Selling Your Home in Ontario | A Complete Guide

Step 1: Choosing a REALTOR®

As a seller, your relationship with a REALTOR® is vital so meet with several before making a final decision. A good place to start is right in your neighbourhood. Check FOR SALE signs to see which REALTORS® are doing business in your area. Ask them about their track record, their knowledge of neighbourhood selling prices and other reasons why you should list with them. Choose a REALTOR® you feel comfortable with; one who will handle the sale of your home as if it were his or her own.

Before you hire any professional, you should research the market to find out who can do the best job for you. When interviewing agents, find out what kind of guarantees they are willing to give you with respect to the sale of your home. In a market where sellers want to avoid uncertainty and hassle, a guarantee which ensures your home will sell is critical.

What to Expect

Your REALTOR® will help you understand the selling process. He or she will provide you with a full explanation of what to expect so you are not faced with any surprises along the way.

Getting to know you

One of the first things your REALTOR® will ask is, why are you selling your house? Your REALTOR® will also explore any time constraints you may have, your financial situation and any future plans. It's all part of getting to know you so the sale will be handled to your complete satisfaction.

Step 2: Pricing Your Property

The single most important decision you will make with your Real Estate Professional is determining the right asking price for your property.

Once you've achieved a realistic sales price, you can count on your property being professionally marketed and promoted to bring more buyers to your door. You can also expect to sell your home for the best possible price in the least amount of time.

The Benefits of Pricing Right

  • Your property sells faster because it is exposed to more qualified buyers.
  • Your home doesn't lose its "marketability."
  • The closer to market value, the higher the offers.
  • A well-priced property can generate competing offers.
  • Real Estate Professionals will be enthusiastic about presenting your property to buyers.

How To Set The Right Price For Your Home or Property

Arriving at an accurate estimate of value for your home is one of your REALTORS® prime tasks. It involves analyzing your home and comparing it to other, similar houses for sale or recently sold in the neighbourhood. It may also include a broader market survey, using sales statistics available only to qualified REALTORS®. In the end, you will be sure the price you set reflects the true value of your home under current market conditions. 

Find Out What Your Home Is Worth

For a current market analysis of your home please feel free to take advantage of a free home evaluation.

Step 3: Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Home Staging: The Basics

It doesn't matter how you feel about your home or why you are selling the house, it needs to be marketed as a product. If your product is damaged or doesn't meet the standards of other products being sold for the same price, your product will sit on the shelf unsold. It won’t sell.

So, your product needs to be well packaged, with its benefits highlighted and distractions minimized.

What is Home Staging?

Home Staging is a service, usually executed by a professional, used to enhance the presentation of a property. The objective of home staging is to implement presentation techniques designed to secure an above asking price offer from a buyer. Home staging should be an integral component of any successful real estate marketing plan.

Staging produces a high impact showing and a lasting first impression. Through the use of premium accessories, art, furniture and design, a home stager showcases your house or condo to stand out from competitive listings.

Showcasing your home's best features takes more than de-cluttering a house, adding flowers and placing a bed on an angle! It's about creating favourable impressions everywhere a potential buyer’s eyes rest. Starting at the curbside, moving throughout the house to the very back of the property, everything needs to be reviewed with an objective eye, that is, from the eye of your prospective buyer.

Home stagers perform their magic by playing up the best features of your house and minimizing the worst. They rearrange artwork, pack up your prized bowling trophies and clear out your son's high chair. Basically, stagers create a homey but neutral space where a potential buyer can see themselves living.

Why Stage Your Home?

How you present your home determines how long your house will sit on the market, and how much money you will ultimately make from it.

Studies have shown that most buyers make a decision about a house within 15 seconds of walking in the door.  Many other buyers make a decision without ever getting out of their car.  The message here is that first impressions are very, very important when selling a home.  

A recent study, for example, tracked over 2500 properties ranging in price from $225,000 to $4.5 million in a number of major cities. The study found that while the average home was on the market for nearly 31 days, a staged home typically sold in just under 14 days. Furthermore, while the average home sold for a mere 1.6% over the asking price, staged homes sold for a hefty 6.3% over asking price.

Staging is the surefire way to maximize the price for which your home will sell. Any investment that you make in staging is sure to pay off many times over.

Before and after room staging

How To Stage Your Home

While we recommend hiring a professional for effective home-staging, here are some things you can do to make your home more marketable, or what to expect from a home staging service

1) Eliminate Clutter

You want potential buyers to notice the house itself, and not your belongings. Homes look bigger and more stylish without any clutter.  Preparing your house for sale is the perfect time to box up or throw out newspapers, magazines, books, and knick-knacks. Here are some pointers to remember:

  • Clean up your yard (rake leaves, shovel snow, sweep surfaces, trim bushes)
  • Remove stacks of paper, small appliances, and small personal items
  • Have a garage sale, or rent some storage to get rid of larger items

You want buyers to imagine themselves living in your home, not to feel like a guest in it. So remove anything connected to your family or personal interests. Hide your son's hockey trophies, store family photos, remove all traces of day-to-day life.

If someone goes to your bathroom and the rim of the tub is covered with shampoo bottles and  toothbrushes are lying around the sink, it's hard for the prospective buyer to imagine that this could be his or her bathroom. 

2) Rearrange Your Rooms

If you had planned on selling, giving away, or discarding any furniture or possessions before moving to your new home, consider doing it before your current home goes on the market. If you simply have too much furniture in one room, move some of it to another area of the house or to a storage spot for the time being. This will free up space and make it seem more spacious and airy, often an appealing selling point for potential buyers.

An easy way to create a sense of space is to get rid of some furniture. Moving a sofa and end tables into storage can give a small room some much-needed breathing space. So too can storing the table and chairs that normally sit in your kitchen, piled high with mail and magazines.

Make sure you have size-appropriate furniture for each room. If you have a small bedroom, don't put a king-sized bed in there. Conversely, if you have a huge master suite, putting a single bed in there looks unbalanced. Well placed furnishings can open up a room. Avoid lining furniture along all four walls. Try placing a piece or two on an angle.

In the living areas, include an area for cozy conversation. If space allows, create an out-of-the-way corner for reading. If a room has a focal point for selling, such as a fireplace or bay window, arrange furnishings to enhance this feature, not distract from it.

3) Fresh Paint Makes All The Difference

A fresh coat of paint goes a long way to making a house look good.

Don’t pick too strong of a color. The idea is to appeal to the greatest number of buyers as possible, so keep the colour fairly neutral.

Paint your front door and put some urns with brightly colored flowers on your front step or just inside the entryway. These things make a house seem cared for, different and important.

4) Lighting

The brighter and sunnier the space, the easier it is to sell. Light makes a room seem bright and cheery. Start by investing in a good window-cleaning service. Make sure to clean windows and screens, inside and out. This can make a big impact on the light coming into a room. Stagers say clean windows let in as much as 30% more light than grimy ones. The difference is often amazing.

Show your rooms in the best possible light...Natural! If heavy drapes or curtains block the view outside, leave them open! The same goes for any kind of blind. Some stagers recommend showing homes with no window coverings at all.  This helps to create an open and airy feeling.

Thoroughly clean the shades on your light fixtures, change light bulbs and add floor lamps if an area seems dim. Dump those energy-saving 60-watt bulbs and go with higher wattage lights for maximum illumination. Finally, when it comes time to show your home, make sure all the lights are on. Hallways especially should be lit. When those are dark, it gets depressing for buyers going from room to room.

If you have a room or two with dark walls or no windows, leave a few of the lights on at all times during showings. If overhead lighting seems too stark, try just leaving on a lamp or two for drama.

5) Clean and Freshen Your Home

There is nothing more attractive than a clean home. Cleanliness helps put a buyer's mind at ease as it suggests that you've probably taken good care of your residence in other ways as well. 

If you are not into cleaning yourself, hire a professional. Having a professional house cleaning service come in and do a thorough once-over is always well worth the cost. Your home should be as spotless as possible for show.

Also, there's nothing worse than stepping into a house that smells.

The easy solution is to keep your windows open for 10 minutes a day. So if the weather allows, open windows and doors to let in some fresh air. This strategy works better than deodorizers since a lot of people have allergies to artificial room fresheners. The oldest trick of all? Baking a frozen loaf of bread, or cookies just prior to your open house will leave an inviting fragrance for prospective buyers.

While you never want to over-perfume your home, you may want to light a candle as a quick and aromatic remedy. Staying away from sharp floral scents and sticking with a low key scent, such as vanilla or eucalyptus fragrance is best. And avoid cooking smelly foods such as fish, liver, garlic, onions, or anything fried or spicy before showing your home. 

6) Eliminate All Outdoor Negatives

Before and after yard cleanup

Take a good look at any other negatives around the exterior of your property, such as...

  • Oil stains on the driveway
  • Old TV antennae or satellite dishes on the roof
  • Rusted mailboxes
  • Broken fence posts
  • Crumbling stairs

Get out the rags and cleanser and spend some time scouring your front door, porch, railings, and steps.

Tuck away all your recycling cans and bins at the back of the house.

Make everything look clean, trim, and lively.

Fresh sod or landscaping can make a major difference in curb appeal. Make sure you seed over any unsightly patches of grass, remove dead plants or dying shrubs, remove weeds, and mow the lawn. 

The picture on the left shows the difference between a property in need of a makeover (top), and one that's ready to show prospective buyers (bottom).

7) Add a Dash of Colour

In spring and summer, an outdoor container garden or hanging planter is lush and appealing and can add a lot of first impression impact. If your house is going on the market early in the season, consider purchasing mature plants rather than starter plants.

A home’s interior can also benefit from flowers and greenery. A stunning plant or simple seasonal market bouquet can brighten up any room of the home and has a charming appeal.

8) Hire a Handyman

Even if it’s a little thing, if it's broken – fix it. Check every door, handle, light, and faucet in the house to make sure they're up to scratch. 

  • Oil hinges and locks
  • Repair any leaks
  • Shore up any cracks

Dripping faucets, cracked tiles, and moldy caulking around the bathtub can knock thousands of dollars off the price of your home. It might be a little thing to you, but to a prospective buyer, it can be a deal-breaker. 

9) Consider Some Upgrades

  • Pull up carpets and refurbish wooden floors
  • Remove wallpaper and re-paint the walls
  • Refurbish your kitchen and bathroom
  • Upgrade utilities like the hot water heater or air conditioner

Step 4: Holding A Successful Open House

Most sales representatives will suggest a number of ways to market your home; however, if your agent has decided an open house would be advantageous, here are some suggestions to help make your open house successful.

There are four parts to a successful Open House. The first three are planning, promotion, and presentation. Once you've done all that, the only step remaining is to cross your fingers and hope for good weather!

1. Planning

As with most things in real estate, planning is critical to your success. Check your calendar and pick a date that won't conflict with other events that could divert your potential visitors. You won't get many home browsers on Super Bowl Sunday or Mother's Day! Ask your real estate professional for advice on how to showcase your home to its best advantage. See our home-staging tips above for the best way to prepare your home for showing. 

2. Promotion

Your real estate professional is the expert here and can advise you on what marketing techniques can be used to promote your event. Whether it's direct mail, advertising in Home Guides or the newspaper, or website promotion, your representative will effectively promote your event. However, you can add to the process by partnering in the promotion too. Post notices on bulletin boards in supermarkets, libraries or community centers. Any way that you can spread the word will add to the process.

3. Presentation

For your Open House day, your representative will also counsel you on how to present your home to its best advantage. Leaving on all the lights, having a fire burning in the fireplace, soft background music playing, and coffee brewing all add to the ambiance and make a welcoming impression. But as any real estate professional will tell you, the best thing that you can do to make your open house a success is to get out and stay out! All joking aside, you'll get better results when your visitors feel free to poke about, linger, and ask very direct questions of your real estate agent. If you're present, they'll feel more constrained, and your sales representative may not even get an opportunity to identify any concerns they may have, and attempt to offer them options and solutions. So pack up the dog and the kids, and enjoy your day away trust your real estate professional to do the job right. After all, they're the experts!

Step 5: Accepting An Offer

After you have accepted the offer on your home the buyers will schedule to have their private home inspection done. Depending on the offer, but usually it is done within 7 days of the offer being mutually agreed to or bottom lined. Each contract is different but usually within 48 hours of the inspection being done we will have some type of response from the buyers or buyers agent. Sometimes they will respond to the inspection and then make it contingent upon the radon results if they are doing a radon test, because that will take couple more days once they put the radon testing equipment in your home.

Our office will call you to let you know when the buyers want to schedule their private home inspection. You should plan on vacating the property for approximately 3 hours during this time. The buyers would like their privacy and it's a time for the inspector to be able to show them around your home and how things work. If they test for Radon, they will leave the radon equipment in your home for a couple days and then come back and pick the equipment up.

Inspection results should be relayed to us within 48 to 72 hours after the inspection has been completed. If the inspection is other than satisfactory, the buyers should put something in writing notifying us of the results and their intention to move forward, request a credit in lieu of any repairs, or request that you fix or replace specific items.

Appraisal

Assuming the buyers are satisfied with the results of the inspection, then next is appraisal. Usually the appraisal is done within seven days after their inspection has cleared. The appraiser will need access to the interior of your home. The appraiser will be at your house for approximately 30 minutes, measuring square footage, taking pictures and taking notes of the condition of the home.

The results of the appraisal could take anywhere from 7 to 14 days.

If the appraisal comes in at the value of the purchase agreement and no repairs were required, then nothing further is needed from the seller at this time. If the home doesn’t appraise, we are back to the negotiating table trying to figure out a price that works for everybody. If repairs are noted, you should have the repairs done as soon as possible so the appraiser can come back out.

Packing

After we are over this hurdle it is time to start packing and get ready for closing. Please be sure to leave all attached items, including window treatments, drapes, blinds, light fixtures, attached mirrors, drapery rods, attached shelving, fireplace doors, screens, storm windows, attached speakers, etc.

Utilities

Do not do anything with the utilities, the buyer will transfer them into their name, there is nothing that needs to be done on your end.

Five days before closing, you should contact your city water department and ask them to come out and do a final water meter reading. Some cities do and some cities do not do final water meter readings. If they don’t an escrow will be held until the next bill comes and it will be pro-rated.

Clear-to-Close

We are now waiting for the buyers to get what’s called a “Clear To Close” A clear to close means all conditions have been met and the buyer has been completely approved and ready to close on your home. 98% of the time we don’t get the clear to close until the day before the scheduled closing date. Banks are overwhelmed and they wait until the last minute for whatever reason. Sometimes we might get it earlier and that’s great, but don’t be alarmed or think something is wrong if we don’t get it until a day or two before closing.

Closing Day

On the day of closing, everyone involved in the sale will need a copy of their driver’s license. If you have to write a check or bring money to closing to sell your house, it needs to be in the form of a Bank Cashiers Check and should be made payable to the title company. This is very important. Please ask us before closing who your title company is.

Avoiding The Real Estate Catch 22

Every month, thousands of homeowners are faced with the stressful dilemma of whether to buy first or sell first. You see, if you buy before selling, you could run the risk of owning two homes. Or, just as bad, if you sell before buying a home, where are you going to live? It’s what insiders in the industry call The Real Estate Catch 22, and it’s an extremely anxious position to find yourself in. 

This is why Lino Arci created a unique Guaranteed Sale Program - a program that guarantees the sale of your present home before you take possession of your new one. If your home doesn’t sell within your time frame, Lino will buy it from you for the previously agreed-upon price, ensuring that you never get caught in the Real Estate Catch 22.

 

Interested in Selling Your Home?

If you are interested in selling your home or would like information on selling your home please call or simply complete the form below.

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