I’m contemplating selling my home by myself instead of working with a real estate professional. What do I need to consider before making this decision?

That’s a great question. Most of us seek out professionals for all types of things, be it for taxes, legal matters or renovations, and real estate is no different. Some may choose to go it alone, while most need and benefit from that expert help.

If you’re wondering whether selling your home alone, also known as “for sale by owner (FSBO)” and pronounced as “fizbo,” is the right choice for you, here are some things to think about before making your decision.

Selling a home, which is the biggest asset most people own, is a significant undertaking requiring time, effort and expertise. If you choose to do it privately, you’ll be responsible for everything, including setting the listing price, getting the property in “sell-ready” condition, advertising, managing showings, reviewing offers, negotiating terms and managing the paperwork once an agreement with a buyer has been reached.

The upside, of course, is that you’ll save the money you would have paid as commission to a real estate representative, assuming you are able to achieve the price you might have with the help of a brokerage.

Should you decide to sell by yourself, there are FSBO real estate tools and services available online that you may find helpful. Online property value calculators can assist sellers with a range of what a property may be worth, and online data sources can also provide information on similar property listings and sales for comparison.

However, this is only general information that requires expertise to compare other properties’ similarities and differences to properly valuate yours. You will have to decide whether you are comfortable analyzing and assessing the information.

Generally, you can expect brokerages to offer a broad range of service options, such as monitoring market trends, offering strategic advice, arranging showings, negotiating, and managing paperwork on your behalf. As well, all registered representatives are required to carry errors and omissions insurance, and their clients have access to consumer deposit insurance. Both programs are administered by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) and can provide an extra layer of confidence and protection throughout the transaction. In short, salespeople are licensed and insured professionals who are experienced in conducting real estate transactions on a regular basis.

If you’re still unsure which option you’re comfortable with, keep in mind that you don’t have to make an “all-or-nothing” choice. Real estate brokerages offer a wide variety of service levels with varying fees, so shop around for the best fit for you. Whichever path you choose, I’d highly recommend hiring a real estate lawyer to help prepare for and close your real estate transaction.

Ultimately, it’s a personal choice whether to sell your home on your own or engage a brokerage to do a little or a lot of the work. For more information and resources, I encourage you to visit RECO’s website at www.reco.on.ca. Good luck!


This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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