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How to Buy a House Contingent on Selling Yours: Breaking Down the Process

by Caitlin White
Posted on June 30, 2020 March 5, 2020

“Contingent” can be a scary word, especially when it comes to something as serious as spending hard-earned savings on a house. It signifies something being conditional, being not locked down. That scary word, however, can save you from going into major financial stress when moving from one home to your next.

When families outgrow their former dream house and find a new one that checks all their must-have boxes, they’re faced with a problem: How to buy that new dream home without being stuck with the existing house’s mortgage? A Realtor can help you put your home on the market and navigate the tricky waters of how to buy a house contingent on selling yours.

Here’s how to buy a house contingent on selling yours.

What a Contingent Home Sale Means, and How it Works

When you buy a house contingent on selling yours, it means that you buy the house only in the case that your current home sells. Your realtor will add a contingency clause to the terms of the home offer. Contingencies protect buyers from carrying two mortgages, and they can go in three ways:

1. You find a buyer for your home, and your contract for the new home moves forward as planned.

2. You don’t find a home buyer in a specified timeframe (usually 30 to 60 days), the offer and contract for buying the new home is voided. Buyers may return any money sellers put in, and you start fresh searching for a new house.

3. The sellers put an addendum into the contract known as a kick-out clause. According to R.C. Shea and Associates, sellers can keep their home on the market, and if they find a new buyer while you are trying to sell your house, they will give you 72 hours to continue the contract or drop out so they can accept the new offer.

The Good Thing About Contingent Home Sales: You’re not alone.

In U.S. in 2015, 67% of homebuyers have bought a home before, according to the National Association of Realtors. That isn’t changing much in 2020 either: across April and May of 2020, only 30% of homebuyers were first-time buyers. The majority of buyers are moving from one home they own to another, so buying a house contingent on selling yours is an everyday obstacle for buyers, sellers, and agents.

The game plan for how to buy a house contingent on selling yours depends on your place in the home-buying process.

Choose your own adventure by picking the path that shows your starting point:

  • Your home is under contract and you’re looking for your next dream home (Proceed To Scenario A)
  • Your home is on the market and you’re looking for your next dream home (Proceed To Scenario B)
  • Your home is on the market and you’ve found your next dream home (Proceed To Scenario C)
  • Your home isn’t on the market but you’ve found your next dream home (Proceed To Scenario D)

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Scenario A: Your Home Is Under Contract And You’re Looking For Your Next Dream Home

The current home should be packed up and ready to move or in storage. Finding a new house is the No. 1 mission. A good place to start is to narrow down your dream neighborhood. Make a list of absolute must-haves when it comes to a new community and draw up a profile of an ideal neighborhood, taking into account the following, at minimum:

  • Affordability. Work with a realtor to find the price point of recent sales in a particular neighborhood to see if it’s within your budget
  • Cost of taxes, which should also factor into your budget if you’re moving between states
  • Urban, suburban, or rural?
  • Proximity to workplace and children’s schools
  • Access to public transportation
  • Age of the neighborhood. Do you want a historic area or a new development?

When you’ve completed a dream neighborhood profile, pass it along to your realtor, who can help narrow down the areas that tick all the boxes. Once you have two to five “perfect” neighborhoods on your list, it’s time to begin the research phase, investigating just how “perfect” they are.

Check out these sites:

CrimeReports.com
Investigate the area’s crime statistics to see how comfortable you are with the data.

WalkScore
Depending on your lifestyle, proximity to restaurants, grocery stores, boutiques, or theaters may be crucial. WalkScore shows access to these places in your immediate vicinity.

CityData.com
This site has an endless supply of information, ranging from hospital ratings to air pollution to weather patterns.

If this research phase helps define one or two neighborhoods, it’s time to visit. Start house hunting in these neighborhoods, and don’t forget to visit both in the daytime and in the evening. The supposed quiet, family-friendly dream area may become a noisy, bar-hopping scene after 11 p.m.

Ideally, you will find your dream house in this dream neighborhood. If you’re struggling to find that on the market, however, Andy Peters, one of the top real estate agents in Georgia, has a last-ditch, unorthodox plan for couples needing to find a new home fast.

“We sent out mailers to the neighborhood they wanted to live in … It was a very simple mailer, one-pager with a picture of the client—in this case a family of four, with their dog—and we told their story,” Peters said.

We told why they wanted to move to this area, why they identified this neighborhood as the best fit for them and their family. We spelled out who their friends were in the neighborhood. We spelled out that we had exhausted our search, seen everything on the market, and had not found what they were looking for yet.

A seller called Peters to say they just met with a realtor and were listing their home in 30 days. They sold the home to Peters’ clients before it ever hit market.

During the course of the home search, keep in mind your fallback option: renting.

Call up short-term rental options to get information on pricing and leasing terms. If you don’t find a new home before you close on your current one, renting could be a less attractive, but viable option.

Scenario B: Your Home Is On The Market And You’re Looking For Your Next Dream Home

The good news? It’s a sellers’ market. The bad news? It’s a sellers’ market. You’re in a good position to sell your home but a tough position to buy another one.

Since 2012, mortgage rates have remained low—with 30-year fixed rates still below 4%, according to the Realtors Confidence Index in April 2020—the amount of new jobs has been increasing, and obtaining a mortgage has a very low cost barrier. These factors have flooded the market with buyers, putting the sellers in the power position.

So, as a seller, you have that power, but as a buyer, you are going to have to work hard to find what you want and put in an offer with attractive terms to compete.

This scenario can be overwhelming with a divided focus. Unless lightning strikes and on the same day you find your dream house a magical offer arrives in your realtor’s hands—chances are you’re going to be sorted into one of two scenarios.

If your home goes under contract first, go back to Scenario A.

If you find your new house first, proceed to Scenario C.

Scenario C: Your Home Is On The Market And You’ve Found Your Next Dream Home

In this scenario, you have to focus on both selling your home and preparing the best offer for another home.

Don’t put any obstacles in the way of selling the existing home.

Use a realtor’s advice on how pricing the house right for the market.
This isn’t the time to get greedy. Ask them to show comparable home sales in the area over the last few months for homes with the same square footage, number of bedrooms, and other similarities. Assessor and property tax records are public record, so search a public database online to verify this information or visit the area’s city or state department offices in person.

Make all repairs on things that will cause buyer hesitation.
The biggest things to assess are health and safety issues, such as the structural condition of the house, the existence of any substances such as mold and asbestos, and anything not up to code. Find these problem areas with a home inspector.

Don’t skimp on staging.
The National Realtors Association’s 2015 Profile of Home Staging shows the median price for staging is only $675—a small price considering 32% of realtors believe staging can increase the dollar value of the home by 1 to 5%. For a $300,000 house, that can be up to $15,000.

Use only the highest quality images for its virtual listing.
Millennials are driving the movement of finding their house online, so invest in a professional to photograph the home. No dirty dishes in the kitchen or dog lounging on the couch. Hell, you might even want to bring in a video crew to get the house ready for emerging new technologies like Virtual Reality touring and virtual staging.

Prepare to move, quickly.
Through the course of staging, all personal effects should already be removed, so transfer these boxes to a storage facility or pack them out of the way in the attic or basement of the house, if possible.

Another path would be to consider renting out the home while it’s on the market. Only rent, however, if you must. Holding open houses and keeping a house in its pristine, staged condition will be difficult with renters.

Also, because selling quickly means running the risk of having to remove the tenant, ensure any renter understands the short-term nature of the lease by making it month-to-month or even week-to-week.

If your home sells before you put in an offer or while that offer is under consideration, notify the sellers and head back to Scenario A.

Now, you have to focus on that offer for the new house.

An April 2020 report by the National Realtors Association shows a steady increase in foot traffic for homes on the market. Competition is inevitable, and it’s not something you can control.

What you can control, is making as attractive an offer as possible when buying a home contingent on selling yours.

Here’s how to make the offer appealing:

Offer a higher price than your competitor.
Kind of a no-brainer.

Let the seller stay a while longer.
According to Peters, there are terms that can mean more than money. “Terms that would be interesting to me would be if a buyer was willing to give the seller possession after the close,” he said. “In other words, the seller has a week or two to get out of the house, when they’re living rent free.”


Try using a bridge loan.
Agree with the sellers’ terms on closing date, and consider using a bridge loan, which according to Investopedia, is a short-term loan buyers can take out against their current home to help finance the new home, prior to selling their own property.

Include the list price with the offer.
Show the sellers you are serious about selling. Include the home’s listing with its appropriate (or aggressive) pricing.

Make it personal.
Include a handwritten, personal note about what makes this property a dream home for you and your family. Never underestimate the power of sentimentality, even in a business transaction, as Peters showed in Scenario A.

This combination of tactics for selling your current home and offering on your next home will put you in the best path for achieving success.

Scenario D: Your Home Isn’t On The Market But You’ve Found Your Next Dream Home

Simply put: Get your home on the market.

According to the Realtors Confidence Index, the median days a home is on the market in April 2020 is 39 days. Though that’s a relatively short period of time—it’s a sellers’ market after all—it’s still cutting it very close after getting an offer accepted to make the necessary repairs and cosmetic changes to the house, list it, accept showings, review offers, go under contract, and close. You run a high likelihood that a contingent offer could expire or they’d find another buyer.

That’s even gambling that a seller would be willing to accept the huge risk of a contingent offer from a buyer whose home isn’t listed yet. Peters, for one, would not.

“If you had somebody come to the table and their house isn’t even listed and they want to buy a listing, I am very trigger shy to do that,” he said. “They have to show some motivation, that they’re on the market and they’re making a conscious effort.”

When you put your home on the market, proceed to Scenario C.

Article Image Source: (Ivonne Wierink/ Shutterstock)

Open House

What Is an Open House?

In real estate, an open house is a scheduled period of time in which a house or other dwelling is designated to be open for viewing by potential buyers.

The term open house can also refer to the real estate property itself; in either case, it applies to dwellings that are for sale by the owner. They are often held to advertise a newly developed community.

Key Takeaways

  • An open house is a scheduled period of time in which a house is open for viewing by potential buyers.
  • Open houses can attract interested buyers and lead to an offer, or alert the realtor to issues with the space.
  • On the other hand, they can entail a huge amount of effort in organizing. Online listings provide a wider reach for potential buyers.

How an Open House Works

In the real estate market, buying and selling a property is an example of a relatively illiquid market with dissimilar products. Each house is going to be different than the next, even if they are in the same neighborhood or even on the same block. During an open house, the seller or seller’s agent allows potential buyers to enter and walk through the property at their leisure or guided by a realtor. The goal of an open house is to secure interest from buyers.

Many open houses occur on weekends—Sundays, in particular—with banners and other fanfare used for advertisement. Owners keep the houses clean and immaculate during this time, to attract potential buyers. Some owners or agents also serve cocktails or hors d’oeuvres at these events.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Houses

For people trying to sell their homes, an open house provides an opportunity to attract interested buyers to the property. A well-executed event can generate excitement about the home and potentially lead to an offer. Many realtors advise their clients to hold an open house the first weekend after the property goes up for sale.

Even if the event does not snag a buyer, an open house can still be beneficial. As visitors walk through the home, they are likely to discuss their perceptions of the home. This feedback can alert the realtor to issues that might be preventing the house from selling. Unattractive paint colors, for example, can be an easy fix that can boost a home’s selling potential.

Attracts interested buyers

Alerts realtor to issues with the house through visitor feedback

Can entail more effort in organizing than its worth

Online listings can cast a much wider net for potential buyers

For some sellers, an open house entails more effort than it is worth. During the event, the property owner must leave the property to give the realtor free rein. This means making alternate arrangements for children and pets. Owners also need to remove personal items such as photographs that can prevent prospective buyers from imagining themselves in the home. Due to safety concerns, some sellers are also hesitant to have groups of strangers walking through their homes.

According to the National Association of Realtors, just 4% of buyers visited open houses. This statistic goes against the common belief that opening a home to the public for a few hours on the weekend will draw foot traffic that will translate into a sale. With the advent of the Internet, most properties are listed on the Web before the first open house is even scheduled. Home seekers can view photos and information about the property’s condition on a website, allowing homeowners to cast a much wider net for potential buyers. For some sellers, this can make open houses seem obsolete.

Broker’s Open House

In contrast to a traditional open house, which is open to the public, a broker’s open house is strictly for real estate professionals. The intention of a broker’s open house is to give real estate agents an opportunity to view the property. It also allows the seller’s realtor to solicit professional opinions from peers about the property and its price. In many cases, the broker’s open house encourages buyer’s agents to schedule a showing for their clients.

A broker’s open house usually is held midweek, when agents are more available than on weekends when they are occupied with showing homes to their clients. A broker’s open house is among the tools that real estate agents use to market a home. In addition to Internet marketing systems like Multiple Listing Service (MLS), it’s a way to introduce a listing to industry professionals in a community.

How to Sell a House

If you’re like most homeowners, your house is your biggest financial asset. It also holds great sentimentality. You probably have countless memories there, and you’ve spent time, money and effort making it a special place.

Selling your house is a big deal, so it’s okay to be cautious about it. Just remember, if selling is the right thing for you and your family, it’s worth it!

If you’re ready to make a move, you want to do it the smart way. This article will help you learn how to sell your house quickly and for the most money.

Are You Ready to Sell Your House?

Selling a house is a big decision, and it’s important to make sure you’re ready. Before we get to the steps about how to sell your house, take our simple quiz to find out if you’re actually ready to take the plunge.

Whether you’re a few months or several years away from putting a For Sale sign in your front yard, it’s important to know what to expect. Selling your house and moving is a big transition to make, but it doesn’t need to be a stressful experience. Learn how to sell a house the right way with these seven steps!

Find expert agents to help you sell your home.

How to Sell A House

1. Find a stellar real estate agent.

Real estate agents are a dime a dozen. That’s why you don’t need just any agent. You need the right agent. Find someone who will super-serve you, negotiate the best deal, and sell your house fast! As tempting as it is to have a relative, a friend from church, or your cousin’s husband’s buddy help you, always stick with a vetted professional who has experience and can sell your home for the most money in the shortest amount of time!

Can I sell my house myself?

Look, everybody loves saving money, and selling solo can seem like a great way to do just that. But is For Sale by Owner (FSBO) really all it’s cracked up to be? First of all, if you really want to sell your home, you need to get it in front of buyers—and lots of them. This is where an agent comes in handy.

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An experienced real estate agent will give your home a much-needed online presence through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which will expose it to thousands of potential buyers. Plus, an agent will develop a targeted strategy to market your house to their extensive network of buyers and agents.

Can you save big money by going FSBO? Not really. Even when you sell your home yourself, you still have to pay a commission to the buyer’s agent. You’d only save the commission on one side of the transaction.

A great agent will more than make up for that cost. Consider this: The latest National Association of Realtors data shows that the average home sold by an agent last year brought in $249,000. In contrast, the average FSBO home went for $190,000. (1) That’s almost a $60,000 difference!

Trust us; working with a great real estate agent helps you get the most money for your home.

2. Price your home to sell.

Remember this: Your home is only worth what buyers are willing to pay. Therefore, you need to think objectively about your home’s value. If you’ve lived in your home long enough to make memories, those sentimental ties could cloud your judgment. So, stick to the facts as much as possible when you estimate how much your home could sell for.

The best way to determine your home’s value is to ask a real estate agent to run a comparative market analysis (CMA). This free report compares your home to other homes near you that are comparable in size, have similar features, are currently on the market, or have sold in recent months. The comparison allows your agent to more accurately predict what buyers will pay for your home.

Your CMA will offer several pages of information, including photos and a map of all the properties in the analysis. A true pro will take time to walk you through the results so you understand exactly how your home stacks up against the competition. With this information in hand, you can work with your agent to set a competitive price that’s based on fact, not emotion.

3. Set a home-selling timeline.

Make the most of the weeks and months leading up to your home sale. If you have an idea of when you want to list your house, break your to-do list into manageable bite-size pieces. Here’s a guide to get you started. Of course, you can adjust according to your own needs and personal timeline.

  • Interview real estate agents: Take time to find a pro who has a proven track record and confidence to boot.
  • Outline a plan: Work with your agent to set priorities so you can focus on finishing one task at a time.

  • Declutter: Decide what you can live without until your home sells. Then pack it up and get it out!

2–3 months

  • Hire a home inspector: Identifying issues early in the home-sellling process lets you work the cost of repairs into your budget on the front end so they don’t wreck your deal later.
  • Tackle repairs: Ask your agent where your fix-it dollars will do the most good.

1–2 months

  • Set the stage: Create an inviting space that lets buyers see your house as their home.

1 week

  • Deep clean: Scrub every surface until it shines. Hire a pro to make carpets and rugs look—and smell—new again.
  • Apply finishing touches: Get your home picture-perfect so your photographer can capture it in the best possible condition.

Again, the key to keeping stress at bay during the weeks and months leading up to putting your home on the market is to make a plan—and then follow that plan. Working with a pro can help you relax and understand the selling process so you have realistic expectations.

4. Consider getting a home inspection before listing.

Most home buyers know it pays to get a home inspection. But did you realize it’s a worthwhile tool for home sellers too? It’s true!

A presale inspection might cost a few hundred dollars, but it’ll be money well spent. Why? Because it can keep buyers from demanding big bucks during negotiations.

So, what’s included in a home inspection?

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), a home inspection incudes:

  • Electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems
  • Windows, ceilings, walls, doors and floors
  • Attic, visible insulation and roof
  • Foundation, structural elements and basement (2)

A qualified home inspector combs a property’s accessible areas to assess the home’s condition and identify any health and safety issues. Once the inspection is complete, you’ll receive a detailed report outlining what works and what doesn’t, with recommendations for maintenance and repairs.

Don’t worry about addressing every single finding in your home inspection, but you should pay attention to big-ticket issues. These can scare buyers into asking for way more money than it actually takes to fix them. Your agent can help you sort through the inspection findings, but the roof, electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems typically take priority. If you have room in your budget, see to those before you list your home.

5. Stage your house and get it ready for potential buyers.

Once your home is in good working order, it’s time to set the stage and show off its best features. That starts with a deep cleaning. Here are some ways to make your house look great.

  • Scrub every surface until it sparkles. We can’t emphasize this enough! You need to polish your home and keep it clean during showings.
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint. It might take some time, but it’s time well spent. Plus, paint is relatively cheap considering the impact it has on making a home look fresh and inviting.
  • Pay a professional to deep clean rugs and carpets.
  • Minimize clutter to maximize space.

Once you have a clean home, you can begin to stage. Keep your décor colors neutral and try to depersonalize as much as possible. Take down most of your family photos so buyers can imagine their families enjoying your house. Closets are always important to home buyers, so create the impression of spaciousness by storing away out-of-season clothing and miscellaneous gear.

Don’t forget to stage outdoors too. Clean your front porch and place nice planters near your entryway. If you have a deck, pressure wash it and add a few colorful plants to give the space an extra pop.

Make sure your home is ready for photos. Professional shots that show off your house’s features are an essential part of your online listing. Your agent should help coordinate the photo shoot, so that’s less pressure on you. Here are a few additional staging tips to get your home prepared for its glamour shot:

  • Stay organized. Again, a tidy home is nonnegotiable. Channel your inner Mr. Clean or Snow White and whistle while you work if you have to. Just clean up the place.
  • Pick up the toys and pet stuff. Babies and puppies sell breakfast cereal but not homes. Keep the kid clutter and pet supplies under wraps.
  • Add extra touches. A pair of decorative pillows or a few green plants will add life to any room.
  • Clear the counters. Throw your juicer and blender in the kitchen cabinet. The same goes for your bathrooms. Pitch those personal items in a drawer to keep them out-of-sight.
  • Add more lighting. Bright rooms make your home look bigger. Open the curtains, pull up the blinds, and let the sunshine in! But before you do all that, be sure to devote time to washing your windows. In spaces that don’t get much natural light, a well-placed lamp can make a big difference!
  • Go easy on the rugs. Rugs generally don’t photograph well, and they can make your space look smaller. Your agent can help you decide which rugs can stay and which ones should go.
  • Put a lid on it. Your toilet, that is. Friends don’t let friends leave the lid up during a nice photo shoot.

Keep in mind, staging should bring out the positives of your house without overwhelming potential buyers. When in doubt, less is more. The right real estate agent can help you know the difference between good and gaudy staging.

6. List your home and survive the showings.

Home showings are hard to juggle regardless of whether your home is empty or full of kids. If you’re still living in the home you’re trying to sell, these handy tips can help you stay sane and get your home sold.

Tip #1: Make a daily to-do list.

Surprise showings always seem to happen when your home is a complete wreck. Reduce last-minute panic by putting things away as soon as you’re done with them and creating a checklist of simple tasks to knock out before you leave every morning. That way, you’ll always be ready for guests.

Tip #2: Find a place for your pets during showings.

Man’s best friend can be your home deal’s worst enemy. Leaving pets home for showings can get messy, and a yap-happy dog is just plain annoying. Take the fur babies for a joyride or send them to Grandma’s house so buyers can focus on your home’s best features.

Tip #3: Try to be flexible.

Separating yourself from the place you’ve called home can be hard. But if you want to make a deal, you’ve got to give buyers time and space to fall in love with your home. Be flexible about scheduling showings, and don’t make buyers step around you—or your feelings—when they visit.

Tip #4: Tackle the toys.

Paring down the piles of plastic is a tough task, but it sure does make cleanup a breeze. Ask your kids to choose a few favorite toys to keep in their rooms, and then store the rest in bins. Be sure to explain to them that they’ll see their toys again. If they get bored with their selections, you can always rotate toys in and out.

Tip #5: Enlist help from the kids.

Want to ease your load? Give Junior a job to do! It’s a great way to teach the value of hard work. Have a little fun and build big motivation by running timed practice drills. Don’t forget to recognize a job well done. If you can’t spare extra cash, quality time spent with you works too!

Do the best you can, but remember, you’re only human. There will be days you just can’t get everything put away and make it out the door on time. If you get a call for a showing, tell your agent you were running behind so they can prepare the buyer ahead of time. Just don’t miss an opportunity to get your home seen!

7. Negotiate the contract and close.

Negotiations between you (the seller) and the buyer kick off with the buyer’s initial offer. Keep in mind the contract stage works differently in every state, so your agent should explain those details in terms you understand. Never sign a purchase agreement before you’re clear about what is and is not included in the offer—and how it affects you.

Pay close attention to these details:

  • Purchase price
  • Closing or escrow date
  • Special allowances for personal property, home improvements and closing costs
  • Contingency deadlines for the home inspection, appraisal and buyer financing
  • Additional contingencies such as the sale of the buyer’s current home

Once you and the buyer reach a final purchase agreement, you won’t be sitting pretty quite yet. There’s still a lot to do from contract to closing, so here are some quick tips to help you manage this stage of the game:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to pack.
  • Communicate with your buyer.
  • Keep your home insurance up-to-date until you’ve signed the dotted line.
  • Make a list of what to bring on closing day.
  • Remain flexible because delays can, and will, happen.

How Long Does It Take to Sell Your Home?

There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to how long it will take to sell your home. The average time on the market for 2020 is currently around 60 days—the time from when the home is listed to when it closes. (3) Keep in mind that number is just an average. How long it actually takes to sell your house depends on the real estate trends in your area and the particulars of your home.

Here are some of the factors that can impact your home-selling timeline:

  • The hot (or not) nature of your real estate market. If you live in an area with a hot market, you can typically expect your home to sell faster than in markets where buyer demand is low.
  • The season. If you want to maximize your sale price and decrease the time your home is on the market, listing your home in late spring is going to be your best bet. But that’s not true for every home or market. And ultimately, the best time to sell your house is when it’s the right time for you.
  • Your home’s location, location, location. Details like what school your home is zoned for, which neighborhood the house is in, and how close your home is located to restaurants and shopping can also affect how long it takes to sell.
  • Your home’s price point. Larger, more expensive homes can take longer to sell because the pool of buyers is smaller. (4)
  • The time it takes to get your home sell-ready. If you decide to take on some updates or repairs to your home before listing, your selling timeline will be longer.
  • The closing process. If your buyers are getting a mortgage, the closing date is dependent on their financing. Your closing could also be delayed by home inspection or appraisal issues.


Remember, these are just some of the factors that can affect how long it takes to sell your house. You can talk to your real estate agent about what a realistic timeline is for your specific home.

How Much Does It Cost to Sell Your House?

Even though you’ll be making money from the sale of your home, there are some costs you have to pay in the process. How much you end up paying start to finish depends on the sale price of your home, what repairs you have to take care of, and how much it takes to get your home ready to list.

Here are some of the costs you may need to prepare for:

  • Real estate commission. As the seller, you’ll be responsible for paying the real estate commission, which is split between the buyer’s agent and your listing agent. Usually that commission is 6% of the home’s sale price.
  • Staging your home. As you’re preparing to list your house, you could spend some money getting your house staged or investing in some new décor to give your space a fresh look.
  • Repairs or maintenance. You may decide to take care of some repairs, like fixing a leaky faucet or painting those scuffed baseboards, before you list your home. Or if the home buyer does a home inspection, they may ask you to do some repairs before closing.
  • Fees negotiated in the contract. As part of your purchase and sale agreement, the buyer may ask you to cover a portion of the closing costs, title insurance or other fees.

Sell Your House Faster With a Professional Agent

The best way to have a great experience selling your home is to partner with a professional agent. The right agent should guide you every step of the way without taking over the driver’s seat. They should inform you but not overwhelm you.

Our recommended real estate Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) are just the ticket to take the stress out of your home sale. ELPs are professional real estate agents who have earned Dave’s endorsement because of their track record of success and excellent customer service.

Buying a home in Canada

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has two guides to help you when planning to buy a home:

Looking for a home

Before you shop for a home, you’ll want to plan ahead for the costs of owning a home. Costs will include:

  • heating
  • property taxes
  • home repairs

To search for a home to buy:

  • visit the Realtor.ca® website
  • visit areas where new homes are being built
  • read the new homes section in newspapers or real estate magazines
  • tell friends, family and work colleagues that you’re looking for a house
  • visit real estate websites for information and photographs on different homes
  • drive around a neighbourhood that you like and look for “For Sale” signs

Real estate agents

A real estate agent can help you find and buy a home. They will:

  • listen to your needs
  • arrange for home visits
  • arrange a professional home inspection
  • help you get a good price

To find a real estate agent:

  • ask your bank and people you know if they know a real estate agent
  • look for the names of real estate agents on “For Sale” signs in neighbourhoods you like
  • visit the Find a REALTOR® search section on the Canadian Real Estate Association website

Making an offer

Once you’ve found a home, it’s time to make an “offer to purchase.” If you’re using a real estate agent, they will help you make the offer.

If your offer of purchase is accepted, you’ll need to hire a lawyer or notary to transfer your home to your name. You can find one online or ask your real estate agent.

Financing your home

Most homebuyers need a mortgage loan to purchase their home. You can get a mortgage loan from:

  • banks
  • other financial institutions, like:
    • credit unions
    • caisses populaire
    • insurance companies

You pay back a mortgage through regular payments over a period of time. This is usually up to 25 years. You’ll be charged interest to borrow this money.

Read more information on mortgages on the CMHC website.

Down payment and mortgage loan insurance

The amount of your mortgage is the price of the home minus the amount of your down payment. If the down payment is less than 20 per cent of the price of your new home, you may need mortgage loan insurance.

Mortgage loan insurance protects the bank or financial institution if you can’t pay back the mortgage. It also lets you get a mortgage for a lower down payment and a lower interest rate.

Ask your bank or financial institution about mortgage loan insurance.

Credit score and history

A good credit history is very important when you’re trying to get a mortgage. As a newcomer to Canada, you may not have a credit history that Canadian banks recognize.

If you want to buy a home, you should start getting a new credit history as early as possible. Speak with your banker about making a plan to start a credit history.

Home inspection

If you make an offer on a house, you should make your offer with the condition that the home must pass a professional home inspection. This lets you cancel or change your offer if the inspector finds serious problems with the house.

A home inspector makes detailed inspections of properties (for a fee). They’ll give you a report that you and your real estate agent can review. You can decide if the home needs repairs that affect the price you agree to pay.

To find an accredited home inspector, see:

Other forms of housing

Government-assisted housing

Governments can help if you have low incomes that make it hard to afford the cost of a home.

New immigrants or refugees are can move into subsidized homes, but your name will be put on a waiting list. You can’t add your name to a waiting list before you arrive in Canada.

When you arrive in Canada, ask an immigrant-serving organization in your city or town about local subsidized housing.

Co-op housing

Co-op housing is a group of apartments or houses that:

  • often have lower than average rent costs
  • expect you to help manage and maintain the co-op
  • are owned and managed by the members who live in them

Post-secondary student housing

Most universities and colleges can give you information about on-campus and off-campus housing. Contact the housing department of the university or college you plan to attend.

Emergency housing

Emergency housing (sometimes called “shelters”) is a short-term place for people who are homeless or in crisis. It’s a safe place where you can get basic necessities such as:

Emergency housing is helpful if you:


  • get evicted from your home
  • are without a place to sleep
  • are at risk of being abused if you stay in your home

Staff and volunteers at shelters can help you get:

  • support and information
  • legal advice
  • financial help
  • a new place to live

In case you didn’t have time to pack, they also have:

If you’re being abused, the shelter staff won’t tell the person who abused you where you are.

Telephone numbers for shelters are usually listed in the first few pages of the telephone book with other emergency numbers.

You can also call a shelter for advice without having to tell them your name. Some staff members speak different languages or can have an interpreter help.

Housing for seniors

There are assisted housing options for seniors in Canada. These include government-funded and private residences for seniors.

How to Find Open Houses: A Gu >

Whether you’re intent on buying a home or just curious, hitting up open houses is probably the most fun part of house hunting. It can help you get the lay of the land when it comes to scouring the real estate market.

Every weekend, hundreds of homes for sale open their doors so prospective buyers can pop in, check out the property, and get an up-close view of their potential future homes.

But how do you find them? And aside from ooohing and ahhing over backyard pools, charming foyers, and spacious walk-in closets, what should you do while you have the chance to really view a property?

Related Articles

Keep these tips in mind to make the most of your open house visiting spree.

How to find open houses

Try any or all of these techniques to zero in on your dream home, and find out when its doors will be open for a look-see:

  • Do an onlinesearch. We have to toot our own horn here! Not only can you peruse for-sale listings on realtor.com®, you can find info on upcoming open houses, too. Just click the «open house» box under the More Filters tab, where you can select the size and type of home you’d like to visit, and even whether it has a pool or other amenities you can’t do without.
  • Find listings on your phone. Yup, realtor.com has an app for that, too. Filter your search for real estate listings with open houses, and you’ll get an actual map of properties in your area with upcoming open houses. Tap on each one for times the house will be open and other specifics.
  • Use Instagram and other social media. Simply search #openhouse plus your city on Instagram, and you’ll find plenty of real estate listings with gorgeous pictures of homes that will be open for your viewing pleasure.
    «I also like to keep an eye on Realtor® signs in my area and find their personal Instagram accounts,» says Alexander Ali, founder of the Society Group PR firm, who has put on some memorable open houses.
    «Most agents have personal accounts, and they’re great to use as a communication tool. Follow and direct-message them! It’s faster than an email, and they check their social constantly.»
  • Look for the signs. Even in today’s digital world, where you can find hundreds of listings in seconds, plenty of smart real estate agents still stake «Open House» signs in front of properties for sale in hopes of attracting potential buyers. Drive or walk around a neighborhood you like, and see if there are signs or posters about upcoming open houses. Make a note of the date and time so you can plan a route of all the houses your want to view. Also check your mail for open house mailers, and keep an eye out for real estate fliers in local establishments. Once you look around, you’ll see that sellers and real estate agents are practically popping out of bushes, begging you to stop by their open houses.
  • Visit local real estate offices. If you’re not ready to commit to working with one buyer’s agent, consider popping in to a few realty offices in your target area and asking what open houses they have coming up. It can be a great way to find listings and get a feel for which real estate agent you might want to work with in the future.
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How to make the most of open houses

It’s easy to wander aimlessly through home after home, swooning over chef’s kitchens, double-vanity bathrooms, and built-in bookshelves. However, if you arrive at an open house with a game plan, you’ll get much more out of it.

Here are some tips to maximize your time when perusing a for-sale property:

  • Plan your path. Open houses tend to congregate on the weekend, so if you want to hit many of them or just cut down on running the roads, it’s best to plot them out on a map, with the times they’re open, to visualize the best order to tackle them. If you’re walking from one to the other in the same neighborhood, be sure to wear comfortable shoes!
  • Take photos. After you view lots of houses, they might start to blur together. Therefore it’s a great idea to «chronicle» your open house journey with a series of photos from each open house, plus notes, so when you’re reviewing them later you can remember what you liked and disliked about each property.
    Just jot quick first impressions, like «spacious kitchen,» «unique floor plan,» «dated cabinetry,» or «worn carpet in bedrooms.» At each house, start with a photo of the exterior and a flier that includes the listing details, so you can identify it easily when you’re reviewing the pictures later.
  • Think beyond the home you’re in. Chat with the real estate agent about the neighborhood, not just the house. Sizing up bedrooms and imagining your monogrammed towels in the bathroom are fun open house activities, but be sure to think beyond the house itself.
    Consider school zones, drive times to your most frequent destinations, and the upkeep of surrounding roads.
    «If the home isn’t something you like, they probably have others they could show you,» says Ali. «If you don’t like that house but you like the Realtor and aren’t working with anyone yet, tell them so and ask what else they have. Try not to leave an open house without at least one new phone number or listing idea, and soon you’ll find the right place for you.»
    But beware of engaging anyone as a dual agent.

Is A Real Estate Open House Necessary To Sell Homes?

December 30, 2013 By Bill Gassett

Does A Real Estate Open House Work?

Do real estate open houses work to sell a home? When you are trying to sell your home, it is natural to pull out all the stops. It may be the biggest sale of your life, and you want to do everything you can to make it happen.

This may mean renovations, hiring a reputable Realtor and maybe even a public open house. But, you should be aware that when it comes to putting on a public open house, you might be wasting your time.

With less than 2% of homes selling from open houses nationwide, the efforts of you and your Realtor may be better spent elsewhere. Yes, you read that correctly, a mere 2 percent of all homes are due to a public open house!

On any given weekend, you can probably drive around the surrounding neighborhoods and discover numerous open houses. Some Realtor’s make putting on a Real Estate open house part of their selling strategy, and many sellers are glad to jump on board with any effort that may help sell their home.

If you spend some time in these open houses, though, you will eventually realize that most of the people walking through the door are anything but targeted buyers.

If you are lucky, a Real Estate open house draws lookers, but often they are the wrong type. Some of these may include:

  • Your Neighbors – You may love your neighbors, or you may have never spoken two words to them. Either way, you can expect your open house to draw them in. They are probably curious to see how you live and perhaps to compare their homes with yours. Your open house also offers up an incredibly convenient diversion on a lazy Sunday. They are not prospective buyers, but an open door is too hard to resist – especially when it’s right across the street. Real Estate open houses are notorious for having the busy bee in your neighborhood stop by.
  • The Dreamer – The fact that your home is listed for $500,000 does not mean the people walking through the door can afford this amount. Because there is no pressure to buy or any screening process, many of the people who come to look will not have the finances to afford your home. Everyone has the right to dream of a nicer, bigger, better home, and your open house gives them the chance to do just that. If you don’t mind unqualified buyers strolling around your place then, by all means, have an open house but be forewarned you can expect these people to show up.
  • The Burglar – Every open house may not draw in potential criminals, but you should be aware that leaving your home open all day to strangers could attract burglars. If you are lucky, and the open house has decent attendance, your Realtor is not going to be able to watch every person at all times. It creates a ripe environment for someone to lift some of your valuables. Additionally, it also allows people to look around your home unsupervised and to devise the best way into your home when nobody is there. If you do hold an open house, make sure to make a thorough inspection of your home after it is over to ensure all possible entrances are secure.
  • The Idea Person – This person is on the hunt for >The Professional Looker – Much like the garage or yard sale shopper, this person spends many Sundays out looking at houses. Homes can be impressive, and it is a free way to do something fun. Your “Open House” sign will draw these people in without fail. These guys may tell you right away they are not looking for a home but saw the sign and thought they would just come in and take a look.

So when people ask do open houses work? My answer is always the same – they are entirely unnecessary to sell a home. An open house is almost always one big waste of time for the seller.

Who Benefits From An Open House?

The real advantages of an open house are for your real estate agent. This, of course, is something that many Realtor’s will categorically deny. They may even tell you at the listing interview that a public open house is a big part of their marketing activities.

Real Estate agents that talk up open houses want you to believe they are necessary. They will try to convince you that if you don’t have them your home will not be selling anytime soon. Don’t buy it!

While it is possible that a buyer will swing by your house on a Sunday and realize it is perfect, the odds of this happening are dramatically low.

Most of the time the open house is more of an opportunity for your Realtor to drum up potential business. Some of the benefits to your Realtor include:

  • Meet the Neighbors – Being a successful Realtor requires making connections, and an open house is a potential place to do this. There is an excellent chance your neighbors will stop by for a chat, and this allows the Realtor to establish rapport with them. When they want to sell in the future, your Realtor will be one of the people they might cons >Meet Buyers – Just because the unqualified buyers that come into your home cannot afford your property does not mean they are not potential buyers of other properties. The Realtor is probably selling multiple homes, one of which could be an excellent fit for the visitors to your open house. While selling your home is unlikely, an open house is the perfect prospecting activity for a Realtor.
  • Look Busy – Many of the things a Realtor does to sell a home happens behind the scenes. Real Estate open houses are one way for a Realtor to look like he or she is working hard for the seller. You see how much time your Realtor spends prepping your home and talking to those that come through the house, and you feel better about paying them for their work.


Quite honestly there are also some weak agents that just don’t know how to explain in person what I am telling you about open houses quite openly and honestly right now.

Many Real Estate agents will agree to do an open house for fear that if they say NO, you will hire a different Realtor instead. Sad but true! An exceptional Realtor who sells a ton of homes will never give you this advice.

In fact, I will go out on a limb and tell you there are very few Realtor’s who have ever sold triple digit homes in a year who have open houses as a marketing strategy. There are far more productive things an agent can do than wasting this kind of time on a Sunday afternoon.

When conducting a listing interview with a potential seller client, I explain right up front about open houses and the expectations of results they deliver. I also explain that I do not personally provide this service. If a seller cannot be convinced it is not necessary and wants one, there are usually a few agents who will be happy to oblige.

After all, some agents have very little clientele and need open house opportunities to drum up business. Does a Real Estate open house sound like they work so far? Hopefully, you are realizing by now that an open house is completely unnecessary to sell a home!

Why Real Estate Companies Push Open Houses

Do you often wonder why you so see many open house signs all around town on a Sunday afternoon? There is one word that will answer that question for you. It’s call BRANDING! Real Estate companies love to push their agents to do open houses.

If you own a Century 21, Coldwell Banker or any other real estate company for that matter, who wouldn’t want to have free advertising splattered all over town?

There are plenty of people that will hire a company to do business with just because they have seen their signs. The hiring of the company doesn’t necessarily take place immediately, but over time if a sign becomes ingrained in your mind, you may end up calling them.

The owner of the real estate company can be doing his or her own thing on a Sunday while an army of agents is out promoting the business name via an open house.

It makes little difference if the home sells that day or not. An open house creates a perception that the company is “working for you.” Keep in mind that the whole point is whether or not an open house is necessary to sell your home, not whether the agents need to be showing you they are doing something for the money they earn. I can think of a lot better marketing activities than sitting in an open house for 2-3 hours on a Sunday.

A Couple of Exceptions To The Open Home Rule

Builders Showcasing Their Product

There is one circumstance where having regular open houses does make sense, and that is a builder showcasing his product in a new development. Having Real Estate open houses for a builder is different than trying to sell a resale property because the builder needs to showcase their designs, options and the level of quality in their product.

Builders quite often have “model homes” whereas a buyer you can walk through and see what the builder offers. Typically you will be able to see the different models he can build for you for X amount of dollars, along with all the including options and any upgrades that are offered.

A public open house is a perfect way of doing this. A large number of people can walk through, and there are fewer security issues as most of the contents in the home are just more substantial pieces of furniture and not the type of items someone scoping the joint would be looking to heist.

Hot Sellers Market

Another potential strategy where a public open house can benefit a seller is when you are in an extreme seller’s market. If your local Multiple Listing (MLS) board allows it one of the better strategies you can employ is to list a home for sale at the beginning of the week.

In the showing instructions, you let everyone know that the home cannot be viewed until the open house on Sunday. What does this do for a seller? It creates a situation that is ripe for a bidding war.

By listing the home early in the week, all the buyers who are actively looking and would otherwise be scheduling showings with their agent are not able to see the home until the open house. The house gets exposure, and the excitement builds until everyone can view the home all at once on Sunday. Of course, when the market is really hot, and there are tons of people trampling over one another in the house, it sets up the perfect condition for a seller who in many circumstances will receive multiple offers. Will this work in a buyer’s market – not so much.

Convenience

Does having an open house make it convenient for a buyer to look at homes? Sure without question. The looker/buyer does not have to call a Realtor and schedule an appointment. Open houses create a situation where potential customers can go at their leisure during a specified window of time.

Some buyers who are in the initial stages of looking may feel like they don’t want to waste a Real Estate agents time. Some buyers who are in the early stages of looking may not be comfortable committing to working with a particular Realtor either. The open house allows them to look at homes in a noncommittal fashion.

For Sale By Owner

Another circumstance, where an open house may be of benefit, is when a seller has opted to try to sell their home as a for sale by owner property. While going For sale by owner is typically not the best way to sell a home, there are some that can not afford to pay a Realtor.

For some sellers who are not around during the week for regularly scheduled showings an open house allows them a better opportunity to get foot traffic through the home.

There are probably a few Realtor’s snickering right now, as they know this is the kiss of death – Going for sale by owner and then to top it off not making it convenient for a buyer to look at the property.

Real Estate Open Houses Are Rarely Necessary

The bottom line is you do not need to have an open house to sell a home. The reality of an open house is that almost all of the benefits go to the Realtor and few to the seller.

There is always an off chance that the open house will result in a sale, but it is not likely. Much of what makes a home sell for a reasonable price happens behind the scenes and is what keeps a good Realtor putting in so much work for his or her clients.

Far more important than the promise of an open house is the reputation of your real estate agent. You can hold an open house or not, but it is more important to focus on the number of sales your agent completes each year, and how he or she is viewed in the industry.

A good agent knows how to sell homes and is someone you can trust, even if you do not see what he or she does on a day-to-day basis.

The most significant take home message about real estate open houses is this – It is really silly to think that a ready willing and able buyer is going pass up scheduling a showing with a Realtor on your property if they are interested in seeing it!

Folks don’t ever be foolish enough to believe that a buyer who is in the market to buy a home is going to say to themselves “if they don’t have an open house this weekend I am buying elsewhere!” Difficult to believe right? That’s because it doesn’t work that way.

Do open houses sell homes? Hopefully, by now you have figured out the answer is very rarely!

Other Real Estate Open House Resources:

  • Is an open house a waste of time? by MSN Real Estate. Most of the opinions expressed say that real estate open houses do not work.
  • Realtors that think open house do work by Realtor Magazine. See some example of how to improve open house results if you do give it a go.

Use these additional resources to understand why an open house does not work to sell a home. The benefits to an open house go to your Realtor who needs them to prospect for business!

Are you thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

How to Sell a House

If you’re like most homeowners, your house is your biggest financial asset. It also holds great sentimentality. You probably have countless memories there, and you’ve spent time, money and effort making it a special place.

Selling your house is a big deal, so it’s okay to be cautious about it. Just remember, if selling is the right thing for you and your family, it’s worth it!

If you’re ready to make a move, you want to do it the smart way. This article will help you learn how to sell your house quickly and for the most money.

Are You Ready to Sell Your House?

Selling a house is a big decision, and it’s important to make sure you’re ready. Before we get to the steps about how to sell your house, take our simple quiz to find out if you’re actually ready to take the plunge.

Whether you’re a few months or several years away from putting a For Sale sign in your front yard, it’s important to know what to expect. Selling your house and moving is a big transition to make, but it doesn’t need to be a stressful experience. Learn how to sell a house the right way with these seven steps!

Find expert agents to help you sell your home.

How to Sell A House

1. Find a stellar real estate agent.

Real estate agents are a dime a dozen. That’s why you don’t need just any agent. You need the right agent. Find someone who will super-serve you, negotiate the best deal, and sell your house fast! As tempting as it is to have a relative, a friend from church, or your cousin’s husband’s buddy help you, always stick with a vetted professional who has experience and can sell your home for the most money in the shortest amount of time!

Can I sell my house myself?

Look, everybody loves saving money, and selling solo can seem like a great way to do just that. But is For Sale by Owner (FSBO) really all it’s cracked up to be? First of all, if you really want to sell your home, you need to get it in front of buyers—and lots of them. This is where an agent comes in handy.

An experienced real estate agent will give your home a much-needed online presence through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which will expose it to thousands of potential buyers. Plus, an agent will develop a targeted strategy to market your house to their extensive network of buyers and agents.

Can you save big money by going FSBO? Not really. Even when you sell your home yourself, you still have to pay a commission to the buyer’s agent. You’d only save the commission on one side of the transaction.

A great agent will more than make up for that cost. Consider this: The latest National Association of Realtors data shows that the average home sold by an agent last year brought in $249,000. In contrast, the average FSBO home went for $190,000. (1) That’s almost a $60,000 difference!

Trust us; working with a great real estate agent helps you get the most money for your home.

2. Price your home to sell.


Remember this: Your home is only worth what buyers are willing to pay. Therefore, you need to think objectively about your home’s value. If you’ve lived in your home long enough to make memories, those sentimental ties could cloud your judgment. So, stick to the facts as much as possible when you estimate how much your home could sell for.

The best way to determine your home’s value is to ask a real estate agent to run a comparative market analysis (CMA). This free report compares your home to other homes near you that are comparable in size, have similar features, are currently on the market, or have sold in recent months. The comparison allows your agent to more accurately predict what buyers will pay for your home.

Your CMA will offer several pages of information, including photos and a map of all the properties in the analysis. A true pro will take time to walk you through the results so you understand exactly how your home stacks up against the competition. With this information in hand, you can work with your agent to set a competitive price that’s based on fact, not emotion.

3. Set a home-selling timeline.

Make the most of the weeks and months leading up to your home sale. If you have an idea of when you want to list your house, break your to-do list into manageable bite-size pieces. Here’s a guide to get you started. Of course, you can adjust according to your own needs and personal timeline.

  • Interview real estate agents: Take time to find a pro who has a proven track record and confidence to boot.
  • Outline a plan: Work with your agent to set priorities so you can focus on finishing one task at a time.
  • Declutter: Decide what you can live without until your home sells. Then pack it up and get it out!
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2–3 months

  • Hire a home inspector: Identifying issues early in the home-sellling process lets you work the cost of repairs into your budget on the front end so they don’t wreck your deal later.
  • Tackle repairs: Ask your agent where your fix-it dollars will do the most good.

1–2 months

  • Set the stage: Create an inviting space that lets buyers see your house as their home.

1 week

  • Deep clean: Scrub every surface until it shines. Hire a pro to make carpets and rugs look—and smell—new again.
  • Apply finishing touches: Get your home picture-perfect so your photographer can capture it in the best possible condition.

Again, the key to keeping stress at bay during the weeks and months leading up to putting your home on the market is to make a plan—and then follow that plan. Working with a pro can help you relax and understand the selling process so you have realistic expectations.

4. Consider getting a home inspection before listing.

Most home buyers know it pays to get a home inspection. But did you realize it’s a worthwhile tool for home sellers too? It’s true!

A presale inspection might cost a few hundred dollars, but it’ll be money well spent. Why? Because it can keep buyers from demanding big bucks during negotiations.

So, what’s included in a home inspection?

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), a home inspection incudes:

  • Electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems
  • Windows, ceilings, walls, doors and floors
  • Attic, visible insulation and roof
  • Foundation, structural elements and basement (2)

A qualified home inspector combs a property’s accessible areas to assess the home’s condition and identify any health and safety issues. Once the inspection is complete, you’ll receive a detailed report outlining what works and what doesn’t, with recommendations for maintenance and repairs.

Don’t worry about addressing every single finding in your home inspection, but you should pay attention to big-ticket issues. These can scare buyers into asking for way more money than it actually takes to fix them. Your agent can help you sort through the inspection findings, but the roof, electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems typically take priority. If you have room in your budget, see to those before you list your home.

5. Stage your house and get it ready for potential buyers.

Once your home is in good working order, it’s time to set the stage and show off its best features. That starts with a deep cleaning. Here are some ways to make your house look great.

  • Scrub every surface until it sparkles. We can’t emphasize this enough! You need to polish your home and keep it clean during showings.
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint. It might take some time, but it’s time well spent. Plus, paint is relatively cheap considering the impact it has on making a home look fresh and inviting.
  • Pay a professional to deep clean rugs and carpets.
  • Minimize clutter to maximize space.

Once you have a clean home, you can begin to stage. Keep your décor colors neutral and try to depersonalize as much as possible. Take down most of your family photos so buyers can imagine their families enjoying your house. Closets are always important to home buyers, so create the impression of spaciousness by storing away out-of-season clothing and miscellaneous gear.

Don’t forget to stage outdoors too. Clean your front porch and place nice planters near your entryway. If you have a deck, pressure wash it and add a few colorful plants to give the space an extra pop.

Make sure your home is ready for photos. Professional shots that show off your house’s features are an essential part of your online listing. Your agent should help coordinate the photo shoot, so that’s less pressure on you. Here are a few additional staging tips to get your home prepared for its glamour shot:

  • Stay organized. Again, a tidy home is nonnegotiable. Channel your inner Mr. Clean or Snow White and whistle while you work if you have to. Just clean up the place.
  • Pick up the toys and pet stuff. Babies and puppies sell breakfast cereal but not homes. Keep the kid clutter and pet supplies under wraps.
  • Add extra touches. A pair of decorative pillows or a few green plants will add life to any room.
  • Clear the counters. Throw your juicer and blender in the kitchen cabinet. The same goes for your bathrooms. Pitch those personal items in a drawer to keep them out-of-sight.
  • Add more lighting. Bright rooms make your home look bigger. Open the curtains, pull up the blinds, and let the sunshine in! But before you do all that, be sure to devote time to washing your windows. In spaces that don’t get much natural light, a well-placed lamp can make a big difference!
  • Go easy on the rugs. Rugs generally don’t photograph well, and they can make your space look smaller. Your agent can help you decide which rugs can stay and which ones should go.
  • Put a lid on it. Your toilet, that is. Friends don’t let friends leave the lid up during a nice photo shoot.

Keep in mind, staging should bring out the positives of your house without overwhelming potential buyers. When in doubt, less is more. The right real estate agent can help you know the difference between good and gaudy staging.

6. List your home and survive the showings.

Home showings are hard to juggle regardless of whether your home is empty or full of kids. If you’re still living in the home you’re trying to sell, these handy tips can help you stay sane and get your home sold.

Tip #1: Make a daily to-do list.

Surprise showings always seem to happen when your home is a complete wreck. Reduce last-minute panic by putting things away as soon as you’re done with them and creating a checklist of simple tasks to knock out before you leave every morning. That way, you’ll always be ready for guests.

Tip #2: Find a place for your pets during showings.

Man’s best friend can be your home deal’s worst enemy. Leaving pets home for showings can get messy, and a yap-happy dog is just plain annoying. Take the fur babies for a joyride or send them to Grandma’s house so buyers can focus on your home’s best features.

Tip #3: Try to be flexible.

Separating yourself from the place you’ve called home can be hard. But if you want to make a deal, you’ve got to give buyers time and space to fall in love with your home. Be flexible about scheduling showings, and don’t make buyers step around you—or your feelings—when they visit.

Tip #4: Tackle the toys.

Paring down the piles of plastic is a tough task, but it sure does make cleanup a breeze. Ask your kids to choose a few favorite toys to keep in their rooms, and then store the rest in bins. Be sure to explain to them that they’ll see their toys again. If they get bored with their selections, you can always rotate toys in and out.

Tip #5: Enlist help from the kids.

Want to ease your load? Give Junior a job to do! It’s a great way to teach the value of hard work. Have a little fun and build big motivation by running timed practice drills. Don’t forget to recognize a job well done. If you can’t spare extra cash, quality time spent with you works too!

Do the best you can, but remember, you’re only human. There will be days you just can’t get everything put away and make it out the door on time. If you get a call for a showing, tell your agent you were running behind so they can prepare the buyer ahead of time. Just don’t miss an opportunity to get your home seen!

7. Negotiate the contract and close.

Negotiations between you (the seller) and the buyer kick off with the buyer’s initial offer. Keep in mind the contract stage works differently in every state, so your agent should explain those details in terms you understand. Never sign a purchase agreement before you’re clear about what is and is not included in the offer—and how it affects you.

Pay close attention to these details:

  • Purchase price
  • Closing or escrow date
  • Special allowances for personal property, home improvements and closing costs
  • Contingency deadlines for the home inspection, appraisal and buyer financing
  • Additional contingencies such as the sale of the buyer’s current home


Once you and the buyer reach a final purchase agreement, you won’t be sitting pretty quite yet. There’s still a lot to do from contract to closing, so here are some quick tips to help you manage this stage of the game:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to pack.
  • Communicate with your buyer.
  • Keep your home insurance up-to-date until you’ve signed the dotted line.
  • Make a list of what to bring on closing day.
  • Remain flexible because delays can, and will, happen.

How Long Does It Take to Sell Your Home?

There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to how long it will take to sell your home. The average time on the market for 2020 is currently around 60 days—the time from when the home is listed to when it closes. (3) Keep in mind that number is just an average. How long it actually takes to sell your house depends on the real estate trends in your area and the particulars of your home.

Here are some of the factors that can impact your home-selling timeline:

  • The hot (or not) nature of your real estate market. If you live in an area with a hot market, you can typically expect your home to sell faster than in markets where buyer demand is low.
  • The season. If you want to maximize your sale price and decrease the time your home is on the market, listing your home in late spring is going to be your best bet. But that’s not true for every home or market. And ultimately, the best time to sell your house is when it’s the right time for you.
  • Your home’s location, location, location. Details like what school your home is zoned for, which neighborhood the house is in, and how close your home is located to restaurants and shopping can also affect how long it takes to sell.
  • Your home’s price point. Larger, more expensive homes can take longer to sell because the pool of buyers is smaller. (4)
  • The time it takes to get your home sell-ready. If you decide to take on some updates or repairs to your home before listing, your selling timeline will be longer.
  • The closing process. If your buyers are getting a mortgage, the closing date is dependent on their financing. Your closing could also be delayed by home inspection or appraisal issues.

Remember, these are just some of the factors that can affect how long it takes to sell your house. You can talk to your real estate agent about what a realistic timeline is for your specific home.

How Much Does It Cost to Sell Your House?

Even though you’ll be making money from the sale of your home, there are some costs you have to pay in the process. How much you end up paying start to finish depends on the sale price of your home, what repairs you have to take care of, and how much it takes to get your home ready to list.

Here are some of the costs you may need to prepare for:

  • Real estate commission. As the seller, you’ll be responsible for paying the real estate commission, which is split between the buyer’s agent and your listing agent. Usually that commission is 6% of the home’s sale price.
  • Staging your home. As you’re preparing to list your house, you could spend some money getting your house staged or investing in some new décor to give your space a fresh look.
  • Repairs or maintenance. You may decide to take care of some repairs, like fixing a leaky faucet or painting those scuffed baseboards, before you list your home. Or if the home buyer does a home inspection, they may ask you to do some repairs before closing.
  • Fees negotiated in the contract. As part of your purchase and sale agreement, the buyer may ask you to cover a portion of the closing costs, title insurance or other fees.

Sell Your House Faster With a Professional Agent

The best way to have a great experience selling your home is to partner with a professional agent. The right agent should guide you every step of the way without taking over the driver’s seat. They should inform you but not overwhelm you.

Our recommended real estate Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) are just the ticket to take the stress out of your home sale. ELPs are professional real estate agents who have earned Dave’s endorsement because of their track record of success and excellent customer service.

Buying a home in Canada

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has two guides to help you when planning to buy a home:

Looking for a home

Before you shop for a home, you’ll want to plan ahead for the costs of owning a home. Costs will include:

  • heating
  • property taxes
  • home repairs

To search for a home to buy:

  • visit the Realtor.ca® website
  • visit areas where new homes are being built
  • read the new homes section in newspapers or real estate magazines
  • tell friends, family and work colleagues that you’re looking for a house
  • visit real estate websites for information and photographs on different homes
  • drive around a neighbourhood that you like and look for “For Sale” signs

Real estate agents

A real estate agent can help you find and buy a home. They will:

  • listen to your needs
  • arrange for home visits
  • arrange a professional home inspection
  • help you get a good price

To find a real estate agent:

  • ask your bank and people you know if they know a real estate agent
  • look for the names of real estate agents on “For Sale” signs in neighbourhoods you like
  • visit the Find a REALTOR® search section on the Canadian Real Estate Association website

Making an offer

Once you’ve found a home, it’s time to make an “offer to purchase.” If you’re using a real estate agent, they will help you make the offer.

If your offer of purchase is accepted, you’ll need to hire a lawyer or notary to transfer your home to your name. You can find one online or ask your real estate agent.

Financing your home

Most homebuyers need a mortgage loan to purchase their home. You can get a mortgage loan from:

  • banks
  • other financial institutions, like:
    • credit unions
    • caisses populaire
    • insurance companies

You pay back a mortgage through regular payments over a period of time. This is usually up to 25 years. You’ll be charged interest to borrow this money.

Read more information on mortgages on the CMHC website.

Down payment and mortgage loan insurance

The amount of your mortgage is the price of the home minus the amount of your down payment. If the down payment is less than 20 per cent of the price of your new home, you may need mortgage loan insurance.

Mortgage loan insurance protects the bank or financial institution if you can’t pay back the mortgage. It also lets you get a mortgage for a lower down payment and a lower interest rate.

Ask your bank or financial institution about mortgage loan insurance.

Credit score and history

A good credit history is very important when you’re trying to get a mortgage. As a newcomer to Canada, you may not have a credit history that Canadian banks recognize.

If you want to buy a home, you should start getting a new credit history as early as possible. Speak with your banker about making a plan to start a credit history.

Home inspection

If you make an offer on a house, you should make your offer with the condition that the home must pass a professional home inspection. This lets you cancel or change your offer if the inspector finds serious problems with the house.

A home inspector makes detailed inspections of properties (for a fee). They’ll give you a report that you and your real estate agent can review. You can decide if the home needs repairs that affect the price you agree to pay.

To find an accredited home inspector, see:

Other forms of housing

Government-assisted housing

Governments can help if you have low incomes that make it hard to afford the cost of a home.

New immigrants or refugees are can move into subsidized homes, but your name will be put on a waiting list. You can’t add your name to a waiting list before you arrive in Canada.

When you arrive in Canada, ask an immigrant-serving organization in your city or town about local subsidized housing.

Co-op housing

Co-op housing is a group of apartments or houses that:

  • often have lower than average rent costs
  • expect you to help manage and maintain the co-op
  • are owned and managed by the members who live in them

Post-secondary student housing

Most universities and colleges can give you information about on-campus and off-campus housing. Contact the housing department of the university or college you plan to attend.

Emergency housing

Emergency housing (sometimes called “shelters”) is a short-term place for people who are homeless or in crisis. It’s a safe place where you can get basic necessities such as:

Emergency housing is helpful if you:

  • get evicted from your home
  • are without a place to sleep
  • are at risk of being abused if you stay in your home

Staff and volunteers at shelters can help you get:

  • support and information
  • legal advice
  • financial help
  • a new place to live

In case you didn’t have time to pack, they also have:

If you’re being abused, the shelter staff won’t tell the person who abused you where you are.

Telephone numbers for shelters are usually listed in the first few pages of the telephone book with other emergency numbers.

You can also call a shelter for advice without having to tell them your name. Some staff members speak different languages or can have an interpreter help.

Housing for seniors

There are assisted housing options for seniors in Canada. These include government-funded and private residences for seniors.

Do Open Houses Sell Homes?

What’s Really Going on at an Open House

Getty Images/Steve Debenport

An open house doesn’t hurt a home’s chances of selling, but whether it’s actually the pivotal factor that sells the house is debatable. It’s not unthinkable to make a sale at an open house, but it is unlikely for a few reasons.

It’s unlikely that the open house will draw much of a crowd unless the seller’s home is located in an extremely popular neighborhood with busy streets nearby. It’s possible that a buyer who cruised through might come back later to buy, but that probably would have happened even without the open house.

Are the Visitors Active Homebuyers?

Most buyers who are seriously shopping for a home are working with real estate agents. They’ll contact an agent when they make the decision to buy a property, and they’ll get listings from their agents as new properties come on the market.

Their agents take these active homebuyers to look at homes. They get private tours. They’ve generally already seen the house by the time it’s held open.

Agents will sometimes put homes on the market with instructions that no showings will be allowed before the date of the open house, but this happens more in seller’s markets. It’s not the norm.

Typical Open House Guests: «Lookie-Loos»

In some neighborhoods, the only people who go to an open house are those who live nearby. Lookie-loos from outside the neighborhood might just love checking out other people’s homes, and they’ll spend their afternoons doing just that.

Agents hope that neighbors will come by so they can talk to them and find out if they’re interested in selling their own homes.

Some agents go to great lengths to showcase an open house. You might see colored helium balloons and ribbons attached to the «for sale» sign out front. The agent’s personalized real estate signs are often set up at major intersections to direct traffic and to get the agent’s name out there in the public’s eye.

Some visitors might be people who are drawn in by all this. Again, they’re just curious. They’re not necessarily in the market to buy a home.

Other Agents

Agents with whom the seller didn’t list might stop by to see how the agent who did get the listing has prepared the home for sale.

Other agents who didn’t have time during the week to see the home might stop by to introduce themselves and to check out the property to determine if it fits the criteria of any of their clients.

First-Time Homebuyers

Many first-time homebuyers start by touring open houses to figure out which neighborhoods they might prefer and what kind of house they might want to buy. It gives them good ideas for when they’re ready. which is probably not now.

These visitors are generally on reconnaissance missions.

Thieves—The Worst-Case Scenario

What better way for a burglar or thief to case a home than to attend an open house? They can examine the goodies they might want to stuff into an empty pillowcase in the middle of the night, as well as look for signs of security.

Tuck away certain items of property if you’re contemplating opening your home to the public. Yes, your agent and others will be present, but they can’t be in all rooms at once.

You’ll obviously want to remove anything that’s valuable, but don’t overlook things like prescription medications and any paperwork that includes your identifying information, particularly Social Security numbers.

These things have a way of «walking off» during open houses.

So Who Benefits? The Agent

Most real estate agents hold open houses for two reasons: to build the agent’s own business, and to make the seller happy.

Open houses are prime opportunities for agents to meet people, and their business depends on people. Visitors could be prospects for other properties somewhere down the road. Agents get the opportunity to meet future homebuyers who could become clients later.

When potential buyers pop in who aren’t interested in that particular home, the agent is hoping to impress them enough that perhaps they’ll be willing to work with them to find and buy another property.

The Bottom Line

The National Association of Realtors cites a 2020 study that shows that open houses might not be all bad news. These homes sell for $9,000 more on average, and they spend about a week less on the market. but no connection has been proven between the open house event and the sales.

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