Setting your price

Setting your listing price is important. Your real estate licensee has tools and information to help set an appropriate price for your property.

One of the tools real estate licensees use is a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). In a CMA, real estate licensees use data about recently sold comparable properties to arrive at an appropriate listing range for your property.

But it’s important to understand this is not a professional appraisal of your home. CMAs must only provide a range of value for the property, not an exact value. Only individuals licensed as real estate appraisers are permitted to professionally appraise your home and give an exact value.

You would then use the CMA’s range of value to set a listing price for your property. You cannot use the CMA to obtain mortgage financing for a property.

The listing price is your decision—but your real estate licensees’ job is to help you set one that will sell your property for the most amount of money in the least amount of time.

The report you are given must include a statement indicating:

  • the purpose of the report
  • that a real estate appraiser with a licence did NOT prepare this report
  • that it is NOT a real estate appraisal report
  • that no one should refer to or rely on the report as an appraisal report
  • that the report does not comply with appraisal standards
  • that the report must not be used for financing, civil proceedings, income tax purposes, or financial reporting purposes

Every listing or seller representation agreement will outline what you intend to include with the sale, and what items you might expressly exclude that a buyer might otherwise think was included.

There may be unattached items you’re leaving with the property that may become marketing features – like appliances and window coverings. It’s entirely up to you.

Typical inclusions:

  • appliances
  • garage door openers
  • window coverings

Typical exclusions (thought exclusions are less typical than inclusions)

  • fixtures with sentimental value you plan to take with you (e.g. specific light fixture)
  • specialty appliance
  • curtain rods
  • greenhouse or playhouse in the yard

Remember, the appliances don’t usually come with the purchase unless they are specifically included. By the same token, a seller can specifically exclude them from the sale, even if they don’t need to contractually. Be safe. When in doubt, write it out. Exclude the appliances you are definitely taking with you so there is no confusion.

CONSUMER TIP: Be specific. Don’t let a misunderstanding cost you.

CONSUMER TIP: Everything is negotiable. If a buyer REALLY wants you to bring their own washer/dryer, they might offer to exclude them from the purchase, which may or may not lead to them offering a lower price. You are under no obligation to accept their offer, and can negotiate inclusions and exclusions just like you can negotiate the price.

Special Inclusions/Exclusions

When you include things that you lease or are under a long-term contractual arrangement (e.g. alarm systems, water heaters), ensure this is reflected in your listing as an inclusion or exclusion, and any pertinent details, like contract or lease transfer-ability.

Have you ever seen an ad from a real estate licensee indicating they’ll guarantee the sale of your home OR they’ll buy it themselves? What they’re likely advertising is called a guaranteed sales agreement and while they are allowed in Alberta, there are rules.

As a seller who may be attracted by such a promise, you need to know what the rules are and what you can expect through a guaranteed sales agreement.


Why would I consider a guaranteed sales agreement?

If you’re selling your home to buy another home, you may be interested in a guaranteed sales agreement for the home you own now. This would mean you could avoid owning two homes and paying two mortgages if you take possession of your new home before a buyer comes forward for your current home. A guaranteed sales agreement may provide you with a bit more confidence in proceeding with your new home purchase before selling your current one.

There are, however, things that sellers need to know about guaranteed sales agreements.


There is no guaranteed sale unless offered by the brokerage

Individual licensees cannot offer or enter into a guaranteed sale agreement except on behalf of their brokerage.


Sales and marketing efforts for the seller’s property continue during the period of the seller’s listing

Even if a seller has entered into a guaranteed sales agreement with a brokerage, the brokerage will continue to market the seller’s property until the date of the guaranteed sale to the brokerage. It is to the mutual benefit to the seller and the seller’s brokerage to find a buyer during that period of time.


Brokerages that offer guaranteed sales programs are required to have policies in place relating to those programs

The brokerage policies should capture how the brokerage arrives at a guaranteed sales price and who’s in control of the property’s asking price during the listing period—it may not be the seller.

In any guaranteed sales program, the brokerage is going to attempt to minimize their risk. Sellers should review the terms of any guaranteed sales agreement very closely. There could be terms within the guaranteed sales agreement that affect the listing agreement (i.e. guaranteed sales agreement might call for a review of listing price at key points during the term of the listing). If a brokerage has a guaranteed sales program that calls for a review of listing price at certain points during the term of the listing, that detail must be included in the brokerage’s policies and must be communicated to the seller.


An offer to purchase on a guaranteed sale needs a few extra things

When a brokerage enters into a guaranteed sale:

  • a purchase contract must be drawn up between the brokerage and the owner that outlines the purchase price, date of possession, and terms and conditions of the sale
  • the brokerage must place 5% of the total purchase price into a separate trust account and release it from trust upon completion of the transaction
  • the brokerage must hold the money in trust for the seller


Advertisements for a guaranteed sale must not be misleading

Guaranteed sale program advertisements often do not include how the brokerage calculates the price. The implication is the purchase price is based on the listing price or the property’s market value. This is usually not the case.

In most cases, the brokerage calculates the purchase price using a formula where the commissions, legal fees, carrying cost and commission on the resale are offset from the purchase price. When this type of formula is used, the brokerage:

  • must disclose the purchase price formula or
  • include the purchase price formula in the advertisement or
  • direct the seller where it may be viewed at the brokerage’s website


The brokerage cannot charge commissions on a guaranteed sale

Brokerages may not charge commissions or deduct commissions from the purchase price on guaranteed sale agreements. Usually, an amount equal to what commissions would have been in a normal sale is considered when deciding upon the guaranteed sales price.


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