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If you are getting ready to list your home for sale, you may not be sure where to start. Here are the top three things your agent will want you to do to make sure that your home is ready to list.

1. Make Needed Repairs

Homeowners often get used to living in a home with wear and tear. However, when you are getting ready to sell, you need to make your home ready for the new owner. How do you determine what needs repairing?

First, you can simply go through your home and make notes of what is not working as it should. Look at doorknobs, latches, locks, light switches, garage doors, appliances, leaky faucets, mildewed grout, and more. Be sure to look at the exterior of your home as well. Broken fences, dead grass, or a junky shed can turn off a buyer. If you find something that is not in good working order, you should repair or replace it.

Alternatively, you can have your home pre-inspected. A professional inspector will look over your home and tell you what they find. In this way, you can fix the issues before potential buyers see your home

2. Consider Minor Renovations

One of the easiest and cheapest renovations to consider when putting your home up for sale is paint. Pick neutral tones for the walls in order to appeal to the widest selection of buyers. You may not need to paint every room, but be sure to paint any room that is dingy or is a focal point for the home.

Another inexpensive renovation is the removal of wallpaper. The choice of a wallpaper pattern is very personal. If a buyer doesn’t like the pattern, they may have a difficult time seeing themselves in the home. Removing the wallpaper helps give the buyer a good first impression.

Other renovations with a good return on investment include:

  • Adding insulation
  • Adding a new front door
  • Minor kitchen and bathroom renovations
  • New windows
  • Converting a basement or attic into livable space

3. Compile Records and Documents

Finally, gather your records and documents. No matter which agent you choose they will need all of the nitty gritty details about your home.

You will need:

  • Your sale agreement from when you bought your home
  • Your deed and title report
  • Recent property tax bills
  • Survey reports, if applicable
  • Homeowners insurance information
  • Lease agreement, if you rent your property
  • Rental agreements if you rent any of the equipment in the home like the hot water tank
  • Home warranty information
  • Appliance warranty information
  • Mortgage loan payoff info
  • Lead-based paint disclosure for homes built before 1978

Following these three tips will help you list your home when you are short on time, and if you have other questions…ask your knowledgable SAGE agent.

The post Sellers: 3 Must-Dos To Get Your Home Ready To List appeared first on Sage.

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If you’re in the process of looking for a realtor to work with, you’ll want to be sure and do your research. Not all realtors are the same, and as you’ll be entrusting your agent with what is probably the largest financial transaction of your life, you’ll want to choose wisely.

So how do you know how to choose the right realtor for you? Everyone’s situation is a little different, but whether you’re buying or selling, you’ll want to consider these…

5 Big Things You Should Be Selective About in Your Realtor
  1. Level of experience.

In your search for a realtor, your first job is to determine the level of experience an agent has, and whether or not they’re best suited to fulfill your unique needs as their client. You’ll want to dig deeper than just years of experience—in this case, quality is more important than quantity. An agent may say they’ve worked for an impressive 20 years in the business, but have they been a “hobby” agent the whole time? In this case, the agent with only 3 years of experience that’s filled with successful transactions and strong references may actually be the better choice.

You’ll also want to know whether an agent works more with buyers or sellers, and how their experience with either can benefit your needs. It’s also important to learn which neighborhoods or cities they work in, and what types of homes or real estate they specialize in. Neighbourhoods (even in the same city) and types of homes can vary greatly, and finding an agent who is an expert is your specific situation will serve you the best. You want your agent to know your neighbourhood, home type, and local real estate market like the back of their hand!

  1. Proven record of success.

Experience is all well and good, but an agent should do more than just be able to show that they’ve brushed up on local stats. They should be able to show you successful transactions they’ve been a part of. If you’re selling, you’ll want to see list price vs. sold price, days on market, and how this compares to similar homes in the same neighborhood, as a start. If you’re buying, you’ll want to see situations where they’ve helped buyers close on the homes they want. If you have a competitive market, ask how many offers recent clients have had to make before they win a home.

  1. Excellent testimonials.

Reading online testimonials about a real estate agent is a good place to start, but first-hand details from their previous clients is even better. Don’t be afraid to ask around and reach out to those who have first-hand experience working with the agent.

  1. Strong network of support.

Will you always be working directly with the agent, or will their teammate show you a home now and then? Does the agent have an assistant who helps throughout the transaction, or an office full of staff offering them support? There are pros and cons to each scenario, but no matter what the agent’s work style is, you’ll just want to make sure that you understand how the relationship will work.

  1. Professional references.

Your agent should be well-connected and have preferred professionals they can recommend you to based on their real life experience with them. If you’re buying a home, this may include a preferred lender. If you’re selling a home, this may include contractors or staging professionals who can help get your home ready to sell. Research their recommendations to see if they seem as good as the agent says they are.

These 5 things are of the utmost importance whether you’re buying or selling your home (or both!). Ready to dig even deeper? These handy guides will help you narrow down your search for a realtor:

  • Buying a home? Click here for our advice for homebuyers.
  • Selling a home? Check out ten ways to make sure you have the best selling experience.

The post Buyers/Sellers: Not All Realtors Are Created Equal. 5 Big Things You Should Be Selective About in Your Realtor appeared first on Sage.

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The post MARKET UPDATE – JULY 2018 appeared first on Sage.

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The post MARKET UPDATE – JUNE 2018 appeared first on Sage.

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If you’re a real estate agent who specializes in selling, then you might consider having your own stash of staging items! Staging a home is essential when marketing a home, from capturing stunning listing photos to hosting memorable open houses and showings.

Some agents like to have their own staging inventory—you may be able to save money, and have more control over how a home’s marketing turns out. But staging inventory can start to accumulate fast, and keeping it all organized can become a full-time job.

Here are 9 tips for organizing and managing your real estate listing staging inventory:
  1. Take advantage of a storage unit or warehouse.

You’ll want to find a climate-controlled storage unit (or part of a warehouse, depending on your scale!) that you can back a truck up to for easy loading. A place with good security is also a plus.

  1. Invest in lots of open shelving units.

You’ll want to take advantage of the storage space that you have, and going “up” is the way to go! Plus, this will make it easier to find items when you’re on the hunt for that perfect accent piece.

  1. Use bungee cords to keep things in place.

Whether you’re storing vases or pillows on those open shelving units, you’ll want to secure things with a bungee cord to prevent things from falling. Wrap a bungee cord around the shelving—if a shelf gets bumped, all of your vases won’t go shattering to the ground!

  1. Invest in waterproof storage bins.

Storage bins are great for protecting things like towels and bedding (dust covers for certain fabric items can also be useful!), especially for when you’re transporting everything. Label the outside of the bin (especially if its contents are fabric items) so you can easily see what is inside. Are there enough towels for one bath, or two baths in this bin? What size towels are in here? How many sheet sets are in this bin, and will they fit a twin or a queen? This will ensure you know exactly what’s inside a bin without having to rummage through it or unfold anything.

  1. Color coding is your friend.

Organizing everything by color will help you quickly find what you’re looking for. Organize kitchenware, dining sets, vases, pillows, linens, planters, floral arrangements, artwork, etc. by color.

  1. Group things by type.

If you have a set of things that work well in a bathroom together, then it may be easier for you to group them all together into one storage bin. Have a dining set that goes together, or decor for a fireplace mantel that you keep finding yourself putting together as a display? Group it all into one bin to save time in the future.

  1. Have a large stash of packing materials on hand.

Your staging items are most likely to get damaged during transport, so you’ll want to do your best to keep them safe and secure. Blankets, furniture pads, bubble wrap, paper, and packing tape should all be readily available.

  1. Get in the habit of cycling out older items for newer on-trend items.

As your older items fall out of style, sell them and cycle them out of your inventory before they’re too old and people don’t want to buy them. Replace these items with newer on-trend things that will keep your staging and marketing looking fresh!

  1. Pinterest is packed with organizing ideas.

Pinterest is not only brimming with home decorating ideas, but you’ll also find a huge community of stagers here. There are tons of ideas for organizing on Pinterest, and more specifically, organizing your staging inventory.

The post 9 Tips for Organizing & Managing Your Real Estate Listing Staging Inventory appeared first on Sage.

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When you start out your home search, you’ll want to first create a list of “must-haves” for your new home. Are you buying a new home because you need more space? Then “3 bedrooms” might be on your “must have” list. Are you buying a new home because you need to move for work? Then you might have a very specific neighbourhood in mind.

Taking the time to make a list of what’s important to you in a home will help guide your search, but once you get out and start touring homes, this may start to change. It might turn out that a 3-bedroom home in your top choice location is out of your price range. You’ll have to decide what you’re willing to sacrifice—location, or number of bedrooms?

This is just one example—finding the right balance of your “must-haves” can be challenging. While everyone ultimately has to determine their own priorities, there are a few compromises that are easier to make than others.

Here are 7 things you won’t want to compromise on when buying a home:
  1. Price.

It can be all too tempting to want to splurge for that home you just fell in love with… we’ve all seen that home that’s almostwithin reach. You might convince yourself that it’s worth it—but don’t let your emotions talk you into something you’ll regret later. Determining your budget before you start looking at homes can help you stay focused. You don’t want to end up having a mortgage that makes you financially uncomfortable down the road.

  1. Location.

If living downtown in the heart of the city is integral to your lifestyle, then don’t try to convince yourself that living 20 minutes out of the city is ok! Unless you’re truly up for the change, think of what your day to day will look like in your new home. Are you still close enough to places you frequent, like your favorite yoga studio and the co-op grocery store you belong to? Will you really drive 20 minutes to get to those places from your new home outside of the city? Take an honest assessment of what activities and conveniences are important to you, and how far you’re willing to live from them.

  1. Commute.

This is a major one. Many people convince themselves that a 2-hour commute won’t be so bad—especially when they can have their dream home as a result! But whether you’re looking at a 2-hour commute or a 30-minute one, you should try the actual commute during the time you’d normally be making the journey. Is a 20-minute drive actually an hour-long drive during rush hour? Is a 30-minute bus ride actually a 50-minute bus ride since you have to switch lines, and buses during rush hour are frequently full or running late? Getting a true picture of what your commute could look like can make or break a location—you don’t want to be miserable every day and spending too much time in traffic when you could be enjoying your new home!

  1. Home type & size.

Are you moving because your family is about to get bigger and you need more space? Are you trying to downsize because you need to lower your living expenses and time spent on home maintenance? Sometimes there are life changes that will determine what type and size of home we’re looking for, and sticking to what you want will be essential to your future happiness.

  1. Home quality.

If you’ve never done a home renovation in your life, then saving money by buying a fixer upper might not be a great idea. It may sound doable and you might have seen every home renovation show on TV, but be realistic about what work you can and are willing to do. Research how much it could cost and the time and energy that will need to be spent renovating before getting yourself into a situation that might not be as easy as you expect.

  1. Parking.

If you need parking, then you’ll definitely want to carefully research your options. When you’re looking for a home in a city, make sure that your building comes with a parking spot. If parking isn’t included, it may not be feasible to find free street parking, and it can run you hundreds of dollars per month to rent a spot. Don’t get caught off guard by this one!

  1. Schools.

For many, the quality of local schools are at the top of the list. If you already have a school district that you absolutely love, then moving to a new school that you might not like as much can seriously impact your family. If you’re considering a move, try to meet and talk with other parents at the school in question. Visit the school in person, and ask about their different programs and offerings. While online websites can help shed light on a school, nothing compares to talking with those who have real first-hand experience.

Would you like to get a jumpstart on finding your new home? Check out our helpful Buyer’s Guide!

The post BUYERS: 7 Things NOT to Compromise on When Buying a Home appeared first on Sage.

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Content marketing is an incredible tool when it comes to getting your real estate business out there, and many agents build their businesses on its concepts. And it’s all in the name: “content marketing” is the idea that you can attract clients through sharing valuable content. When it comes to real estate, this means showing off your business through various types of content that you’ve created.

“Content” might refer to blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, great photos, etc. Maybe this means that you’re sharing blog posts about tips for buyers or sellers, or writing about your favorite parks in the neighbourhood you work in. Maybe you’re creating Q&A videos answering common questions you receive as a real estate agent, or maybe you’re sharing before and after photos of a home you recently listed. These are all examples of different types of content, and each example offers your business a few powerful benefits.

Here are 4 Powerful Benefits of Real Estate Content Marketing For Your Real Estate Business:
  1. Show off your expertise.

Creating valuable content is all about showing off your knowledge. When people see you as a trusted resource, they’re much more likely to come to you when they need help. Use content as a way to position yourself as an expert in your specific market, and as a way to stand out from the competition.

  1. People can get to know you.

Many agents are afraid of putting themselves out there, because they don’t want to do or say something to turn people away. But by making your personality part of your brand, you’re working by attraction! People can get to know you through your content, whether you’re on video or sharing tidbits from your life on social media. Now, it’s true that not everyone will like you (‘tis life!), but many people will, and many of these same people will want to work with you as a result.

  1. You can build your trust with people.

Building off of #1 and #2, putting yourself out there more through various types of content will help build you trust with people. Not only are you sharing your expertise, but you’re also sharing your personality and being honest about who you are. If someone has been following your blog, your Facebook, Instagram, and watching your videos for a year, they’ve already built up some level of trust with you. When you meet them for the first time to discuss their real estate needs, the trust has largely already been established.

  1. You can stay top of mind with potential clients.

When you’re a real estate agent, if you don’t have a home to sell, then what are you going to talk about in your marketing? How will you attract, and keep people’s attention? This is where content marketing comes in! There is always something to talk about, whether it’s real estate-focused (like a new housing development or an up-and-coming neighbourhood) or community-focused (like the best restaurants with outdoor dining options, or tips for finding the best ice cream in town). The great thing about community-focused content is that anyone could be interested in this information, whether or not they’re buying or selling a home. If you can get them to pay attention to your content, then when they are ready to buy or sell… guess who will be top of mind? (Psst… you!)

Content marketing is all about reaching a new audience, and then nurturing those people with valuable information and entertaining tidbits. Building trust can take a long time, but it’s worth it to have a steady pipeline of clients who want to work with you because they admire your expertise and like you as a person!

A great place to start with all of this is on Facebook. You can even start your content marketing strategy if you only have a Facebook page!

Click here to read about 6 things realtors can do to stand out on Facebook.

The post Content Marketing: 4 Powerful Benefits for Real Estate Agents appeared first on Sage.

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For most people, buying a home is the largest financial decision they’ll make in their entire lives. That being said, choosing the right real estate agent to guide you through the process will be a major factor as to whether or not you have a smooth and successful experience.

Learn about the things you need to look for in a real estate agent is a crucial starting point, but if you’re looking to buy a home, you need to find an agent with a unique set of skills.

7 Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Real Estate Agent When Buying:
  1. Can you walk me through the process of buying a home with your help?

Your real estate agent should have a clear idea of the typical process that people in similar situations go through. Depending on the home type, location, and your local market, a realtor should be able to give you an outline of what to expect.

  1. What is your level of involvement throughout the transaction?

How will you search for homes together? Will your agent send you homes that match your search criteria? Will you need to search on your own? Once you make an offer, how available is your agent? After you move in, is your agent still available to answer questions?

  1. What is your communication style?

Will your agent be emailing you home listings? Will you need to check your email frequently so you don’t miss anything, or will they call you when they find something worth checking out? Are they able to accommodate your schedule and communication style? Especially when you find “the one,” timely and clear communication will become even more important.

  1. When are you available to show me homes?

How busy is your agent? Is their schedule flexible? What hours are they typically available each day? How much notice do they need to show you a home?

  1. How often do your clients’ offers win the first time? (How many offers does it usually take before a client wins a home?)

Your agent’s ability to write a compelling offer will be paramount to you ultimately winning the home you desire. How many offers do their clients typically have to make before they win a home? How do they make sure they’ve write an attractive offer?

  1. How much do you expect I’ll end up paying for the home that I want?

One of your realtor’s jobs is to set expectations from the beginning. Based on the type of home and location that you desire, your agent should be able to tell you what is realistic and what you should expect.

  1. What are some typical issues you look for in (type of home)?

If you’re looking for a condo, do they know the right things to ask the listing agent? Do they know the right issues or potential problems to look for in a home? If you’re searching for a new construction home, does your agent know what types of warning signs to look for when assessing the quality of the home? An agent should know how to help you find a home that’s going to be a sound investment.

Your real estate agent needs to be a step ahead of the game when it comes to helping you buy the home of your dreams. In addition to hiring an agent with the experience you need for success, take the time to do your own research, too! You can read more pro tips for home buyers here.

The post Buying a Home? Here Are 7 Questions to Ask When Interviewing A Real Estate Agent appeared first on Sage.

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According to this article on Sprout, Instagram users in 2018 are expected to go from 800 million to 1 billion. Instagram is more popular than ever, and if you’re not on Instagram yet, you should be!

On Instagram, you have the option of having a personal or a business account. If you have a business Instagram account, you’ll be able to boost (aka sponsor) your posts. (You can do this directly on Instagram or through Facebook.)

Follow these 11 Pro Tips for Realtors using Instagram for their Business
  1. A mix of business and personal posts is best.

People are on Instagram because they want to see moments from your day and beautiful images. Sharing a mix of business posts and personal ones is an ideal balance—people who follow you because you’re a realtor don’t want to see photos of your kids all the time, but every now and again, a photo of your little ones offers just the right personal touch. The same goes for your close friends—they don’t want to see your real estate stuff all the time, but they’ll probably love to see what you’re up to at work every now and then!

  1. Avoid being too salesy.

Instagram is about connecting with people on a more personal level. If you’re always asking for referrals and only posting photos of the home you’re trying to sell, people are more likely to ignore your posts or unfollow you. That being said, your Instagram should make it obvious that you’re a real estate agent, and people should know how to contact you. Including this info in your bio should do the trick!

  1. Take advantage of the bio section.

That being said, each Instagram account has a bio section. Be sure to include that you’re a real estate agent and what city or neighbourhoods you work in.

  1. Your profile is the only place where there is a clickable link.

Many people try to post links in the description of their Instagram photos, but these links are not clickable! Anytime you make a new post that you’d like to include a link with, you’ll want to direct people to click the link in your bio, and make sure you change it out to the correct link. Another great way to do this is to use linktr.ee, a free service that allows you to include multiple links in your bio.

  1. Try to curate a consistent look.

While you don’t need to brand everything or get too obsessive about your Instagram’s “look,” posting photos with a semi-consistent aesthetic can help establish your brand. Are you all about bright, vivid images? Or do you opt for simpler images with more neutral palettes? It may take you while to figure out what works for you, but once you find what you love, embrace it!

  1. Take advantage of hashtags.

Including a few relevant hashtags at the end of each post can help others find your content. However, it’s not the only way you should rely on people finding your content—hashtags are not a magical solution to getting more followers, but they’re one piece of the puzzle!

Extra Tip! You are allowed up to 30 hashtags per post; you should use them all. Also, it is cleaner to add your hashtags in a separate comment instead of the original post.

  1. Tag your location.

If you don’t want people to know your specific address, tag your general neighbourhood or city. This can help your posts show up in relevant searches.

  1. Spread the love & spend time on Instagram.

You have to give to get! Spend time liking others’ posts and leaving thoughtful comments. Also, be sure to respond to any comments that you receive.

  1. Check your Direct Messages!

Also known as “DMs,” sometimes it’s easy to miss direct messages, especially depending on your privacy settings. But this is where the magic happens! Make sure to check your DMs at least once a day in case anyone tries to reach out to you.

  1. Share your Instagram posts on Facebook (and other social media platforms you’re active on).

There’s an easy way to just hit “share” on Instagram posts, and you can select which other social media platforms you’d like to send your post to. However, you want to make sure that your post is still tailored for that specific platform. For example, if you tell people in your Instagram post to check out the link in your bio, that same message will get sent to Facebook where there won’t be a link in your bio. Open up Facebook after you’ve shared a post, and edit the text, tag it with anyone in the photo, and edit the location if you’d like.

  1. Create thoughtful Instagram stories.

Instagram Stories is a great way to share moments throughout your day that you don’t necessarily want to stay on your Instagram feed. This is a great way to connect with people in an even more personal way, but this will only work if you’re being selective about the moments you share.

The post 11 Pro Tips for Realtors Using Instagram For Their Business appeared first on Sage.

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If you’re getting ready to sell your home, then you’ll want to make sure you’re working with a listing agent who can not only successfully sell your home, but who can sell it in a timely manner and for a great price.

If you’ve read about these 5 things you should be selective about in a realtor, then you already have a great foundation as to what to search for in an agent. However, selling your home calls for an agent with a unique set of specialized skills to get the job done right.

6 Questions to Ask When Interviewing A Listing Agent
  1. What is your plan to market my home?

Agents should be able to present you with an in-depth plan as to how they plan on marketing your home. From stunning professional staging and photography to open houses and ad placement in all of the right places, an agent should know exactly how to show off your home. In addition to print materials, how will you home be marketed online? What is the agent’s online presence like? Do they have an up-to-date, modern website that they use to feature listings on? Will you home have its own website? What is their social media presence like? How do they respond to comments and engage with people?

Regarding all of these things, you don’t have to just take their word for it. Ask to see examples of print materials, and research them online—you can see for yourself if their marketing materials are up to par! (For even more details, click here for an example of exactly what their marketing plan should include.)

  1. What are the outcomes of your previous listings?

An agent’s marketing might be amazing, but you really want to know what the outcome of their listings have been. How many homes have they sold this year, and in the past year? What were the list prices vs. sold prices of each home? How many days did each home spend on the market, and how does all of this compare to other homes in the neighbourhood?

  1. How much would you list my home for, and why?

The “why” is the most revealing part of this question. Pricing a home right straight out of the gate is key, and hear about why an agent would list your home for a given price will be revealing of their market knowledge and strategy.

  1. Are there scenarios where your sellers have received multiple offers, and if so, how did you help them choose the best offer?

If you’re listing a home in a competitive market, then you may be dealing with a multiple offer situation. And in this case, the highest offer is not always the best offer. How has the agent handled these situations in the past? How will an agent help you determine what the best offer is? Multiple offer situations are not always cut and dry, and hearing their reasoning and about past experiences will shed light on their expertise.

  1. What do each of our responsibilities throughout the selling process include?

As a seller, what are your responsibilities? What will the real estate agent take care of? For example, are you in charge of staging your home, or will you be splitting the cost with your agent? It’s important to have a clear sense of exactly what your duties are and what you can expect from your realtor.

  1. What changes do you recommend I make to my home before selling?

A realtor should be able to identify improvements you should make to your home in order to sell it, and sell it for more. What do buyers in your price range and neighbourhood expect and want? What can you do to stand out in your market? The agent should be able to guide you and make suggestions, in addition to providing you a list with preferred professionals to work with, whether you need your hardwoods refinished or a new roof!

Looking for more pro tips for sellers? Click here to explore our top-notch resources for sellers!

The post Selling Your Home? Here Are 6 Questions to Ask When Interviewing A Listing Agent appeared first on Sage.

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