Common Questions for Sellers

While there is no "standard", the two most common subjects in a purchase contract are financing and inspections.
Items sellers often disclose include: monthly dues: whether or not work done on the house meets local building codes and permits requirements; the presence of any neighborhood nuisances or noises which a prospective buyer might not notice, such as any restrictions on the use of property, including but not limited to zoning ordinances or association rules.
Minor repairs before putting the house on the market may lead to a better sales price. Buyers often include a contingency "inspection clause" in the purchase contract which allows then to back out if numerous defects are found. Once the problems are noted, buyers can attempt to negotiate repairs or lowering the price with the seller. Any known problems that are not repaired must be revealed as a material defect. You do not have to repair the problem, only reveal it and the house should be appropriately priced for that defect.
The way you live in a home and the way you sell a house are two different things. First and foremost, "declutter" counter tops, walls and rooms. Too many "things" make it difficult for the buyer to see their possessions in your rooms or on your walls, however don't strip everything completely or it will appear stark and inhospitable. Then clean and make attractive all rooms, furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. It's especially important that the bathroom and kitchen are spotless. Organize closets. Make sure the basic appliances and fixtures work and get rid of leaky faucets and frayed cords. Make sure the house smells good: from an apple pie, cookies baking or spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. Hide the kitty litter, and possibly put vases of fresh flowers throughout the house. Pleasant background music is also a nice touch. The second important thing to consider is "curb appeal." People driving by a property will judge it from outside appearances and make a decision then as to whether or not they want to see the inside. Sweep the sidewalk, mow the lawn, prune the bushes, weed the garden and clean debris from the yard. Clean the windows (both inside and out) and make sure the paint is not chipped or flaking. Also make sure that the doorbell works.
There are two methods many people use to determine their homes value, an appraisal and comparative market analysis. Appraisals vary in cost and are defendable in court. They average about $300 for a single family home and more on multi-family dwellings. Appraisers review numerous factors and base information on recent sales of similar properties, their location, square footage, construction quality, excess land, views, water frontage and amenities such as garages, number of baths, etc. A comparative market analysis on the other hand is an informal estimate of market value performed by a real estate REALTOR® or broker. It is based on sales and listings that will compete with your property that are similar in size, style and location. A range of values will be determined thus arriving at a probable market value. Many REALTORS® offer a free analysis anticipating they will have a new client. The analysis or opinion should be in writing and should involve professionally accepted appraisal practices. Some individuals do their own cost comparison. It may take several hours of research at the county recorders office, where there will be indexes to match street addresses and parcel numbers. Once matches have been chosen a tax card can be used to find the assessed value, size, style, number of rooms, baths, etc.
The two most important factors are price and condition in selling a home. The first step is to price it properly. Then, go through the house to see if there are any cosmetic defects that can be repaired. A third factor is exposure. It is also important that the home gets the exposure it deserves through open houses, broker open houses, advertising, good signage and listing on the local multiple listing service, as well as the internet. Choose the real estate REALTOR® that you believe will get the job done, not the one that quotes you the highest price - sometimes just to buy your listing.
Property sells year round. It is mostly a function of supply and demand, as well as other economic factors. The time of year you choose to sell can make a difference in the amount of time it takes and the final selling price. Weather conditions are often a consideration in some areas of the country. Generally the real estate market picks up in the early spring. During the summer, the market usually slows. The end of July and August are often the slowest months for real estate sales. The strong spring market often places upward pressure on interest rates, many prospective home buyers and REALTORS® take vacations during mid-summer. After the summer slowdown, sales activity tends to pick up for a second, although less vigorous, season which usually lasts into November. The market then slows again as buyers, sellers and REALTORS® turn their attention to the holidays. The supply of homes on the market diminish because sellers often wonder whether or not they should take their homes off the market for the holidays. There are still buyers in the market place, but now those buyers have fewer homes to choose from. Those homes on the market at that time have considerably less competition. Generally speaking, you'll have the best results if your house is available to show to prospective buyers continuously until it sells.

Common Questions for Buyers

Compare the mortgage charts published in most newspapers. Occasionally some lenders are willing to negotiate on both the loan rate and the number of points. This isn't typical among many of the established lenders who set their rates. Nevertheless, it never hurts to shop around, RateHub.ca is a great site that compares interest rates in Canada.
It is strongly recommended that home buyers are pre-qualified or pre-approved for a loan as their first step in the process. By being pre-qualified, a buyer knows exactly how much house they can afford. They can make more informed decisions in the market place. This does not mean they will definitely get the loan because their credit reports, wages and bank statements still need to be verified before you can receive a commitment from the lender for the loan. Almost all mortgage lenders pre-qualify people at no charge. Many of them will even do it on the internet. In order to be pre-approved, an application will be taken. For a fee, your credit report will be pulled, your employment and income will be verified, your checking and savings accounts will also be verified. In other words, all the necessary documentation will be completed in order for you to obtain a loan. The only things remaining will be for you to find a home, obtain an appraisal on it to prove its value to the bank and perform whatever inspections you may want on the property. This process considerably shortens the time frame to closing.
This really depends on a number of factors and is best discussed with a mortgage specialist. Ie. What is "affordable" to one, may not be "affordable" to another.
Different sellers price houses very differently. Some deliberately overprice, others ask for pretty close to what they hope to get and a few under-price their houses in the hope that potential buyers will compete and overbid. A seller's advertised price should be treated only as a rough estimate of what they would like to receive. If possible try to learn about the seller's motivation. For example, a lower price with a speedy closing may be more acceptable to someone who must move quickly due to a job transfer. People going through a divorce or are eager to move into another home are frequently more receptive to lower offers. Some buyers believe in making deliberate low-ball offers. While any offer can be presented to the seller, a low-ball offer often sours a prospective sale and discourages the seller from negotiating at all. And unless the house is extremely overpriced, the offer probably will be rejected anyway. Before making an offer, also investigate how much comparable homes have sold for in the area so that you can determine whether the home is priced right.
There are always some sellers who for some reason must sell quickly, however in general, a very low offer in a normal market might be rejected immediately. In a strong buyer's market, the below-market offer will usually either be accepted or generate a counteroffer. If few offers are being made, an outright rejection of offers becomes unlikely. In a strong seller's market, offers could be higher than full price. While it is true that offers at or above full price are more likely to be accepted by the seller, there are other considerations involved:
  1. Is the offer contingent upon anything, such as the sale of the buyer's current house? If so, such an offer, even at full price, may not be as attractive as an offer without that condition.
  2. Is the offer made on the house 'as is', or does the buyer want the seller to make some repairs before the closing/possession or make a price concession instead?
  3. Is the offer all cash, meaning the buyer has waived the financing contingency? If so, then an offer at less than the asking price may be more attractive to the seller than a full-price offer with a financing contingency.
  4. Are there any requests for seller concessions, such as asking the seller to contribute towards points and/or closing costs? If so, the offer is not really full price.
First and foremost it is strongly recommended that you hire a professional home inspector to inspect the home. This is generally done after you have an accepted offer on a property and are simply wanting to confirm it is in good condition before proceeding with the purchase. Secondly, sellers complete a disclosure form revealing everything known about their property and provide this to buyers upon an accepted offer. Sellers are required to indicate any significant defects or malfunctions existing in the home's major systems. A checklist specifies interior and exterior conditions as well as the electrical, heating and plumbing systems.
The price you can afford to pay for a home will depend on six factors:
  1. Your income.
  2. The amount of cash you have available for the down payment, closing costs and cash reserves required by the lender.
  3. Your outstanding debts.
  4. Your credit history.
  5. The type of mortgage you select.
  6. Current interest rates.
Lenders will analyze your income in relation to your projected cost of the home and outstanding debts. This will determine the size loan you can borrow. Your best advice will come from a mortgage specialist, so best to contact one for a pre-approval before falling in love with something you can't afford.