Selling a home takes preparation, organization and professional marketing. This section will walk you through all the things you need to know to be fully prepared to sell your property, from understanding the market to choosing a REALTOR®.


Market Analysis

Local market conditions will have an impact on the amount you can get for your home – and on how quickly you can sell it. Buyer’s market – More homes on the market than buyers. Lots of competition from other sellers. Prices drop. Houses take longer to sell. Seller’s market – Lots of buyers. Not that many houses for sale. Prices increase. Homes sell quickly (just the market you want). Balanced market – Sellers accept reasonable offers. Homes sell within an acceptable time period. Prices are generally stable.

Pre-listing Preparation

To prepare your property for listing, take a look at your home with the eyes of a potential buyer. What’s your first impression? What needs to be cleaned, painted, repaired, or tossed out to make your house as attractive as possible? A small investment in repairs, decoration, and organization can add thousands of dollars to your property value. To find out the best ways to get your home ready for sale, take our Homeowner Quiz. It’s a quick, fun quiz that will analyze your homeownership style and give you advice on how to ensure your property appeals to more potential buyers.

Homeowner Quiz

What kind of homeowner are you?

Take the quiz and find out your personalized tips for preparing your home for sale.

1. After finishing your dinner do you:

  • a. Leave everything on the table and come back to clean up later.
  • b. Take the dishes off the table, put away the leftovers and pile the dishes in the sink or dishwasher for later.
  • c. Clean the table, put away the leftovers and wash the dishes right away.

2. Your home office has a desk that is:

  • a. Covered with papers, receipts and random objects.
  • b.A pile of stacks. There is enough free space to do your work and you can still find what you’re looking for.
  • c. Clean and neat. Everything has its place and papers are filed right away.

3. You’ve just finished your laundry, do you:

  • a. Leave the clothes in a pile on a chair. It’s easier to find them later this way.
  • b. Fold and put the clothes in any drawer with available space.
  • c. Fold and put away your clothes in their appropriate drawers.

4. In your household you have:

  • a. A dog or cat that is allowed indoors.
  • b. A smoker who often/always smokes indoors.
  • c. None of the above.

5. How do you accessorize your home?

  • a. I like to display personal mementos, souvenirs and family photos around my home.
  • b. I love decorative accessories and like to feature eclectic ethnic artifacts and antique items around my home.
  • c. I prefer clean and tidy surfaces and display few decorative or personal items around the house.

6. Which of the following best describes your home?

  • a. My home is eclectic and fun with bright colours and accessories throughout.
  • b. My home is traditional with warm paint colours and lots of dark wood.
  • c. My home is in a modern and simple style with neutral colours and few accessories.

7. Spring has arrived and your yard is in need of some maintenance, do you:

  • a. Rake the yard and generally get rid of debris.
  • b. Clean the yard of debris and mow the lawn.
  • c. Clean the yard of debris, mow the lawn, clear the weeds, apply fertilizer and plant new flowers.

8. Which best describes your home:

  • a. I haven’t had the time to properly decorate most of my home and a couple of the smaller rooms are used only for storage. Some minor repairs are still waiting to be done around the house.
  • b. The main areas of my home are decorated and furnished but I never got around to properly decorating and furnishing the basement or guestroom. Some minor repairs are still waiting to be fixed around the house.
  • c. I have taken the time to properly furnish and decorate every room. I have also undertaken several renovation projects throughout the years.

Give yourself a score of 1 for every “a”, a score of 3 for every “b”, and a score of 5 for every “c” answer. If your score is between 8 and 16, you need to roll up your sleeves and get working to prepare your home for sale. Based on your responses, your home will need deep cleaning and de-cluttering before showings start.

Deep clean your home making sure each room and surface is spotless. Make sure to remember your appliances and windows too.

Get rid of the clutter to allow buyers to properly see your home. Pack away unnecessary items and make sure counters and tables are free of appliances and personal items. If any rooms are used for storage alone, pack away the items and properly furnish the rooms. Don’t leave them empty as buyers will have a hard time visualizing living in a space without any furniture.

Put away collectibles and family photos to help de-personalize your home. Buyers will be able to imagine themselves in your space better without your personal items around.

Although your fun sense of décor and colour may suit your personality, go neutral for the sale. Adding a fresh coat of neutral paint and getting rid of unusual accessories will ensure that your home appeals to a larger pool of buyers.

If pets or a smoker reside in your home, remember that you probably won’t notice the smell if you’re around them all the time. Have a trusted friend give you an honest opinion and deep clean to get rid of the odour.

And lastly, don’t forget curb appeal. First impressions count, and buyers begin to form an opinion as soon as they pull into your driveway. Keep your yard neat and tidy with your lawn and shrubs trimmed, and flower beds weeded. Store away your children’s toys and garbage bins, and give the exterior of your home a good wash or a fresh coat of paint.

If your score is between 17 and 32, there are a few easy steps you can take to make your home more appealing to buyers.

Clean your home from top to bottom, making sure you pay special attention to kitchens and bathrooms. Make sure to de-clutter and reorganize your home. Remove any excess furniture to enhance the feel of openness and space. Storage space is a top priority for buyers, so clean and organize your closets and storage areas. Get rid of anything you don’t need and make sure your closets are not overflowing with items.

Brighten and lighten up your home with a fresh coat of neutral coloured paint. Soft neutrals such as pale yellows and grays can give a house a nice sophisticated look that appeals to most buyers. Store away your eclectic accessories and create more room on your counters and tabletops. Your unique items may be an expression of your personality but they might also make it hard for buyers to visualize themselves in the space.

And last but not least, fix that leaky faucet and any other minor repairs that you’ve been neglecting around the house.

If your score is between 33 and 40, your home is in top shape and will only need a little bit of work to bring in that sale.

One great way to stimulate buyers’ imaginations is to set the scene. Put fresh flowers on the mantle and set the dining room table for a formal dinner. If it’s a cold day, light a fire in the fireplace. Look at your home through the buyers’ eyes and create an atmosphere that will help them envision themselves living there.

To further enhance your home’s curb appeal, spruce up your flower beds with new flowers and ground cover to give the home additional touches of colour.

Selecting a Realtor

What makes a good Realtor?

Good Realtors will save you time and money. They know your community, what buyers want in a home, how to negotiate the best price, and how to close the deal.

Byron & Holly will:

  • Recommend a competitive price for your home
  • Develop a marketing strategy to bring in as many potential buyers as possible
  • Take care of all the details (so you don’t have to)
  • Advise you about your rights, options, and obligations
  • Negotiate to get you the best price and the best terms

How should I prepare to sell my home?

An attractive, well-maintained home sells quicker and for a higher price. When you prepare your home for sale, take a critical look at the exterior and interior of your property.

Interior Preparations

What should I do to the interior of my property, before I list it for sale?

Every room should look as spacious, bright, and warm as possible.

  • Wash walls, ceilings, and trim. Consider painting with light, neutral colours. Repair cracks.
  • Tighten loose knobs, towel racks, switch plates, and outlet covers.
  • Fix tight doors and windows, squeaky floorboards, and loose stair banisters.
  • Clean and repair caulking around tubs and sinks. Fix leaky faucets; remove water stains.
  • Clean and organize the basement and attic. (This is a good opportunity to throw out all the bits and pieces you don’t want to move.)
  • Organize closets. Get rid of the clutter. Limit the number of items stored overhead or on the floor.
  • Clean out kitchen cabinets, and remove clutter from countertops.
  • Clean drapes, blinds, and curtains. Shampoo carpets, and wax floors.
  • Now’s a good time to spray for bugs.
  • Arrange furniture to make rooms appear as spacious as possible.
  • Remove any items you’re taking with you, such as chandeliers and mirror.


What renovations will give me the greatest return when selling my property?

The top three renovations that get you the most money* are:

  1. Bathrooms (75 to 100% return)
  2. Kitchens (75 to 100% return)
  3. Interior and exterior painting (50 to 100% return)

*Appraisal Institute of Canada’s 2004 Home Renovation Survey

Other renovations and their average rate of return (the value they add compared to what they cost) include:

  • Replacing roof shingles (50 to 80%)
  • Replacing the furnace and heating system (50 to 80%)
  • Renovating the basement (50 to 75%)
  • Adding a recreation room (50 to 75%)
  • Installing a fire place (50 to 75%)
  • Up-grading floors (50 to 75%)
  • Building a garage (50 to 75%)
  • Replacing windows and doors (50 to 75%)
  • Building a deck (50 to 75%)
  • Installing central air conditioning (25 to 75%)

Curb Appeal

How important is the exterior look of my property?

First impressions really do count. If the impact of your curb appeal is strong, people will want to see what is inside.

  • Cut the lawn.
  • Cut and trim the shrubs.
  • Remove dead tree limbs and other yard debris.
  • Brighten up the garden with fresh shrubs and flowers.
  • Get rid of the clutter. Put away toys and gardening equipment.
  • Touch up peeling paint on doors, siding, and trim.
  • Repair and paint the fence.
  • Fix damaged roof shingles and flashing.
  • Clean windows, replace broken panes, and fix torn screens.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Wash the driveway and sidewalk. Patch cracks or holes.
  • Clean up the garage and shed.
  • Have the gas grill ready for use.
  • Make sure outside lights and doorbells work.

Tips for Preparing Your Home for Sale


Detach Your Emotions

Remember, you are about to sell this house and the goal is to create a space in which as many people as possible will be able to envision as their potential home. To properly prepare your home for sale you will have to pack away many of your personal items, including photos, souvenirs and other mementos.

Clean and Reorganize

Clean your home from top to bottom and make sure all appliances are spotless. Reorganize the closets and pack away some of your belongings. Storage room is a priority for buyers and a full closet does a poor job of showcasing the amount of storage room available. If you’re using a spare room for storage, pack away the clutter and ensure the space is properly furnished.

Furnish Empty Properties and Rooms

People buy homes not houses. Empty rooms make it hard for buyers to get a good sense of the space. Large rooms look cavernous and small rooms look even smaller when empty. Oddly shaped rooms make it especially hard for buyers to visualize how to arrange the room. Staging your empty property with the right furniture is key to ensuring that buyers will be able to visualize living in the space.

Brighten and lighten

Light-filled rooms are always appealing. Open blinds and make sure your windows are sparkling clean. If there are no windows in the room, make sure the lighting is adequate and keep all the lights on when showing the property, even during the day. A fresh coat of neutral coloured paint goes a long way to brighten up the space.

Spark your buyer’s imagination

Set the dinner table for a formal dinner, light the fireplace on a cold day, and add some fresh flowers to your décor. Creating the proper atmosphere helps buyers envision themselves living in your home.

Fix Minor Repairs

Buyers prefer to see a home in move-in condition, even small things such as a dripping faucet can detract from the value of your home.

Don’t be Too Unique

Keep your décor simple and modern with neutral wall colours. Unusual accessories and strong wall colours will limit your pool of buyers. This is also true for renovations. The right renovations can often boost the price of a home but be careful not to do it with too much flair. Your unique style may set you apart but it will also shrink your potential pool of buyers. Remember to keep it simple and modern.

Keep your Neighbourhood in Mind When Renovating

Actual returns on renovations depend not only on the renovations itself but also on how your home compares to your neighbours’. If your home is already above market value for your neighbourhood, your renovation may not yield a higher return. Buyers looking at moderately priced homes won’t be able to pay a premium for luxury finishes. Ask your Realtor to give you an assessment of homes in your area before embarking on costly renovations.

Improve Security

Household security is a sought after feature in homes and simple measures such as adding window locks and motion sensor lights outside can boost the attractiveness of your property. In densely populated urban areas, simple additions such as blinds and shutters are good additions to provide privacy.

Once you have decided to sell your property, the first thing is to list your property – establishing with your Realtor the terms and conditions of the sale.

The Realtor will ask you to sign a Listing Agreement – an official document granting the listing Realtor and his or her brokerage permission to represent you in the marketing and sale of your property.

Listing Agreement

What is involved with the signing of a listing agreement?

The listing agreement is a contract between you and your Realtor’s brokerage company. It will:

  • Provide a framework for subsequent forms and negotiations
  • Clearly spell out the rights and obligations of all parties, the length of the agreement, and the compensation
  • Set the listing price, and accurately describe the property (including lot size, building size, style and materials, floor areas, heating/cooling systems, room sizes, and descriptions)
  • Detail what is, and what is not, included in the sale (As a general rule, fixtures are included; chattels, things which are movable, are not. If necessary, list what stays and what goes under inclusions or exclusions.)
  • Provide information about annual property taxes, and note any easements, rights of way, liens, or charges against the property

The agreement binds both parties to its terms and conditions. You and the listing Realtor sign the listing agreement and each of you receives a copy.

Your Realtor may also ask for:

  • Plan of survey or location certificate – A survey of your property showing the lot size, location of buildings, and any encroachments from neighbouring properties. Some jurisdictions need this to complete the sale of your home. Your lawyer may recommend a survey, especially if significant changes have been made to your property.
  • Property tax receipts – Most listing agreements include information about current annual property tax assessments.
  • Mortgage verification – Details about your mortgage provided by a mortgage lender upon your authorization.
  • Deed or title search – A legal description of your property, and proof that you own it.
  • Other documentation – Annual heating bills, water and sewage costs, electricity bills, and recent expenditures on home improvements. Many provinces also require a signed property condition disclosure statement.

Listing Questions

Can the Realtor that helps me list my house represent me when I buy my next one?

In most cases, the answer is yes. Ask your Realtor to explain the concept of agency and how it works in your province. Be sure to ask what limitations, if any, your representation will have.

What happens when my listing Realtor is not available?

Realtors work extremely long hours and try to be available whenever and wherever you need them. But you should ask your prospective Realtor what arrangements he or she has in place when they can’t meet with you.

What would you tell a buyer considering my home?

A good Realtor will quickly spot your home’s best features and tell you the best way to showcase them. Be sure you’re comfortable with the way your house will be presented.

What do you think is the key to selling a home: advertising, Internet exposure, or promotion to other Realtors?

Since the success of the listing Realtor’s marketing plan will be based on how to attract prospective buyers, be sure you understand and agree with the approach.

What sold the last three properties you listed?

Realtors should be able to explain how they have sold properties in the past, and how these experiences can influence your sale.

What advice would you give a buyer considering my home?

Do you want top dollar for your home, or as many offers as quickly as possible? Make sure you know and agree with the way your home will be framed for buyers and their selling Realtors.

What distinguishes your personal service from other Realtors?

The number one complaint from both homebuyers and sellers is that Realtors don’t return their phone calls. Listen carefully when prospective Realtors describe their communication skills.

Make a Choice

You’ve spoken to several Realtors, and it’s time to make a choice. Think about what they told you, and ask yourself:

  • Did they seem trustworthy and honest?
  • Were they realistic when discussing your home purchase?
  • Did they communicate well? Were you on the same page?
  • Were they committed, motivated, and experienced?

Receiving an Offer

How does my Realtor help me manage my offers?

A buyer interested in purchasing your property will make an offer and, as an act of good faith, put down a deposit.

The buyer’s Realtor communicates the offer, sometimes known as an Offer to Purchase (a legal document specifying the offers terms and conditions) to you or your representative. The offer states how much the buyer is willing to pay and details the conditions

The offer can be firm or conditional.

Firm Offer to Purchase:

Usually preferable to the seller, because it means that the buyer will purchase the home without any conditions. If the offer is accepted, the house is sold.

Conditional Offer to Purchase:

Means the buyer has placed one or more conditions on the purchase, such as subject to home inspection, subject to financing, or subject to the sale of buyer’s existing home. The home is not sold until all the conditions have been met. The seller can accept the offer, reject the offer, or make a counter offer.


The seller agrees to all the terms and conditions exactly as set forth in the Offer to Purchase.


The seller does not agree with any of the terms and conditions set forth in the Offer to Purchase.

Counter offer:

The seller agrees with some of the terms and conditions of the offer, but not all of them. The seller then makes a counter offer. The counter offer may change the price, the closing date, or add or delete conditions. When the buyer receives the counter offer, he or she can accept the new terms and conditions or reject them.

A signed offer is a binding contract. Make sure you understand and agree to all of the terms before you sign. You may want to have a lawyer review the offer first.

What is involved with closing the sale?

On or before closing day, lawyers for the seller and the buyer will set up a trust account for the money coming from the sale. This money will be used to pay off any mortgages you owe on the property, after which you receive the balance.

Your lawyer should also ensure that you receive compensation for pre-paid expenses, such as property taxes, electrical or gas bills, or, if applicable, heating oil left in your tank.

You will give the property deed or transfer documents, mortgage details, and keys to your lawyer. Your lawyer will register the mortgage discharge and transfer the deed at closing.

You will also pay the listing brokerage company their compensation (your lawyer can arrange the payment from the proceeds of the sale).