Seller tips and strategies for Ottawa winter showings

winter showing tips and strategies

There are some important decisions to make with your listing broker to help you plan to accommodate winter showings, in this busy sellers’ market in 2019/2020.  Here are just a few:

Initial showing period:
How will you manage access to accommodate the largest number of buyers to your property?  High demand and low listing inventory right now means properties are highly sought after and buyers will want to see the property as soon as possible after it is listed. 8 to 10 showings a day (or more!) in the first few days is not out of the question.

Some buyers are even vacating their properties for the first 4-7 days to provide for easiest access for buyers.

Are you holding offers?
If you are holding offers back to a certain date, you will want to take this in to consideration also.

Do you want to schedule overlapping showings?
Realtors normally book a 1 hour showing window.  Do you want to allow for potentially overlapping showings where more one buyer and their agent may be in the property at the same time?  This is a quite normal practice but if you want individual buyers to enjoy a private showing, you may request that your listing broker does not schedule overlapping showings.

What part does an open house or open houses play?
Open Houses work for most properties and provide a scheduled time for buyers to visit.  When trying to maximize or optimize the number of visitors in a short time frame, they can be very strategic.  We often hold dual open houses on listing launch weekends, as this gives buyers two choices to visit plus it may help us, if a winter storm impacts a single open house day and time.

Do you continue showings after a conditional sale?
Do you continue with buyer showings (and open houses) if you have signed an agreement for a conditional sale on the property?  Sales cancellations are at an all-time high of 10-15% of conditional sales, so it may be a good idea to continue accepting showings and holding any already scheduled open house, just in case, the buyer financing does not come through or for some other reason the buyer chooses to opt out of the agreement.

Do you have any time-of-day restrictions you wish to add to your listing?
In most cases, you want to make the property as accessible as possible for buyers but there are circumstances like children’s bedtimes, shift work schedules and other family matters may dictate a time window where showings cannot be accommodated.  Discuss these with your listing broker.

What is your pet management plan for showings?
Discuss with your broker, how best to manage pets to accommodate showings.

Here is an update to a previous post with specific tips for prepping for buyer visitors in winter:

Here is a checklist to things to consider when prepping for winter showings:

  1. Please shovel the driveway, walkway, front porch, decks and patios and make sure it is both accessible and safe for visitors. Ditto for snow or ice on roofs, eaves, overhangs or garages. Also, please make sure all windows and patio doors are frost and ice free and can be opened by visitors, if they wish.
    check to make sure the house numbers are visible as is the real estate “For Sale” sign and not obscured by snow, ice or snowbanks.
  1. For evening showings, please leave an outdoor light on so it is quick and easy to access the lockbox and then open the front door.
  2. Leaving all house lights on, saves time and shows your home to its best. Best to turn off the security system for scheduled showings also.
  3. Please make sure there are ample floor mats and boot trays to accommodate visitor footwear, especially for Open Houses.
  4. Please keep floors dry and clean! Few things are more irritating or distracting than walking through a puddle or having to walk through a dirty basement.
  5. Keep a moderate temp in the 19-20 C range (65-68F).  Many vacant properties are like meat lockers temperature wise and this does nothing for a buyer trying to “warm up “to a property, particularly when walking through in their sock/stocking feet on a cold floor. Visitors are wearing coats at this time of year, so please don’t make it too warm, either.
  6. Keep curtains and blinds open to admit as much natural light as possible, this is especially important in our low light winter conditions.  Light, bright homes show better and buyers are very much interested in this.
  7. Have a pet management plan which includes daily removal of any pet droppings that are emerging through the snow and ensure cat litter boxes and the area around them are cleaned regularly.
  8. Check for cooking, pet or other odours (hockey equipment?) and ventilate the home using your HRV, as home odours are more noticeable during the winter when houses (particularly newer more air tight ones) do not get as much fresh air from opening windows and doors. Moisture control is also important, as excess condensation on windows can be a worrying sign for buyers.
  9. Minimize distractions:  we don’t need cooking smells, music, vanilla on the stove, excessive air or carpet deodorant, personal photos, etc.
  10. Leave out some good colour photos of what the house and yard look like in the summer time, this really helps a buyer “see” the property.
  11. Have a plan for any fireplace.  Wood burning fireplaces don’t need to be lit but should be clean and with wood or fire log ready to light.  Gas fireplaces should also be clean and ready to turn on with directions on how to do so but resist the urge to leave the gas fireplace “on” or a wood burning fire going.
  12. No smoking…even in the garage!14.don’t run dishwasher or laundry when showings are anticipated
  1. Leave out copies of any pertinent neighbourhood information, your property survey or other items that may be potentially of interest for buyers or their representatives.
  2. Don’t be afraid to post a note about turning off lights or not locking inside garage door.

We would love to share our other thoughts on how to get your property sold, so feel free to give us a call at 613-435-4692 or oasisrealty@rogers.com , if you are not already working with another real estate professional.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker Oasis Realty Brokerage
www.oasisrealtyottawa.com
613-435-4692 oasisrealty@rogers.com   https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/ @oasisrealtyOTT

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Is a “pre-listing” home inspection a good idea?

can a pre-listing inspection save a sale?

A “pre-listing” home inspection is just like a regular home inspection but is completed by the homeowner/seller prior to listing the property for sale.  Buyers are very familiar with the advantages of a home inspection when buying a property but few sellers take the time to have a “pre-listing” home inspection done.  Here are a few thoughts on why this rarely happens and why it is probably a very good idea in this market.

Is this a good idea?
Doing such a home inspection prior to listing is an excellent idea for a number of reasons.  It can be part of listing preparation and a sensible piece of due diligence to perform.  Most home inspectors are happy to do these and generally, they would be conducted well enough in advance of the listing date, to allow time to rectify any significant issues discovered.  (Or at the very least, to obtain professional quotes to understand the cost of remedies that can be built in to pricing strategy or negotiations)

In our sellers’ market one might say “what’s the point? there are lots of buyers out there” and forgo such an inspection and the associated cost.  However, having a home inspection report on file and available for serious buyers and their buyer representatives can be a very handy tool.

Some buyers may choose to forego the need for their own home inspection, if the report on file is deemed satisfactory.  This can mean a “cleaner” offer and possibly a quicker firming up date which benefits both buyer and seller.  It might also mean more offers in a multiple offer situation.

It can also provide buyers with confirming data on the property under consideration which can add to their confidence level or inform them of details that they may not have known.  This may help prevent a sale “falling through” or being cancelled during the conditional period.  Because of our sellers’ market, we are seeing extraordinarily high levels of such sales cancellations and these really hurt the seller, so on this basis alone, a pre-listing inspection is warranted.

If a general pre-listing inspection suggests more specific, expert consultation then a seller may choose to further investigate the matter and obtain additional reports, quotes or information that will help facilitate a sale or negotiation.  If done well in advance, then a seller has the opportunity to address some of the items pointed out and thus ensure success when a buyers’ home inspection is conducted.

A Professional Inspectors thoughts:
Mike White, owner of Homepro Inspections here in Ottawa and a very experienced home inspector, says perhaps 3% of his total inspections annually are pre-listing.
“I do several of these a year. Many are estate sales where the sellers are really not aware of any information about the house.

Most of the issues found are the same for any other inspection. Asbestos is something that many homeowners have no idea is in their homes.

The main difference when I am performing a pre-listing inspection is that I will typically give the sellers some tips on preparing their home for the next inspection. This would be information beyond what some agents provide in their services.

Some of this would be:
– Cleaning the furnace, or changing filters.
– Recommendation of increasing attic insulation
– Caulking and other general maintenance which can give potential buyers an impression of how the home has been maintained.”

You can reach out to Mike for a variety of home inspection related services at: http://homeprocanada.ca/ or by calling 613-860-4848

Why don’t more sellers and listing agents do these?

Timelines:
Quite often sellers are on a tight timeline to get a property listed and there just isn’t time to get a pre-inspection done.  Inspectors are in high demand in peak season and may or not be as readily available to do such inspections during the busiest months in the spring.

“Don’t-ask-don’t tell” or “don’t poke the bear
Most sellers are also very familiar with their homes and either don’t feel a home inspection is necessary, don’t want to shoulder the cost (approx. $500) or don’t want to “poke the bear” and potentially find out some negative aspect of the property that could affect their selling process.  Many listing agents also apply a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” principle to the pre-listing inspection, as anything significant discovered by that inspection may be a material fact which must then be disclosed to buyers or may delay the listing process.   “Why ask for trouble?  many listing agents may ask themselves.

Today, only the most cautious sellers are having pre-listing home inspections done in our market and in many cases, probably only upon the suggestion of their listing agent/broker.  Some brokers may choose to include the cost of this inspection in their listing fees.  Homes that have had (or have) some specific issue, (ie foundation, structural, latent defect) are good candidates to show buyers what needs to be done and what it will cost or to prove that the issue has been resolved. Often, a trade specialist or Engineering inspection and report may be provided for this purpose.

We believe that doing such an inspection protects both seller and listing broker and paves the way for a smoother sales process overall but don’t expect to see a much higher % of listed properties being supported in this fashion.  Those contemplating a sale, should at the very least discuss this with their listing broker and determine if there are sufficient reasons to proceed.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692  oasisrealty@rogers.com