Smart tips for first-time home sellers

There’s a lot of information available out there for first-time home buyers. From tips on how to go about purchasing a house to materials proclaiming the advantages of owning a property, new buyers don’t have a shortage of print and on-line references.

But how about people selling their homes for the first time?

Vancouver realtor Bret Schillebeeckx notes that there’s not much emphasis on this group. Like new buyers, according to the RE/MAX Crest Realty Westside agent, first-time sellers also need to be educated in how best to handle their investment.

“Most people just say, ”˜I want to sell my house,’ and they hire their best friend’s friend who happens to be a realtor,” Schillebeeckx told the Georgia Straight. “They don’t take the time to qualify who they’re hiring. It’s a pretty serious business, whether it involves a $100,000 condo or a $10-million house.”

He advises prospective sellers to interview three agents, and find out what they’re willing to and can do, their marketing record, and how well they know the area.

The real-estate market has shown signs of cooling, and according to Schillebeeckx, the longer time it now takes to dispose of a property can be stressful, especially for a first-time seller.

Figures released on May 2 by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver show that the region’s residential-property sales in April declined by five percent from the same month last year, and by 3.8 percent from April 2006.

The board also reported an increase in the listings for detached, attached, and apartment properties in April compared to the same month last year.

The Toronto-based Prudential Properties Plus has made the effort to post on-line (toronto ) tips ranging from choosing an agent to pricing the property to showing the house. The site also walks the seller through the processes of listing, dealing with an offer, and closing the sale.

Understandably, the company recommends that a seller should relax, and let the agent take care of the details. “Home buyers may use several information sources in their search process, but they are most likely to find the home they actually purchase through a real estate professional,” the site states.

Another Web site ( ) provides a more detailed how-to guide for selling a home. It also provides tips in case owners decide that they don’t need a broker.

“With the potential rewards that can be gained—saving $4,000, $8,000, $12,000 or more (minus your expenses) by not having to pay a Brokerage commission, many people wonder why less than 20% of home sellers undertake the task of selling their houses on their own,” the Virginia-based site states.

Receiving all the proceeds from the sale is the biggest benefit of acting as your own agent, but the site also notes that there are disadvantages to not engaging the services of a broker.

“Many buyers believe that if you are selling on your own and not paying a commission, it is they (the buyers) who should get the saving—not you,” it cites, as an example. The site also notes that one must become knowledgeable about legal and financial issues to be effective.

Realtors don’t normally advertise how much commission they charge. But one realtor who spoke to the Straight admitted getting seven percent of the first $100,000 and 2.5 percent of the balance of the purchase price.

Another Vancouver realtor, Gale Liebert, told the Straight that she has worked with a number of first-time sellers, and her primary concern is making sure their houses are priced right.

“I try and educate my sellers so they can come up with a price that they’re comfortable with,” Liebert said. “I think we are now in a more balanced market than what we’ve seen over the last five years. But it’s still strong for accurately priced properties.”

Liebert doesn’t have much time for suggestions that selling a first home is an emotional process because of attachments to the property by the owners. “Often in the first purchase, they’re just getting into the market with resources that may not be enough to get what they really want,” she said. “So typically when they sell that first home they’re looking for bigger and better, and that’s exciting, right? They’ve outgrown their place. It’s the next step along the way.”