How to Sell Your House Privately In Ontario
Comparative market analysis. Appraisals. Home inspections. Staging. MLS (Multi-Listing Service). Transfer papers. Closing costs. Commissions.
If you’re looking into how to sell your house privately in Ontario, you came to the right place. You are doing your research and want to really know how difficult it is. Well, the good news is, it is easier than you may think.
Considering the commission paid out to a real estate agent is usually 4 to 5% of a home’s sale price, that can add up to a substantial amount of cash. In January 2023, the average selling price in the GTA was $1,038,668 — with the commission fees and the HST would be a whopping $58,684. With a little bit of know-how, as the seller, you can put that cash in the bank.
But the best news is, the time is ripe because there is the next-generation of real estate, which allows the seller and buyer to negotiate a real estate deal directly, without any agent involvement. As the seller, you could potentially eliminate the full commission fees. All the information is here.
Here is the overview:
1.a) Preparing your home. This may take the longest so you need to start early.
1.b) Start planning your own upcoming move, if it is already not confirmed.
1.c) Gather documents and additional information.
1.d) Determine your home’s market value.
1.e) Property negotiation page.
1.f) Marketing your home.
2. Listed & Reviewing Offers:
2.a) Showing your home.
2.b) Reviewing offers.
3.a) Find a real estate lawyer.
3.b) Completing the sale.
This includes a thorough inspection, repairs, deep cleaning, and care in staging.
1. a) Preparing your Home
It’s important to inspect your property or have a professional inspection done so that you can decide whether to undertake repairs and/or upgrades or simply disclose any issues to potential buyers.
For the most accurate and objective home inspection, hire an accredited member of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI). The cost will vary depending on where in Ontario you are planning to sell your property, as well as the size and age of your home. In most cases, a professional home inspection will cost about $300 to $500.
As with hiring a professional appraiser, having a professional home inspection adds credibility to you as a seller and supports your asking price. As well, most potential buyers will require a professional inspection before going ahead with the purchase. Having one done in advance can speed up the paperwork process once an offer has been submitted.
However, if you prefer to save the cost of a home inspection, you can certainly do it yourself. The fsbo.ca website suggests that you “try to objectively view your property first as an inspector, then as a prospective buyer. It might not hurt to invite friends and family to come over and objectively criticize your property. They will find things that you may have overlooked due to your over-familiarity.”
Repairs vs Disclosure
Once your home inspection is complete, you will know which repairs, if any, are needed. Completing repairs–whether they are minor or major–can make a substantial difference in how quickly your property sells and at what price. However, if you are working on a tight timeline or budget, you may choose to disclose any issues to potential buyers rather than fix them before the sale.
When you sell a home in Ontario, the law requires only that issues that are considered to be a “latent defect disclosure” be disclosed. These types of issues may make the home dangerous to live in and include:
- Fire damage
- Water leakage
- Knob & Tube wiring / copper wiring / aluminum wiring
- KITEC plumbing
- Ground contamination
However, for your own peace of mind, you may wish to also disclose issues that need to be addressed but that don’t pose any danger, such as a faulty breaker switch or an aging furnace/air conditioning system.
Do a Deep Clean
The first step to making your home sparkling clean is to declutter. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and either get rid of your home’s clutter or pack it up and store it in a shipping container.
Once your home is clutter-free, deep clean it from top to bottom. Don’t just tidy. Polish light fixtures, wipe down walls and baseboards, wash windows, and use a toothbrush to get every corner and groove meticulously clean.
Stage Your Home
Staging should be done before taking photographs for your listing and before any showings. Staging helps make your home feel bigger, brighter, and more welcoming to everyone walking through. It’s well worth your time because staging can help sell your home more quickly and for a higher price.
If your budget doesn’t allow for hiring a professional stager, there are many things you can do on your own, including:
- Rearranging the furniture to make your home look larger and improve traffic flow.
- Setting the dining room table with your good china, cutlery, and linen to help people envision living in your home.
- Appealing to the olfactory senses with simple, natural scents like citrus, herbs, or pine.
- Replacing window treatments to let in as much natural light as possible.
- Setting out fresh flowers to bring the outside in.
1. b) Plan Your Upcoming Move
If you’re ready to sell your house, then you probably have some sort of moving plan in mind. How defined is that plan? Are you hoping to sell by a specific date? If your buyers are keen to move in quickly, what’s the earliest you can move? Do you intend to buy another home or will you rent? If you haven’t hammered out the specifics for your upcoming move, this should be your first step.
Having a closing date in mind can help keep you on track. Selling your own home requires a big time commitment. An ultimate deadline can help you set a timeline and stay focused to get everything done.
If you intend to purchase another home, it’s a good idea to get pre-approved for a new mortgage now. If you plan to begin your new chapter as a renter, start looking for rental properties in your preferred community and take note of renter requirements. Will you need a credit check or references? Are the rental rates in the area within your budget?
Once your home sells, there will be a rush to get your own move finalized before the possession date. Doing as much as you can ahead of time will help save time and stress later on.
1. c) Gather Documents and Additional Information
Some documents are crucial to the selling process. As well, potential buyers will find it helpful to know things like current property taxes and utility costs. Start a file with paperwork that includes documents like:
- the property title or deed;
- mortgage statement;
- current utility bills;
- annual tax statement and the most recent Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) statement.
Additional Information that you need to prepare:
- local public and separate schools, for both grade and high schools;
- amenities such as what is local and convenient such as shopping, restaurants, hiking trails;
- take room measurements;
- make a list of what upgrades you have done, with the year completed;
- items that you wish to sell (inclusions);
- items you wish to take with you (exclusions)
- prepare a compelling description of your home.
1. d) Determine Your Home’s Market Value
The easiest and most accurate way to determine your home’s current market value is to have a home appraisal done by a licensed appraiser. If you’re planning to sell your house privately in Ontario, you can expect to pay about $350 to $500 plus HST for a professional home appraisal. A professional appraisal is often worth the cost since it adds credibility to your asking price.
However, to save costs, you can do the research online. As of recently, all MLS® data of sold properties is public. You can checkout websites like HouseSigma.com
Look at other properties that are listed for sale in your neighbourhood and compare things like:
- When the properties were built
- The number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Square footage
- Lot size
- Any upgrades or updates that might affect a home’s value, such as a recent kitchen remodel, a new furnace, or a new roof.
Of course, everyone hopes to sell their home for the highest possible amount. But it’s better to competitively price your home. A competitive price will attract more interest and may result in a faster sale. As well, a lower listing price might spark a bidding war between interested parties.
1.e) Property Negotiation Page
This is where the real estate industry is changing. Now, you can negotiate a deal directly with a buyer. All the information you need is provided, in
- Help Tips
You can log into the Negotiation platform and watch the videos to get you started.
1.f) Marketing Your Home
There are many venues to market your home and most are free.
Taking Terrific Photos
In today’s online world, good photos are essential to attract buyers and sell your home quickly. Once your home is spotless and staged, it’s time to take photos. Take the best photos you can, paying attention to composition, lighting, and clarity. A piece at Trulia offers these tips:
- Landscape photos are best.
- Take advantage of bright, natural lighting.
- Take the highest-resolution photos that your device will allow.
- If possible, use a digital camera rather than a phone camera.
- Edit your photos by straightening, cropping, and brightening them.
Listing Your Home Online
There are several places you can list your home online, including:
- Sites specific to home sales, such as Zillow;
- Private classified ad sites, such as Kijiji or Craigslist;
- Social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace;
- Employer/Company intranet – allows employees to post free classified ads;
- Newspaper classified ads.
Preparing a Handout
The handout does not need to be glossy, shiny and expensive, but does need to have some information:
- Full property address
- Room measurements
- Listing price and deposit required to secure the transaction
- Contact name with a cell number or email
2. Listed & Reviewing Offers:
Once your listings are active, you will be have buyers call to arrange showings. You should preplan some days and times ahead of time that work for you.
2.a) Showing Your Home
As a DIY seller, you get to show off your house and brag about it. You want buyers to feel welcome and comfortable asking you questions about the property . You also want to present your home in the best possible light. To have the best showing possible, try doing these things:
- Stage your home in the ways suggested above.
- Take pets to the neighbours’ or to a doggie daycare.
- Adjust the temperature to a comfortable level.
- Open all window coverings and turn on every light in the house.
- Bake some cookies, with a note telling the buyers to help themselves, but it also provides a scent of a inviting home.
- Provide the print-outs that include important details about the house and your contact information.
Don’t leave while a showing is underway. The buyers may have questions for you. Make yourself available, but hang back to give the buyers plenty of room to check things out.
2.b) Considering Offers
With the negotiation page, once you have an offer, you will get an email and you can review all offers on the Dashboard. The items to review are:
- The offer price.
- The amount of the deposit offered.
- Any terms or conditions the buyer needs fulfilled to complete the purchase (such as home inspection or obtaining a mortgage).
- Any inclusions or exclusions. For instance, the buyer may ask for certain household items to be included in the sale, like major appliances.
- The closing date.
- Description of the buyers.
You can negotiate all offers simultaneously since you are only negotiating the terms of a deal, and not on the binding contract. You can watch the video on reviewing offers to guide you.
3.a) Find a Real Estate Lawyer
Once you have ‘accepted’ an offer, the parties will be required to submit your lawyer information to then send out the Term Sheet. The lawyer’s will:
- Draw up the final binding contract;
- Determine the closing costs;
- Hold the buyer’s deposit in trust;
- Prepare the deed and title documents;
- Make sure that your own obligations and any concerns around disclosure have been met;
- Deal with the buyer’s lawyer.
If you haven’t previously dealt with a real estate lawyer, ask your friends and family for recommendations.
3.b) Completing the Sale
Congratulations! You have successfully sold your home.
There is one last step to complete, you will need to go the lawyer’s to:
- Accept and sign the final contract
- Drop off the house keys to the lawyer
- Leave manuals and items at the house that remain.
- Leave a gift or bottle of wine for the new owners.
Now, you can sing your way to the bank with the extra cash you just earned.