My clients will ask me on occasion whether they need a real estate agent to sell their home. People are sometimes interested in selling privately to save paying real estate commission which typically will range between 4-7% of the sale price plus hst. I have had clients advertise their properties on Kijiji or put a “For Sale” sign on the lawn to try to attract buyers. In this age of information explosion, because you can go on the internet and read about how to sell a home (or any other topic) I think some people are falsely led to believe that they have enough information to do the agent’s job.

While there is nothing that legally requires you to have an agent to sell, using an agent offers countless very real advantages. The first is that your agent is trained on how to properly evaluate your home. If you use an agent who works in the area where you are selling they are aware of everything that is on the market, what those homes are selling for and why they are selling for that price. They can use this knowledge to compare your home and come up with a realistic price. Listing for a realistic price is very important. Statistics prove that houses that are listed for too much will eventually sell for less than the market value, so you want to keep the price realistic so people don’t ignore your home and wait for the price to drop. Buyers may perceive a home as being overpriced if an agent is not involved.

Agents will suggest changes to “stage” your home so that it will present as well as possible to a potential buyer. For example, your teenage son’s bedroom that is painted black will be a turnoff to most buyers. Personal photos should be tucked away. The agent wants to create a neutral space where the buyer can picture living with their family.

Agents are trained to negotiate with potential buyers to get the best deal for their sellers. Agents are trained in contract writing to ensure that their clients are protected. Agents have marketing and advertising tools that can provide provincial, national and even international exposure. The number of potential buyers that their advertising will touch cannot compare to the exposure you will get by putting a sign on your lawn. Most agents have a list of interested buyers that are looking for a certain type of home, and when these homes come on the market the agent will contact them.

If you try to sell your home privately, you will have to personally show the home to every buyer who wants to see it. Some buyers are put off by the owner showing them through the home. They may feel intimidated and unwilling to discuss the pros and cons of the home in the owner’s presence. The agent will do all of this for you and can speak honestly and positively about your home from an objective viewpoint.

Tracey Kennedy is a Partner at Kennedy Schofield Lawyers. Articles posted on this blog are meant to offer general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice. For advice on your specific matter, contact Tracey or any of our lawyers at 902-826-9140.