Read on to find out what you need to know to sell FAST AT THE BEST PRICE:
Step #1 – Decide When To Sell Your Flat
There isn’t any easy answer to the oft-asked question of: When should I sell my flat? Important considerations include:
- Time of year – Real estate in Toronto is seasonal, with December and January generally being the slowest months. Of course, there’s something to be said for listing your flat when competition is low too.
- Current competition in your building – Because flat are seen more as commodities than houses (there are many similar units), the amount, quality and price of the current competition must be taken into account.
- Current competition for similar flats in similar buildings – While less important than what’s going on in your building, if you have a one bed+ den and there are more on the market than usual, that will impact how long it takes your flat to sell.
- State of the real estate market – Interest rates and consumer confidence affect prices.
- Your personal goals – If you’re moving out of the city or have already bought a new property, then that timing will likely override everything else.
Step #2: Prepare Your Flat for Sale
When preparing your flat for sale, keep these 3 goals in mind:
- Declutter to make the space look as big as possible One of the biggest challenges of flat living is space. 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 L-shaped couch with a more compact version.
- Make sure every room is staged to its optimal use It’s OK if you’re using your second bedroom as a walk-in closet, but convert it back to being a bedroom during the listing. Buyers don’t often have great imaginations, so put a dining table in the dining room and a desk in the den.
- Clean, clean and clean again! The cleaner your flat 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!
Special Considerations for flats
Storage – The last thing you want to communicate to Buyers is that the flat doesn’t have enough storage. Store off-season clothes offsite, get rid of all those kitchen appliances and the second set of dishes and minimize your toiletries. Make sure cupboards and closets aren’t overflowing (3/4 full is a good guideline).
Parking and Lockers – Don’t use them as a dumping ground for all extra stuff. They’re a valuable part of what you’re selling.
Smells can linger in a flat, so make sure you don’t cook foods with strong odours (fish, curries, etc.) while your flat is for sale. Clean the litter box at least twice a day. And don’t even think about smoking in your flat. If you have smoked in it in the past, consider getting a ‘smoke bomb’ to take the smell away. A good carpet and window covering cleaning and a fresh coat of paint can go a long way to eliminating odours. Avoid the use of strong air fresheners as that can turn a Buyer off too.
Neighbours It never hurts to let your immediate neighbours know you’ll be selling. Hopefully, they’ll be considerate (e.g. no loud music during showing hours) – if you get a good price, that’ll help their value too!
STEP #3 - BE READY
Gather all your documents - Your real estate agent will ask you for copies of your heating, electricity and water bills, utility and tax bills, to take the time to photocopy or scan. All current and manual warranties must be collected as well.
Make a list of renovations and repairs - Make a list of all renovations and repairs that have been done. Be prepared to discuss potential problems with your real estate agent - it is mandatory to inform the potential buyer of any problems or defects, rather than being sued later.
Make an extra set of keys - In order for your real estate agent to show your apartment, it is more convenient to make a duplicate key.
Have an Energy Pass established - If you do not have one or if yours is more than 10 years old. Remember that it is mandatory to transmit this Energy Pass to the new owner at the time of the notarial deed.
Step #4: Pricing Your flat for Sale
Determining the value of a flat is generally easier than valuing a house because there are likely identical or nearly identical comparable sales in your building. In determining the value of a flat, real estate agents and appraisers will determine the price per square foot of recent sales and use that as a basis to determine the value of your flat. For example, a 50 sqm flat may be worth 500€ psm (per square meter) or 600 000 €.
It’s important to note:
- Diminishing psm returns on size – the bigger the flat, the lower the cost per square foot (as the flat gets bigger, each square foot becomes less valuable as there are more of them)
- Height Matters– the higher the floor, the higher the cost per square foot (buyers are willing to pay more for a flat on a higher floor)
- Views are Important – the better the view, the higher the cost per square foot (views can be extremely valuable, especially if they are of Lake Ontario or the CN Tower)
- Exposure Matters (whether the unit faces south, north, east or west) will impact value
- Good Layouts are Valuable– Buyers will pay more for layouts with more usable space rather than lots of hallways or a big foyer
- Corner units are worth more than non-corner units
How well the flat shows will also impact price, including how it is staged, how clean and clutter-free it is and whether it smells like the litter box or what you ate for dinner.
While comparable unit sales in your building are the most important consideration in valuing your flat, your real estate agent will also look at the units in your building currently for sale (i.e., the competition), as well as recent sales and competition in nearby similar buildings.
When it comes to determining a flat pricing strategy you can price at market value or price above market value and negotiate. [Related: Pricing Strategies for Home Sellers] Keep in mind:
- Supply and Demand
- Because there are generally multiple units that are identical or near-identical in a building, Buyers may not feel the desperation that they often feel with a house – if they miss out on buying this flat, there’ll likely be another similar one come on the market soon.
- Less Emotional Connection – We often see House Buyers fall in love, for example, with the original turn of the century stained glass windows, professionally landscaped backyard or prime location of a particular house. With more similarities than differences, traditional flats don’t tend to create the same emotional reactions in Buyers. That doesn’t mean people don’t fall in love with flats – they do – but because Buyers know how much the same unit one floor above sold for, they aren’t apt to pay 100 000 € over the price.
Other factors that will affect the price of your flat:
- Upgrades from the builder – while they won’t add as much value as you paid for them, they will help differentiate you from the other flats available for sale
- Renovations – don’t generally add much value to newer flats, but can add a lot of value in older flats
- Ceiling height – taller is better
- Maintenance fees – if maintenance fees are significantly higher than average, prices will generally be lower
- Parking – generally adds 25 000 - 50 000 € to the price of a flat
- Locker or en-suite storage – definitely in high demand
- Outdoor space – balconies and terraces are in high demand
- Amenities in the building – while some Buyers don’t want the amenities because of the higher maintenance fees, others want the concierge/pool/theatre room/guest parking
- Location, location, location
- The ratio of Renters to Owners – Buyers prefer flat buildings where the majority of the people living there are owners
- The reputation of the building – the demographics of the residents, noise proofing, quality of construction, legal problems, the effectiveness of the Board of Directors
Step #5: Marketing
One of your real estate agent’s most important jobs will be making sure potential Buyers see your flat. With thousands of flats for sale in Toronto, standing out from your competition is critical. A comprehensive marketing campaign for a flat differs than one for a house in the following ways:
- Most flats are smaller than houses, so photography and videography can be a challenge. Experienced professionals with wide-angle lenses should be able to capture a room without making it seem smaller or bigger than it truly is. If your agent suggests taking the pictures themselves, run!
- Unless your unit is on the first couple of floors and facing a busy street, a for sale sign’ will be of no use. Being able to capture flat Buyer attention online is that much more important.
- Your target Buyer is out there – they may be first time 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. Smart real estate agents will go to great lengths to profile your target Buyer and create a marketing campaign to reach them.
Step #6: Showings
When Buyers make an appointment to see your flat, keep the following in mind:
- Leave the flat! There’s nothing more distracting for a Buyer than having to walk around the owner.
- Be flexible with showing times – There’s a lot of competition out there, so make it convenient for Buyers to see your flat.
- If you have a tenant in your flat: you’ll need to provide them with 24 hours notice for showings. The sale will be less intrusive to them if it’s quick, so their cooperation – in de-cluttering, and keeping it clean – will go a long way.
- Make it easy for Buyers to see the facilities. Make sure the agents have easy access to a FOB so they can show your building’s facilities.
STEP #7 – OFFER
Your persevered job carried its fruits and you get an offer of a purchaser. Here is in what to wait for you: the offer of the Purchaser will be introduced to your estate agent, who will transmit it to you. It will contain some important points of negotiation:
- Your contact details
- The contact details of the Purchaser
- The description of your property
- The offered price
- The date before which you must answer
- The delay for the financing condition of getting of the loan
- The date of taking possession
- The date of the notarial act
Once you receive an offer, you have 3 choices :
- Accept offer : Congratulations, you sold your good !
- Make one counter-bid (with better conditions and / or prices for yourself). The Purchaser in this point can accept your counter-bid, or make one other counter-bid, or leave.
- Decline offer.
Negotiation is an art, and if you chose well your estate agent, he is going to give you with solid advice, to get you the price which you want. The final decision on price during the sale of your good belongs to you, but an estate agent is a strategical negotiator in your sides.
STEP #8 – THE NOTARIAL ACT
The D-day finally arrived. Before leaving to the notary, make sure not to have forgotten:
- the original of your energy Pass that it will be necessary to give to the Purchaser.
- keys and all doubles
- to have read all counters (water, electricity, gas …)
The sum of transaction will be transferred to you by the notary in days according to the signature of the act.