HOMEFINDER: Inviting out-of-town buyers into your home

Staying on top of your biggest investment can pay dividends

Out-of-towners have always seen the Island as buyer friendly when it comes to real estate.

Julie DeMelo of Sutton West Coast Realty said the buyers are out there, and for potential sellers looking to maximize their investments, it’s all about preparation and making sure you are ready for them, when they are ready for you.

“(There are) a lot of Vancouver buyers; a lot of Asian buyers; and the reason why is they are selling their homes in Vancouver for $2 million to $3 million and getting double the home here,” she said. “They are taking the money they made in Vancouver and bringing it here and getting way more of a house.”

Many of her clients, including two recent customers – one of whom bought on the West Shore, are retiring here from bigger cities. After years working in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, many are ready for the milder climate and quieter, more easily accessible communities of Greater Victoria.

“It’s still the climate, the prices are still good here and it is a nice city. So why wouldn’t they?” she asked. “It’s the beautiful little city people always come to and they fall in love with when they come here.”

Because the homeowners sell for such a profit, DeMelo added, many are looking for higher-end homes, in the $800,000 to $3-million range. If they are looking at smaller homes, they are sometimes looking more at the lot, to tear down an existing house and rebuild a bigger one.

Waterfront homes they may not have the opportunity to purchase in bigger cities can also be within their grasp on Vancouver Island. Approximately 65 per cent of the higher-end homes in Greater Victoria aren’t purchased by current residents, she said, but by out-of-town buyers who seem to respond well to a couple of key investments.

“I always truly believe in professionally staging your home and getting all the maintenance you need done,” she said, adding that keeping records of the work is a must. “People want a well-maintained home and pay extra for that.”

Paying $300 for someone to walk through the home to offer advice on staging, or the $1,000 to $2,000 per month it takes to stage your home with rented furniture, is an investment that can pay off, DeMelo said.

“If your house is only going to be on the market for under 30 days – which is happening, with a lot of multiple offers and bidding wars because of inventory so low – the extra $1,000 you spent on staging, you can get that back.”

She added that beautiful kitchens, private lots and a good location are always favourites for those buyers. Showing those off, when many of them are doing their market research online, can be challenge. For that, she offered this advice.

“One of the most important things in marketing real estate, is floor plan, photography and video. You have to have bright professional photographs and a floor plan and some sort of video, especially if you have a big house or an expensive house,” she said. “It’s very important. A lot of shopping decisions are done online, especially with these out of town buyers.”

While rare, she recently sold a house to an out-of-town buyer, sight unseen. That was the first time in her 26 years as an agent, she said, and it’s a reminder to consider what potential buyers are seeing online.

Of course, there is always one other golden rule for selling anything, online or otherwise.

“In this market, you want to price competitively, because chances are if you have a good product you are going to get multiple offers,” she said.

alim@goldstreamgazette.com

Q: Do virtual home tours attract buyers?

The Internet is often the first place potential homeowners will see your home. While it’s rare to buy or sell a home sight unseen, it’s important to offer as much visual content as possible to help buyers get a sense of your home.

Consider a virtual home tour to accompany your photography. It can be a way to offer a walk-through of your home without having to ask people to take their shoes off. Real estate videography is also a growing market and another consideration, but may cost more than the virtual home tour.

Don’t forget about the potential to translate your on-line information into different languages if you are seriously considering out-of-town buyers. It may be one more layer of information that makes potential buyers feel comfortable enough to get them to your door, which is a big deal when they don’t live nearby. Otherwise they may just click onto the next property.

Finally, promoting your community is often overlooked. No matter how nice your home is, some buyers aren’t interested unless it’s in the right community for them. To some people, your community and the amenities nearby can be just as important as the features inside your home.

GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » MONTH TO DATE as of Dec. 14/15                                                    COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD

» 244 / 389 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL, DECEMBER 2014

» 261 / 419 –NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, DECEMBER 2014

» 2,734 / 3,210 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, DECEMBER 2014

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