Considering selling your Canmore Home? Here’s 13 things you’ll need to think about

By Robin Tuck
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You’ve loved your home in Canmore, but it’s time to sell. Maybe you’re thinking about moving to a different part of town, you need to find something bigger, or maybe you’re thinking about downsizing. Whatever the reason, there are a few things you’ll probably need to have sorted before you can actually sell.

This blog post is going to list 13 great tips for getting your property ready to sell or list with a realtor. It’s not exhaustive, but if you can work through most of this list, you’ll be in an excellent position to sell.

As always, if you find yourself in need of a real live person/local expert to discuss questions or listing your property with, please feel free to contact me at 403-401-2066 or email me at info@robintuck.com .

Now, onto the list and 13 important things to know before listing your home in Canmore (or Banff!).

1. Provide more information, reduce the number of conditions

First things first, depending on your property, you will have various ownership documents that will be important during the sale process. It’s not an absolute necessity to have them all ready on day one, but if you want a quick sale, it’s a good idea to have all your ducks in a row from the get go.

When a buyer makes an offer on a property, they typically include a few get out of jail free clauses with their offer. These are typically known as conditions, and when your offer is accepted pending these conditions, a sale becomes conditional. Conditions typically take the form of financing, home inspection, condo document review and legal review conditions.

As I mentioned, these conditions are, in a way, get out of jail free clauses for buyers. A deal becomes firm once the conditions are waived, and a deal can fall through if any one of these conditions are not waived. For example, if the buyer’s financing falls through, or they find something amiss in the condo documents, the buyer can choose not to waive the conditions and the deal is dead.

This leads to the conclusion that the fewer conditions included in a deal, the more likely a deal is to proceed. So typically, we recommend buyers take offers with the least conditions, even sometimes despite a higher offer being on the table.

Get your important legal documents in order

So to improve your chances of a quick sale, we want buyers to present offers with as few conditions as possible. One way to do this is to have all of your documentation in order, and to have a good understanding of all of the features and repairs you’ve ever had done on the property.

If you have all of your condo documents, real property report, details of planning permits on any renovations, etc., to hand and present them to potential buyers in advance, there’s a much higher chance that they won’t include a condo document review condition. It’s also really helpful to know how old your furnace, hot water tank etc are, and when anything major was last replaced.

If you use your property as a rental property, and you see this as a selling feature of your home, having rental information to hand as well will be enormously helpful.

What are condo documents?

If you’re thinking of selling your condo, you’ll need to collect your condo documents together. Typically you should be able to request many of these from your condo board, and generally you might also have quite a few buried in your emails.

Condo documents typically include AGM minutes and board minutes, finances, the reserve fund study, a certificate of insurance, disclosure statements, your property title and more.

The condo board has a legal requirement to send these to you within a certain time period. Often buyers include a condo document review condition with their purchase, but you can sometimes avoid this condition if you make them available prior to a conditional sale, so whatever you can collect together before you list will be enormously helpful.

A real property report

For homes, you’ll typically need to get some different documents together. The most important is the real property report (RPR). This is a document that states that the boundaries of the property are where they should be, and is certified by a surveyor. Most lawyers won’t allow a sale to go through without either an RPR or title insurance.

If you have an old RPR and nothing has changed since the last sale, you can typically get a surveyor to sign off on the old one. This is much cheaper than having a new one drawn up.

Ultimately, it’s much better to have the old RPR available than to purchase a new one, which can be very expensive sometimes. It can also take a while to put a new one together, so not having the document prepared in advance could unduly hold up the sale.

If you absolutely cannot find an RPR or the company that did the original, and you want to avoid paying for a new one, you can typically buy title insurance in lieu of an RPR, as long as both parties agree. This can be significantly cheaper, however the RPR is a much better solution.

2. Make a list of recent improvements on the property

Many homes in Canmore still have their original furnaces, hot water tanks, roofs, plumbing etc., and some of these may be over 30 or 40 years old.

If you’ve spent any money renovating your home since purchasing it, it’s helpful to know what exactly you’ve done and how long ago it took place. New home buyers are always looking for ways to knock money off the purchase price for old systems, and similarly, it helps REALTORs to justify our asking price if you’ve spent quite a bit of money on brand new renovations.

It also just helps your property sell better if you can say, “last year the hot water tank, furnace, roof, washing machine etc. were replaced”. It shows you’ve cared for the property and that it’s one less thing your buyer has to worry about.

Aside from knowing everything you’ve replaced in the house, it’s very helpful to make a list of features your house may have. That also includes common features that your condo building may have.

Many condominium buildings in Canmore contain hot tubs, saunas, spas, gyms, putting greens, restaurants and more. These can be a big selling feature for buyers, so it’s important to also make a note of them.

3. Consider having a pre-sale home inspection

As I mentioned earlier, the fewer conditions a buyer puts on a sale, the more likely a sale is to be successful. Anything you, as an owner, can do to avoid certain conditions being included can only benefit you.

One of the most common conditions on a sale is the home inspection. Buyers want to make sure there are no big surprises in a home before they purchase, and often faults the home inspector find can be used as negotiation tactics down the line.

For example, if your roof had a minor leak, a home inspection should spot it and a buyer may demand that you fix it before they purchase it, or ask for money to be held back from the sale to fix it. Negotiations here could stall or even blow up the deal.

If, on the other hand, you have a pre-sale inspection and you discover the leak early on. You can have it fixed before going to market or you can offer your property ‘as is’ with all the issues fully disclosed. This is likely to avoid a lengthy negotiation period and give the buyer more confidence in his purchase.

Some home inspectors now offer a basic inspection for potential sellers that is cheaper than a full inspection and can give buyers a little peace of mind before coming to the table with an offer.

4. Take professional photos of your home

Nothing helps your place sell better than a good photo. It will also help your chances of getting a higher price too. It’s certainly worth spending a couple of extra hundred bucks on decent photos if it can add many thousands more dollars onto your sale price.

There are plenty of photography companies out there that will do anything from HDR real estate photos to 3D virtual tours. Prices typically start at around $300 (in Canmore) and increase with your home’s square footage. To list your property on the MLS, you’re required to have at least one photo, and let’s be honest, most homes in Canmore have at least one good angle with mountain views!

5. Get your home measured

Measurements are also a legal requirement if you’re planning to list your place on the MLS in Alberta. Usually you can combine photos and measurements with the same company, so it’s worth looking into.

Unfortunately, we as agents are not able to rely on measurements done by a previous agent or owner, so in order for a new agent to take on your listing, they will require you to have new measurements taken.

It’s important to know, that price isn’t directly proportional to size, and even if there is a slight discrepancy between one company’s measurements and the next’s, it won’t make any difference to the sale price.

Similarly, in Alberta, anything below grade (or below ground level) doesn’t count towards the official square footage. If your home has a large basement, it may come back as much smaller than you’d expect. It isn’t a mistake! This is to make sure all homes are measured with the same standards in Alberta.

6. Find out if your property is subject to GST

This is something really worth knowing about, particularly in Canmore where a lot of properties are operated as businesses or short term rentals. Typically short term rentals, new buildings and homes that have been substantially renovated are subject to GST, but it’s a potentially grey area and often you can defer the GST to the next person.

Speak with your accountant to find out what applies to you!

7. Get an understanding of your home’s value and discuss it with a market expert

It’s always good to have an idea of what your home is worth, or what price you’d like to sell your home for. Sometimes this is completely aligned with what the market will pay for your property, and sometimes it isn’t. Ultimately, you want to sell your Canmore home for as much as you possibly can, but it’s important to understand what the market will pay as well, because ultimately this is what will determine your sale price.

In Canmore and Banff in particular, it’s quite common for buyer and seller expectations to be completely misaligned with realistic market prices. This is particularly common in hot markets (like the one we’re experiencing right now), because everybody starts to believe that their home will sell for way above asking price.

That could certainly be a possibility, but it’s always worth discussing your specific property with an expert, just in case there’s a misalignment of expectations. If you’re using a realtor, they should be optimistic, but also realistic. Overpromising a client makes us look bad and will only leave you disappointed.

What I always recommend, is to have a chat with a realtor and have an honest discussion about your property and how it should be priced in the market, based on comparable sales and the market’s trajectory.

Even if you choose not to list your property with a realtor, they can be a fantastic source of information that can help you align your expectations with the market.

8. Consider staging your property

Staging your Canmore property can often go hand in hand with having photos and measurements taken. This can take the form of real or digital staging. Digital staging is particularly effective (and cost effective) if you’re trying to sell an empty space.

A well staged space can help a new buyer visualise how a property might look when they move in. It can make a huge difference to whether or not a place sells or not.

Staging can be somewhat pricey, but it can easily pay for itself if it helps a property sell for well above asking price.

9. Look into where you’ll move next

One of the biggest unknowns and concerns we hear when talking to potential sellers is knowing where they’ll go next. Especially in a rising market like this, it’s always a major concern that if you sell, you won’t be able to find a new place to move to. It’s important to start your house search concurrently with the selling process, so that you’re not left high and dry when your property sells.

A good realtor will help you make the transition to a new property easy, and will even include conditions on a new purchase that means nothing will go through unless you can sell your old place.

10. Understand the costs involved

There are significant costs involved with selling a home, and knowing these costs can be extremely helpful up front. Here’s a quick list of just a few costs that can arise during the selling process:

  • Legal fees
  • Home inspection costs
  • Disbursements
  • Home insurance
  • Mortgage default insurance
  • Real Property Report (if you need a new one)
  • Property appraisal
  • Moving costs
  • GST
  • Land transfer tax (fortunately in Alberta there isn’t any land transfer tax or property transfer tax – in some provinces this can be several tens of thousands of dollars!)
  • Realtor Fees

The average closing costs in Alberta are estimated to be around $12,911, and a good rule of thumb is to expect around 4% of the sale price. For many people, it doesn’t make sense to sell their home within the first 5 years of owning. This is because it can take up to 5 years to build up enough equity in a home to offset the 4% costs.

With that being said, property prices have increased astronomically in the past 2 years, so you may have already built up some significant equity if you bought pre-covid.

You should also factor in Realtor fees if you plan to use one. Fees vary from place to place, but typical realtor fees are in the range of 3% of the total sale price.

11. Is the house ready to be sold?

This may sound like a stupid question, but is the house in a good position to be sold? Is there a major issue that could be fixed that would make the house more appealing to buyers?

Often there are a few quick and cheap fixes on a property that can significantly increase its appeal. For example, giving the property a deep clean, painting any discoloured scuffs on a wall and just generally fixing minor flaws in the property. Every little improvement is one less reason someone can say ‘no’ to buying it. If it’s not quite ready, sometimes holding off and giving yourself some time to fix things can pay dividends.

On the flip side though, there are some improvements that simply won’t affect the price of your home or the saleability. Changing out that faucet you’ve hated for years is probably not something that’s going to drastically affect how quickly your home sells, so putting off selling until you’ve made a few minor changes may not always make the most sense.

Ultimately, if you have questions about whether or not your property is ready to go on the market, contact your realtor and see if they can offer you any advice!

12. What are the tax implications of selling your place?

Should you sell this year or next year? For some people, this is a valid question with real financial implications. If your property has gone up significantly in value since you bought it, there’s a good chance that you will have capital gains taxes when you sell. Talk to your accountant and see if now is the best time for you.

13. Should you sell your Home “as is”, or invest in renovations to try and maximize profit?

This is where you have to ask yourself, what is the one thing that sells this property. Is it the house itself, the amazing kitchen, the walk in wardrobe, the wine cellar etc.? What’s really going to get a buyer excited about your property?

Every house has something that you might call its ‘most appealing’ feature, or the reason a buyer is going to buy your property. Once you’ve figured that out, you can figure out who your potential buyers are and how to effectively market to them.

In many cases, the most attractive feature may be the land or location itself. You may have panoramic views of the mountains surrounding Canmore. Maybe you can see Ha Ling from your bedroom balcony or you can walk straight to downtown Canmore in 2 minutes.

Maybe the property has great income as a rental property. In which case, perhaps there’s no point in doing any major renovations at all either.

All of these are important considerations that will direct how you should approach a sale.

Again, this is a great question to ask your realtor!

Final thoughts

These are all really important things to bear in mind when you’re thinking about selling your Banff or Canmore home. That was a long list and if you’ve managed to make it all the way to the end, you deserve a high five.

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, so if you have any more questions at all, I recommend giving a local expert a call and seeing if they have any advice for you.

If you haven’t found your local expert yet, you can always give me a call or an email at 403-401-2066 or robin@cascaderealty.ca . I’ll be happy to guide you through the pre-sale and sale process!

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