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Housewise

Tips for those looking to sell property

Sealing the deal

In real estate, successful negotiations can spell the difference between an ordinary deal and a great deal.

Today, I am are going to look at some effective negotiation strategies sellers can employ to ensure a profitable and smooth transaction.

Before the negotiation—prepare

Start with understanding what is happening in your market area. Are there more homes for sale than there are buyers? Is it a relatively stable or a volatile market?

Determine the value of your property. This is something your agent should help you with. They should analyze what similar properties in the area have sold for. If the market is falling, only recent sales should be used. If it is climbing, that needs to be accounted for. Usually, it’s fairly straight forward in a stable market and if your home is similar to several others that have sold in the area.

If you have a unique home, or a one-of-a-kind view, it can be far more subjective. You can look at what you paid for the home and track the price changes over time and build the price that way, adding in any improvements you have done. Lean on your agent and get them to explain what they used as a comparable and explain how they came to their recommendation. Decide on your price and be clear about your goals and minimum terms.

Setting the Stage

Determining the right asking price is more of an art than a science. It requires a delicate balance—price too high, and you risk alienating potential buyers, too low and you might leave money on the table. There are different schools of thought about whether you should price it a little high so you can come down a bit during negotiations or pricing it at your rock bottom and holding firm on the price. There is nothing wrong with either.

The benefit of getting the price down right away means you should have more potential buyers. However, leaving room to negotiate can make a buyer feel they have won something when they get a price concession, which I guess they have.

I have looked at many sales in our area and there are several that have sold right at the asking price. Either way, it is your decision so speak to your agent and do what is right for you.

Effective marketing is more than just exposure

You want to entice buyers to come and take a look. That way, they can see what they are thinking about buying. High-quality photographs, compelling property descriptions and professional staging can all make a home more appealing and motivate buyers to come look in person. It’s difficult to make the decision to buy a home without looking in person, so getting them there is the trick. When you do, make sure what they see gets them thinking about where they can setup their BBQ, not is it really worth what you are asking.

When the buyers’ mind changes to “this is where I want to live” from “how many more places to look at today,” that’s when the negotiation can start. After that it’s just details and most of the time the buyer knows if they can afford a place before they come and look. So anyone serious about making a reasonable offer can probably make it work, they just need to want it.

Communication is key

One of the most underrated skills in a seller's negotiation toolkit is communication.

Being responsive to inquiries, open to discussions and transparent about the property’s condition and the terms of the sale can build trust and goodwill with potential buyers. If you have done some major renovations or added new appliances or other things, consider making the receipts available showing what was spent. It can show real tangible value and help justify your asking price.

Honest communication can help avoid misunderstandings and keep small issues from derailing negotiations.

Negotiation tactics to employ

Understand the buyer’s motives—Knowing what the buyer values most about your property can give you an edge in negotiations. Whether it's the location, certain amenities or the potential for expansion, try and see your property from the buyer’s point of view. Build upon that. Show why your property is a great value for them.

Flexibility on terms—Sometimes, the best way to achieve a higher price is to be flexible on other terms. That might include agreeing to a faster closing, offering to include certain appliances or even furniture. Those concessions can make your property more attractive compared to others on the market.

Counteroffers and contingencies—Responding to offers with a counteroffer is a standard practice and keeps negotiations moving. Be prepared to go back and forth. Depending on the market, you may or may not want to wait for the buyer to sell their home. If waiting for a buyer’s property to sell, discuss with your agent a “bump” or “acceleration” clause so if someone else comes along, you can light a fire under your buyer to pull the trigger or get their offer out of the way.

Patience—Often, being willing to walk away, or simply giving the buyer time to think over your counteroffer, can result in better terms. Patience can be a powerful tool in negotiations. Lots of books about negotiations say after the offer, say nothing. That can be good advice. Let them digest everything. Sounding desperate sounds, well, desperate. Showing buyers you aren’t worried can be a good way to get your way.

Closing the deal

Once the terms are agreeable to both parties, moving swiftly to close the deal is crucial. Ensure all agreements are documented clearly and are legally binding. Employing the services of a professional real estate agent can help ensure contracts are thorough and details aren’t overlooked.

Negotiating the sale of your home can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be if you have prepared from the beginning with the right price, a clean presentable home, have been honest and reasonable then you are on your way to a successful sale. I have said before this is a cooperative effort you want to sell and the buyer wants to buy the rest are just details. If it’s the right property for them and is competitively priced a deal is right around the corner.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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 Strategies for success in mastering the art of the offer

Winning real estate deals,

New to the game or well-seasoned, understanding how to negotiate is critical to making a real estate deal work for you. In this column, I’m are going look at, and provide tips and strategies for, doing just that, mostly from the buyers perspective. I’ll cover selling another time.

Understanding the art of negotiation

Negotiation is a give-and-take process requiring a combination of skills, including communication, empathy and strategic thinking. In residential real estate, negotiation typically takes place between the buyers and sellers through their intermediaries, the real estate agents. The idea is to reach an agreement everyone is happy with. That may be the goal but often both parties think the deal wasn’t fair for them. Either way, if both parties are happy, or both are equally unimpressed, the deal was probably reasonably equitable.

Preparation is key

Do your homework. I believe agents should do this for clients and encourage them to research on their own. Determine the market value of the property. Understanding the sellers motivation is important, but it is not always easy. People don’t always tell you “I need out of this at any price. Please help me.” Knowing the seller's financial situation (not easy to determine unless they spill), average sale prices of properties and how many similar listings around the same price are listed and were sold recently in the area will help determine value. Define your primary goals—best price or best closing date. Are you going from renting to owning or do you need to sell your current home first? Is the asking price a little over your maximum price? Is it perfect or are you settling? These can all be determining factors about where you start.

Setting the stage

Always be respectful and honest. Build a rapport with the seller or their agent, and be open and transparent about your goals and expectations. Telling them, “I won the lottery and I will spend any amount” might be a little too transparent but tell the truth. Lies always have a way of catching up with you. Agents are a great way to buffer what are often painful truths. An agent can say “the price is high because market conditions are maybe not what the seller remembers or is aware of,” rather than “that seller is nuts. They are asking 300K over what the same house down the street sold for last month.” He or she is still saying the price is too high, but gently.

Making an offer

When making an offer, be realistic and reasonable. You can start lower than your maximum, leaving some room to move. Justify your offer with evidence. Your agent should do the same job the sellers agent did and do a comparison using current sales data from the area to similar properties. With unique properties or locations, this is not always easy or accurate and it sometimes comes down to what you are willing to pay for this one-of-a-kind view or property on the lake, or what else can you buy for the same money. It may be different but in a good way. Let your agent know what you would like them to share with the seller’s agent. Telling them you are stretching your budget to purchase their lovely home may convey a desire, however there is a limit.

Counteroffers and concessions

Sellers may respond with a counteroffer, which could include changes to the price, closing costs and/or other terms of the sale. Be prepared to make concessions and find creative solutions benefiting both parties. This may happen more than once. If you have reached your limit, you may just send back the last offer unchanged and say this is a last and final offer. If you are prepared to walk away, you are in a strong position. They may blink or you may be looking at something else next week. Everyone has different things to consider when purchasing a home. Look at what the difference would be in payments if you offered more—is $85 a month worth losing out on being only two blocks from the school?

Negotiating repairs and credits

In many cases, especially with older homes, a home inspection may reveal issues with the property that need to be addressed. Use this information to negotiate repairs or credits with the seller. Be specific about the repairs you're requesting and be willing to compromise on the scope and cost of the work. You may find something that is an expensive fix. It is worth mentioning if you find something wrong that is considered a material latent defect, defined as a material defect that cannot be discerned through a reasonable inspection of the property. Including items as a list.

The Real Estate Council of British Columbia demands compliance with the Material Latent Defect Rule. That means, once it has been discovered and communicated to the sellers’ agent, the agent is required to disclose it to future buyers. Failing to do so may mean discipline and in serious cases might include a loss of agent’s license and significant financial penalties. This could be something like black mould or tree roots damaging a septic system. For the seller, the common law definition of a latent defect is applied and they are required to tell a future buyer or they could be in legal jeopardy. The definition is similar. Talk to a lawyer if you are ever in a situation like this as I am a real estate agent and do not give legal advice. This does mean some problems that are discovered may need to be dealt with or disclosed whether you continue to purchase or not. Many things can’t simply be ignored hoping the next buyer misses them.

Finalizing the deal

After reaching an agreement, get everything in writing. Ensure all terms of the sale, including the price, closing costs and any repairs or credits, are clearly outlined in the contract.

Negotiating residential real estate deals requires a combination of skills, as well as flexibility, calm and research. It may feel like a competition but it really is a collaborative effort. The seller wants to sell and you want to buy—two sides of the same coin.

Don’t be ridged if you want it to work, but that doesn’t mean getting steamrolled either. Unless you absolutely have to live there, be prepared to keep looking. Back up your offer with data.

With these tips and strategies, you'll be well on your way to getting the best possible deal.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



The art of ‘home staging’ when it comes to selling property

Tips to help make a sale

In busy or slow markets, it’s important to make your property stand out.

Enter the art of “home staging,” transforming your living space into a buyer's dream, potentially speeding up the sale and improving the price. This week, I will look at why this is important, how you can do it, and why it works.

The philosophy behind home staging

It’s not just about making your home look good, it's a way to show your home's strengths, minimize its weaknesses and allow as many different types of buyers to see themselves living there. Statistics gathered by Stagedhomes.com say 94.6% of homes staged by a professional sell within 33 days, compared to an average of 196 days. That can definitely make a difference. Everyone has a different situation, so professional or not, it’s your choice. However, there are things we can do on our own to give us an edge.

Key strategies

Declutter and depersonalize—First neutralize and make space. Personal items, such as family photos, collections, and personal keepsakes should be stored away. The idea is to make it neutral so buyers can visualize their stuff here, so removing personal items that can distract is helpful. Show there is room for a sofa, a chair, and a table and try to eliminate personal pictures. The buyer needs to see the possibilities, make it easy for them.

Maximize space and light—Making it look uncrowded and bright is always helpful. Put mirrors up to reflect the natural light and maybe put a few big pieces of furniture in storage if you can. Clean your light fixtures—no dead bug silhouettes. Bright makes the space appear larger and more inviting. Buyers don’t like to feel trapped, let them roam free without stubbing their toes.

Focus on key rooms—Where do you spend most of your time? The kitchen? Living room? The master bedroom? Make sure the rest of the house is neat and organized. I know, it’s hard to keep the whole house perfect, so pick three rooms and do your best. If you have an under-used room, you might even be able to store a few extra things there. One room for storage can be explained and buyers understand storage, so use it to declutter some of the other spaces. Under-bed totes help. Keep it neat. Then focus on the big three.

Update and repair—Minor updates and repairs can make a big difference—Fresh paint in neutral colours (Pro tip: Neon green or orange are not neutral colours), fixing leaky faucets, replacing outdated hardware and ensuring all lights are working are all effective ways to improve the overall appeal of your home. You might have a home inspector come in and do a pre-sale inspection. It costs a few dollars but depending on your situation, it may be worth it. Armed with a list, you can tackle some of those things that need attention. It’s almost certain the buyer will want an inspection and if there is nothing to find, that can boost their confidence in going ahead with the purchase.

Enhance curb appeal—First impressions are lasting. Curb appeal is just as important as staging the interior. Things like mowing the lawn, flowers or adding new house numbers can create a welcoming entrance that captivates potential buyers from the moment they arrive. Clean your home, and I mean mom-is-coming-over-to-inspect clean. Once they are past the curb and in the door, make sure the place smells nice. Spring flowers outside are great but if it smells like wet dog inside that can be a problem. We get used to some smells, ask a friend over make sure it smells as good to them as it does to you. Baking some bread or cookies probably won’t hurt or even a few of the right spices sprinkled on a warm pan can give your place a welcoming aroma at the door, or at the very least an air freshener or perfume use sparingly.

The psychology of home staging

When a buyer can see themselves living in your home and they decide they want to make an offer, it is like a switch is thrown. They go from thinking about “where” to “how can I get my couch through the front door”. It isn’t set in stone yet but the change in thinking from, “should I” to “how can I” is key. Often, it simply becomes a matter of making the deal work. You should look at home staging as a way to help flip that switch. Speaking of switch’s, switch covers identical good, mismatched bad.

The cost of home staging

The costs can vary, depending on whether professional services are used and the extent of the staging. A professional stager can be a few hundred to several thousand dollars, the return on investment can often far exceed the initial outlay. Professionals are helpful and it can pay off but with budgets being strained right now DIY can be an affordable option. If you have a vacant property they can be virtually staged easily, but that is a topic for another column.

A worthwhile investment

If you want to sell your home and move your listing to the front of the line, staging is a valuable tool. Staging also makes better pictures and better pictures will motivate those buyers starting their search online which is just about everybody.

Depending or your property and budget staging might be worth looking into. There are several local Home Staging companies, give them a call and see what they can do for you.

Whether through professional services or DIY efforts, staging is a strategic move that pays dividends.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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Buying and selling in manufactured home parks— the good, bad and ugly. Part II

Manufactured home sales

In 2002, British Columbia's Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act (MHPTA) was brought in for residents and park operators.

The act introduced many reforms and many of the new rules made a positive difference. However, I believe it can be improved.

It has had a few updates over the years, with the last in 2023 (as far as I know). There are actually four places to look for rules and regulations regarding mobile home park living— the MHPTA, Manufactured Home Park Regulations, policy guidelines, and the Residential Tenancy Branch's Rules of Procedure. One refers to areas in the others, so I will refer to all, collectively, as the MHPTA. These rules do not apply on First Nations' land.

Last week, I covered the RTB-10 form. This week, I’ll talk about more aspects of the act.

Security of tenure: A core focus

Under the new act, evictions are strictly regulated, ensuring residents can only be asked to leave under specific circumstances, such as non-payment of rent or breach of park rules that are deemed reasonable and significant.

Fair rent increases and dispute resolution

Rent increases are now governed by the province. Increases are limited to once a year with three months notice. Park operators must apply for increases that are higher than allowed, usually having to do with large increases in operating costs. I believe this is necessary. Sometimes prices increase more than can be planned for and park operators need to be able to protect their investment and make sure they have the resources required to safely and efficiently run their businesses.

Moreover, the MHPTA attempts to strengthen dispute resolution mechanisms. The goal is to resolve conflicts efficiently and fairly, reducing the need for prolonged and often costly legal battles. For the most part this works where a timely resolution is not always important, there are problems though. I made a call and there is currently an eight-week wait for a dispute resolution hearing.

Compensation for displacement

If a park operator seeks to repurpose the land for different uses (Section 42: Notice landlords use of property), meaning people have to move, the MHPTA mandates what seems to be fairer compensation. Here is a link to the form the park operator would use to notify a home owner in the park. The compensation is designed to assist residents in relocating their homes—about $20,000—or if relocation is not feasible, in covering the costs associated with the loss of their residence in the form of compensation that can be based on the assessed value. It might be a good idea to have the place reassessed if you think it is under assessed and things might change.

That would require an application for dispute resolution. According to my understanding of the act, every situation is unique so consult a lawyer if you are ever in that situation. I cannot give left advice, nor amI trying to to).

This provision is a significant step forward in recognizing the investment and attachment individuals have to their homes and communities.

Important information to remember

I mentioned this last week but it bears repeating, in Part 1 — Introductory Provisions Division 1 it says this act cannot be avoided.

Section 5 (1) Landlords and tenants may not avoid or contract out of this Act or the regulations. (2) Any attempt to avoid or contract out of this Act or the regulations is of no effect.”

You may run across park operators who ask you to sign something that may not be enforceable. As I mentioned before, speak to a lawyer as every situation can be different.

Implications

The introduction of the MHPTA was met with a mixed response. Changes made over the years have improved it. Residents and advocacy groups largely welcomed the legislation, viewing it as a necessary step towards ensuring fairness and stability in the manufactured home sector.

Conversely, some park operators expressed concerns about the potential financial implications of the act, particularly regarding the limits on rent increases and the requirements for compensation.

Looking forward

The MHPTA was a landmark piece of legislation that signalled a new era for manufactured home living in B.C. Trying to strike a balance between the needs and rights of homeowners and park operators, the act paved the way for more stable, secure and fairer housing options for thousands of residents.

Over the years, the act has been improved and hopefully in future, legislators will continue to listen to the stakeholders to further clarify and improve the rules and mitigate any unintended consequences that have arisen.

The MHPTA is not just about regulations, it's also about recognizing the value of community, stability and home for every British Columbian living in a manufactured home park.

The MHPTA is working towards providing a more predictable and stable living situation, allowing those contemplating a manufactured home purchase and current home owners peace of mind. It reflects a broader societal recognition of the importance of diverse housing options and the need to protect the rights of those who choose them.

I have had emails with questions about last week’s column and would encourage anyone who would like more information, or may have suggestions for future columns, to email me and tell me what you would like to read about.

I am always happy to hear from you.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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About the Author

Anthony Shephard is a real-estate agent with 2 Percent Realty Interior.

He was born in Vernon and has lived in and around the Okanagan his whole life, with the exception of a couple years in Washington State, a few ears in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, Calgary for a bit and a year in South America.

He has lived in  Kelowna more than 12 years with his wife and two youngest children.

“I have a deep connection with the Okanagan and no matter where I go, I am always pulled back here, it’s understandable seeing as how it’s one of the best places on Earth to live,” he says.

Shephard has owned several businesses in the Okanagan and Shuswap over the years. He has also worked as a computer network engineer, a proprietary stock trader, and a heavy equipment operator in the oilfields.

“As a teenager I spent a lot of time in my father’s real-estate company in the Lower Mainland and have been in and around the business my whole life”

He understands that different people have different needs and strives to fulfill those needs for every client, every time.

anthony.shephard@2percent realty.ca

realestateshephard.com



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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