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Coronavirus: Ontario realtors offer tips on how to get your house ready for sale

GTA real estate prices staying up despite coronavirus crisis
WATCH ABOVE: GTA real estate prices staying up despite coronavirus crisis

The coronavirus pandemic coupled with unseasonably cold weather left many of us locked in our homes baking bread or watching every TV show or movie we can, or talking to friends about or making online calls.

Now that spring has finally sprung and restrictions have finally loosened, some may turn their eyes towards the real estate market.

READ MORE: How Ontario realtors are coping during the coronavirus pandemic

If you are looking to sell your home in the near future, there is no time like the present to start to tackle a few things around your house to get it market-ready.

“I feel like gardening is kind of therapeutic,” Kingston realtor Matt Lee said with a chuckle. “I think that you fix up your house so that first impressions always are the best.”

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He recommends getting your garden in shape, painting the front door and pressure-washing the front of the house.

Waterloo Region realtor Tony Johal has similar advice to offer, suggesting that you could also paint the front windows, porch and garage door.

Coronavirus: Markham landlord in eviction fight with real estate agent
Coronavirus: Markham landlord in eviction fight with real estate agent

“I would look at painting the driveway,” he also suggested. “It gets rid of all the discoloration that in some cases it kind of just makes it look like a brand new driveway.”

Toronto broker Brendan Powell says to always consider what is cost-effective.

“Everybody gets carried away and does too much before the sale,” he said. “I did the same damn thing myself. I put in new floors and all that. I didn’t get that money back.”

READ MORE: Despite coronavirus, GTA real estate prices are rising slightly

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Powell says buyers will visit a house for a short time so an issue that may be glaring to a longtime homeowner may not bother a prospective buyer.

“So you want to focus on the stuff that’s most cost-effective,” he said. “And that’s the stuff that jumps out at you, that’s going to be an objection.”

He suggests painting as the most effective way to get a bang for your buck.

Real estate broker Matt Lee chats with GNM
Real estate broker Matt Lee chats with GNM

Kitchener Waterloo Association of Realtors president Colleen Koehler says now that thrift stores are open and junk collectors are returning, it is a good time to begin decluttering.

“I think part of the reason people haven’t listed is just they couldn’t. The dumps weren’t open. The (thrift) stores weren’t open. There wasn’t a way to get rid of all the extra clutter,” she said.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus — Markham, Ont., landlord in eviction fight with real estate agent

And once that is done, the cleaning begins, and will not stop until after the home is sold.

“The challenge for sellers, agents and buyers is really ensuring that the cleaning is what’s being done most effectively now,” she said. “So, I mean, whether it’s after showing, you’re just disinfecting, whether it’s buyers coming in and generally making sure that clients are touching absolutely nothing.”

That is just one of the many changes that will be in effect going forward as we slowly emerge from the pandemic.

How COVID-19 is impacting Toronto real estate
How COVID-19 is impacting Toronto real estate

Most of the real estate community has been declared essential by the province but one branch that was left out was stagers.

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The lack of stagers paired with the need to keep foot traffic to a minimum has pushed realtors to use virtual staging.

READ MORE: ‘Space is the new luxury’ — Could the coronavirus prompt an urban exodus in Ontario?

“You know, pictures look good and buyers will get to see what each of the rooms would look like even though we can’t physically necessarily go in and get that done like we used to in the old days,” Koehler explained.

She believes we may also see an end to open houses.

“I think a lot of people are recognizing that perhaps open houses are a thing of the past or should be,” Koehler said.

Johal says realtors have also been making other changes in showings as well.

“It was not uncommon for multiple people to be in the house at the same time,” he said. “But now what we’re doing is we’re asking one party to finish before the other party enters.”

Real estate agents continue work with virtual tours and heightened safety measures
Real estate agents continue work with virtual tours and heightened safety measures

Johal says requests are being made to wear gloves and masks before people even enter a home.

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But before we even get to that stage, realtors say an effort is being made to make sure buyers are qualified and truly interested in a home before they go for a look.

READ MORE: Coronavirus and the housing market — Is this a good time to buy?

That also means looking closely at things like demographics of the neighbourhood such as schools and walk score.

Powell says his brokerage is even having listing agents go through homes with a camera in the same way they would take a client through in an effort to provide extra detail to prospective buyers.

Lee says realtors are leaving no stone unturned in looking for ways to keep the market moving while still respecting everyone’s health.

“I think that everybody is going to try to set it up so that it’s easy for buyers and sellers to get into a new market,” he said. “And we just have to see what that is. We’re all trying to come up with, ideas to make it easier on the consumer.”