Real Estate: Your Complete Guide to Selling a Property
Last modified: 2020/10/30 | Approximate reading time 14 mins
Selling a property is not always easy. Whether it’s having to gather all the documents, looking for potential buyers or managing visits, many people feel lost in the process. This is even more true for people who are selling a home for the first time.
To sell a home quickly and avoid the pitfalls of this type of project, it is important to be well accompanied by certified professionals. In getting proper advice, you will be sure to make the right choices.
This guide is divided into 10 main steps that are intrinsic to selling a property. It is built to guide the seller in a straightforward and easy manner as they go through the different procedures that make up the process.
The XpertSource.com platform was created to help homeowners as they work on selling their property. It brings together a network of real estate agents, mortgage brokers, building inspectors, evaluators and notaries who are there to guide you through every step.
By sending your project to XpertSource.com, you are ensured that you will be put in contact with certified professionals that have all the right authorizations to carry out their tasks. We also conduct a background check with the Office de la Protection du Consommateur (OPC).
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XpertSource's complete guide to selling a home
Identifying the right reasons to sell your property
Once the purchase offer has been signed and accepted, it will be very difficult for you to modify or cancel the terms. It is therefore important to be comfortable with your decision before putting your property up for sale.
The reasons for selling a home are unique to everyone. However, here are two main points that can represent good reasons to sell:
This is one of the main reasons why an individual decides to sell their property. Some sell to buy a larger or smaller property. Others want to change neighbourhoods to live in a quieter or more dynamic place. Still, others sell for personal or professional reasons.
Many people have given up their property due to all the constraints and responsibilities that it entails. In becoming a tenant, they could save the time spent on maintaining a house and the costs associated with it.
In addition, many elderly people have to sell their home because they can no longer take care of it, or because it is no longer suitable for their condition. Several people decide to get rid of their property to cover their costs at the retirement home.
Nowadays in Quebec, a property can be worth a few hundred thousand dollars. Selling real estate is the best way to quickly gather cash with the goal to finance personal or professional projects, such as starting a business or any other project. It must be said that the banks will be much more comfortable with the idea of financing a client who can come up with a good personal contribution.
Since many neighbourhoods have grown in value in recent years, some are selling to take advantage of the rising market. This is often the case for people who inherit real estate.
As you can see there are many different reasons that can lead you to want to sell a property. The main thing will be to take the time to think and determine if you are really making the right choice depending on your situation. There are many professionals who can advise you and help you make the right decisions (real estate broker, financial advisor, lawyer, notary).
Adding curb appeal to the home
When it comes to embellishing your property, refreshing the walls with paint or adding some decorative elements can make quite a difference. By improving your home’s curb appeal, you will be more likely to stand out and to optimize your chances of attracting new buyers.
More and more homeowners decide to renovate before they put their home on the market to sell quickly and at the best price. This is a wise and profitable option that can provide added value to your home.
Whether you’ve opted to sell alone or with the help of a real estate agent, it would be recommended to hire a professional photographer for quality images.
Many real estate agents include this type of service in their brokerage contract to earn more visibility in property ads.
Good to know
To attract buyers, it is important to work on your interior décor, favouring a neutral atmosphere. Be sure to remove any odd décor items that are not to everyone’s taste. The buyer should be able to imagine themselves living there without difficulty.
Carrying out a pre-sale inspection
Having the property inspected by a professional will help you ensure that you are selling a home that is in good state to your buyer. A pre-sale inspection implies analyzing the visible components and easily accessible elements of the different systems within the home (plumbing, heating, roof, insulation) in order to detect eventual problems and hidden defects. It will also help you learn about existing issues and give you the chance to correct them rapidly.
Getting a building inspector to analyze your home is a great way to protect yourself from any future lawsuits once the sale has been completed.
With the support of a documented report, it will be easier for you to prove that the problem in question was not detected during the building inspection.
By presenting an inspection report during the first visits, you will earn the trust of potential buyers with a home that has been assessed by an expert.
The buyer will also hire a building inspector before they close the sale process. This step generally occurs after the promise to purchase has been signed.
Evaluating the home
Your property has certainly increased in value since the day you bought it, most of all if you carried out renovations. The best way to know its true value would be to mandate a certified appraiser.
In hiring an appraiser who is a member of the Ordre des évaluateurs du Québec (OEAQ), you will be getting the right information about the market value of your property.
This real estate expert will provide a neutral opinion, as they have no vested interest in the sale of your property.
The evaluator will start by visiting your home in order to examine its components. Next, the information they have gathered will serve to provide an estimation of the home’s value, depending on its general state, location, size and equipment.
The appraiser’s role, among other things, will be to establish a list of comparable homes sold recently in your area. They will also compare supply and demand in your residential sector before they provide an evaluation report.
Getting a location certificate
The location certificate is a document that attests to the current condition of a real estate property with regards to the titles of property, the land register, as well as the laws and rules that may affect it.
In this report, there will be information about the building’s size, the pool, exterior siding, doors and windows, among other things.
Each of the elements must remain unchanged from the moment that the land surveyor has provided the location certificate. If you want to renovate the home before selling it, be sure to complete the work BEFORE you hire a land surveyor.
It should be mentioned that only a land surveyor who is a member of the Ordre des arpenteurs géomètres du Québec (OAGQ) can carry out land surveying work and provide a location certificate.
Good to know
In principle, the location certificate will remain unchanged as long as it reflects the current state of the property. However, it is general practice that location certificates be valid for approximately 10 years. Your notary will be able to determine if your location certificate is valid or not.
Gathering the documents you need
Starting from the moment when the home is placed on the market, potential buyers can quickly start making themselves known. Therefore, it is essential that you have all the required documents, starting from the first visits, as some documents are hard to get. Among these documents are:
- Pre-sale inspection report
- School and municipal tax statement
- Co-ownership declaration in the case of a condo
- Evaluation report provided by a certified evaluator
- Bills for electricity, gas, home insurance, etc.
- Location certificate provided by a land surveyor
- Home renovation invoices for work completed over the years
- Buying contract proving you are the owner of the building
Putting the home on the market
Some people decide to take on the market entry of their home. Others prefer to work with a real estate agent, in exchange for a commission fee (providing the home is sold). Your choice will largely depend on the amount of time you are able to dedicate to the sale of your home.
According to the Fédération des Chambres Immobilières du Québec (FCIQ), 7 transactions out of 10 are completed through a real estate agent in Quebec. And for good reason, as the pros of hiring a professional for the sale of your home are numerous:
Saving a lot of time (marketing, answering information requests, managing and planning visits).
Getting knowledgeable advice from a professional who is a gifted negotiator and who will be able to highlight the qualities of your property.
Gaining a lot of visibility for your ad (sale poster, online advertising and on social media).
Knowing how to target the audience that will be interested in your property and quickly finding serious potential buyers who will come visit.
Good to know
The terms of a brokerage contract can vary from one agent to another. Therefore, it is recommended that you meet with 3 to 4 real estate agents in order to compare their service offer and to make a choice that is adapted to your specific needs.
The real estate agent’s professional responsibility insurance will protect you in case of a mistake, a non-intentional issue, negligence or omission on the part of the agent.
The Real Estate Indemnity Fund (FICI) protects you if a problem occurs with your real estate transaction (fraud, dishonest operation, embezzlement).
The Real Estate Brokerage act (similar to the Consumer Protection Act) includes several regulations with regards to the brokerage contract which ties a real estate agent to their client.
It must be noted that these guarantees only apply if you are working with a real estate broker that is a member of the Organisme d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec (OACIQ).
Managing the visits
If you are working with a real estate agent, you will have nothing to do during this step except clean the place, so it looks presentable. It is recommended that you leave during these visits, so potential buyers feel comfortable. Trust your agent, as they will know how to highlight the qualities of your home.
If you decide to manage things yourself, plan 30 to 60 minutes for each visit. Potential buyers will certainly ask many questions to determine if the place suits their needs. Take advantage of these exchanges to assess how serious each visitor is.
Some questions may be about the home’s energy consumption levels, home insurance or municipal taxes. In these cases, it will be important to have documents containing this information on hand.
Initial visits are often critical. If you don’t notice any results following these visits, you may want to consider hiring a real estate agent to sell your home quickly.
Good to know
If your property houses animals, make sure the litter box is perfectly clean and there are no foul smells. Also make sure that they are outside during the visits, as not everyone feels comfortable around pets, as adorable as they can be!
Choosing your buyer
You will probably have several potential buyers expressing interests following a visit, but you must make sure they are serious. Through their experience, real estate agents will easily recognize candidates that are worth considering. Your goal should be to declare your interest quickly before they make an offer to another seller.
Buyers that have a pre-approved mortgage loan are of the highest interest. This goes to show that they have already started the process to get a mortgage loan and they already know the amount the bank will be able to lend them. More and more real estate agents require a pre-approved mortgage before they agree to host a visit. A good candidate:
- Has done their research on the neighbourhood
- Is looking to buy quickly
- Asks a lot of questions during the visit
- Has visited other homes in the area
- Has a pre-approved mortgage
- Will come back to you within 24 to 48 hours after the visit.
Good to know
Once you have hosted visitors at your property, several people may present a purchase offer. In this case, it will be essential to know how to select the right candidate based on the seriousness of their project.
Accepting the purchase offer
To demonstrate their interest, the buyer will make a purchase offer. This document includes the amount they are offering for the home as well as the various conditions pertaining to the real estate transaction. You will be able to accept, refuse or present a counteroffer.
If the price they are offering is lower than what you are asking, your real estate agent will help you make the right decision. Depending on the situation, they may recommend that you seize the occasion, or wait to find a buyer who will offer a more advantageous price. With the support of an agent, you will benefit from expert advice from a seasoned professional in the field of real estate for your area.
Accepting a purchase offer means that you are committing to selling the home to your buyer according to the terms that are included in said document. It will not be possible for you or the buyer to back out unless you do so by mutual agreement.
Closing the transaction in front of a notary
Signing the sales contract in front of a notary is the last step during which you will be selling your property. The buyer is responsible for finding the notary and covering their fees. They will contact you or your real estate agent to set out the procedure.
The notary acts as a public officer recognized by the state, for whom real estate laws have no secrets. Moreover, the documents they write have an authentic character and are valid in court. They will be able to share good advice regarding the decisions you will be making during your real estate transaction.
The notary’s role is to help you avoid bad surprises that could occur when selling a house. Moreover, they are here to verify that the documents presented by both parties are congruent and to protect the money involved in the real estate transaction.
Foreseeable costs when selling a home
1) Real estate photographer: a professional photographer will provide high-quality photos to emphasize the property and its qualities. This service typically costs approximately $200 for a one-hour session (including retouched photos). Many real estate agents offer this service for free.
2) Interior designer: if your interior is not up to par and you don’t have the time or will to take care of it yourself, the best solution would be to hire an interior designer. For an hourly rate of $60 to $150, this home décor expert will transform your space to attract potential buyers.
3) Appraiser: depending on the level of experience of your certified appraiser, the cost for an evaluation process at a single-family home will be of $500 or more. This is the best way to find out the true value of your home before you set a price.
4) Building inspector: count between $240 and $400 for a condo and between $450 and $550 for an individual home. Prices can go up to $625 for a duplex, $700 for a triplex and can reach $1000 for a larger property.
5) Land surveyor: the price for a location certificate is set at $1260 by the Ordre des arpenteurs-géomètres du Québec (OAQG). However, each expert is free to charge their own rate.
6) Real estate agent: the real estate agent’s commission represents between 4 and 7% of the selling price of the home. This commission will be shared with the buyer’s agent (if they have one). The rest of the money will serve to cover fees related to the sale of your property (photos, advertising, marketing) as well as the hours spent working on the sale of the home.
Renovating your home to sell it
To ensure that you will sell the home quickly, it may be wise to carry out a few renovation projects if your home is somewhat old. Not only is this a way to attract buyers, but it could also increase the value of your property so you can sell it at a better price. The cost of the work will quickly be monetized after the sale.
Renovation projects could serve to modernize the bathroom, rearrange the kitchen or redo the floors, the most important factor being how you will prioritize things. If you have a renovation project in mind, it will be crucial to request quotes from expert contractors. In comparing the different quotes, you receive, you will be sure you get the best price/quality ratio for your renovation project.
See to it that the renovation projects are done before you put the home on the market, as no one wants to visit a home that is under construction. Plan for adequate delays between the end of the work and the start of the visits, as holdups and unplanned situations are common in the field of renovation.
Traps to avoid
- Omitting to check your real estate agent’s authorizations is one of the main mistakes to avoid in a real estate transaction. Agents that are a part of XpertSource.com’s network all have a professional responsibility insurance policy and a permit from the Organisme d’autogreglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec (OACIQ).
- Make sure you have picked a real estate agent that knows the residential sector where you are selling your home. Know that XpertSource.com will connect you with real estate agents with regard to the areas they cover.
- If you are not a seasoned negotiator, it’s best to work with a real estate agent. They will be able to help you get a higher price than what you would have gotten selling your home by yourself, in addition to helping you save a lot of time.
- The expert who will evaluate your property must belong to the Ordre des évaluateurs agréés du Québec (OEAQ).
- The expert tasked with providing a location certificate must be a member of the Ordre des arpenteurs-géomètres du Québec (OAGQ)
- Even though their field is not regulated by a professional order, a building inspector must have an insurance policy covering mistakes and omissions for building inspection.
- Be sure to set a price that is realistic when you put the home on the market, so you don’t scare buyers away. You can use the appraiser’s data to fix your selling price.
- If several buyers are interested in buying your property, be sure to evaluate each of these offers. You will have a short period of time (24 to 72 hours) to choose the right candidate. Once the purchase offer has been signed and accepted, it’s hard to modify the terms or to cancel it.
- If you want to renovate your home to sell it for a better price, be sure to hire a contractor with a valid RBQ licence so you are protected in case of a problem.
- In order for the transaction to run smoothly, it is essential that you work with a notary to close the sale.
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