Quick Guide to selling your house

This guide has advice on how to sell your house through the Private Exchange. It goes through recommended steps for selling your property privately, and also has information about using a real estate agent.

Please note: this is a guide only and The Private Exchange recommends sellers seek legal advice.

  1. Getting ready to sell privately (For Sale by Owner)
  2. Choosing your sale price and method
  3. Marketing your property
  4. Getting legal help
  5. Negotiating the sale
  6. Using an agent

1. Getting ready to sell privately (For Sale by Owner)

The first decision you have to make is how to sell your house.

The Private Exchange is the best way to sell your home in Canada. And from just $199 it’s also the best value promotional tool you’ll find for selling your property.

If you choose to sell your house privately, you will have control over the sales process, be able to deal with potential house buyers directly and won’t have to pay a commission fee on the sale of your property.

Private sellers need to be well-informed before and during the house sales process. The following resource is a basic guide only, for more information check out the resources listed on our website or call one of our friendly consultants on (519) 966-5565 who are able to help and support you along the way. We think you will do a great job selling your home yourself, but to be balanced there is also information on using an agent in this guide.

Please note that by law, you can only sell your own home. Selling somebody else’s property for a fee would require you to be a licensed salesperson and work as a real estate agent.

Preparing your home for sale

If you don’t have time to get your home in good condition for sale, you should consider paying someone to do it for you. There are plenty of professional companies that can do this for you.

Be careful spending large amounts of money making home improvements before you sell. Major Renovations may make your house sell more quickly but not necessarily for more money. Low cost, high impact improvements, if they have the potential to increase the value of your property, are recommended.

Some examples of things you can do to make your property more attractive to buyers include:

  1. cleaning your oven and kitchen thoroughly
  2. ensuring you have all the knobs for your appliances and that they work
  3. tidying the pantry and cupboards
  4. getting rid of clutter
  5. making sure the doors are not sticky or jammed
  6. cleaning the windows inside and out
  7. washing and polishing the floors
  8. replacing any light bulbs that don’t work
  9. repairing dripping taps
  10. washing the walls inside and out
  11. sweeping or water-blasting the path and driveway
  12. weeding and tidying the garden
  13. ensuring gate and door handles work properly

2. Choosing your sale price and method

Setting your house sale price

In order to set the price for the sale of your home you will need to decide which fixtures and chattels (non-fixed assets) you will be leaving with the property. It is common to leave the dishwasher, light fixtures and any flooring/carpeting or other items that are screwed into place.

Next, you need to determine the sale price of your house. There are two important considerations here: the price you need and what the current market price is.

There are two types of valuation commonly used: MPAC valuation and a Certified Appraisal. Your MPAC valuation is available free of charge for your property (just contact MPAC). However, we do not recommend relying on just a MPAC valuation alone, as it may not be current and therefore may not reflect recent improvements or movements in the local market since the last valuation date. Certified Appraisals tend to be a more accurate reflection of the current market but will need to be organized and paid for by the seller. For a Certified Appraisal, contact a qualified registered appraiser directly.

Another good way of understanding what price your property may sell for is to have a look at what’s currently on the market in your neighborhood. Have a look at similar properties for sale and try to visit their open homes.

Finally, a Current Market Appraisal (CMA) will provide you with a sample of recent sales in your neighborhood (plus some other interesting info). You can get one of these from a Licensed Real Estate Agent. Often they will provide this information to you free of charge in an attempt to get you to sign up with them to list your home. You are under no obligation to do this, and you do not need to sign any agreements to get one.

Choosing a sales method

There are a number of different sales methods for selling your house, including the standard 'Asking Price' or sometimes a ‘Please inquire…’ and even an Auction. However, for those selling their property privately, an asking price is generally considered the easiest and fastest way to sell. Consider setting a price slightly higher then what you’re prepared to accept, to leave room for negotiation.

3. Marketing your property

Selling your house privately means you are in an excellent position to market your property by using your first-hand knowledge to show off the benefits of the house and surrounding neighborhood.

To do this make sure you have a good selection of photos of your property from the inside and out (we may include these in one of our packages should you the Private Exchange to market your home for you), make sure its spick and span and in the most flattering light. If you plan on moving out before putting your house on the market, then make sure to get uncluttered pictures of the house furnished so potential buyers can picture it as a home rather than just a house.

Once you’ve done this we will need to upload your photos onto the ‘List my property’ section of The Private Exchange, using these photos and a thorough description of the property we will get plenty of attention drawn to your home. If you chose to write your own property description you could look at other listings online to get inspiration, but above all be clear and concise in your wording of the property and the surrounding area. We even offer in home consultations to help and guide you along the way. Please call for more information.

Whether you plan to have open homes as part of selling your house - which can be a time saving exercise over individual appointments - or take buyers through your house individually consider the following tips:

  1. Make sure both the house and garden are looking their best
  2. Put together a one page fact sheet with details of the house or use our Feature Sheet option. This may include an aerial photo from Google Maps, taxes, floor size, land size, property age, or any other details that may be of interest to buyers
  3. Ask visitors to sign in at the door so you have their details to follow up on potential offers
  4. Ensure the house is warm, dry, light and inviting

You may also like to consider using one of our custom for sale by owner property signs made just for you so you can display it outside your house to catch the attention of those passing by.

4. Getting legal help

It’s essential that you involve a lawyer or solicitor early in the process to make sure you are doing everything you need to.

You will need an experienced real estate lawyer (someone who is familiar with the transfer of legal titles). Contact a few to get quotes for the work required or you may have some friends who can recommend a good lawyer. As well as checking their availability, you should also agree on the cost of their services (an hourly rate or flat fee plus HST and disbursements).

Your real estate lawyer should manage or provide guidance on the following for you:

  1. Advise you on any relevant legal issues
  2. Deal with the Sale and Purchase Agreement. This is the legal contract between the buyer and seller. Make sure you read the contract and understand the ‘fine print’ before signing
  3. Communicate with the buyer’s lawyer
  4. Manage the possession and settlement process. Your lawyer should manage the exchange of money and keys, as agreed between you and the buyer
  5. When you sell your house, you will need to pay off your home loan and discharge any mortgage that you may have on the property, before putting what’s left over into your bank account. If you don’t have a mortgage, they will be able to put the entire net proceeds of the sale into your bank account
  6. The lawyer will also arrange for the division of local taxes charges between you and the buyer

5. Negotiating the sale

One of the first steps you should undertake before entering into negotiations to sell your house is to get a Sale and Purchase Agreement drawn up. This can be done by your laywer or you may want to write it up yourself (we include a Purchase and Sale Agreement for your use with some of our packages).

When negotiating a house sale remember:

  1. you can use a lawyer to negotiate the property price if you don’t feel confident doing this directly with the buyer
  2. any changes to the agreed price or terms must be written on the Sale and Purchase Agreement with accompanying signatures of all parties
  3. conditions can play a big part in the agreement (e.g. the offer being subject to sale or finance)

Once you have agreed a sale price for your house with the buyer (and other related conditions), finalize the Sale and Purchase Agreement and ensure it includes the following:

  1. The possession date
  2. Any chattels included or Fixtures excluded in the sale
  3. How and when the deposit and when it must be paid

Most offers on houses for sale will be based on conditions, such as the buyer securing finance (like a mortgage) and that the property receives a satisfactory home inspection report. These should have a deadline before which the buyer must satisfy the conditions.

6. Using a Real Estate Agent

If you decide to sell your property via a real estate agent, it’s important that you choose an agent whom you feel comfortable with. They will be spending a lot of time in your home and working closely with you. They will be responsible for looking after your possessions and representing you in sale negotiations.

Before you call just anyone it pays to do some research. Talk to friends, family, work colleagues, your lawyer or your financial advisor to find out if they recommend someone in particular.

Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) means your property is made available to a pool of Real Estate Agents. MLS listings are often highly effective as your property is made available to many Real Estate Agents in your local area and can be seen on their national website. We have access to the MLS system through a progressive Broker who is a member of CREA.

Interviewing the agent

Once you have determined which agent has the most potential then meet with them to discuss your requirements. Make no mistake – you are interviewing them! If they want your business and are the right person to sell your property, you should be able to tell. Examples of questions to ask include:

  1. How many properties in your area have you sold?
  2. How many salespeople in your office?
  3. How much house selling experience have you got?
  4. What do you know about the principles of negotiation?
  5. How did you rank, in terms of sales, in your office in the last 6 months?
  6. Can I contact referees?
  7. What internet marketing will you do?

Negotiating the fee

Using the services of a real estate agent can be expensive – such as the commission fee on the sale of your property. You should look to negotiate the fee up front. Money saved here is money you keep. Remember that HST is applicable to their fee.

However, don’t choose an agent on their commission rate alone. An agent that can negotiate an extra $5,000 to $10,000 is well worth their fee.