Top 10 Tips for Selling Your Home in a Slow Vancouver Real Estate Market

By shaye • August 18th, 2010

As we head into the fall season, my feeling is that buying activity is going to pick up in the Vancouver real estate market. I don’t believe we’ll see the frenetic pace we saw earlier this year but rather a return to more balanced conditions. After keeping track of all inventory that is selling, it’s no surprise to find that these units are priced right and prepared appropriately by the seller on all fronts. Those properties where little or no effort has been made to prepare for showing, not surprisingly remain unsold.

Following is my top 10 tip list for preparing your home for sale in a slow market:

1. Make sure your pricing is realistic

Pricing is a huge factor when the market slows. Sellers are used to being in control and get accustomed to a ‘pay my price or lose out’ mentality. When buyers step back and simply refuse to pay, those that are serious about selling must be willing to negotiate and listen to what the market will bear. If your house has been on the market for 90 days or more and has not sold, it might be time to consider a reduction in time for he fall market.

2. Clean the house, neutralize and declutter

This is an obvious one but many sellers still make their home less that presentable which hurts you chances of a sale. By neutralize, I mean putting away anything that is radically specific to your personality or lifestyle and not generally found in other households. This can include religious symbols/artifacts, drum sets, mechanic shops in the shed etc. First impressions are important so the house must be clean and clear for the potential buyer to start ‘mentally’ furnishing.

3. Fix all the little things

Tape the corner of the living room carpet, replace the light bulbs and replace the three missing mosaic blocks in the bathroom. Pay attention to the details because buyers are emotional and their decisions can be swayed by the smallest things, as irrational as they may seem to you.

4. Make the property available for open houses

Whether you are an owner-occupier or if you have a tenant in your property, its imperative you make the space available for open house viewing on weekends and outside of that time should a potential buyer request it. This is particularly true when the listing first goes live on the MLS as this is when there should be the most interest in your property. Some realtors will list the property and then not do any open houses for two weeks – personally I don’t understand this and like to start showing the home that same weekend.

5. Consider a homes stager

While home staging can be expensive, a good staging job can make all the difference. Small spaces can be made to look larger and empty spaces more personal.

6. Consider a home inspection

If you factor in the cost of the inspection and any major defects that might need repairing (boiler replacement, new electrical wiring etc) into the sale price of your home, this can be a great way to avoid any time-wasting deal-breakers at the 11th hour. I have seen many transactions fall apart due to disagreement about replacing an old water heater or other easily fixable item in the house. Remember that there is always a very fine line that a buyer will walk before deciding to ‘go with his gut’ and walk away. As a seller, it’s your job to present as few of these reasons as possible.

7. Consider relisting to freshen your listing on MLS

If your listing is stale and is more that 120 days old, it’s old news on the MLS. This is great time to consider a new price, get rid of those amateurish photographs and hire a professional. Put a virtual tour up on the internet for everyone to see and relist you property on the MLS.

8. Make sure your realtor has a sound marketing plan

Read my previous blog for more on this topic. Make sure your realtor is actually doing what he said he would during the listing presentation and hold them accountable. Ask for weekly reporting about marketing initiatives both on and offline.

9. Offer a bonus

Consider offering the buying realtor a cash bonus. It’s a compensation driven business and nothing is going to motivate a realtor to bring buyer clients through your property quite like a cash bonus. The corollary is to never, ever skimp on the buyer side commissions.

There are a lot of ‘discount’ or reduced commission models out there but do you really think any self-respecting realtor is going to bring buyers to see your property if there’s little or no commission money to be earned?

They’re not.

10. Be Patient


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you have done everything possible to prepare your home for sale, sit back and be patient, the right buyer is out there. As they say, “It only takes one!”

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I am a Vancouver realtor and mortgage broker who has been in the real estate industry for 12 years.


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