When it comes to selling, what can a real estate agent do for me that I can't do for myself?
One of the biggest advantages to working with a real estate agent is that your property can be uploaded onto the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®). This is a frequently used marketing tool, in the form of a central on-line database that exposes your property to thousands of member brokers and agents. Its offshoot, MLS.CA, is available to the public which significantly broadens the exposure to your property. Also, there are several routine parts of the job that a real estate professional can do more effectively than an owner unpractised in real estate. These include pricing your house accurately, assessing whether a buyer is qualified, creating and paying for advertising, being familiar with the myriad of provincial real estate regulations, drawing up contracts and coordinating the paperwork for the closing - not to mention showing your home to strangers which some home owners might find stressful.
When is the best time to put my house on the market?
While the "best" time to list your house is actually as soon as you decide to sell it, there are noticeable peak selling seasons which do vary in different provinces and even different cities. In Montreal, September through April excluding the December holidays is considered the peak listing season in urban areas as most city dwellers are back from summer vacation and buyers seem to be more intent in their search. And contrary to popular belief more houses in Montreal are listed and sold in the winter and spring!
Who can help me determine the right asking price?
The answer is quite simply a real estate professional. Agents have at their disposal, through their membership with their real estate board and other up-to-date market analysis software, a wide array of data that individuals may not have. These include what houses in your area have sold for and when, and how long properties were on the market at what prices. Through their research and instinct, a good agent will also know the strengths and weaknesses of a property and will suggest a listing price not so high that it won't sell and not so low that you don't get competitive offers.
After my property has been sold, am I liable for repairs?
If you did not declare your knowledge of a major problem with the property to the buyer before he/she signs the deed of sale, you are responsible for the cost of the repairs after the sale. In most cases this is very hard to prove but it is your responsibility to disclose any major problems, such as structural or mechanical, before concluding the sale. An example of an undisclosed declaration would be an addition to the house that wasn't built to code. Most offers include a condition that the buyer has a right to a building inspection in order to uncover any alarming issues that will require attention. After that condition has been fully satisfied by both buyer and seller, the buyer must accept the property in this condition and the seller must deliver the property in this condition. In the deed of sale, the seller guarantees warranty of quality (“legal warranty”). Following the signing of the deed, the buyer is responsible for all repairs save for those the buyer or the building inspector was unable to identify before the sale was concluded. These are called “hidden defects. Legal advice should be sought if all efforts fail to come to a mutual agreement.
What are some things I should consider when choosing a property?
You should choose a property in the best location for your budget. Some of the environmental or aesthetic considerations you may want to avoid are properties near highways, train tracks, heavy traffic streets, or high rise building that block your views and light. Depending on what you are looking for, a family friendly neighbourhood is usually a good choice for resale as it appeals to a wider audience. Choose a solid building with “good bones” and look at the proximity to amenities like parks, transportation to your workplace, schools, sports facilities, libraries and shopping. Also, consider your preference for heritage buildings or newer construction, number of bedrooms, quality of outdoor living space, and the kind of parking available.