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Are you looking to sell your home but aren’t keen on spending thousands on real estate commissions? Then you may have considered selling your house privately.

While this is a viable option, it’s not as easy as you might think. There’s a lot of work involved in selling your home on your own. And if you’re not careful, you might not be saving as much as you intended.

Let’s go over a few important things before you decide whether to sell your house privately or with an agent. 

Key Points

  • Homeowners who sell privately may save thousands of dollars in real estate commissions, but there are other considerations to make.
  • Taking the FSBO route comes with added risks, such as legal issues, pricing errors, and trouble negotiating. 
  • You’ll still need to pay for a real estate lawyer, as well as various services to help you stage and market your home. 

Can You Sell Your House Privately In Canada? 

Yes, you can sell your home without the assistance of a real estate agent. Some sellers take the DIY route to sell their homes to avoid paying commissions. 

However, selling privately requires a lot of work and tasks that sellers generally do not have the skillset or experience for. This is an important consideration to make before you decide whether to sell on your own. 

One of the key components of selling a home is marketing it to buyers. To do that, you’ll want to advertise your property on various websites to get as many eyes on your home as possible. Fortunately, there are multiple websites available to homeowners to help them sell their homes privately, which are commonly referred to as “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) websites. 

Alternatively, you can pay a small fee to a discount broker to access the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) website.

Reasons To Sell Your House Privately

There are a few reasons you may want to try selling your home yourself:

Lower Sales Costs

Perhaps the biggest reason why FSBOs choose to sell their homes themselves is to save on the expensive commissions. Real estate agents are paid a fee to sell homes, which can add up to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the sale price of the home. 

For instance, let’s say you’re selling your home for $500,000 and local agents are charging an average commission rate of 4.5% to sell. That would translate into $22,500 (+ HST) that you would pay your agent. By selling privately, you may be able to save on this fee. 

You Have The Time

Selling a home takes a lot more time and effort than most sellers realize. All the marketing, networking, and fielding calls are what sellers pay real estate agents to do, which is a full-time job. If you have the time to dedicate to this endeavour, you may want to take a crack at it on your own. 

You Have Some Negotiating Skills

When offers start coming in, you’ll need to know how to wheel and deal so you make sure you get the highest price for your home and don’t leave any money on the table. You’ll also need to know what your home is worth according to current market conditions to price appropriately and negotiate fairly. 

More Control Over The Sales Process

Maybe you prefer to have as much control over the entire process as possible. In this case, you can forgo having a real estate agent in the picture and take care of business on your own, including scheduling showings, staging your home, and setting the listing price.

Helpful Resources

There’s an increasing number of resources available to homeowners who choose to sell their homes without the aid of a real estate agent. This makes the job of a private seller much easier. Resources are available that help sellers with marketing, signs, appraisals, open houses, and standard real estate forms. Real estate lawyers are also available to answer questions and ensure sellers are covering all their bases to protect them from potential legal issues. 

Drawbacks To Consider When You Sell Your House Privately

While there are many advantages to selling your home on your own, there are also a few drawbacks that should be considered:

Time-Consuming

Real estate agents do a lot more than just plant a for sale sign on front lawns and wait for buyers to flock to their listings. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that you’ll have to handle if you choose to sell on your own. If you take the lead, you’ll need to screen calls, book showings, market online, prep your home, take photos, and answer all questions yourself, which can take up a lot of your time. 

Hidden Costs

While you may be able to save on commissions, there are still costs associated with selling a home. If you sell without a real estate agent, your lawyer will be tasked with more paperwork to deal with to ensure everything is covered. That means your lawyer fees will be a lot higher to accommodate the extra work that they need to do for you. 

Buyer Agent Commissions

Both the listing and buyer agents must be paid a commission when a home is sold. Even though you may avoid paying a listing agent to sell your home, the buyer agent still needs to be paid, and it’s typically the seller who is required to cover this payment. This is because real estate commissions are taken off the sale proceeds.

Otherwise, you’ll have to negotiate some type of arrangement with the buyer agent. 

Negotiations

Hammering out a deal with a buyer requires some skill and experience to get the best price for your home. If you’ve never been part of a negotiation, you could lose out. 

Legal Risks

Plenty of legal paperwork is involved in the sale of a home, including disclosures. Sellers are legally required to disclose any known issues that affect the property. If you don’t make these disclosures, you could be taken to court for fraud or breach of contract. Instead, real estate agents understand disclosure requirements and will do their best to ensure you’re protected.  

Finding Qualifying Buyers

Getting an offer on your home is great, but you don’t want to waste your time with an unqualified buyer. If you don’t have much experience selling or don’t know how to properly vet prospective buyers, you could wind up dealing with a buyer who’s either not entirely serious about the sale or doesn’t have the financial backing to complete the transaction. 

A seasoned agent, on the other hand, will know what to look for in a buyer to ensure you’re dealing with someone who can seal the deal. 

Smaller Pool Of Buyers

Real estate agents have relationships with other agents and clients, which expands their pool of prospective buyers. Selling on your own would mean you’d be missing out on these other prospects, which means fewer eyes on your home and possibly a more difficult time selling your home. 

Should You Use A Real Estate Agent When You Sell Your House Privately?

It’s no secret that real estate agent commissions can be hefty. But truthfully, it’s worth the price given the work they do. The following are just a few things real estate agents handle on your behalf:

Determining The Listing Price

One of the most important components of selling real estate is establishing an appropriate listing price. Sellers instinctively want to listen to their homes for as high a price as possible. And while that may be understandable, it can sabotage the deal if the listing price is too high. 

Real estate agents pull reports on recent sales in the area to determine an accurate listing price. This will help ensure that your home sells within a relatively short time and fetches a fair price according to market conditions. 

Sifting Through Buyers

Not all people who show some interest in your home are necessarily qualified or serious buyers. Weeding through this pool of potential buyers takes time and effort. Your real estate agent will determine whether someone who wants to view your home truly is a qualified buyer or just someone curious to see what your home looks like.

Having someone tackle this job for you will save you time and hassle. You won’t have to worry about having your daily schedule interrupted every time you receive a call. Instead, these hassles will be limited to the showings that will be more likely to lead to a sale if you let a real estate agent handle things.

Access To Large Networks Of Professionals

One of the great things about using a real estate agent to sell your home is the large network of other industry professionals they can access. Including other agents who can spread the word about your listing. These professional relationships bring a larger pool of prospective buyers to your home that you may not have access to if you sold your home on your own.

Staging Your Home 

When you work with a real estate agent, home staging may be part of the deal. Your agent will enlist the services of a stager who will revamp your home in such a way as to make it more appealing to buyers looking in your area. 

How To Sell Your House Privately

If you do decide to take the DIY route, consider taking the following steps:

1. Find A Good Appraiser

Before you list your home, you need to come up with a listing price. This is a critical step, so you want to ensure you get the listing price right. 

To determine how much your home is worth based on today’s market conditions, consider hiring a professional appraiser. These industry experts will assess your home in great detail and compare it to other similar properties in the area that have recently sold. 

2. Get Your Home Inspected Before Listing

It’s customary for buyers to have a property inspected by a home inspector before the sale is finalized. This gives buyers a chance to make sure there are no significant issues with the home before committing to the sale. 

Rather than wait for the buyer to arrange for the home to be inspected, consider having your home inspected before you list it. That way, you can find out if there are any issues beforehand so there are no surprises after an offer comes in. This will also give you a chance to either make any required repairs to bring your home up to par or choose a listing price that accommodates any potential issues with your home. 

3. Stage Your Home

Whether you do this yourself or hire a professional, staging your home before listing it will make it more attractive to prospective buyers and will make your online photos stand out.

4. Take Professional Photos

Your online photos are the first impression prospective buyers will get. For this reason, consider hiring a professional photographer, or use a high-quality camera to take high-resolution images that capture your home in the best light possible. Use a wide-angle lens to get the most out of every photo, and use optimal lighting to bring out the best in each room.

5. Write An Eye-Catching Description

Write a captivating description that provides as many details of the home as possible. Use attention-grabbing terms that will catch a reader’s attention, like “sun-filled”, “inviting”, or “remodelled”, and entice them to book a showing.  

6. Market Your Home On Online Platforms

As mentioned, there are many online marketing platforms available to FSBOs to advertise on. Maximize your home’s exposure by placing your listing on as many of these sites as possible.

7. Hire A Lawyer

A real estate lawyer will be part of the transaction regardless of whether you sell privately or use an agent. Get yourself a real estate lawyer early on in the process so you can have all the necessary paperwork lined up and all your bases covered. 

8. Manage Showings And Offers

Once your home is on the market, be prepared for a slew of phone calls from agents looking to book showings for their clients, or from buyers directly. It’s your job to schedule and manage showings and to ensure your home is always show-ready before buyers visit. 

Once an offer comes in, be sure to analyze it in great detail and look at all pertinent terms besides just the offer price, such as the following:

Have your lawyer look over any offers that come in before you sign on the dotted line. 

When Should You Avoid Selling Privately?

In many cases, selling your home on your own without the help of a real estate agent can help you avoid expensive commission fees. If time is on your side and you have some marketing and negotiating know-how, taking an FSBO approach may be worth considering. 

However, there may be situations in which selling your home privately may not be a good idea, such as the following:

  • You’re in a rush to sell your home
  • Your schedule makes it difficult to find time to hold showings
  • You’re uneasy about all the paperwork involved
  • You want to make sure you’re not left vulnerable to legal issues
  • You’re behind in mortgage payments (or are at risk of falling behind)
  • Difficult tenants occupy your home
  • You’re not comfortable with the negotiating process 

Final Thoughts

Selling privately can help you save on real estate commissions, but if you don’t handle the process properly, you might not save as much as you think, or anything at all. Before deciding whether to use a real estate agent, weigh the pros and cons, and consider all the work involved in selling a home on your own.

Selling Your Home FAQs

How much commission do real estate agents charge?

Real estate agent commissions usually range between 3% to 7% of the home sale price, though 4.5% to 5% is most common. The rate may be negotiated between the agent and the client. The commission is typically paid to the listing agency and then split between the buyer and listing agents.

Can I list my home on the MLS as an FSBO?

No, homeowners selling their homes without an agent generally cannot list on the MLS. They must work with a real estate agent to have their homes listed on this database. However, you can get on the MLS by working with a firm that will post your listing for a flat fee.

Do I need a lawyer when selling my house privately?

Yes, a real estate lawyer is required for both buyers and sellers. Your lawyer will ensure that all legal components are covered and the property’s title is transferred properly.
Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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