Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: What are the most important factors to consider when selling a home?

The three most important factors in selling a home are price, home condition and location. It is important to work with a real estate agent who understands the local market and can help you to best price your home competitively and properly. It is also important to ensure that your home is in good condition by making both structural repairs (e.g. roof) and cosmetic repairs (e.g. wallpaper).

Another important factor is exposure. RE/MAX® LifeStyles Realty — Langley REALTORS® utilize many tools to attract buyers to your home, including:

  • Good signage
  • Exposure on the internet
  • Listing on the Multiple Listing Service®
  • Social media exposure (Facebook, etc.)
  • Advertisements in local media (e.g. local newspapers)
  • Realtor tours

The factor of location is also very important. Factors involved in location include proximity to amenities and public transportation, parks, as well as traffic considerations. For example, a house on a very busy street might sell for tens of thousands of dollars less than an identical house on an identical lot on a much less busy street.

Question 2: What is the best time of year to sell a home?

Although homes sell year around, 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 is an important consideration of when to sell your home, so consider how well your home will show and what preparations will be needed to show your home in different seasons, such as raking leaves in fall or shovelling snow in winter.

The real estate market usually picks up in early spring and April and May are often key months for homebuyers. This is especially true for families with children who want to be able to move into a home with their children before the new school year starts in September.

The market is usually slow in the summer as many prospective buyers may be on vacation. July and August are generally slower than June.

Sales activity usually picks up in September for the strongest selling season outside of spring.

Many people are busy with the holiday season in December and sales activity typically slows during the winter.

Question 3: How much is my home worth?

There are two methods many people use to determine their home’s value: an appraisal and a comparative market analysis.

Appraisals vary in cost and are defendable in court. Appraisers review numerous factors and base information on recent sales of similar properties, their location, square footage, construction quality, number of bathrooms and bedrooms etc. . General appraisals are done annually for all properties by BC Assessment. However, in order to get a more detailed appraisal of your house, you can also contact a property appraiser who is certified through the Appraisal Institute of Canada – British Columbia.

A comparative market analysis, on the other hand, is an informal estimate of market value performed by your RE/MAX® Lifestyle Realty – Langley agent or broker. It is based on recent sales and listings that are similar in size, style and location to your home. 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 techniques.

Question 4: Should I make repairs?

If you make minor repairs before putting a house on the market, you may be able to improve your sales price. Many buyers include a contingency “inspection clause” in their purchase contract which allows them to either back out of a deal, negotiate repairs, or lower the price with the seller if defects are found.

If you are aware of problems that need repair before listing, you are required to reveal these problems as a material defect on the Property Disclosure Statement. If you are not making any needed repairs before listing, you need to consider the possible costs of making those repairs and adjust the list price accordingly.

When determining whether or not you should renovate your home before selling, please talk with your REALTOR® for advice. When determining which renovations would likely be the most profitable in terms of selling price, please consult the Home Improvements section of our website.

Question 5: What should I do to get my house ready?

Some of the important tasks to do to get your house ready include decluttering, making any needed repairs, and enhancing the curb appeal. For more detailed information on getting your home ready, please review the checklists in the Are You Fit to Sell? page. Your RE/MAX® LifeStyles Realty — Langley REALTOR® can help provide you with further advice on how to get your home ready to sell.

Question 6: Are there standard subjects (“conditions”) that are often found in offers to purchase?

There are some basic terms and subjects that are often found in offers to purchase, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Review of Property Disclosure Statement
  • Inspection
  • Review of title
  • Buyer obtaining satisfactory financing
  • Buyer reviewing strata meeting minutes, annual reports, and form ‘b’ certificates (for stratified properties only)

Generally, the subjects are put on the contract by the buyer. They generally must be fulfilled within a certain time period for the sale to remain in place. Once the subjects are fulfilled to the satisfaction of the buyer, the buyer can remove the subjects, making the sale “firm”.

Question 7: What are my obligations to disclose?

Items sellers often disclose include: defects, homeowners association 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.

Question 8: Must I disclose the terms of other offers?

No, according to the Real Estate Council of British Columbia, sellers do not have to disclose the terms of other offers. If there are other offers, your REALTOR® should disclose the existence of other offers, so that all parties are aware that they are competing against other offers.

Question 9: Should I accept the Terms and Conditions on a Prospective Buyer’s Offer?

This depends on many factors, such as:

  • Whether you are in a buyer’s or seller’s market (as a seller, you generally have more negotiating power in regards to terms and conditions in a seller’s market)
  • The condition of your home (unless your home is brand new or the buyer plans on tearing down your home to build a new one, it is unlikely that buyers would consider waiving the home inspection subject)
  • Whether the buyer is offering you close to or more than the price you are hoping to get (if the buyer is offering you a good price for your home, you may be more willing to accept an offer with more conditions)
  • How confident you are that you could receive better offers than the existing offer soon
  • How many offers you have received (in multiple offer situations, you may have more room to negotiate terms and conditions)
  • The number of properties on the market that are similar in terms of price, type, and quality (if there are many other properties similar to yours on the market, you will have less negotiating power in regards to terms and conditions)

Generally, with all other items (e.g. price, closing dates) being equal, an offer with fewer terms and conditions is generally a superior offer to an offer with more terms and conditions in a multiple offer scenario.

Any contingencies that are negotiated are written into your contract. Both the buyer and seller can place requirements on the table during the negotiation phase.

The experience of your REALTOR® will prove invaluable as they deal with contingencies as a regular course of business and can advise you as to the suitability or ramifications of contingency clauses.

Question 10: What do I do if my house isn’t generating much interest among buyers?

Price and condition are two of the most important factors in selling a home (along with location). Unlike location, which is fixed, you can adjust the price or improve the condition of your home to generate more interest among buyers.

If a home is not getting much interest from buyers, it may be overpriced in the market. The first step is to lower the price. Then go through the house and see if there are cosmetic defects that you missed that can be repaired quickly and affordably.

The second step is to make sure that the home is getting the exposure it deserves through REALTOR® Tours, internet exposure, advertising, good signage and a listing on the Multiple Listing Service®.

If these first two steps do not work, a third option is to remove the home from the market and wait for overall housing conditions to improve and catch up to the price you are asking. This may be an attractive option if you are in a market that favours buyers, but you anticipate a sellers market and/or balanced market in the near future.

Sellers who have no equity and are forced to sell because of a long term illness, divorce or financial considerations should discuss a short sale or a deed in lieu of a foreclosure with their mortgage lender and their RE/MAX® LifeStyles Realty — Langley REALTOR®.

If your home is not generating much interest among buyers, your RE/MAX® LifeStyles Realty — Langley REALTOR® can assist you with a plan for proper price adjustments and repair plans.

Question 11: How will a foreclosure affect my credit?

Without a doubt, a property foreclosure is one of the most damaging events in terms of the borrower’s credit history.

Talking to the lender who holds the mortgage note on the property might provide specific answers as the possible courses of action available to the borrower, as well as to the effects those actions might have on that person’s credit report.

In terms of the effect on credit history, a deed in lieu of foreclosure or a short sale are not as adverse as is the forced foreclosure.

However, even after a foreclosure or bankruptcy, there are lenders who are providing loans  7-10 years after the bankruptcy occurred. The borrower will have many obstacles to overcome and will need to provide strong financial information to the lender proving that they are once again credit worthy.

Question 12: How long will a bankruptcy or foreclosure stay on my credit report?

Bankruptcies and foreclosures can remain on your credit report for 7 to 10 years. However, there are lenders who will consider an applicant who went through a bankruptcy as recently as two years ago, as long as good credit has been re-established. Much will depend on when the bankruptcy was discharged and what kind of credit a borrower has re-established since then. The longer ago the discharge occurred, the better off a loan applicant will be.

Another factor considered will be the circumstances surrounding the bankruptcy. A borrower who went through bankruptcy through no fault of their own, such as because of job loss due to downsizing, may be considered for a loan in the future for lenders. However, a borrower who went through bankruptcy because of irresponsible spending would have a tougher time obtaining a loan from a lender.