5 smart tips to save on real estate agents

July 28, 2015

Real estate agents make a hefty commission helping you sell your house. While their advice can be invaluable, the quickest way to save money when selling your house is to take on some of the agent's duties yourself. Here are some easy ways to do that.

5 smart tips to save on real estate agents

1. Advertise your property

  • Some discount brokerage services charge on a fee-for-service basis. If you do your own open house, they knock off even more of the fee.
  • Another option is to cut out the real estate agent and sign on with an Internet-based sellers' service. You'll pay anywhere from $19 for a straight text ad online to $200 for a six-month listing with up to 10 pictures and a spotlight listing on two websites for a week.

2. Be careful of...

  • Lack of exposure: Registered realtors will list your home on the Internet, which will advertise your house to a large group of potential clients. If you're choosing to sell your house without a realtor, find a website that will advertise your house in a similar way.
  • Set the right price: A competent realtor will perform a comparative market analysis on your home, looking at the selling price of other homes on your street and in your neighbourhood. To get the most out of your property, have an assessment done to determine what your house is worth.

3. Take every offer seriously

Fast offers may be good ones; homes are most saleable early in the marketing period. However, consider clauses and conditions carefully before signing on the dotted line.

  • Seek legal advice if necessary.

4. Spruce the place up

People want to feel they can move into a home without doing a whole lot of work. Here are tips for how to provide the kind of atmosphere that makes a buyer think, "I could see myself living here."

  • Tidy up: Fix broken fence pieces, cut the lawn, trim the bushes and perhaps plant some bright flowers. Make sure the entranceway is clean and clear of clutter. Remove coats and shoes from open hooks or make use of the closet.
  • Downsize: Too much clutter makes a home look crowded and small. Make three piles of things you can junk, donate and keep.
  • Keep your property clean: Make sure the windows and mirrors are polished, the floors and carpets spotless, the appliances scoured clean and the smudges gone.
  • Light renovations: Fresh paint is one of the cheapest ways to pull a property together. Paint worn or cheaply panelled cupboards in your kitchen and install some trendy hardware.
  • Simple decorations: Baskets of snowy towels, vases of fresh flowers and well-placed candles can do wonders for a tired bathroom. Buy fluffy bed linen for the bedrooms.
  • Eliminate Odours: You need to get rid of pet odours and cooking smells. Try filling the home with a fresh, clean scent.
  • Remove yourself: Take family photos down. Let people who are coming in picture themselves living in the space.

5. Your next steps

Before putting your house on the market, do some research.

  • The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (613-748-2000 or www. cmhc-schl.gc.ca) offers plenty of information on buying or renting homes, building or renovating and government programs in the area of housing.
  • Some websites offer advice on buying and selling a home, as well as links to local real estate boards across Canada, and a copy of the code of ethics and standards of business practices that realtors belonging to the association abide by.
  • Certain websites cover news of importance in the real estate biz, but more importantly, it offers an Agent Locator that allows you to search for an agent by location.
  • Online multiple listing services offer information on properties available throughout Canada (including pricing, details and contact information), as well as a realtor search that allows you to locate a realtor by last name or location.

You might decide that hiring a real estate agent is your best option, but make sure you know your options with some easy research.

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