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It's A Fast Changing 2022 Real Estate Market

Steps to make your home sale stand out when it's no longer a "Sellers" real estate market.

It is vividly clear to everyone, through mainstream news and social media, the housing market in the GTA and Golden Horseshoe has taken an abrupt turn from the frenzy of the pandemic’s “Sellers Market”.

A more balanced market has emerged. Sales activity has slowed. The holding of offers (bidding wars) has given way to a far more comfortable negotiating process. Properties remain available for longer, albeit typical, periods of time. Price reductions are becoming more frequent. Everyone can take a breath and approach the selling and buying of a residence armed with knowledge, common sense and practical considerations.

Inventory does continue to flow onto local real estate trading areas, but buyer interest has slowed somewhat. Rising interest rates, the cost of living and global instability are certainly influencing factors.

As a seller, how do you make your home as attractive as possible to potential buyers in a new, more competitive atmosphere?

Selling and buying is often a hand-in-hand process. When you walk through the front door of a potential new home for your own family, you see a stranger’s property. You view the scene with a critical eye.

In turn, you need to understand the buyer’s perspective of your home. They don’t feel the familiar surroundings, or care about the visual records of family accomplishments that matter to you. They’re considering the layout of the living room, whether the kitchen is large enough and functional enough for their family, and deciding if the bathrooms are outdated.

Preparation is everything.

Detached Southwest Oakville Home

When preparing your property for sale, it’s important to approach the exercise from the buyer’s point of view. Walk through each and every room asking yourself “buyer questions”. If possible, enlist the help of a trusted relative or friend to act the part of a potential buyer. Naturally, this only works if they are willing to give an honest assessment and not simply attempt to spare your feelings.

Look for both negative and positive aspects.

  • Does the home feel cramped and cluttered?
  • Are there items in obvious need of repair?
  • Rather than bright and airy does the space seem dark and stuffy?
  • The modernized kitchen has great features and conveniences.
  • The roof, garage door, furnace and air conditioner have been newly replaced.
  • The landscaping creates a curb appeal to be envied.

The most popular updates and renovations will set your home apart from more dated properties.

  1. Kitchens and bathrooms.
  2. Flooring.
  3. Big ticket items.

Staging is imperative and its value should never be underestimated. Staging highlights your home’s best features and minimizes the not so great points. An interested buyer is more likely to purchase a property that shows well. Similarly, professional online photographs are the first introduction of your home to the public. This is not the time for DIY phone camera pictures.

As a buyer, we look for certain features relevant to our family’s needs and lifestyle. As a seller, don’t overlook the items that will cause someone to reject your home.

The small & big fixes.

Dripping bathroom faucet.
Photo by Jos Speetjens on Unsplash

Repair work that has accumulated over the years can sabotage your efforts and your bottom line. Buyers and professional home inspectors will note any maintenance issues. Plan to fix or replace window caulking, uneven patio stones, cracked or chipped floor tiles, leaky faucets and nail holes in the wall.

Many repairs have more to do with your time rather than being an expensive remodelling project. If you have neither the time nor the expertise, it’s a worthwhile investment to hire a qualified tradesperson.

Disarray & cleanliness.

Rubber gloved hand holding a spray bottle.
Photo by Jeshoots on Unsplash

“How can someone live here?” This is not the question you want running through anyone’s mind.

A cluttered house, in disarray and less than spotlessly clean, is the biggest deterrent to having a buyer fall in love with the property. Now is the time to declutter, pack up, donate and toss items not moving with you to your next home. Think minimalistic. Clean everything!

Displaying personal items & collections.

A display of colourful toy model cars.
Photo by Alevision.co on Unsplash

The goal when selling is to NOT divert a buyer’s attention from seeing your present home as their next home.

Pack up framed portraits, trophies, awards and diplomas. Replace your favourite feature wall of family photographs with neutral artwork. Figurines, CD’s, bauble heads, die cast toy cars; in fact, collections of any kind should be out of sight and safely stored, not only to depersonalize your space, but to prevent any possible loss resulting from an open house.

Cluttered countertops & cupboards.

Kitchen with white cupboards and tiles and countertops with small appliances.
Photo by Roam in Colour on Unsplash

Buyers will spend a good deal of time in the kitchen examining appliances, cupboards and counter space. The same holds true for bathroom vanities and linen closets. They may be dreaming of a magazine worthy kitchen or ensuite, but in real life, it’s likely impractical or downright unachievable.

But – these are the things you can and should do.

Pack up seldom used equipment/utensils to create a temporary garage space in your cupboards for small kitchen appliances normally found on your countertop. Be certain the inside of major appliances are spotlessly clean. Do not leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher or hide pots and pans in the oven. Have a plastic bin in the bathroom to quickly store personal care items out of sight in a closet.

This is a particularly important task, not only for showings and open house, but for your listing’s photographs and marketing videos.

Decor & design.

Living room with blue sofa, blue drapes, and taupe side chairs.
Photo by Max Vakhtbovych on Pexels

Paint. It’s likely the most frequently recommended “fix” when listing your home for sale. Your personal style is reflected in the deep green feature wall in the great room, the complimentary lavender shades in your child’s bedroom and the vibrant mahogany colour in the den; but, this is the time to paint over colours that may be off-putting to potential buyers.

Fun colours are for living, but neutral colours are for selling.

A complete painting refresh of the home to eliminate the evidence of day-to-day wear does pay off in the long run, but if that’s not possible renew the problem areas with neutral colours.

Window coverings are another potential design element that can sour buyers on your home. It doesn’t matter how much you spent on customs draperies, the buyer will probably dislike them. (It’s like wallpaper – no one ever appreciates someone else’s selections). Draperies can obscure the windows – an important architectural feature, collect dust, and become faded on the sun facing side. Take them down in favour of simple blinds or shutters and let in the light. Draperies are often excluded in the sale anyway, so why not get them cleaned and packed away in advance of your move? Decorative curtain rods are considered a fixture. Any you may wish to keep should be removed, and the walls repaired.

A dimly lit home feels unwelcoming. Turn on all of the lights for showings and open house days. During the shorter daylight hours of fall and winter, put lamps on timers or install smart lighting.

What about houseplants? We know of their important air cleaning benefits, and they certainly can be a relaxing hobby, but when do they become a deterrent to selling? Your home is on display – not your philodendrons. Don’t let plants overwhelm a space. Ask a neighbour to care for them for a time, and if necessary, those that are unsightly or unhealthy could be composted.

If your home features beautiful hardwood, engineered or laminate flooring, don’t hide them by covering them with too many area rugs. Ideal for defining spaces and dampening noise, rugs should have a cohesive design and colour palette throughout the house.

Unlike your television, your home does have Smell-o-vision.

Three garlic bulbs on table.
Photo by Mike Keneally on Unsplash

You may not notice any odours present in your home but visitors will as soon as they enter. Pet and cooking odours being the most common complaints.

  1. It might be a good time for Fido to have a bath.
  2. Keep kitty litter pans clean.
  3. Refrain from making strong smelling foods.
  4. Empty the trash and compost bins frequently.
  5. Keep dirty laundry covered and out of sight.
  6. Store pungent sports equipment out of the house and in the garage.
  7. Open windows to let the air circulate and refresh.

Avoid the use of strongly perfumed candles or plug-in air fresheners because your favourite scent might be offensive to others. These products can also suggest an attempt to cover up unpleasant aromas. Instead, have carpets and upholstered furniture steam cleaned, wash windows with a vinegar/water solution and sanitize or replace items, such as pet beds, that can trap and hold disagreeable smells.

Pets.

Smiling dog with blue blanket on blue dog bed with potted plants nearby.
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Pets are family. Your home is also their home. When your residence is on the real estate market, special considerations must be given to the comfort of both pets and potential purchasers. People can be allergic, distracted by, or even fearful of animals.

It can be unsettling for our furry family members when strangers walk through their space.

If possible take your dog for a walk or an outing during showings and open house hours. Remove food and water dishes from sight. If you can’t always be around, perhaps arranging playdates with neighbours or enrolment in doggy daycare would be best.

It’s a little more difficult for cats. Ensure agents and their clients are aware of your feline’s presence. Place an effective pet gate at the front door to prevent escape. Alternatively, set aside a secure area and ask that people refrain from encroaching on the cat’s space.

Obviously fish or guinea pigs are unlikely to care about visitors, and visitors are unlikely to worry about their presence, but PLEASE, reptiles can be terrifying for many and are best cared for off-site.

Converted & double-duty rooms.

Two make shift desks against a wall with white cabinet.
Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels

The unprecedented work from home arrangement necessitated by Covid required many of us to convert rooms from their intended use into a home office, a work space, or school and homework area.

If there are abundant bedrooms or a dedicated spot in the basement rec room, then it’s unlikely to deter any potential buyers; however, if the work at home situation has changed the dining room into an office or kid’s playroom, it’s time to consider converting it back to its original purpose. If you don’t – you leave it for the buyer’s imagination to see the room function as intended. Don’t assume others can see the room in their mind’s eye.

Curb appeal & landscaping.

Detached Brick Bungalow in Westoak Trails

If your home and yard look untidy and unattractive from the street, then qualified buyers may drive right past and not return.

  • Keep the grass cut, shrubbery trimmed and plants free from spent flowers and debris.
  • Spend a little time edging and weeding flower beds.
  • Add fresh mulch.
  • Keep walkways swept and the porch free of toys and shoes.
  • Brush away any cobwebs.
  • Wash off dust and dirt regularly from the entrance and garage doors.
  • In the colder months, keep the leaves raked and the drive and walk free of snow and ice.
  • A splash of winter colour in the form of an evergreen arrangement at the front door creates a welcoming feeling.

Curb appeal is the first impression of your property and it sets the tone.

The ebbs & flows.

Southern Ontario’s housing market has historically, and will in the future, experience constant ebbs and flows. Available inventory, mortgage interest rates, employment, inflation and global influences continue to impact the ever changing landscape of the real estate market.

The key is to recognize and understand market conditions and plan to be adaptive.

Properties are bought and sold in every season and in every market situation, whether it’s a seller, balanced, or buyer setting. No matter which market you find yourself in, it is always worthwhile to take the necessary steps to shine the best light on your home sale.

 

Top Photo by Curtis Adams on Pexels
Cheryl Tym, Sales Representative, REMAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage
Cheryl Tym
REALTOR®, RE/MAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage

A full time REALTOR® dedicated to providing the best possible service and outcome for clients and their families. International sales, marketing and negotiating skills were part of the daily routine while living and working overseas as Director of Operations for an international hospitality marketing firm. A graduate of Sheridan’s Interior Design Program, and recipient of the Professionalism Award, my artistry and knowledge will highlight the very best features of your property, inside and out.

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CHERYL TYM, REALTOR®
RE/MAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage
Independently Owned and Operated
A-309 Lakeshore Road East
Oakville, Ontario, L6J 1J3
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