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Sell Your Home Privately, Or Not

Wednesday January 18, 2017

Buying a Home

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By: Paul Roussel

With the internet at our fingertips, we have the luxury to educate ourselves on almost anything we want. “How do I make Beef Wellington?” “How do I change the oil in my car?” “What’s this weird bump on my arm?”

Many homeowners are turning to the internet for advice and direction on selling their home privately. Rightfully so! There are many great websites & blogs filled with content on how to sell your home without a licensed Realtor. If you’re up to the challenge of selling your home privately, give it a shot but here’s the caveat:

“You Get What You Pay For”……or what you save on commission.

Here’s my guide to Selling Your Home Privately.

  1. Prepare Your Home For Sale. Staged homes are proven to sell quicker and for more money than homes with no staging. Hire a staging professional to transform your house into a showroom beauty. Be aware that staging costs can add up quickly as furniture is rented by the piece on a monthly basis.
  2.  Photograph Your Home. Pictures tell a thousand words and if your listing pictures stink, your home will not catch a buyer’s attention. Hire an experienced photographer.
  3. Study Your Neighbourhood. Decide on a listing price based on similar properties that have sold in your area. The general public does not have access to this information so you will have to contact a member of the local real estate board.
  4. Choose a Listing Service. Listing your home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) will vary from a few hundred bucks, to a few thousand. This fee is paid upfront regardless if your home sells. Be careful which company you choose -some listing companies only list your property on the Toronto Real Estate Board, therefore your listing will not be exposed to local agents and their buyers.
  5. Coordinate Buyer Showings. All sorts of buyers will be contacting you -from the tire kickers to the savvy Toronto investors. You will have to set up showing times around your schedule or you can install a lockbox and let strangers into your home while you’re at work.
  6. Co-operate With Realtors. Since buyers do not pay any commission, it’s rare to deal with a buyer who is not represented by a Realtor. Buyers will hire a professional to protect their interests and you can expect to pay them up to 2.5% commission or else they will not show your home. Sounds unfair? Not really. Realtors have been working with their buyers for weeks or months or maybe years before they decide to purchase a house. 2.5% commission in the grand scheme is not excessive.
  7. Full Disclosure. What you say and often what you don’t say can lead to lawsuits. As a homeowner, you are obligated to disclose any material latent defects in your home prior to negotiating an offer. Hire a lawyer and discuss any known issues with your home to determine if disclosure must be made to a potential buyer.
  8. Negotiate Your Sale. This is it. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. A buyer has a signed offer for you. If the buyer is not represented by an agent, you can go at it head-to-head for an all out blood bath. If the person sitting across from you at the kitchen table is a Realtor, hold onto your hat and keep your cards close to your chest.
  9. Complete The Paperwork. Usually a buyer or their representative will bring you a written offer on an “Agreement of Purchase & Sale”. Ensure the offer is fully completed and outlines such things as: inclusions, exclusions, rental items, conditions & clauses. If the buyer does not submit an offer, have your lawyer draw one up (at a cost to you).
  10. Don’t Forget. There’s a reason why huge corporations spend millions on advertising -it works. Exposing your listing on the MLS helps but it’s certainly not the be-all end-all. Spend some money to get the most exposure you can afford. Oh, and don’t forget to install the “For Sale” sign into the frozen ground when it’s -8˚ outside.

Selling your home privately can be a rewarding experience. You can potentially save yourself a few thousand dollars but on the other hand, it could be a stress-filled nightmare due to the lack of your experience. “I tried to fix my car once by watching a youtube video….now I know the value of an experienced mechanic.”


Paul Roussel is an experienced listing representative with Re/Max Escarpment Woolcott Realty. He has been successfully selling homes in the Hamilton/Burlington area since 2011. Paul lives with his wife and two kids in Burlington and enjoys long walks on the beach.