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Selling Real Estate

Feb 9, 2024

How to Sell Your Home Privately in Ontario

6 minute read

Thinking about selling your home privately in Ontario? Great! Going the DIY route for home sales can save you a pretty penny in commission fees. Plus, you'll get the satisfaction of handling the sale your way. This guide's here to walk you through everything you need to know to sell your home privately, making sure you're ready to tackle the task with confidence. But, full disclosure, we do highly recommend you engage a professional (aka. a real estate agent) as they bring a ton of great experience and perspective that can save you money in the long run. 

Don't Forget The Legal Stuff

Selling a house isn't just about sticking up a "For Sale" sign in your yard. There's a good chunk of paperwork involved. The most important one is the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS), which is pretty much the rulebook for your sale, laying out the price and conditions agreed upon by you and the buyer. And unless you're a legal whiz, grabbing some time with a real estate lawyer to help you with this document is a smart move (this is something that we at Doormat can most definitely help you out with). A real estate lawyer will help you sort through all the legal jargon and make sure your title is clean, meaning you're good to go on selling your place without any hidden surprises.

You should also know that, while you can sell your property without the support of a real estate agent (also referred to as For Sale By Owner, or FSBO), you are required to engage the services of a real estate lawyer to close on your sale in Ontario. With this in mind, it’s a great idea to engage a real estate lawyer sooner than later in your sale process, to make sure you’re getting the most value out of their services and expertise.

Making Your Home Shine

First impressions are everything. You want potential buyers to walk in and instantly feel like they're home. This is where staging comes into play. Tidy up, declutter, maybe move some furniture around to show off your space's best features. Snap some gorgeous pics, too, because let’s face it, we all shop with our eyes first. Key word here is ‘gorgeous’ - we’ve all seen listings that have blurry pictures with poor lighting. You want to avoid this at all costs. It’s important to show your property well in pictures so that people are motivated to come check it out.

It’s also worth noting that getting a pre-sale home inspection can save you a headache later by catching any issues now. If you’re not sure what a home inspection is, it’s basically a walk-through of your home by a professional to identify any issues or concerns with the existing state of the property. It might seem counterintuitive to identify these issues before your sale but, depending on the state of the real estate market at the time of your sale, buyers may demand a home inspection report or even to have a home inspection done by a professional of their choice. 

Setting the Price Tag

Pricing your home is more of an art than a science — too high and you'll miss out on potential buyers, too low and you risk lowball offers. A little market research (think of what similar homes are selling for) can help you nail down your asking price. 

It also really depends on the state of the market. Is it a buyers market or a sellers market? If it’s a sellers market (think Toronto real estate in 2021), you may want to consider listing for a lower price to attract as many prospective buyers as possible in hopes of driving a bidding war. If it’s a buyers market (think Toronto real estate in 2023), you might lean more towards pricing for what you want it to sell for so that you’re properly setting buyer expectations. This is one of the places where the expertise of a seasoned real estate agent can be especially valuable. 

Getting the Word Out

Now, let’s talk about spreading the word. List your home online where the eyeballs are (eg. Facebook Marketplace, subreddits, community groups, etc.), share it on your social media, and maybe even print some fancy flyers to pass around town. It’s all about getting as many people to see your home as possible. As you get into marketing your sale, you’ll want to think about what you’re trying to achieve. Are you trying to generate awareness? Are you trying to drive people to your open house? Are you trying to get offers? The answer to these questions will help you determine how you go about getting the word out there. 

The Open House and Showings

Showtime! This is your chance to show off your home in all its glory. Keep it clean and welcoming. Hosting an open house? Make sure it feels inviting and answers any questions upfront. Safety tip: always check who you're opening your doors to. 

This is when the effort you put into making your home shine really comes into play. If someone walks into a clean, tidy, and well-decorated place, they’re much more likely to look at it favourably than if it’s dirty, messy, and tacky. In fact, in the latter scenario, you set your place up to be bought by a value investor that can see the potential in the property beyond your standard buyer. This isn’t a good thing. You don’t want to leave anything to the imagination, otherwise you only appeal to the buyers with imagination. And unfortunately that drastically limits your pool of buyers. 

Let's Make a Deal

Negotiating might seem a bit daunting, but it's all part of the game. Be open, flexible, and ready to discuss offers. And remember, conditions are pretty standard, so don’t sweat them too much. Just work through each as they come.

I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but this is another place where the expertise of a real estate agent can really come into play. It’s their job to know the market, know other agents, and understand the key points of negotiation. This is one of the aspects of the sales process where they really earn their keep. 

Crossing the Finish Line

Closing is the grand finale where you officially pass the keys over. Your lawyer will be your best friend here, helping to ensure all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed. Be prepared for some closing costs, but then, that’s it—you’ve sold your house! Check out our blog for what you can expect on closing day. It can be a stressful experience but we at Doormat do everything we can to minimize that stress by keeping you informed every step of the way. 

Wrapping Up

Selling your home on your own can be a thrilling journey. Sure, it takes some elbow grease, but there is certainly some opportunity for savings. Stick to these steps, and you’ll be crossing the finish line in no time.

Need More Info?

If you're hungry for more details or information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us or get started today! We’re the real estate lawyer part of the equation but we have great contacts across the board that we’d be happy to connect you with.

Selling your home privately is totally doable. With the right prep and a bit of hustle, you'll be celebrating your successful sale before you know it. Good luck!