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Selling your own home is a big job

Joe Richer

Toronto Star
November 9, 2013

November is national Financial Literacy Month and this year the theme Financial Literacy Across Generations. This is the second in a series of Ask Joe columns touching on real estate decisions that buyers and sellers face at different times in their lives.

I can’t decide whether I should sell my home myself or hire a real estate agent. What are the pros and cons of each?

When the time comes to put your home on the market, it can be tempting to handle the transaction yourself — For Sale By Owner.

Keep in mind the significant time and effort it takes to sell a home. Going the FSBO route means you’ll be responsible for everything — setting the right price, advertising your property, letting interested buyers in, reviewing offers, negotiating terms and managing the paperwork once an agreement is reached. Yes, you’ll save the money that would have been paid to a real estate professional, but think about what your time is worth, and your level of knowledge and expertise in handling such a transaction.

Also, be aware that commission rates with real estate agents are negotiable.

Even if you sell your home yourself, you may still end up paying commission to the buyer’s representative. That’s because, in a traditional sale, the commission for both representatives is typically paid by the seller. If you don’t agree to pay the buyer’s agent a commission, the buyer may see it as a disincentive to purchasing your home.

One of the challenges you will face is getting the attention of homebuyers. Only registered real estate professionals have the ability to post listings on MLS. Some real estate brokerages now offer a “mere posting” service, where your property is listed on MLS for a fee, but leaves you responsible for all other facets of the transaction.

Valuable consumer protection comes with working with an agent and that includes knowledge, professional standards and insurance.

Registered real estate professionals must complete ongoing, mandatory continuing education. That means they’ll be fully prepared to help you navigate the selling process, including determining how best to market and show your home to buyers, deciphering paperwork and negotiating on price and terms.
Your real estate professional is also required to uphold professional standards that emphasize fairness, honesty and integrity, and follow rules and regulations protecting consumers. In the rare instance that something goes wrong and you want to complain, RECO will investigate and take steps.

The final pillar of protection, insurance, has two facets. First, deposit insurance guarantees the buyer’s deposit payment will be held in trust and insured against fraud, insolvency or misappropriation. Second, real estate professionals must hold errors and omissions insurance to pay for damages and legal costs arising from claims.

Check out RECO’s Financial Literacy interactive graphic at buyer/publications.html

Join the discussion on Twitter at #FLM2013. Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He oversees and enforces all rules governing real estate professionals in Ontario. Email questions to Find more tips at, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at

Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 01:11PM by Registered CommenterElaine in | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

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