Couple Buys Home

Bite Sized Regina Real Estate Advice

Easily Digestible Advice You Can Squeeze Into Your Head in one Sitting

How much do you think they’ll take for it? It’s a great question and one I get asked all of the time.

Here’s the answer: How should I know?

Several years ago I was representing a buyer purchasing a condo in Windsor Park. He had split up with his wife and was looking for something with enough room for his kids when they stayed with him.

We found a great place and made an offer of $247,000 for a condo priced at $259,900. We received a counter offer of $255,000. This was more than my guy was willing to pay and he asked me if I thought they might take something in the low $250's.

As are the rules, when an offer is made and a counter offer presented a buyer cannot then counter the counter offer. If the buyer wants to pursue it further they need to re-open negotiations with a new offer.

I called the listing agent first to see if we would be wasting our time writing a new offer or if there was room to move, responded flatly “how should I know”.

How should I know? You’re her REALTOR®, don’t you guys ever talk. Then I thought about it some more.

First of all, the answer I got was partly self-serving on the listing agents behalf. Instead of getting on the phone with the seller he wanted me to write a new offer. This way all he had to do was email it over to her and he was done for the evening.

But, I could also see he was right.

Realtors don’t know what people will take for their home. We can gather clues as to motivation from past conversations but we don’t own the home. People don’t always do what’s good for them. Selling is an emotional time. Have you ever got caught up in situation and made a decision that, looking back on, wasn’t your finest? People blow it occasionally, sometimes more so when money is involved.

A better question, and one that I can answer is “how much should they take for the home”. Base your buying decision (in part) on how much a home should sell for and not what the seller is asking. What people should do and what they actually do doesn’t always line up.

Instead of getting angry with the Realtor, which was my first reaction, I took it as an opportunity to learn.

We ended up getting the condo for $253,000. My guy still lives there.


P.S. Whether you agree or disagree with this I would welcome your feedback. Let’s start the conversation and get you moving in the right direction.

You’re selling your house! You’re either pumped or feeling sick to your stomach. No worries, get these four things right (plus a bonus item at the end) and you’ll be selling like a pro!

Here they are in order of importance:

  1. Price it Right

  2. Clean it Up

  3. Offer a Competitive Commission

  4. Make it Easy to Show

Here’s the breakdown:

1. The Price is Right (or at least it better be).

You can’t sell a $100 bill for $110. You need to set a fair price for your home.

Pricing your home involves sitting down with the listing agent (me I hope) and review comparable listings or comps. Comps are homes similar in size, condition, quality and area that have recently sold. You will take these numbers and add or subtract to arrive at a list price for your home.

It’s tricky business, for sure, because you haven’t actually been in the comparable listings. You don't have a feel for what they were really like and you don’t know the circumstances surrounding the sale. Were there competing offers? Were the sellers under duress? Did the buyer knowingly overpay because they were under pressure to buy?

You have no way of knowing so you need to use reason and good judgment when looking at the comparable homes and arriving at your asking price. Put your best foot forward to be successful.

Remember, buyers coming to look at your home have seen others in the area in your price range. They will know immediately if you are well priced based on homes they have already seen. Create a strong impression on the buyers and they will reward you with an offer close to your asking price. Turn the buyers off and they will move on. A price drop, later on, won’t usually bring them back.

2. Clean the Darn Thing Up

Swiffer the crap out of it.

You wouldn’t put your car on Kijiji without throwing the McDonald’s bags out of the back seat and wiping the dash. Why would you put your house up for sale and expect a good price if people are walking into a mess?

Buyers use all 5 senses when looking at homes. House smells bad, dirty baseboards, broken light switch. It all makes buyers wonder "if this is the best they can do when they have it up for sale how well do they take care of it on a day-to-day basis."

So, wash the windows, wipe out the cabinets, clean the fridge…you get the idea.

Strangers are going to look in your closets, open doors, rummage through the storage area and take a peek in the pantry. Don’t give them anything to look at. If you’re moving anyway, rent a storage bin for the good stuff, take your old bowling trophies to the thrift shop and take the console T.V. to the dump. Buyers will show their appreciation by making a better offer and your spouse will show their appreciation by baking a cake. Or something like that.

3. Offer a Competitive Buyer’s Side Commission

Chum the water and let the sharks feed.

Here’s how REALTORS® get paid – sell a home. That’s the short answer and it’s also the long answer. No steady pay cheque. So, make a dollar offer that grabs their attention.

Most home sales (90%+) involve two Realtors, the one that lists the home and the one working with a buyer that makes the offer. When you list your home you will pay a total commission and then split that commission, offering a portion to the Realtor that brings the buyer (writes an offer).

If the commission you offer to the buyer’s Realtor is lousy compared to similar homes for sale in your area, you won’t generate any excitement. Remember, Realtors have all the buyers. You're trying to find a buyer.

Think about it, if there are three homes for sale on your street and the others are offering 2%. You negotiated a lower commission and are offering 1%. At that pay rate, you can be sure Realtors aren’t going to push their clients in your direction. Now, we can’t make someone buy one home over another, but buyers are always looking for advice. “Which one do you think is a better house?”, “What did you think of that last house?”. What would you like them to say? Good things about your house of course!

You’re not going to get Realtors working hard for you if you offer a poor commission. You’ve put yourself at a disadvantage compared to your competition. Your competition is other homes in your area in the same price range.

4. Make Your Home Easy to Show

Let them know you’re open for business.

In today’s fast-paced world buyers want to see homes on their schedule. It can be inconvenient for sellers, but you have to play the game.

Let's say you get a showing request for later in the day and I call you to confirm. You tell me you haven’t had a chance to clean up, it’s supper at 6 pm, your husband's got a sore tooth, and ask if I can tell them to come tomorrow. They won’t. Buyers move it down or off the list. They make the assumption you aren’t very motivated to sell.

Every showing request is a potential winner. You never know from where or when your buyer will appear. Make the atmosphere friendly for potential buyers and you’ve created an advantage for yourself.


Your Realtor needs to be as invested in this as you are.

You should interview your Realtor. Lots of people don’t, you should. Your Realtor needs to be communicating in a way you understand, be available at all times, take great pictures and provide a compelling write-up.

Seems Like a Lot of Work…

It is. Do the work getting your home ready and be rewarded with a better offer. It works that way.


PS: A wise man and good friend named Bill Nasby introduced me to these ideas when I first started in real estate. Bill was a Realtor, and later in life a real estate coach (don’t laugh there’s a big industry in coaching Realtors).

His original list was “Price, Wages (buyer’s side commission) and Access”. I added “Clean it Up” to the list. You could skip the clean if you don't care how much your home sells for.

In Canada, you require a minimum of $2.40 to buy an extra large coffee at Tims and a minimum of 5% of the total purchase price to buy a home. Check your bank account and if you have under $5 buy yourself the coffee and your co-workers a box of donuts. Sadly, you won’t be buying a home.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but from experience, some tend to overestimate their financial ability.

In addition, you need to have the 5% of the purchase price saved and in a bank account, as a gift with documentation of such or in an RRSP. You can’t borrow the down payment.

Buyers with a down payment of less than 20% of the total purchase price must have their mortgage insured against default. Mortgage insurance protects the lender and not the borrower. It assures lenders that they will be covered in the event that a borrower defaults on, or fails to make, their mortgage payments within 90 days of being due.

The lender is the one that actually buys the insurance for their benefit and then passes the cost on to the borrower. Bummer.

If you have more that 20% of the purchase price available as a down payment congratulations! You manage your money well and will not need mortgage insurance. This is called a conventional mortgage. Some lenders will opt to insure the mortgage anyway but are not required by law to do so. The lenders will not typically pass this charge along to the borrower.

The insurer most people have heard about is The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The CMHC is a federal crown corporation and is the largest insurer of residential mortgages in Canada. Their rates are here and vary depending on the amount you put down.

The fees are not required up front but instead added as a lump some to your total mortgage.

Borrowers also have the option to choose private insurers that include both Genworth Financial Canada and Canada Guarantee. All 3 are good choices but are all a little different. Have your lender discuss the benefits of each.

Saving for a down payment is a challenge but with some good advice and some good habits, you can do it.

Cruise on over to the contact page and send me an email. I work with some excellent lenders and would be happy to connect you with the right people. You might be surprised as to how quickly you could become an owner!


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