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Private Home Sales: Agent vs. DIY

Thinking of selling your home privately? Here's what you need to know before undertaking the big project

Should You Sell Your Home Privately?

Selling your home can be stressful. There’s a seemingly endless list of things to do in preparation before you list your house, during the home sale process, and after the sale. Luckily, real estate agents handle many tasks, such as helping you set a sale price, managing showings, and providing guidance throughout the entire process. 


However, real estate agents can be costly – their fees can range between 3% and 6% of a home’s selling price. And the commissions for both seller and buyer agents are covered by the home sellers. So, if you’re selling your home, you might be wondering if you should do so privately. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of going that route. 


Reasons for selling a home privately


There are several reasons a homeowner may choose to sell their home privately. Perhaps the biggest reason is the aforementioned savings in agent fees. While real estate agent commission may vary by province and brokerage, let’s assume a total commission of 5% (2.5% of the listing agent and 2.5% for the buyer agent). 


According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, we’ll also assume a home price of $1,136,280 (the average cost of a Toronto home in September 2021). 


Using this example, a home seller would pay a total of $64,200 ($28,407 to each agent and $7,386 in HST). That’s not an insignificant amount of money. And, while agent commissions may be the costliest part of selling a home, it isn’t the only expense, so saving that money may be an enticing prospect to many sellers.


Another reason a homeowner may choose to sell privately is that they can take responsibility for the entire process – from scheduling and managing showings to staging and setting the price.




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Reasons for using a real estate agent


By far, the most common way to sell a home in Canada is through a real estate agent. Agents are paid handsomely but often for good reason. 

  • They help determine a listing price that will maximize your chances of making the most money on the sale.  
  • An agent may help you stage the home to drum up more interest among buyers. 
  • They schedule and run any showings, handle offers while providing advice on counter-offers. 
  • They’ll also help you decide if you should have an offer date, a method of selling your home that certain sellers use to potentially entice competing offers.  


What a seller pays for is an agent’s expertise in the market, as well as their advice throughout. Essentially, an agent is in your corner throughout the entire process, a process that can be time-consuming and stressful. 


Is selling your home privately right for you?


Even if you choose to go the private route when selling your home, you won’t be handling the process entirely alone. You’ll still be required to hire a lawyer to handle the paperwork and finalize the home sale. You’ll also likely have to pay a real estate broker a flat fee to list your home on MLS so that potential buyers can discover your house when doing their home buying search. 



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How to sell your home privately

  • Uncover any issues with your home before selling


In many markets, you have a legal obligation to disclose specific issues, such as structural damage to the foundation or roof or the presence of mould or asbestos. You may also want to rectify any of these issues before the home sale to optimize your chances of receiving the offer you’d like.

  • Prepare your home for the sale


You’ll be responsible for making your home look presentable. This includes staging the home, considering whether or not to paint or renovate, and ensuring the property is presentable and the house is clean. 

  • Determine the list price


You won’t have the help of a real estate agent to advise you on the list price, so you’ll need to do your research. Try to find out what comparable homes have sold for in your neighbourhood. Pay attention to list prices, sale prices, and the average time on the market (in hotter markets, homes tend to stay on the market for fewer days than homes in not-so-desirable markets).

  • Put your property on the market


Take flattering photos of your home, write an enticing description, place a “For Sale” sign on the front lawn, and list your home on as many online sales platforms as possible. 

  • Manage showings and offers


You’ll need to schedule showings and be present (or hire someone to host the showings). If you’ve done a thorough job staging your home, visitors will be impressed when they show up to view it. 


As offers come in, you’ll need to decide whether or not to accept one, counter-offer, or decline the offer. When reviewing offers, pay close attention to the purchase price, the closing date, the inclusions (does the buyer want all appliances & light fixtures included?), deposit, and any conditions (such as home inspection conditions or financing conditions). A lawyer can help review the paperwork sent by potential buyers. 


The bottom line


There’s a reason real estate agents are so well compensated: They provide a service many feel is essential when selling their homes. Our homes are most likely our most significant investments, so it’s a good idea to have a professional in your corner when listing yours for sale. However, you can certainly save some money by going the private sale route. Just be prepared to do some hard work and a good deal of research to ensure a smooth and lucrative home sale process. 


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