Selling a home is stressful. It’s probably the single largest transaction you’ll make in a lifetime. Add in the fear of a downturn, a possible recession, and market uncertainty and you’ve got a recipe for anxiety or even disaster.
It’s not like this anxiety isn’t substantiated. We’ve all read the headlines of double-digit sales activity declines and hundreds of thousands slashed from list prices. Even worse is that amidst the rise in inventory there is a decline in the number of buyers entering the housing market. According to the Statistics Canada Census 2016 data, the percentage of households that own their home fell to 67.8% in 2016 down from 69% in 2011.
The largest declines were found in cities that have experienced the largest growth in housing prices, such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Victoria, B.C.
Quick translation: Sellers are faced with more competition, declining prices, and fewer buyers. These are the moments when armchair real estate experts will tell you to hold off on selling your home.
But this isn’t good advice. It ignores the fact that any seller who has held a property for more than half a decade will have earned significant capital gains on the property, even if they don’t sell at the top of the market.
It also ignores the fact that many sellers don’t list a home simply because they feel like moving. New jobs, changing financial circumstances and other life events are the typical prompts for listing a home for sale.
So what’s a seller to do? How should you handle the stress of selling your home in 2019? Thankfully, there are time-tested strategies sellers can use to mitigate the downside of a slow market. Here are eight essential steps for selling a home in a buyer’s market.
Step #1: Put Your Game Face On
A first impression is often a lasting one and this applies to how buyers first see your home. You want to really leave an impression—a good impression—that means preparing your home to look its best.
This is the point where many sellers will ask whether or not they should invest in some home renovations in order to increase their sale price. To this general question, there is a standard answer: No.
Quite often, when a seller renovates simply for resale, the dollar invested isn’t a dollar earned. Don’t believe me? Check out the annual “Cost vs. Value” report from Remodeling Magazine. Each year, a number of projects are assessed based on their popularity and their resale value. Each year the results end up surprising sellers and HGTV-inspired homeowners.
For instance, a major kitchen remodel (which ranges from $30,000 to $150,000 or more) will earn you $0.53 to $0.59 for every dollar spent. Renovate a bathroom to offer a more luxurious experience and you’ll probably earn about $0.53 for every dollar spent.
Despite the appalling returns on these so-called home-reno investments, there are still some smart places to spend money.
For the biggest bang for your home reno buck invest in your home’s curb appeal.
Redo or clean up your home’s gardens and lawns, power wash pathways (as well as the driveway) and consider painting the exterior of the place, if this job hasn’t been done in over a decade.
You can also spend smartly inside the home, such as updating old-fashioned light fixtures, wall plates and drawer knobs to more contemporary selections. Replace carpets (or, at the very least, get them steam cleaned) or pay to refinish rough or stained hardwood floors.
Once done, and after all other tasks are complete to prepare your home for sale, don’t forget to spend time (or pay professionals) to really make your place sparkle and shine. Nothing will appeal more to a buyer than the idea that your home is fresh, clean and feels “new.”
Step #2: Declutter and depersonalize
Want to add $5,000 to the sale price of your home? Pack 10 boxes of clutter and cart it away. According to professional organizers, each box of clutter that’s removed from your home before listing it for sale can add as much as $500 to the value of your home.
By removing clutter and personal belongings, a buyer can focus on the home’s qualities rather than the homeowner’s lifestyle. So, rather than focusing on family photos, your spoon collection and kids’ artwork on the fridge, buyers can focus on how spacious the family room is or how much light the kitchen gets in the morning hours.
Step #3: Get a killer agent on your side
Want to sell your home in a down market? Then you’ll need to focus on the best ways to market your home. For those with a desire to save quite a bit of dosh and don’t mind doing the work, you’ll need to investigate the best ways to market your home. This could include online strategies, as well as in-person or over the phone strategies. Just be sure you can invest the time and money to do this part of the job properly because if you don’t it could mean your home languishes on the market—the “comparison” home that helps sell other properties.