It also explains services the company will provide, establishes a fee arrangement for the Realtor’s services and specifies what obligations a buyer may have. Typically, buyers will be obliged to work exclusively with that company for a period of time. Confidences a buyer shares with the buyer’s agent must be kept confidential. Although confidential information about the buyer cannot be disclosed, a seller working with a buyer’s agent can expect to be treated fairly and honestly.

Multiple Representation
Occasionally a real estate company will be the agent of both the buyer and the seller. The buyer and seller must consent to this arrangement in their listing and buyer agency agreements. Under this “dual agency” arrangement, the company must do what is best for both the buyer and the seller. Since the company’s loyalty is divided between the buyer and the seller who have conflicting interests, it is absolutely essential that a dual agency relationship be established in a written agency agreement. This agreement specifically describes the rights and duties of everyone involved and any limitations to those rights and duties.

Do You Know Who Is Working For You?
It is important that you understand who the Realtor is working for. For example, both the seller and the buyer may have their own agent which means they each have a Realtor who is working for them. Or, some buyers choose to contact the seller’s agent directly. Under this arrangement the Realtor is working for the seller, and must do what is best for the seller, but may provide many valuable services to the buyer.

A Realtor working with a buyer may even be a “sub-agent” of the seller. Under sub-agency, both the listing agent and the co-operating agent must do what is best for the seller even though the sub-agent may provide many valuable services to the buyer. If the seller and the buyer have the same agent, this is dual agency and the Realtor is working for both the seller and the buyer.

Code of Ethics
Realtors® believe it is important that the people they work with understand their agency relationship. That’s why agency disclosure is included in a self-imposed Code of Ethics which is administered by the Real Estate Council of Ontario. The Code requires Realtors® to disclose in writing the nature of the services they are providing, and encourages Realtors® to obtain written acknowledgement of that disclosure. The Code also requires Realtors® to enter into a written agency agreement with any sellers or buyers they are representing.

Realtors® are governed by the legal concept of “agency.” An agent is legally obligated to look after the best interests of the person he or she is working for. The agent must be loyal to that person. A real estate company may be your agent – if you have clearly established an agency relationship with that Realtor. But often, you may assume such an obligation exists when it does not. Realtors® believe it is important that the people they work with understand when an agency relationship exists and when it does not — and understand what it means.

Purchase Expenses

These are the expenses related to purchasing  a home:

Legal Fees
Approximately $800 – $1,200

Title Insurance
Homes $400,000 or less = Approx. $325
Homes $780,000 = Approx. $625.00

Land Transfer Tax
0.5 % to 2% – based on purchase price. There is a specific formula that needs to be calculated. Also, LTT for Toronto is higher than York region. First time home buyers qualify for a rebate.

CMHC Insurance
.5% to 2.75%, depending on ratio of value / loan – this can be added to mortgage amount and financed over term of mortgage

Property Insurance
Your house must be insured in order to get a mortgage.

Utility Hookup
Phone, cable, etc. may cost around $200.00.

Mortgage Adjustments
This is the portion of the month following closing, to the end of that month. The bank is entitled to mortgage interest on closing to that point, however, your actual mortgage payments won’t start until one calendar month after closing.

Moving Costs
Varies according to distance and volume.

* This information is provided as a guideline only. We do not warrant or guarantee accuracy as each transaction may incur different levels and types of fees.

Closing

No matter how long your closing period is, you’ll find it catches up with you, especially if you also have a home to sell. It’s important to give yourself enough time to get everything done! There’s so much for you to do: arranging for home insurance (which can be tricky if your property needs significant upgrades like removing knob & tube wiring), connecting your utilities, packing… your to-do list is long enough without having to worry about any problems that might arise during the closing period. For example, what happens if you buy a home and the basement floods due to heavy rains before you take possession? (We’ve seen this happen!) Who is responsible, and what can be done about it? Every situation is different, but you can count on our team to negotiate aggressively to protect your interests and help you through anything that might arise!

To guide you safely and comfortably through the closing period, which usually ranges from 30 to 90 days (but can be up to six months depending on what was agreed upon when you bought the house), I will:

  • Arrange visits to your new home for you, as outlined in the Agreement of Purchase & Sale, so you can bring your friends and family to see your new home and take measurements, plan renovations etc.
  • Advise you on any inspections that might be needed
  • Recommend trusted tradespeople to you so you can start getting quotes for any renovations you may wish to carry out once the home is legally yours
  • Provide you with valuable contacts to trusted professionals such as expert real estate lawyers and careful movers
  • Explain costs and fees to you, such as helping you calculate your Land Transfer Tax
  • Recommend moving tips and remind you of important things to do, such as switching your utilities over to the new home in time
  • Help you answer questions about your new property for your insurance company that you wouldn’t automatically know
  • Check in with you on a regular basis to make sure everything is going well and you’re prepared for the big move!

Furthermore, I will also assist you with the following:

  • Moving Preparations. I will guide you how to prepare for your move so that the move doesn’t kill you before you can enjoy your new home.
  • Choosing a Mover. I have special discounts with one of Canada’s most reputable moving companies.
  • After Closing. My services don’t end when you’ve unpacked all the boxes. I am still just a phone call or email away.
  • Recommend Professional Services. I’ve compiled a list of trusted professionals to help you with everything from renovations to legal services.

Role of a Real Estate Lawyer

First your lawyer will send you a letter outlining what documentation he or she may need from you. Since you will likely be paying at least $1200 for legal services, I think it’s important that you know what your lawyer will be doing for you! Below is some detailed information on the role of a real estate lawyer and on what you need to do when working with your lawyer and securing a mortgage.

Your lawyer should advise you what expenses you’re likely to incur with respect to the closing procedures, including:

  • Land Transfer Tax
  • disbursements
  • legal fees

If you’ve bought a new home from a builder, the lawyer can give you an educated estimate as to how much you should budget for “hidden charges” such as:

  • Ontario New Home Warranty Enrolment Fee
  • Hydro and Water meter installation charges
  • Fencing charges
  • Frading Deposit charges
  • * many others

If all the conditions in the Agreement have been met and the Offer is firm, the lawyer proceeds to investigate the title to the property. Initials searches include:

  • utility searches
  • property tax searches
  • building, zoning and planning searches
  • registered title searches

Letters are sent by your lawyer:

  • to all municipal or regional utility departments to confirm that there are no arrears or outstanding charges
  • to ensure there are no conditional sales contracts, easements or unregistered agreements, liens
  • to discover other encumbrances affecting the property or equipment being left by the Seller

Easements are a big issue and cases are always being written up in the newspapers and real estate journals, about buyers who didn’t realize they weren’t allowed to put up fencing or create a parking space because the property survey they were working from didn’t actually show the City’s rights to access the property. Your lawyer’s job is to make sure all this is disclosed to you. Your lawyer will also advise the utility departments of your name and the scheduled closing date, and request that final meter readings be done on the closing date so the final bills can be sent to the Seller.

A Tax Certificate is requested by your solicitor to verify the amount of the current year’s taxes and to ask about any arrears and outstanding charges for taxes. Your lawyer will also write to the Building and Zoning Department to get the full particulars of zoning by-laws and restrictions and permitted uses (so you’ll know if you’re allowed to operate a business from your home or build a huge deck, for example). It’s important that you send your lawyer a copy of the survey for the property as soon as possible – if the Seller has a survey, I’ll get it for you if it’s not already included in the offer documents. If no survey exists, tell your lawyer so he/she can advise how your interests can be protected through Title Insurance.

A Search of Title to the property is begun in the Land Registry Office to make sure the Seller is the true owner of the property, has the right to sell you the property, and that the property is not subject to any encumbrances, encroachments, easements, liens, agreements or mortgages that were not disclosed in the Agreement or Purchase and Sale. You may have heard of fraud cases where people’s homes were sold out from under them by con artists who had no title to the land! This is where your lawyer really earns his fees. This search has to be completed prior to the Requisition Date (title search date) shown on your Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

Other important functions of your lawyer include:

  • Carry out a search of Executions in the appropriate Sheriff’s Office to ensure that there are no executions against the prior owners of the property that would affect your title.
  • Prepare and deliver a letter to the Seller’s lawyer requesting that any items revealed in the initial searches be dealt with on or before closing
  • Review the contents of the Mortgage Commitment letter your bank will prepare when you arrange your financing, and consult with you about the results of signing it
  • Advise you of any closing-day costs related to mortgage financing when your financial institution provides you with a final Mortgage Commitment Letter
  • If your lawyer is also acting on behalf of the financial institution (it often happens), he/she will prepare all necessary documentation for the mortgage and submit this package to the financial institution for approval prior to closing
  • Certify title of the property to the financial institution on closing
  • Advise you about any government programs designed to assist home buyers that would apply to you, including Land Transfer Tax Rebate programs, Ontario Home Ownership Savings Plans, RRSP plans, and CMHC 5% Down Payment information

A note on home insurance…if you’re getting a mortgage, you MUST have fire insurance to cover the property from the day of closing. Let your insurance broker know the name, address, phone number and fax number of both your lawyer and of the financial institution providing your mortgage. Your lawyer needs a letter confirming that insurance coverage is in place effective on closing – this is super important because the bank will not advance the $ to close your purchase until they know that you have property insurance.

Home Inspection

Buying a home is a big investment. Doing a home inspection can protect you by ensuring you don’t get less than you bargained for.

There are two ways to arrange an inspection.

Method one: If there’s enough time before the offer date, you can find, or I can arrange for a home inspector to come in before you even register your offer – the cost to you is approximately $400-$500. If there’s no ‘holdback’ date, of course there’s a chance that someone else could make an offer on the home before you are ready. To reduce this risk, I can get next-day service from the qualified home inspectors on my Recommended Professional Services list.

Method two: The other option is to put a condition in the offer, stating that the agreement will be null and void unless you are satisfied with the inspection report. Usually you have 3-5 business days after acceptance of the offer, to get an inspector in there. Again, this can weaken your position if there is more than one offer on the property.

A qualified home inspector will give the home a thorough examination, checking the heating and cooling systems, plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement, basically all visible structures of the home. They’ll point out the need for major repairs, identify areas that may need attention in the near future, and explain what level of maintenance will be needed to keep the house in good shape. Most inspectors are more than happy to tell you about the home’s good qualities as well, so you can decide if it’s a good fit. Sometimes the final reports can be hard to read if you don’t know too much about the inner workings of a house, so we’ll go over the report together to make sure everything is clear.

Offer accepted. What’s next?

Congratulations. The Seller liked your offer, and now it’s a done deal. Typically, you have about 30-90 days before the home is yours to move in to. It’s now time to celebrate as you imagine moving onto the next phase of your life. Maybe it’s a brand-new neighborhood for you, too, so you’ll want to spend some time exploring the area keeping an eye out for the restaurants, shops and parks that will soon become your favorites.

There’s also a long list of things to accomplish from your end, such as booking movers, packing, and arranging for utilities in your new place (see page on moving for details of everything that should happen). You may also be putting plans in place for renovations. I will remind you of key dates, what needs to be done, and recommend professionals to help you get everything done smoothly.

A brief note on buyer’s remorse…I’ve worked with buyers who are so worried about making a commitment that they miss several good opportunities. While the choice to buy a home is ultimately yours, my job is to advocate for you, which means I’ll bring you back to the plans you originally brought into our office when you first made the decision to buy a home. Together we can frequently re-evaluate your position to see how things are going and whether anything’s changed – your search criteria, price range, personal circumstances. All this careful evaluation, as well as thorough followup, really pays off! Though finally assuming the responsibility of homeownership can still be scary, our team provides a lot of support to help you manage it. Our goal is for you to be absolutely exhilarated by your purchase and as a result, the vast majority of our clients have been thrilled both by the process and by the end product – their beautiful new home. Please see our Testimonials section to hear this in our past clients’ own words.

Of course, during the closing period my team will also handle the many details that remain behind the scenes: liaising with the other agent, coming with you on any access visits to the property that you’re entitled to so you can preview your new home, making sure all parties are followed up with in a timely manner. I will always start by making sure you get a fully signed copy of your Agreement of Purchase and Sale for you records, and get these documents to your lawyer right away. If you don’t have or know of an experienced real estate lawyer, I’d be happy to recommend you to one I use frequently.

Looking for a home

Home ownership is an intense experience, as important as the relationships in our lives. Why? Your home is where it all happens. It is your private palace, made just as you want it. I’m here to make sure you get exactly the right home for you.

By the time my clients meet with me, they’ve often done their own online research, looked at For Sale signs in different neighborhoods, even spent precious weekends going to public open houses. But they are nervous to invest the hundreds of thousands or even millions involved without no guarantees. The people who contact my team have usually decided that the expertise of an experienced Realtor is required to make their real estate dreams come true.

I can offer a number of strong guarantees:

  • guarantee that your house will have proper title (deposits won’t vanish into thin air or be lost on trick conditions)
  • you will make an appropriate offer for the value of the house (not overpay)
  • you will get the house of your choice more often than not (not underbid)
  • the house will free of substantial hidden defect (inspection)
  • you will get fair financing (if you are not happy with what your own bank offers you)
  • you will have far fewer headaches during the process
  • you will be confident throughout the buying process that you are not making any missteps

Before we go out looking at homes in person, we’ll sit down for a full consultation so I can get a better picture of what your ideal scenario is. During this consultation, I’m going to ask you some thought-provoking questions, and as I listen to the answers, I’ll be learning more about your homeownership goals and desires. Of course, I’m also there to answer all your questions! We’ll discuss things like your preferred neighborhoods, the different ways to own a home (such as condo townhomes vs. freehold townhomes), the price range you’re comfortable with, offers, closings, and what to expect during the whole buying process in plain English.

My clients keep coming back to me, as they value peace of mind and certainty. I know my business and I take very good care of my clients interests.