Home sellers have lots of questions. There is so much to know and do to get ready and to sell a house. We forget about this as realtors, as we do the same sorts of things every day, week or month. But approaching the home selling experience for the first time or even the first time in a few years can be overwhelming. Here are some of the questions that have bubbled up recently.
1) Can I change my mind and not sell the house?
Sometimes a seller’s needs and wants change during the process of selling and negotiating the sale of their house and this could lead to the decision not to sell. If you change your mind and decide not to sell, timing is important.
Before for you receive an offer
Before you receive an offer, you can take your house off the market in one of two ways. You can cancel the listing or you can withdraw the listing. The difference is, if you cancel the listing, you can re-list right away if so choose. However, if you withdraw the listing, you have to allow the time period for the original listing to run out before you can re-list your house for sale. Of course in either case, you will need the agreement of your brokerage as you have entered into a binding contract with them.
After you receive an offer
You can change your mind after receiving an offer but you have to be careful of the timing. If the offer is from buyer to you, you can decide not to sell. You can simply reject or ignore the offer.
If you signed the offer back (or counter-offered), then you cannot change your mind during the irrevocable time. A sign back is your offer to the buyer.
And finally, if all the terms of the contract had been agreed to by both parties, a binding agreement has been established. In that case in the house is conditionally sold or sold firm and as a seller cannot change your mind and decide not to sell. Once you have a binding contract, you will likely get sued by the buyer if you do not honour it.
2) Can I take my plants with me?
There’s a difference between chattels and fixtures. Chattels are personal property and are not attached to the property whereas fixtures are. Chattels would include but be limited to: fridge and stove, washer, dryer, furniture etc. A fixture, on the other hand, would be light fixtures, of course, fireplace mantelpiece, or a TV mount that is attached to the wall. Chattels are movable. Fixtures are fixed.
You can take any personal plants with you as long as they are not attached to the ground (or in the ground). Houseplants, of course, you can take with you but also if you have plants in pots outside in the courtyard or on your patio, since they are not attached to the ground (except by gravity) you can take those.
3) Do I still have to show my house and have open houses after a buyer has been found?
Most homes sell “conditionally” for a week or so before they sell “firm”. What this means is that most buyers will have the conditions of acquiring mortgage financing and having a home inspection before their offer to buy becomes firm and binding. Normally it takes about a week for the conditional period to end, sometimes shorter, sometimes a few days longer. During the conditionally sold period, you should still offer your house for sale just in case the buyer does not attain financing or is not happy with the inspection report. It’s always good to have backup offer just in case.
4) Does the amount of commission increase the asking price of the property?
Ironically enough, commission tends to reduce the listing price of properties. Here’s what I mean. Have you ever noticed that if there is a private seller selling on the same street as two or three MLS listings, the private seller is usually the highest priced property. What’s up with that? He should be the lowest as he’s not paying anyone’s commissions.
But really, the way the real estate is set up in Canada, the seller pays the listing brokerage commission of about 5%. Listing brokerage usually splits this with the cooperating brokerage. Listing price is not determined by adding the market price and the commission together. The market price has the commission amount included inside. The listing price should be based on other listings in the neighbourhood as well as recent comparable sales in the neighbourhood.
The best way to tell if your home is overpriced is if you getting a lot of showings but no offers. Most people are too polite to put in a lowball offer.
6) Should I fix my roof before selling or should I take it off the listing price
Fix it. I know you don’t want to be out of pocket five or seven thousand dollars for a new roof, especially one that you are not going to enjoy for the next 15 or 25 years. But the buyer is cash poor. Houses are expensive and he hasn’t got the money to buy a house and then fix a roof. House buying is a process of elimination. Homebuyers will eliminate homes for trivial things like the the depth of the bath tub, not to mention a leaky roof.
I’ve heard potential home sellers trying to justify their decision not to do something to improve their home before selling it. Things like, “maybe the new buyers will want a steel roof” or “maybe the new owners will prefer carpet in the basement instead of engineered hardwood.