How to Sell Your House – The Complete Vancouver Sellers Guide
Thinking of selling your detached house? We’ve helped hundreds of Vancouver homeowners sell their houses. Read on to find out how to sell your Vancouver house for top dollar in a timely manner.
Wondering how to sell your Vancouver Home? Not sure where to start? We’ve helped Vancouver home Sellers sell their homes.
Here’s our top Vancouver homeowner's advice.
Contents: Selling your home in Vancouver
Decide When To Sell Your Vancouver House
Prep and get Ready: Declutter, Stage and Clean
More House Prep Work
Pricing Your Vancouver house for Sale
Marketing Your House
How to Sell Your House – Some Final Tips
Step #1 – Decide When to Sell Your Vancouver House
If only there were an easy answer to the often-asked question of: When should I sell my house? Important considerations include:
Best time of year to sell your house– Real estate in Vancouver is less seasonal than other parts of the country due to its milder winters and follows more of a demand model, this said in general December and August historically being the slowest months. We find that the best months to list a Detached house for sale in Vancouver are February, March, April and September when home Buyers are motivated and the other Sellers are busy preparing to list their houses for sale in the “spring” or “fall” markets. This said demand changes and market trends are an important consideration.
Current competition in your neighbourhood – At any given time, there are only so many Buyers looking for the kind of house you have. If those Buyers have a big selection of houses like yours to look at, you can expect to have fewer showings and fewer offers which will usually result in a lower price. On The Other Hand, if you’re the only renovated four-bedroom house with a suite and garage for sale in your neighbourhood, everyone will flock to your house, so understanding the marker is key.
Current competition in similar neighbourhoods – Most Buyers have two or three target neighbourhoods they want to live in, so it’s important to consider what’s for sale in neighbourhoods similar to yours too. Similar neighbourhoods aren’t just those that are physically close but include those similar in quality of the schools, proximity to parks, restaurants, services and transportation and similar in terms of the type of people who live there (singles, couples, families, retirees, etc.)
Other factors to consider is the state of the Vancouver real estate market – Interest rates and consumer confidence affect prices, and while the Vancouver market has been on an upswing for a long time, like any other type of market, what goes up usually comes down. What’s going on in the Vancouver market right now and what are expectations?
Your personal needs and goals – If you’re moving out of the city or have already bought a new house, then that timing will likely override everything else. Equally, an upcoming baby, need for a live-in nanny, wedding or divorce might dictate your timing too.
Step #2: Get moving - Declutter, Clean and Stage
When preparing your house for sale, keep these 3 goals in mind:
Declutter to increase the space you have and allow potential buyers to imagine living in your home. Remove personal items, extra armoires and anything that could distract potential buyers. Smaller furniture will make the rooms look bigger, so consider swapping out that King-sized bed that takes up the whole bedroom for a smaller one, and replacing the large couch with a more compact version. Clear out closets, donate items you don’t use. As a professional, I have sold many homes and always take a moment to give you the best advice when it comes to prepping the home.
Make sure every room is staged to its optimal use It’s OK if you’re using two of the bedrooms as offices, but convert them back to bedrooms while the house is listed for sale. Many buyers don’t often have great imaginations, so put a bed in the bedroom, a dining table in the dining room and a desk in the den. A good Vancouver REALTOR will spend time identifying your house’s target Buyer and will guide you to stage your home to reflect how they would want to live in it to maximize your profitability.
Make it shine, the cleaner your home is, the faster it will sell. Buyers won’t just look at surfaces – they’ll look inside your closets, your kitchen cupboards, and your bathroom vanity. Make sure everything sparkles and you are one step closer to success.
Extra steps for detached houses:
Work on your house Curb Appeal, more than once we’ve had buyers pull up to the front of a house they were interested in and instantly decide to go home. How your house looks from the outside – the porch, door, walkway, gardens will set the tone for how a buyer feels about your home. Give it the attention it deserves.
The Small Repairs – We all have things in our house that we’ve ignored, and now is the time to take care of all that stuff. Hiring a handyman for a day can help show Buyers that your home was well maintained and keep them focused on the important things (instead of the leaky faucet in the kitchen).
Basement – Buyers love basements, especially in Vancouver where many are rented out or used as other living areas, so make sure to showcase yours to the fullest. Clear out the clutter and make sure that Buyers and home inspectors can easily reach the electrical panel and furnace. If your basement can be used as a second apartment, make sure that’s obvious to Buyers too.
Your Backyard Oasis – Many houses have been sold because of the outdoor space, so make the most of your backyard potential. Consider re-staining the deck, updating your gardens, fixing the fence and getting some stylish patio furniture. If you’re selling your home in the winter, provide summer photos of your yard to your agent, everybody loves to imagine hosting a BBQ on a beautiful Vancouver summer day.
The Homeworking Mechanics – While Buyers are often swayed by granite counters, hardwood floors and fancy appliances, the mechanics of your house matter too. The furnace, A/C, hot water tank, electrical, plumbing, roof, and insulation are all important: make sure your Vancouver real estate agent knows every unsexy detail about your house.
Step #3: Get Set: More Prep Work
Get your records together a good Vancouver agent will be asking you for copies of your heating, electrical and utility and tax bills, so take the time to photocopy or scan them. Any current warranties and manuals should be gathered too for the next owner, these small things can make a big difference and give home buyers confidence about the home they are buying.
Make a list of renovations and repairs compile a list of all the renovations and repairs that have been completed since you have owned the house. Be prepared to discuss with your REALTOR any current issues with the house – it’s better to disclose any ongoing issues then get sued later.
Make an extra set of keys, so your agent is ready.
Get a pre-list home inspection – In some cases completing a pre-listing home inspection before you put your house on the market will help you identify any issues with the home that might be objections for Buyers. For example: the home inspector may determine that your house needs a new roof. Armed with that information, you can choose to either a) fix the roof before putting the house up for sale, or b) factor it into your asking price. Either way, having accurate information puts you in control of how the deficiencies in your house will affect the price you get for the house. If you’re pricing your home for a bidding war, making the pre-listing home inspection available to Buyers will encourage them to make offers.
Step #4: Staging your Vancouver House
Home staging is a must for almost every house if your goal is to sell it for as much money as possible. Depending on the condition of your home this may be done with just some minor touches here and there, but sometimes you may require the services of a professional home staging company, we can help with all this and explain your options.
Step #5: Pricing Your House for Sale
Pricing a detached house in Vancouver can be both a science and an art, understanding the state of the market, current perceptions, house condition, future trends, potential and more come into play. Your Vancouver REALTOR will discuss with you the pros and cons of pricing your house for a bidding war vs pricing high with the intent to negotiate vs pricing your home at market value, every type of strategy has its pros and cons, and not every strategy is right for a particular market.
In the end, Buyers will decide how much your home is worth by deciding how much they want to pay for it. Buyers will consider:
Recent sales on your street and in your neighbourhood
Recent sales of similar properties in nearby neighbourhoods
Properties currently on the market
Current market conditions
The size, finishes, and condition of your home
Location – what’s happening in your neighbourhood and how people expect it to change in the short and medium terms
Other things that can be important to Vancouver home Buyers include:
Parking and/or a garage, rental suite
The basement (whether or not it’s finished or can be used as a second rental suite to offset mortgage costs)
Closets and storage, Style (modern vs character, etc.)
Step #6: Marketing your Vancouver detached house
One of your real estate agent’s most important jobs will be making sure potential Vancouver home Buyers see your house. A comprehensive marketing campaign for your house should include both traditional and digital marketing and aim to make people fall in love with your house. Real estate marketing should include:
Amazing Photography/Videography – Professional photography is a must! Most buyers will see your home for the first time online, and if the photos don’t capture their attention, they’ll move on to the next house and be lost to you forever. We’ve also had tremendous success in producing videos that show Buyers what their life could be like if they lived in your house, this depends on the property and every home will have a unique marketing strategy that a knowledgeable agent should advise accordingly to what type of marketing would work best for your home.
For Sale Signs – It’s not unusual for Buyers to cruise their target neighbourhoods in search of their perfect house, so a For Sale sign on the lawn is always recommended.
Open Houses – Weekend open housing are very popular in Vancouver. So if you get an agent saying I don’t do open houses, it’s time to change! Yes while curious neighbours will undoubtedly make an appearance, open houses are a great way to showcase your home to real potential Buyers, many buyers will look at tons of homes before ever contacting their buyer's agent. Depending on your neighbourhood and how well the open house has been promoted, you can expect anywhere from 6 to 70 or more people to attend. Great agents will be able to spot the serious and motivated Buyers and will make selling your home their only priority. Your agent may suggest hosting an open house on Saturday, Sunday or both days, so be prepared to leave your home for 2, 3 or 4 hours. We’ve had great success hosting special open houses for the neighbours and other agents to view your home on Thursday evening too (most interested Vancouver smart buyers will many times view the home first).
Online Marketing – With 92% of Buyers starting their search on the web, being found online is critical! And….there’s a lot more to being found online than being listed on realtor.ca. Make sure you’re working with a real estate agent who knows how to leverage websites to your and your house’s advantage.
Print Marketing – Most agents will print feature sheets for your home so that the potential Buyers who see it will have a takeaway of information and photos. Depending on your REALTOR and your ideal Buyer, your home might also be promoted with postcards or other print material, we showcase not only the house but the community in our print material.
Your ideal Home Buyer is out there – they may be first time Vancouver buyers, the parents of first-time buyers, an international investor, a recent divorcee, a newly married couple, seniors who’ve just sold their family home or a young couple with a baby on the way, I have sold homes to every type of buyer. Clever real estate agents will go to great lengths to profile your target Buyer and create a marketing campaign to reach them all and maximize your home exposure.
Step #7: Showings
When Vancouver Buyers make an appointment to see your house, keep the following in mind:
Leave your house! There’s nothing more distracting for a Buyer than having to walk around the owner and feeling watched.
Be flexible with showing times – Most Buyers look at properties in the evening or on the weekends but this can also change and be during the day, so be ready.
Pets: Not everyone will love your dog or cat as much as you do. At a minimum, crate them during showings. Ideally, take them for a walk or board them.
Consider temporarily moving out of your home while it’s for sale – If your home is popular with Buyers, you may have 5 or 10 or more showings every day. Going on a weekend getaway or staying at a friends’ or parents’ house can make your life a lot more tolerable – especially if you have kids or pets, we can always discuss your options.
Keep your home clean. Cleanliness matters! It isn’t enough to have a clean house on day 1. You’ll need to wash the dishes, make the beds, wash the floors and weed the garden every day while it’s listed for sale, that perfect buyer may want to view your home at the least expected time, so be ready.
Step #8: Offers
The offer reality, Sad but true: not every house Seller gets a bidding war with a subject free offer and deposit in hand. While your agent will take you through what to expect come offer time, if there is only one buyer for your house, you can expect to see the following two important conditions in an offer among others:
A financing condition, which allows the Buyer to confirm their mortgage qualifications with a lender
A home inspection condition, which allows the Buyer to bring in a home inspector of their choosing to go through the home. Home inspections generally last 2-3 hours.
Of course, there’s a lot more to negotiate than conditions: there’s price, closing date (the date the Buyer takes possession and wants to move in), inclusions (appliances, big screen TV’s, etc.) and deposit (usually 5% of the purchase price in Vancouver although this can also change, paid within 24 hours of the offer being accepted).
In the event of multiple offers (more commonly referred to as a bidding war), offers will generally be “firm”, meaning there are no conditions. There are many ways for a bidding war to proceed – your agent will suggest different strategies to help you get the highest price.
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Step #9: Closing Day for my Sold House
You have a firm sale on your Vancouver home, as closing day approaches (the day the new Buyer takes possession) you or your lawyer will need to make sure to:
Inform the utility companies of your impending move
Inform the city so that you don’t continue to pay property taxes
Cancel your home insurance (to take effect after you have confirmation that the sale has closed)
A couple of days before closing the day, you’ll need to visit your lawyer or notary and sign a lot of paperwork. When the property is transferred to the new owner, you will get the money via your lawyer (less real estate commissions, legal fees, and any adjustments).
How to Sell Your Vancouver House – Some Final Tips
Be socially discreet. Smart buyers (and their agents) are apt to creep Sellers online before putting in an offer. Don’t announce on Facebook that you bought a new house before your current house is sold this simple post just made you lose leverage. Don’t Instagram the leak in the basement or that small mouse you need to get get out of the house. Don’t tweet about the poor sucker you sold your house to whose offer was 80K above everyone else’s. Don’t announce to the world that you are finding the selling process stressful, that you’re two weeks away from having a baby or that you’re getting divorced. Don’t in any way imply that you’re desperate to sell your home. Don’t think it happens? Those are all true stories we can talk about.
While your home is on the market, pretend you don’t live there (or better yet, move out).
Yes, it’s a pain to make your bed everyday, wash the dishes, take out the garbage, put away your clean (and dirty) clothes, clean the litterbox and wash the floors every day, but keeping your house or condo in tip-top shape for showings is ESSENTIAL to getting top dollar.
KIS- Keep it Simple
If you smoke on your balcony or deck, hide the evidence. Put away your sex and drug paraphernalia. We won’t judge you, but I can’t say the same about potential Buyers.
Remember That Your Vancouver REALTOR Is On Your Side
If you’ve chosen to work with an ethical agent, don’t lie to them. Tell them the real reason you are selling (even if it’s divorce or you’ve gotten yourself into a financial mess). Disclose the good AND the bad about your home. Tell them what you really want – or need – both financially and from the selling experience. Your agent works for you, and their only job is to protect your interests. If you don’t trust your agent, fire them and hire someone else.
Try not to get greedy.
Your Vancouver Realtor should be able to show you how much your property is worth and why. Overpricing is a dangerous game where the Seller almost always loses. Truth: every Seller thinks they live in the best condo or house on the block and thinks their property is worth more than everyone else’s. It’s a proven fact that properties that have been overpriced sit on the market longer and generally sell for less than they would have had they been priced accurately in the beginning. This is one of the hardest things to do, but at the end of the day, you’ll be the one that benefits most if done properly.
The agent you choose to hire matters. With over 13,000 agents in the Greater Vancouver area, there are all types of agents, with all types of experience and skillsets. Don’t put your biggest financial asset at risk by selling with the wrong agent. There are lots of talented and experienced agents out there – interview agents before hiring them, ask questions and ask for references.
There’s more to marketing your Vancouver home than putting it on the MLS.
Exposing your home to more potential Buyers unequivocally brings in more money. Ask where your home is being marketed and ask for weekly updates of how well that’s working.
Be flexible with showing times. Most Buyers shop after 5 pm and on weekends. Make it convenient for them to see your home. When you say ‘no’ to a showing, recognize that those Buyers rarely ever re-schedule, so you’re really saying ‘no’ to a potential Buyer buying your home.
Set realistic expectations and remember that only the exceptional Vancouver Real Estate stories make the news, so don’t generalize everything. I good agent will be able to explain things as they truly are and not fantasy stories that only happen once in a Vancouver red Moon.
The average time to sell a property in Vancouver changes, type, area, everything is a factor, so don’t panic if your home isn’t sold in the first week. And remember that not all Vancouver houses sell over the asking price or get the bidding war the Sellers were hoping for.