How To Sell A House In Toronto
If you’re wondering about how to sell a house in Toronto here are some time tested tips and tricks. Are you looking for the best way? We have helped many, many Toronto home owners sell their houses and condos. Find out how our expertise can help you achieve the best result possible and earn you top dollar. Here are some thoughts and notes to get the ball rolling with this brief step by step guide to selling a house or condo in Toronto.
How Do I Sell My Home?
This is the easy part. There are basically two choices. You can sell it by yourself or you can get a professional to do it. Here are the statistics. 90% of sellers in Toronto and the GTA who try to do it on their own (For-Sale-By-Owner or FSBO) end up using a Realtor. Houses sold by Realtors sell faster and for more money. Every time.
Why Should I Sell My Home?
Sensible people do not just wake up and decide to sell their house or condo. Deciding Why To Sell Your Home is determined by taking many factors into account.
- Job relocation.
- Changes in financial circumstances.
- Growing families.
- Separation or divorce.
- Down sizing (now known as right sizing).
- Health issues.
- Portfolio adjustments.
- Capital gains and other tax considerations.
When Should I Sell My House?
There is no straight forward answer to “when should I sell?”
Traditionally Toronto has defined selling seasons. They’re called the Spring and Fall markets. In the last few years these seasons have become less defined but it is still cyclical. These days anticipating the market is everything. The amount of motivated buyers with chequebooks in hand means that getting your house ready for sale ahead of the rest of the herd gives you an advantage. We’ve seen great results for properties listed in February, March, April and September, everyone else is still getting ready. The slowest months are still December, January and August.
What else is currently for sale in your neighbourhood:
The more properties that are for sale, the more competition you have for the buyers’ interest. Supply and demand. Simple market economics. There is a buyer for every type of house, it all depends on the price posted and the price agreed. Certain types of properties are very desirable in Toronto. A detached, renovated, three bedroom with parking on a nice street will attract a lot of interest.
What else is currently for sale in similar neighbourhoods:
A buyer’s wants and needs are not limited to one neighbourhood. Somebody interested in a property in Leslieville will be interested in a similar property in The Junction or Roncesvalles. The quality of schools, demographics, amenities, parks, restaurants, access to public transport and neighbourhood engagement are all driving factors.
The current state of the market:
This is the number one topic of conversation at every party and water cooler in the city. Interest rates, market peak, equity, refinancing, what the neighbour just sold for, did you see the price they got for their house, you name it, we’ve heard it. There’s only one thing for sure. What goes up must come down. It’s as true as spring follows winter and night follows day. In the meantime it’s location, location, location and timing, timing, timing.
Always keep these goals in mind when preparing your house for sale:
Remove it all. Even when you think you’ve done enough you probably haven’t. We cannot stress enough how important this is.
Did we say clean? Clean everything twice if you have to. Every corner, cupboard, closet and counter. A clean house attracts clean buyers.
We provide a free deep cleaning service as part of our basic package.
Use your own stuff or get a professional in, either way staged houses sell for more and sell more quickly than un-staged houses. This is now a fact of the market. Perception is everything. Make sure the furniture is the right size for the room. Place large mirrors strategically to give the illusion of space. Use neutral colours for the background but have splashes of colour for artwork or feature throws and cushions. This encourages buyers to focus. Align and proportion your wall hangings, artwork and framed photos. Refresh and brighten rugs, mats, shower curtains , towels, duvets and pillows.
We provide a free staging consultation with a professional as part of our base package.
We all know that life gets in the way and that it’s easy to let things slide HOWEVER even if you’re not handy you can still make sure all the lightbulbs are working or upgraded to a higher wattage to get extra indoor light going. Tighten up the toilet seat lid with a quarter. People love to turn taps on and off, fix the dripping or leaky taps. Get some CLR onto the shower head. Strip out any old caulking around the bath or sinks and replace with a fresh bead of silicone. Get a handyman in for a day for the bigger tasks. It’s absolutely worth it. Paint what you can or get painters in to do it for you.
Clear the pathway and the porch. Hide the bins, the bikes, the prams. Weed the garden, spread some wood chips around, give the porch a quick coat of paint. Tighten up the handrails. Spruce up the front door. Show some love and pride of ownership. It’s the first impression that any buyer has of your house, don’t let it be their last!
Tidy up the back deck or yard. Make it look like you host the best parties in the neighbourhood by just adding a table and a few chairs or even outdoor recliners if you can. Have a few photos of the yard looking good in the summer if it’s too cold to poke your head out.
You will need: Documents supporting your Municipal Tax Bill, monthly heat and hydro bills.
If you have them: A Survey, all or any invoices for repairs or improvements made over the years, warranties and manuals for the appliances and mechanicals.
Consider: A pre-sale inspection. Any deficiencies will be explained whereby you can decide to remedy them before selling or factor it into the price. Things like the roof, furnace, A/C and wiring are big ticket items for both sellers and buyers. A listing on the Toronto MLS that shows new roof, wiring, furnace etc will be a very attractive proposition.
Setting a Price
A quick glance through the Toronto MLS or REALTOR.ca will reveal that pricing strategies are as varied as clouds in the sky. Most owners believe that their property is worth more than the market warrants or supports. This is completely natural. We follow a couple of simple but effective principles. Price sensibly and price to sell. Professional, competent Realtors like to deal with other professional, competent REALTORS. An overpriced property will not sell and will go stale. You want to avoid this like the plague. Under priced properties demonstrate speculation and incompetence. Remember, the market decides what a house is worth at the end of the day.
Buyers always take these factors into consideration:
- Recent sales on your street and in your neighbourhood (“the comparables”).
- Recent sales of similar properties in nearby neighbourhoods.
- Properties currently on the market.
- Current market conditions.
- The size, finishes and condition of your home.
- Location – what’s happening in your neighbourhood and how people expect it to change in the short and medium terms.
Secondary factors that are important to Toronto Buyers include:
– Parking and/or a garage
– The basement (whether or not it’s finished or can be used as a second apartment)
– Closets and storage
– Style (modern vs character, etc.)
The days when your parents agent put a 2”x3” ad in the back pages of the local weekly and hoped for the best are GONE FOREVER. In addition to the Toronto MLS and REALTOR.ca you need Digital Social Media with state of the art websites and presentations. Also, if your agent and their team are not out door knocking and flyering your neighbourhood about your listing you need to seriously question yourself why you hired them.
Great photos sell great homes. It’s as simple as that. Photos have to look exceptional not only on large desktops but on 4” smartphone screens which is where 75% of the buying public will first see pictures of your home. This is now a fact of life. Our photographer, Chris Ricker, is a miracle worker.
2. For Sale Signs:
Get a sign on the lawn. Get your neighbours talking. Get the next street over talking. Get the local running club talking.
3. Open Houses:
If the truth be told cruising open houses is Toronto’s national sport. Not hockey. Sure, the neighbours will be nosy and want to pop in. Let them. The real catch is getting motivated buyers through the door and having them see other motivated buyers going through the door. The fear of loss is one of the single greatest motivational factors in buying a house.
4. Online Marketing:
All other traditional methods have now gone the way of the Dodo. If your listing is not online it’s not going to get seen.
5. Email Marketing and Social Media:
The best Realtors are communicators. They reach out to potential buyers. Their email lists and Social Media contacts should contain a goldmine of potential buyers.
Booking a showing is a professional courtesy conducted between brokerages. This allows sellers peace of mind knowing that everybody who comes through their home is registered, accountable, accompanied and responsible. As the seller you should consider these points:
1. There’s no need to be there when others come through. Make plans to evacuate for an hour to a local cafe or to the mother-in-law for dinner. You’ll be doing everybody a favour.
2. Be flexible with showing times – Most Buyers look at properties in the evening or on the weekends.
3. Try to get the pets looked after somewhere. We’ll even take the dog for a walk if you’re stuck.
4. Moving out for a week or two is not the end of the world. The kids will thank you and you will thank us for suggesting it. Think of it as a camping trip in the city.
5. Keep the house clean or at least as clean as possible through the duration. Just try your best, every little bit helps.
6. You can receive notice of showings through the means that suits you best. Text, phone call or email. Usually our secretary sends out the booking notification but if you prefer we can contact you personally. While it’s not a good idea to refuse showings it is your right and people understand if there’s a sick child at home or any other circumstance that would warrant it.
How Do Offers Work?
Not every house gets multiple offers, not every house gets over list price, not every house sells in the expected time period. This is just how it goes. The Real Estate gods are the most mysterious shakers and movers out there.
Offers are complex legal machinations that bind two or more parties resulting in an agreement (hopefully). They can be full of conditions that have to be met by both sides either through fulfillment or by waiving. Common conditions are financing and inspection. In hot markets with lots of buyers offers are often clean with few, if any, conditions. Most sellers have never negotiated an offer. We really don’t recommend doing it on your own. The legal ramifications can be serious if a buyer decides to sue, for whatever reason, in the future.
In Toronto Realtors handle the preparation, marketing, negotiations and acceptance of offers and the deposit cheque. The lawyers handle the closing and disbursements of the large funds. Closing is when the buyer takes full possession and gets the keys to the castle. Once the flurry of activity settles down after the negotiations it’s easy to forget that you still have to contact the cable company, the phone company, the insurance company, hydro, gas, the post office, Service Ontario, city hall and on and on to let them know that you’re moving. You have a find a moving company, the list goes on! Talk to your bank about the sale, talk to your mortgage person, the school, did we forget anything? We have helped dozens and dozens of great clients make the transition as seamless as is humanly possible.
How To Sell A House In Toronto
Can you think of any other questions you have about how to sell a house? We bet you’ve got hundreds. We have answers. Contact us and we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about selling your home for top dollar.
Please see our related article How Much Does It Cost To Sell My Home for even more information.
Also, our blog post about how to how to find a great real estate agent to sell your home.