Lessons Learned from a First Time Seller

Buying and selling real estate can be a stressful process. I recently sold my investment property and it was a great reminder of what our clients go through when they sell. No matter how many homes I’ve bought and sold with clients, it’s not the same when you’re going through it yourself. I want to share with you some advice, lessons I learned along the way, the top things I did to prepare the condo for sale, and what I would have done differently.

1. It takes time and money to prepare a home for sale

On average, you should expect to spend a minimum of 1% of the list price to get your home ready for sale. This number will vary depending on how much you can do yourself and what you hire out. Ask us for a pre-listing checklist or better yet, invite us over and ask what improvements will yield the highest return. Don’t wait until a week before you list to call us, use our knowledge and expertise to your advantage. Try and be realistic about how much time it will take you. I budgeted about 2 weeks to complete our projects, and it took us four weeks to get everything done. We focused on a couple upgrades: the bathrooms (new vanities, mirrors, shelving, hardware and lighting), paint throughout, and tile work in the kitchen and bathroom. 

2. Paint Everything

This is by far the most cost effective way to spruce a place up. Walls, doors, and trim should be patched, painted or touched up. When we worked on the condo, we painted every wall, and also did the enclosed balcony floor (see below) which made a huge difference. We went with light neutral colours throughout and a more modern grey in the master bedroom to cover a dark teal wall. As much as we love a dark feature wall, it’s not ideal when you’re selling a home. What I wish I had done differently was secured a painter weeks before the condo was going to be vacant. The preparation for painting the walls was very time consuming, and I wish I had spent the money to hire a professional who would have done a better and more efficient job.

3. Staging and Lighting

A beautifully staged home not only looks good, but it helps buyers emotionally connect with the home. This is a MUST, but it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. We always pay for a staging consultation when you work with us, and they will provide a detailed list of everything you need to do. To stage my condo, I borrowed furniture from my own home and family members and spent a few hundred dollars on new white towels and other staging items I could use again. There are also great services for renting furniture (Freedom Rent to Own and Easy Home) if you need. As for lighting, replace all the light bulbs with soft white (not bright white) as this will make a big difference to your ambiance.

4. It’s stressful, so have a REALTOR® to lean on for support!

When you list your home for sale, there’s a lot that is out of your control: what the market is doing, who views your property, what people will say, and who will want to make an offer. It’s normal to have feelings of doubt and panic, especially right before you list. I found it very challenging to decide on a pricing strategy because I was so attached to the outcome and kept second guessing myself. Having a REALTOR® who was unbiased and objective was so important through the process. Tasha helped me weigh the pros and cons of various strategies, and she was always there to tell me everything was going to be fine.

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