Mahesh and Rakhee Khatri

Table Of Contents





First Steps To Home Selling



The 80/20 Rule



Creating Curb Appeal



Staging With Purpose



Upgrading With ROI In Mind



The Three D's



How To Market Your Home



Common Seller Mistakes


10. Learn From Others' Mistakes


11. Finding Buyers


12. Be A Power Negotiator


13. Dos And Don'ts Of Negotiations


14. Bargaining Chips


15. Why Hire An Agent?


Introduction Hi there! It’s nice to meet you. If you’ve received this book, it’s probably because you’re thinking about selling your home. And if you’re like most sellers, you may be dreading the entire process. But that’s why we're here! Our job is to make your job as a seller as easy and seamless as possible. Throughout my years of experience in the real estate industry, We’ve amassed insider knowledge to help home sellers get the most money out of their homes in the least amount of time. And now, you’ve got all of that information at your fingertips. If you’ve ever wondered how a friend with a seemingly average house in a seemingly average neighborhood managed to sell his home way above market value, the answer isn’t luck. That person likely was working with a great Realtor®.

In this book, you’ll find:

• An overview of the sales process • Secret strategies to sell your home for more money • Common mistakes to avoid • Marketing techniques employed by top agents • Advice on how to appeal to today’s buyers • Tips for upgrading with the greatest return on investment • A negotiation guide to get more money • And much, much more Sure, you can try to employ these strategies yourself. But we suggest talking to a licensed professional — like Ourselves — to employ them for you. Yes, selling your home can be stressful, but with this book (and our help!), we can make the process as quick iii

and seamless as possible.


About Team Sapphire - Mahesh and Rakhee Khatri Originally from Mumbai, Mahesh and Rakhee moved to Toronto in 2005. Mahesh had a background of business in photography and video and Rakhee had a background in banking. This knowledge, coupled with their people skills and a deep interest in continuous learning and

growth, has provided them with valuable skills that they use daily in real estate negotiations, educating homebuyers and sellers, and effectively marketing the team’s listings.

Mahesh and Rakhee have been working in Toronto

Real Estate Board since 2009 and own the brokerage Sapphire Real Estate, a boutique brokerage. Their clients often describe Rakhee as detail-oriented, proactive, and fun to be around.

When its time to unwind, Rakhee enjoys spending time making new dishes in her exclusive kitchen, Sahaja yoga meditation, and traveling. Mahesh enjoys working all the time, Singing Karaoke, Travelling. On a side note - He can't cut off even on vacations, he works untiringly.

They also proudly volunteers at Sahaja yoga meditation, spreading joy and happiness wherever they go.


Prior to entering real estate, they had started a business by the name DJ Window Fashions and became one of the top dealers of all the leading brands in the industry, due to their team skills, ethical and professional approach, repeat business and referrals as a result of a full client satisfaction. These experiences instilled in the discipline and level of service it takes to build one of the leading real estate teams in Toronto. MAHESH and Rakhee specialises in residential buying and selling, Investment Projects, Pre Construction, First time home buyers with an emphasis on marketing properties as well as consulting on floor plans, areas, communities. Mahesh and Rakhee work in coordination and have developed a team structure to provide their clients with 5-star service. Throughout their career, Mahesh and Rakhee have earned numerous accolades in different brokerages: • Presidents Gold Award 2019 - Royal Lepage • Presidents Silver Award 2019 - Royal Lepage The list goes on and on. Mahesh and Rakhee recognize and value the trust their clients place in them, and they strive every day to exceed their expectations. They strive to keep in constant touch with their clients and friends and monitor their investments annually. Their motto is "Your Friends In Real Estate" . • Executive club award 2015 • Diamond Club Award 2017


Testimonials & Reviews for Team Sapphire, Mahesh and Rakhee Khatri Amazing and very comfortable working experience with Mahesh and Rakhee, patience and knowledgeable.

-Amaraneni Snigdha

Very professional and caring team. Made selling and buying a pleasant experience. Thanks to Mahesh ji and Rakhee ji.

- Jaideep Gahlawat

The team take care of our purchase and sale transaction as if it was their own and that is what gave us amazing experience with lots of saving. Thank you so much Mahesh and Rakhee.

- Taslim Shaikh, CPA

Amazing working experience with Mahesh and Rakhee ji. This was our second property purchase experience in Canada and lucky to find them as our relator. Clearly experienced difference between a REALTOR and a GOOD REALTOR. Their calm behavior in dealing with purchase and sale was impressive and benefited us a lot. Thanks, you will never face shortage of client!! :)

- Vatsal Thakkar, CPA


Mahesh and Rakhee from Team Sapphire are very passionate in their work. They go out of their way to ensure and protect client interests. Mahesh covered all aspects of our real estate needs right from listing till the closing. Mahesh was very responsive and patient throughout the sales process and his negotiation skills are excellent. We are very happy with the outcome and recommend them highly.

Ivan Nicholas

I find Mahesh is very knowledgeable professional who can be trusted. He takes care of all whatever it needs to make the good deal and thereafter. In short period of time we become such close friends that I feel I knew him for very long time. I fully recommend him. I wish all the best to Mahesh and Rakhee Ji and their prospective clients, they are for sure in safe hands. Thanks.

Ajay Sharma

To Read more REVIEWS please check out our Google my Business Page :

Visit our website


CHAPTER 1 Introduction

The largest investment most people make is their home. That makes selling a home — whether a single-family residence, apartment, or a townhouse — the single largest, most complex transaction a person will ever undertake. It involves new terms and concepts, financial acumen, and larger figures than normally dealt with. It is also one in which emotions may come into play in the way of making a good judgment. Surely, the seller thinks, my home where I raised my children and made so many memories is worth more than the bricks and mortar it contains. Real estate transactions involve dozens of decisions and substantial investment in homeowners’ time, energy, and money, and emotions almost always lead to problems in a sales price negotiation. The home seller’s objective is to find that buyer who cannot resist buying your house at the highest price. To do this, you need to offer potential buyers a striking home sales presentation that outshines other homes on the market. It requires making a fantastic first impression, creating for the buyers an instant feeling that they are travelling up the front walkway of their new home for the first time, not visiting someone else’s. It’s about falling in love at first sight, from the curb, in those initial seconds. Most sellers don’t venture alone into selling their home. They find it better to have an experienced real estate professional with whom they are comfortable. This book was written to provide some of that comfort without the direct sales stressors of person- to-person contact. 1

We want the prospective or active home seller to independently achieve a better understanding of the home-selling process. We’ve also provided actionable insight into how best to market your home, avoid critical mistakes, and maintain a proper focus. Let this book be your go-to resource for information, strategies, and techniques that can be put to work to sell your home quickly at the best price. Take time looking through the chapters and master the secrets of successful home sellers. For example, discover why comparable homes sell for considerably different prices. Be ready to sell by knowing your home’s market value, best listing price, negotiation tactics, and improvements that offer the best Return on Investment (ROI). Our sincere hope is that this book will help you make the most of your time and efforts to sell your home. In Part 1, the process and importance of preparing your house for sale is examined: how to present to get top offers, the “80/20 rule,” along with which upgrades will make the most difference in ROI. Part 2 delves into marketing your home with a look at costly mistakes, avoiding those mistakes, and finding qualified buyers. In Part 3, we examine the critical topic of negotiations — what to expect and how to conduct them — and finish with a look at what engaging a real estate professional brings to your real estate sale transaction. After you learn the process, requirements, and tips, you will see that an experienced, financially astute real estate professional can vastly cut the time and raise the economic value of your transaction.


Reading this book is your first step to selling your home for the best price in the shortest time. After you read it, you might want to talk with us. We stand by to assist you with a Comparative Market Analysis and a solid marketing plan to fit your budget and lifestyle.


CHAPTER 2 First Steps to Home Selling

Location! Location! Location! is the most crucial consideration in real estate and a major factor, if not the predominant one, in real estate pricing. Novice (and not-so-novice) home sellers alike must know the considerations that determine a home’s price. Setting the price at which to sell your home is not a simple formula, nor totally mathematical. Many elements factor into the decision. Throughout this book, you will read examples of similar and similarly situated houses that sold for very different prices, along with the reasons for the disparities. A calculated home value is not necessarily what you believe your home is worth. Recognizing this helps avoid overpricing, a major factor that leaves homes languishing or unsold. Familiarity with the real estate terms market value, appraisal value, and assessed value can save disappointment and frustration, and allow the home seller to meaningfully engage in setting a home’s listing price. The most used definition of market value is “the most probable price a property should bring in a competitive, open market, under conditions requisite to a fair sale.” Essentially, this is a pre- negotiation opinion of what a house should bring in its local market, i.e., its geographical area, generally an area such as a suburb or neighbourhood. Appraisal value is an evaluation of a property’s worth at a given point in time that is performed by a professional appraiser. Appraised value is a crucial factor in loan underwriting and determines how much money may be borrowed and under what 4


For example, the Loan-to Value (LTV) ratio is based on the appraised value. Buyers with a down payment of at least 5% of the purchase price but less than 20% must be backed by mortgage insurance. This protects the lender in the event that the home buyer defaults. These loans are known as “high LTV” or “high ratio” mortgages. In situations in which the buyer has 20% or more for a down payment, the lender or borrower could obtain “low-ratio” insurance that covers 100% of the loan in the event of a default. Mortgage insurance is backed by the Canadian government through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). (Globe and Mail, 2016; updated 2017) Assessed value is the amount local or provincial government has designated for specific property, and frequently differs from market value or appraisal value. This assessed value is used as the basis of property tax and when a property tax is levied. The assessed value of real property is not necessarily equal to the property’s market value.


The first step in selling your home is knowing the difference between value, worth, and price. Let’s examine the determining factors at work. Understanding those factors allows them to be leveraged. There are several ways a home’s value is derived.


Online tools will provide you with a very basic estimate of your home’s current value based on recent comparable home sales in your area using a comprehensive database. Note that the


assessment is based on available data with no guarantee of accuracy, and often uses an algorithm that simply averages comparable sales in the geographic area. These tools might be quick and easy, but they don’t take into consideration factors like location, current local trends, and the condition of the property. Be aware that the prices arrived upon might even be highly inaccurate.


Nothing determines the sale price of a piece of real estate but the price at which it actually sells. Houses are not same-priced identical cans of tuna on the grocery store shelf or shares of stock valued and traded every day on the stock exchange. Real estate appraisal (“property valuation”) is the process of developing a perspective of value for real property. This is the market value — i.e., what a willing, reasonable buyer would pay for the property to a willing, reasonable seller. Real estate transactions generally require assessments because they happen infrequently, and every real property is unique in features and characteristics. An appraisal helps in various decision points. The seller can use the appraisal as a basis for pricing. The buyer can use it as a gauge on which to base an offer. Lenders use appraisals to know how much money to credit to their borrowers.

The important factors in a house appraisal are:

• Dwelling type (e.g., one-storey, two-storey, split-level, factory-built) • Features (including design) — materials used and the kind of structure present and how they were built • Improvements made


• Comparable sales • Location — type of neighbourhood, zoning areas, proximity to other establishments • Age of property • Size • Depreciation

Condition, of course, is a crucial factor in valuation. Location is also a factor; however, as property cannot change location, upgrades or improvements to a residential property often can enhance its value. A professional appraiser should be a qualified, disinterested specialist in real estate appraisals, with expertise in your region. His or her job is to determine an estimated value by inspecting the property, reviewing the initial purchase price, and weighing it against recent sales with the same purchase price.


This type of home valuation, the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), is often free from some real estate professionals, and more detailed and helpful than automated online offerings. It provides detailed information on each house sold in your area over the last six months, along with the final sale price. It also includes the specifics of all the houses for sale in your area, including the asking price. These homes are your competition. The real estate professional will also answer any questions, and help you price your home realistically. Along with an understanding of how the worth of a home is determined, the current market must be considered. By utilizing a professional real estate agent, you can rely on proven expertise to market your home at the best listing price. I will be happy to


provide you with a CMA.

Please refer to the last page of this book if you would like more information on how to request a free home valuation.


Prior discussion showed that there is no calculable certainty in setting the value of a home. There can be wide differences between the seller’s assessed price, the asking or listing price (market value), and the price at which the home sells (sale price). Let’s turn to what the homeowner/seller can do to elicit offers at, or even above, the listing price in a competitive market. The seller’s time, effort, and investment are the most important parts of the process. The seller’s willingness to adequately prepare the home for presentation — and willingness to live in that pristine state for the time it takes to sell the property — will greatly affect both the sale period as well as the price at which the home sells. A market in which homes normally sell in no more than six months of listing is considered balanced or neutral, which means a good number of homeowners are selling and buyers are purchasing; therefore, neither has an upper hand. In Canada, ever since the end of the short recession in 2008, this has generally been the case in most provinces. However, market shifts can—and do—happen. A variable, for instance, like a major company entering — or moving from— the area will tip the scale toward homeowners to make a swift market or toward buyers to make a slow market. The typical selling time in a swift market might be 30 days or less, while that of a slow market may be up to nine months. Typically, any number below six months is considered a “seller’s market.



A buyer is interested in a home listed at $525,000. The online valuation determines the house is worth $550,000. Based on that estimate, the buyer offers the asking price. When a professional appraisal comes in at $500,000, and the existing tax records assess the home at $400,000, the buyer wonders why the values are so different and whether he overpaid. The house was listed at $525,000 because at that price, the home would sell in a reasonable amount of time. Why would the appraised value not be whatever a buyer was willing to pay? The fact that they paid $525,000 does not mean that is the true value of the home. Certain factors may weigh in — undesirable businesses located near the property, for example. Online valuations can’t take into consideration the condition of the property or the qualities of the neighbourhood. Since an assessed home value is for taxing purposes only, it can be much more or much less than the market value. Ideally, they should be the same, but usually they are not; it is based on a percentage of the appraised value determined by a professional. From legal descriptions to onsite inspections to comparable home-selling prices, the assessor will take all these things into consideration when appraising a home. Location near industry, high traffic, or potential development will also affect the appraisal.


A house on the market requires keeping the home in a constant “show-ready” condition, and changes in day-to-day life are inherent in the process. Sellers get unexpected phone calls at all hours from unrepresented prospects and buyers’ agents to show the home, as well as frequent updates by phone, email, and text and show appointment scheduling messages from the listing


agent. They also will likely deal with repair and reconditioning appointments and inspections. The house may be photographed for online, periodical, or brochure presentations.

There are repeated showings when the home first hits the market. Keep your home in pristine showing condition for impromptu visitors — the perfect prospect might just drop in at dinnertime.


Children (and Pets) Should be Unseen, Unheard Children and pets are distractions for potential buyers, affecting their experience of your home. You should plan for your children to be elsewhere and your pets crated or leashed, and no toys lying about or dog hair on the sofa. The dishes should always be done and the kitchen sparkling. The pressure of showing to everyone even mildly interested in looking (not necessarily buying) may come from the idea that the more your home is seen, the more quickly and easily your home will sell. Many real estate agents provide their clients with dozens of homes to consider without a clear picture of what the buyer wants. Low-interest traffic can be heavy and a burden on the seller’s time, energy, and resources. Since a showing can take an hour or even hours out of your day, finding an interested buyer is what matters most. The home will be shown to many more uninterested buyers than interested buyers. How many times will you have to show your home? In an ideal world, your property would be shown to serious buyers only. However, many “Sunday afternoon window shoppers” exist in the real estate business.

That said, you shouldn’t waste your time trying to appeal to


uninterested buyers. This is where planning, organizing, and the professional help of a qualified real estate agent enables you to handle even the most intimidating tasks without wasting efforts.


CHAPTER 3 The 80/20 Rule

“Eighty percent of results will come from just twenty percent of the action.” This is the Pareto principle, attributed to Italian economist and philosopher Vilfredo Pareto, who, in 1906, observed an intriguing correlation. He began work on the “80/ 20 rule” with the observation that 20% of the pea plants in his garden generated 80% of the healthy pea pods. This observation caused him to explore more examples of uneven distribution. He discovered that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by just 20% of the population. He investigated different industries and found that 80% of production typically came from just 20% of the companies. His findings led to the concept that 80% of results will come from 20% of the action. While it does not always come to be an exact 80/20 ratio, this imbalance is often seen in various business cases: • 20% of sales reps generate 80% of total sales • 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits • 20% of the most reported software bugs cause 80% of software crashes


Understanding the 80/20 rule concept can save you time in selling your home. Applying the 80/20 rule, you stop trying to sell people on the entire home. Applying the rule, you can highlight the 20% of your home’s features that make it special. The remaining 80% of your home still affects the buyer’s decision, so


don’t neglect it, but in photographs, and showings, feature the elements that make your home special. Keep in mind, your selling point won’t be the common features your home shares with the other properties on the market. Instead, use your home’s unique features to grab the attention of buyers who are interested in those distinctive attributes.


When Vince and Sue were shopping for a new home, Vince wanted an ocean view of the Pacific. They looked at many desirable properties, on Vancouver Island but didn’t find any that were right for them. Some were overpriced; others had obstructed views. The search went on for almost a year until they found an older home a short walk from the ocean. The neglected exterior and dated interior were not encouraging, but when Vince stepped onto the third-floor balcony off the master suite, he was sold. Any shortcomings in wall color or fixtures faded away when he took in the view. He could now see the sunrise from his bedroom window every morning. What 20% of the home caught the eyes of Vince and Sue? The magnificent third-floor view of the ocean!


When Cam and Kate listed their home, they needed a buyer who wasn’t concerned that the house was on an unpaved road. Though the home was over 10 years old, the interior was updated with fresh, neutral wall colors and carpeting to look brand new. The towering trees and established yard gave the home a welcoming appeal.

The buyer had also looked at a home within just a few kilometres


of Cam and Kate’s that had towering trees, as well as a koi pond and patio. This home was comparable in interior and exterior, but it was on a busy street. What 20% of the home caught the buyers’ eye and prompted them to choose Cam and Kate’s home? The buyer loved the secluded country feel of the home. The 1.8-acre property was surrounded by pastures, with grand oaks dotting the landscape.


A buyer paid extra for a townhouse because of its location in the complex overlooking woods instead of the parking area. Another seller took advantage of the fact that most of the surrounding homes didn’t have yards; only a few shared a half-acre grassy area. An owner whose townhouse bordered this yard area sold his home for a higher price than other townhouses in the complex because his had a characteristic shared by fewer than 10% of others — in fact, he had the only available listing offering that feature. He pointed to that feature in marketing the townhouse. With this attractive point of difference, the house sold for a higher price. Another townhouse seller in the same complex found a different unique feature. Although she did not have a yard, she was still able to use location to advantage. Her property backed up to a lake and fountain. This unique feature helped her to sell the townhouse quickly and for a better-than-average sales price.


Decide upon, improve, and spotlight the unique features of your home in marketing copy, photographs, and showings. Don’t bother spending too much time explaining how the storage room can be converted to another full bath; instead, lead the dog-


owning prospect to the fenced-off dog run in the unusually large backyard. If the home has a certain feature a buyer is specifically looking for, highlighting this aspect in marketing efforts will attract interested buyers willing to pay the asking price. Each house will have its unique features. Here are some suggestions if you aren’t sure of yours:

• Hilltop views or high vantage point, offering a spectacular view of the surrounding area • Open fields frequented by wildlife • Unobstructed views of sunrise and sunset

• Patios, decks, dog runs, garden areas, and gazebos — highlight items neighbouring houses don’t have, or differences in size or quality; that one vital feature could help you sell your home • Location can set a property apart, even in the same area, adding value to a home on a cul-de-sac or corner lot • A private location or lot partially concealed by trees • A unique, shady, or larger backyard; a fenced backyard is a big selling point (If your yard can be fenced but is not, consider making that improvement.) • Finished basement, large attic or garage, swimming pool, or anything else that makes your home stand out Following the 80/20 rule can lessen time showing to people who aren’t interested. Instead, you will be showing your home to buyers who are motivated to make a purchase. You won’t have to show as frequently. You also won’t have to sift through lowball offers from casual shoppers. Keeping this in mind, you must take the time to uncover your home’s most attractive and unique features and improve them to their highest


potential. Compare your house with others in the neighbourhood to see what makes yours stand out. Work with that.


An out-of-town home shopper with no specific requirements contacted a real estate agent to look at available homes for sale. The agent drove him from house to house. In each case, the buyer suggested offers 10% to 20% below the asking price without budging. As the day progressed, the agent’s chances of finding a suitable home for the buyer were dwindling. They stopped at one last house as the sun set. The exterior of the house was dated and the yard untended. This agent and her client had spent the entire day looking at houses that shared 80% of the same features. Nevertheless, once the buyer walked into this home, he wanted to offer the full asking price. What set this house apart from the others? He wasn’t too interested in the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms. A bedroom was a bedroom, as far as he was concerned. He fell in love with the one remarkable feature of this otherwise uninspiring house. The house sat on a hill with a beautiful view out a large window. As they entered the great room, the sun was setting below the distant tree line. That view sold the buyer. The remaining parts of the home could be improved. The home buyer based his decision to buy on the window view from the hillside. The 20% of the home’s features motivated him to offer full price on the spot. Such is the power of the 80/20 rule. In some cases, the 80/20 rule may help people make a sale without even conducting a showing. The house in the following example had languished on the market for months. Unlike the


previous home, this one was attractive.

It was a brand-new, custom-built home, yet it sat on the market for over seven months without a single offer. The builder hired a real estate agent who knew the importance of finding that one special feature. He drove out to give the house a thorough investigation. He discovered what the property had that the competition did not. The house had a five-acre yard. Other houses being sold in the area had one- to two-acre lots. Not only was the yard bigger, it was also more private than the other properties. The real estate agent marketed the property by highlighting the five acres. Because the house was no longer the main selling point, interest in the property increased.


CHAPTER 4 Creating Curb Appeal

Someone once said, “a stunning first impression is not the same thing as love at first sight. But surely it is an invitation to consider the matter.” This could not be truer than in selling a home. First impressions matter. Sometimes they are everything. Nothing sets the tone of a relationship or encourages a transaction more than first impressions. So, always consider what a potential home buyer may think as he or she drives up to your property for the very first time. Think of “curb appeal” as the home seller’s shop window. Like picking a lunch place on a busy avenue in a tourist spot, it’s either the outside presentation, or as we saw in the 80/20 rule discussion, some particular feature that brings in the customers. For most lunch seekers, it is the way the place looks (“curb appeal”), and to others, the soups and sandwiches they serve (specific desired feature). You do not have a lot of time to establish a curb appeal relationship with a prospective home buyer. Whether cruising the web to view online photos from across the country, or cruising by your home in the family SUV on a Sunday afternoon outing, home shoppers will decide at a glance whether they want to see more. “We buy ugly houses” is a sign often seen nailed to electric poles. Rehabbers look for ugly houses so that they can pay the least amount possible; home buyers looking for a deal — not a “basement bargain” — do not want an unattractive home.


Creating curb appeal is essential to attracting interest in your home. How your home looks from the road is so persuasive that a well-prepared house may catch the attention of buyers who did not find the written description particularly compelling. Likewise, a neglected house can cause a buyer previously excited by the description to cruise right on by. Try this. Go out into your street and look — I mean really look — at your home, and see if you can spot any imperfections. Is it appealing, pristine, and well-kept, or are their necessary repairs that you have been putting off ? After you’ve lived in a home for a long while, you’re not likely to examine it objectively. Listen to suggestions from real estate experts, your friends and/ or potential home buyers about how you can make your house show better. Then, take a drive around your neighbourhood and surrounding area and see which homes for sale appeal to you and note why. Well- tended houses with trimmed bushes, groomed lawns, attractive landscaping, and a “grand entrance” (discussed shortly) will be more impressive than homes with an unkempt walkway, uncut grass, and a paint-peeling front door. The outside appearance of a property needs to be an invitation to come inside. Potential home buyers are drawn to welcoming entries and uncluttered yards. They are unlikely to be attracted to a home with dead shrubbery and a weather-worn exterior. It is no stretch to think a buyer will believe the home is neglected on the inside as well. Look at your home as a prospect would. Drive up to the curb and take inventory of everything that needs attention. Low-cost investments like power washing the house and concrete, repainting trim, and adding landscaping give your house more curb appeal. Simple improvements like weeding, trimming, and window washing can improve the appearance of a home with


little to no expense. Repair and repainting are costlier, but often tell in time-to-sale or sale price. The goal here is to get more money for your home. Home buyers generally aren’t interested in a home that needs work, unless you want to sell below market value. Look around your yard, and make a written list of everything that could be improved: • Shrubs trimmed, flower gardens tended, walkways tidy, and beds weeded • No trash, trash cans, lawn clippings, branches, or general mess in the yard • All outside fixtures and components (door and yard lights, garage door, porch rails); functioning properly and looking their best • Outdoor features, such as patio furniture or the deck, updated with staining or painting Make all major and minor improvements to update the exterior of your property. There might be a long list of things to do. It takes hard work to get a home ready to sell. Anyone can put a house on the market, but not everyone sells quickly or with great profits. Then, await the prospective buyers who will be drawn to the inside of your home when they see how beautiful it is from your curb!


As I mentioned earlier, an important part of curb appeal is the home’s “grand entrance” — the portal to even the most modest house. You want to create a sense of a great place to come home 20

to. Impressing the home shopper at the front door is a vital part of the home sale. This means more than putting out a welcome mat and potted plants. You want prospective buyers to feel welcome, safe, and secure when they open the door. The doorknob is the first point-of-touch on a home. Security is important to home buyers. A flimsy lock or handle on the front door will make potential home buyers uncomfortable, and they may not even know why. Replace a worn or loose entry handle. Consider replacing the door handle with a heavy-duty deadbolt and knob combination. This investment of less than $100 will make your home more visibly and practically secure, and everyone wants to be secure in their home. The front door is a focal point; make it impressive. Freshen it up and add a dash of color. Choose a paint that complements the color of your home. Replacing a wooden door with a steel entry door is worth the cost with a 91% ROI.


• Symmetry appeals to the eye and is easy to accomplish. Lopsided landscaping or unevenly trimmed bushes will detract from the curb appeal; the overall appearance of the home needs balance. • Use outdoor lighting to add to landscaping appeal as well as a perceived safety feature. • Use flower boxes and raised flower beds to add instant color. This is an easy, inexpensive way to enhance curb appeal. • Spruce up the landscaping. Eliminating weeds and adding


fresh mulch can really make a difference and shows homeowner care and maintenance. • Consider enhancing architectural appeal by adding molding to the tops and sides of the doorway or around windows. • Keep shutters and trim in excellent shape. Repainting them adds to the attractiveness. Fence gates, arbors, and fencing panels should be fresh and clean. • Clean downspouts and gutters. Repaint or touch up to eliminate rust spots. • Ensure the walkway to the front door is clear and approachable. Stacked hoses and unruly landscaping interfere with home shoppers walking up and diminish the inviting look. • Try a fresh coat of exterior paint; faded or chipping paint, siding, or trim will always detract from curb appeal. If exterior paint is good, ensure door and window trim are, too. This simple upgrade is well worth the cost. • Power washing the house, walkways, and driveway can be almost as effective as repainting, at a much lower cost. Power washers are easily rented from hardware stores. • Adding some stone or stone veneer to the face of the home is an inexpensive way to instantly update your home, if it complements the design. • Add a “smart” doorbell. Most home doorbells are outdated or not working, so if you invest around $150 to $250 in a doorbell equipped with a camera and speaker, you will gain the approval of home shoppers who are looking for security measures.

Curb appeal is one of the most essential elements in selling your


home quickly and successfully. You can create interest in your home before buyers even step out of the car, even if they didn’t think they were looking for a home like yours. If you put money into cleaning up the outside of your home, buyers will be far more likely to want to see the inside. Your home’s curb appeal draws buyers in, maintains their interest, and sets your home apart from the competition. Remember that unless you are willing to lower your home’s price well below market value, prospective home buyers typically won’t want to take on a major renovation project.


CHAPTER 5 Staging with Purpose

Staging is the act of sprucing up and setting up a home's interior to make it as visually appealing as possible to a prospective buyer. Creating an appealing home — one that potential buyers can envision themselves living in — is the best investment in the sales effort. Sellers often fail to take full advantage in this regard, as it takes considerable time and work. However, the payoff is proven. Staging is considered one of the most effective marketing strategies to increase the value of your home. This strategy is effective in any market, in any type of home property being listed. It applies equally to single-family houses, apartments, townhouses, and condos. This approach works! Agents and sellers using this tactic have a greater chance of selling the property for more money.

Staging the home will:

• Distinguish it from the competition • Attract top dollar from homebuyers • Provide a visual edge over the competition


Dear Reader,

I wanted to give you the most convincing proof possible. Many


people find it hard to believe that the simple act of staging helps one home sell for more than another similar home. In my research, I looked for examples of similar houses being sold for differing amounts of money, where only one of the two houses was staged. The clearest example I could find was in the case of these two listings.

This development has 200 equivalent townhouses.

Every single townhouse in the neighbourhood is three storeys, with three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Every unit has the same floor plan.

I looked for two sales there, and found these:

• Townhome A sold on June 21. • Townhome B, a few doors down, sold a month earlier for $25,000 less. I visited this neighbourhood, and I am familiar with these properties. You could not find a better example of two identical properties that sold for different prices. The lots the units sit on are identical, as far as the desirableness of the location. Both units had the same kitchen plan, with the same cabinets and a tile floor.

Both units had nice hardwood floors in the living room and


carpeted bedrooms.

Every important detail of these townhouses was identical. I studied every aspect of these sales to find what made the difference. There are two reasons one home sold for $25,000 more than the other: • Townhome A was professionally staged, giving it a more appealing appearance. • The agent selling this home took higher-quality, more attractive photos of the home. Those two seemingly small actions made the $25,000 difference! The buyers of Townhome A made a higher offer because the agent presented the home in a more appealing, attractive way.


Consider these potential case studies and reports, based on real stories, regarding the power of staging (vs. not staging) your home when selling it: In general, you will find that staged homes sell for more money and more quickly than non-staged homes. According to the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP) — which serves and educates home stagers and Realtors in North America and beyond — staged homes sell for an average of 17% higher than the asking price. For higher-priced homes in cities like Vancouver (B.C.), Toronto (Ontario), Calgary (Alberta), and Montreal (Quebec), this could amount to a significant chunk of change.


The IAHSP also reports that staged homes sell within an average of 11 days, spending almost 75% less time on the market than their non-staged counterparts.


Most home shoppers are envisioning a fresh start. If they can picture themselves living in the home, the home will be easier to sell. This is known as “interior curb appeal,” where the eyes are drawn to inviting spaces and light, as well as to unique features. Each room needs a purpose or suggested use. The home must feel new to reflect ease of upkeep. The goal is to create a clean, simple, and contemporary feel. Painting, updating fixtures, and eliminating stained carpets and popcorn ceilings can affect the saleability of the home by 75%!


The idea is to neutralize the home regarding personal taste or decoration, so buyers can easily envision the home as it would be outfitted in their taste or with their possessions, without the distractions of the seller’s taste and possessions. In staging, distractions are removed so the home shopper can imagine living in each space of the house. An effective way to achieve this is to paint all rooms in a neutral color. A wide range of neutrals is available, from soft grays to warm beiges. Painting the interior gives newness and freshness and can make the home appear more spacious. Using the same color in visibly adjacent rooms gives the house a seamless look and uninterrupted flow. Changing your window coverings to match the walls can also create an illusion of more space. Dark or bold wall colors can dampen interest in a home if used in large spaces; however, they can occasionally be used effectively as accent colors.



In staging, a visibly inviting space is created so that the home shopper can envision or imagine life in that space. Minimization is the key. If the seller’s personal taste and style are showcased while the home is on the market, it may be a sale distraction. Preparing for moving is part and parcel of selling a home; it might as well be done at this stage of the process, to enhance the property’s saleability. Shortly, we will examine depersonalizing the home, a key step. First, however, we must examine the concept of creating space by minimizing furniture. Buyers are attracted to homes flooded with light and roominess. They are equally put off by cramped homes filled with unnavigable spaces. Home shoppers want to walk through a house without obstacles in the way. Space and storage are high on the list of buyers’ desires, so every area of the home should feel spacious. Remove all unnecessary furniture from living spaces. Store it while the home is marketed. Closets, pantries, and storage rooms must be free of clutter and look organized. Pruning back unnecessary items can create interest by showcasing space and storage in areas such as closets, attics or basements. Furniture placement is an easy way to highlight unique house features. A grouping of chairs in front of a fireplace will draw attention to it. Avoid pushing furniture close to the walls. Reposition easy chairs into floating group spaces. Every room must be staged to show function. An empty room used for overflow of boxes, possessions, or unwanted items should be transformed into a usable, desirable space. Clean it out


and create an office space with a desk and chair, or a reading room with a lamp and recliner. Exercise equipment might be arranged to feature it as a workout room. Every room should have a purpose and be user-friendly. Make your home’s traffic flow smoothly, so buyers can browse each room without effort.


Once every room has a purpose, creating atmosphere is crucial to make the home desirable. Decorative touches of greenery, flowers, and coffee table books give life to a room. Wall art creatively hung frames rooms. A bedroom that has one bed with one pillow and blanket may make the room seem bare and lonely. By adding a table with a lamp and a rocking chair draped with a lap robe, you heighten its appeal. Be sure to add elements of the same color, shape, or texture to unify the room. Any splashes of color should appear in wall art or any place you want to draw attention. Learn to strike a balance between staging and living in your home. You can even seasonally decorate your home without dashing its appeal. The main goal is to keep your home clean and free of clutter that distracts would-be buyers. Even simple things can make a big impact on the final sale price of a home. You have two options for staging a home: do it yourself, or hire a professional home stager. If you are considering hiring someone, I can provide recommendations.


Home sellers often ask whether they should stay in their home while it is on the market, or move out. There are pros and cons to both and factors that can tip the scale to one side.

Pros of Moving Out


If the seller has engaged a real estate agent, the burden of showing a vacant home is virtually eliminated. The agent will field all calls, set appointments, and show the home. Buyers’ real estate agents are also more likely to want to show vacant homes. If agents have 20 home options and 15 are occupied, they may well show the vacant homes out of convenience. They don’t have to call and make an appointment and can simply go over and use the lockbox. Further, the continual pressure to keep daily life from affecting the home’s pristine staging presentation is eliminated. The seller is not under constant pressure to keep the home in immaculate showing condition. If you’re someone who might struggle to keep your home in turnkey condition for showing purposes — for example, if you have young children — consider vacating before putting the home on the market.

Cons of Moving Out

A vacant home can signal that the homeowner is a “motivated seller” who needs to sell quickly. Consider this example found on an online real estate forum. A buyer saw that a home was vacant and offered $30,000 less than the asking price. The buyer was sold on the home anyway and would have paid more, but “haggling” began well below asking price because the buyer assumed the owner was desperate to sell.


CHAPTER 6 Upgrading with ROI in Mind

Making upgrades can be as easy as replacing the handset on your front door and freshening up the paint job, or as daunting as remodeling an entire kitchen or master bath. The question always is, what home improvements give the best return on the remodelling dollar? Return on Investment (ROI) is generally less than 100% in real estate, so the rule of thumb is “less is more.” It is frequently advised in this area that it’s better to update/remodel your home while living in it and not solely at the time it comes to sell. That way, there is more enjoyment in the improvement and less cost and time in preparing for sale. Some desirable upgrades or home improvements will not return their cost in the sale price, so it’s better for the owners to enjoy them all along. If your home is worth $375,000, and you spend $25,000 to revamp the kitchen, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the investment will increase the value, dollar for dollar. The remodel may add value to the home, but the return in dollars spent will be around 50%. Smaller upgrades, like replacing outdated fixtures in the kitchen and bath, are certainly worthwhile, but major remodelling of those rooms isn’t wise, just to sell your home. That’s not to say you can ignore necessary repairs that a home inspector would red-flag or bank would demand before issuing a loan to a buyer. If major problems, like a leaking roof or outdated electrical wiring, exist, you may want to repair those before putting your home on the market, or expect to give certain concessions to the buyer.



Every listed home should meet the basic expectations of any buyer. It should have a sound roof, functioning gutters and downspouts, foundation without cracks, functioning heating and/or air- conditioning system, solid subflooring, and safe and secure electrical wiring. With finance-mandated home inspections, any shortcomings may be required to be remedied to get buyer financing approval. It is important to understand that the market value of a home is determined by the prices of comparable homes recently sold in the area. Extensive remodelling to sell the home or to increase the value may not pay off. The property needs to be up to the standards of neighbouring homes, so while the kitchen has to be comparable to others, spending $25,000 to remodel a kitchen in an area where comparable homes recently sold for $375,000 will not increase the house’s value to $400,000. While it may be a helpful selling feature, it won’t return dollar-for-dollar value.


It is easy to get wrapped up in the more eye-pleasing aspects of preparing a home to sell. However, the upkeep of all the more mundane aspects of the home cannot be overlooked.

These mechanical features require consideration:

• Electrical boxes and wiring • Natural gas lines • Plumbing • Central heating and air-conditioning

If these components are old, outdated, or not working correctly, the home’s appeal is lowered, as is the eventual sale price.


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