One of the most common questions home sellers ask is, “How much is my home worth?” While this is a very important and valid question, home sellers should also be asking, “What can I do to increase the value of my home?”

If your home is in decent condition, you can easily increase its appeal and value with a few strategic updates. Read below for tips on how to prepare your home for sale.

Documents to gather

Here’s a list of some basic documents to have handy, both for your REALTOR® and for any potential buyers.

  • Mortgage and any other related documents.
  • Property survey—the previous Real Property Report (RPR).
  • Transfer of title document.
  • Tax assessment notice and taxes paid notice.
  • Utility bills (gas, water, power).
  • Condominium documents, if applicable.
  • Maintenance documents (repair receipts for any improvements completed on the property).

Supporting documents to have:

  • Photographs of your home in the summer.
  • Blueprints or sketches for renovations.
  • Separation agreement/divorce settlement/court order.
  • Will or probate documents.
  • Liens.
  • Any unpaid judgments, taxes and utilities.
  • Pending litigation.

About REALTORS® in Alberta

Licensed REALTORS® in Alberta are governed by a provincial authority, RECA (The Real Estate Council of Alberta) under Alberta’s Real Estate Act. Real estate professionals must abide by regulations and standards and uphold fair and ethical practices when dealing with clients and other agents. An agent is expected to act in your best interest and to guide you throughout the home selling process. A REALTOR® leverages the MLS® (Multiple Listing Service) to help sell your home quickly.

Pricing your home

The MLS® provides real estate professionals with both historical and current market data to help you determine a fair price for your home. Pricing your home right the first time helps you generate serious, competitive offers in the shortest amount of time possible—an experienced REALTOR® can help with this. If the asking price is too high several things could happen:

  • Fewer interested buyers: Potential buyers may not view your home because it would be out of their price range.
  • Fewer showings: Other real estate professionals may be hesitant to view your home.
  • Used as leverage: Other REALTORS® may use this home to sell against more competitively-priced homes.
  • Longer days on market: When a home is on the market too long, buyers may view the home as defective or question why it has not sold.
  • Reduced price: An overpriced home that has been on the market for a longer period may eventually end up selling for less than if the home was priced properly.
  • Wasted time and energy for everyone involved.

Marketing your home

An experienced REALTOR® is able to provide tips on marketing and how to best showcase your home’s assets, whether it is by doing repairs or simply de-cluttering the interior. A real estate professional has access to a number of mediums to spread the word about your home and uses his market knowledge to select the best marketing techniques.

Closing the deal

The ability to negotiate effectively on your behalf and close the deal in your best interests is one of the main reasons to use a real estate professional. After going through the home selling/buying process, closing day is the day when all the parts of buying and selling a home come together.

Each party’s lawyer will have successfully completed the details required to ensure all legal aspects are covered. On this day, the buyer will take possession of the home, get the keys and perhaps even move in. It’s also a busy time for the seller, as they will likely be in the midst of moving.

However, before that day arrives, there are important closing details to complete to ensure the smooth transfer of the property. Please click here to get my complete Home Sellers’ Guide.

Selling (or closing) costs

There are financial items to account for upon the sale of your home. The buyer is typically responsible for the following closing costs:

  • Legal fees for handling the sales transaction.
  • Disbursements or out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the lawyer or notary.
  • Property tax and utility adjustments.
  • Land title transfer taxes.

Sellers also have some items to look after including:

  • Real estate commissions.
  • Building location certificate or survey (if improvements have been made since the existing survey).
  • Legal and discharge fees.
  • Outstanding adjustments owed to the buyer.
  • Outstanding municipal/school taxes or public service assessments.
  • Outstanding mortgage balance and any charges associated with discharging your mortgage early (if you are not transferring your mortgage to your new home, or the buyer is not assuming it).

As fees and costs vary from province to province and city to city, your REALTOR® can advise you on the costs you are likely to face when selling your home. It’s also a good idea to check with a financial advisor, accountant and lawyer prior to the sale.

Post-sale help

Once an offer has been accepted there are still many details to take care of such as inspections, appraisals, and financing. A REALTOR® has many contacts for home-related services that may be required for last minute items that need to be completed prior to closing.

Preparing your home for sale 

Exterior Check List
Curb appeal, or the condition of your home’s exterior is very important when attracting buyers.

  • Ensure landscaping is maintained (lawn is mowed, shrubbery trimmed, etc.).
  • Touch up on exterior paint on doors and window frames.
  • Wash windows, inside and out.
  • Ensure house number is prominently displayed.
  • Repair any broken doors, doorbells, eaves troughs and window panes.
  • Clean up garage.
  • Pick up any litter.
  • Inspect the roof for visible damages and do any necessary repairs.
  • Turn on lights if your home is being showed in the evening.
  • Mend and paint fence.
  • Invest in simple flowers to brighten up the exterior in spring or summer.

Interior Check List
Your aim is to make the interior warm, welcoming and uncluttered.

  • Turn on lights and open drapery to brighten the space.
  • De-clutter rooms by removing personal knick-knacks; this can make a room look larger.
  • Ensure doors and cupboards are functioning and properly closed.
  • Replace burned out light bulbs.
  • Place fresh flowers and plants in various rooms.
  • Apply fresh paint where needed. If possible paint the walls a neutral colour.
  • Repair leaky taps and toilets.
  • Clean mirrors and fixtures.
  • Empty garbage containers.
  • Clean the inside of closets and cupboards—storage space is often an important consideration for buyers.
  • Ensure your valuables are securely stored away.
  • Clean appliances.
  • If possible, try to contain pets during showings.

Renovating for resale

Renovations don’t have to be expensive or extensive to offer a good rate of return. In fact, a quick coat of paint can go a long way in boosting your selling price. Just make sure your new décor is neutral and appealing to the average home buyer.

The kitchen and bathroom offer the highest return on investment. Take a look at these average rates of return for home upgrades*:

  1. Interior painting and décor – 73%
  2. Kitchen renovation – 72%
  3. Bathroom renovation – 68%
  4. Exterior paint – 65%
  5. Flooring upgrades – 62%
  6. Window/door replacement – 57%
  7. Main floor family room addition – 51%
  8. Fireplace addition – 50%
  9. Basement renovation – 49%
  10. Furnace/heating system replacement – 48%
  11. New lighting – 84%

*The average returns listed above are estimates only.

Sell your home first

If you are homeowner thinking of purchasing a new home, the ideal strategy is to sell your current home before buying a new home. This way, you can focus on purchasing your new home and not be at a disadvantage when negotiating, or feel pressured to accept a below-market value in order to meet a purchase deadline.

Otherwise, when you do find a new home, your REALTOR® can put a condition on the purchase contract that says, “subject to sale of current home.” However, this option typically leaves other buyers an opening to put an offer on the home you want.

In a slow market, perhaps you could rent your home and put it on the market later. However, with this option, check with your lawyer, tax advisor and accountant to ensure all legal, tax and financial aspects are considered.

More helpful home selling tips

  • Remove your emotions from the selling process: Home sellers must start viewing their home as a property and remain objective.
  • De-personalize your home by removing family photos: The goal is to encourage potential buyers to see themselves living in your home.
  • Abolish clutter: Clutter has a nasty way of making a perfectly good house seem smaller and unkempt. A good guideline to follow is to make your home as clean and uncluttered as a new show home.

Click Here to get my free complete Home Sellers’ Guide.

This is an exclusive paper that will kick start your home selling process. Topics covered include:

  • Understanding economic factors.
  • How to sell your home for top dollar.
  • Understanding fair market value, and how to influence it.
  • Divorce and home selling.
  • Common home selling mistakes to avoid.
  • Questions to ask a REALTOR® before you sign.
  • Understanding legal representation.
  • Understanding the offer process.
  • How to pass the home inspection.
  • How to effectively market your home to sell fast.

FREE: Complete Home Sellers’ Guide