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Selling FAQ

Trust Nick Boothby sell your Toronto property. Our proven Real Estate marketing skills and negotiating experience will assist you in all your Toronto Beach selling and buying needs.

Not as exciting as CSI but more useful! Read the updated Plain Language Forms used to sell and buy real estate. These are prepared by the Toronto Real Estate Board.

Selling FAQ Table of Contents


What is the benefit of working with a Realtor?
It's having a fully regulated, knowledgeable expert representing YOU and Your best interest. A Realtor is familiar with the legalities involved, with current market conditions, and with the surest selling and marketing procedures. He can advise you on preparing your property (Nick Boothby often assists "hands on" in staging homes for his sellers). A Realtor has "For Sale" signs, "Open House" signs, and advertising material in the window of the Brokerage. Most Important, A Realtor will also have access to the Multiple Listing Service. MLS enables him to present your property to over 20,000 other Realtors, each of whom will have potential buyers for your property! A realtor has connections with advertisers, printers, publicists, plus his own personal database of buyers looking for properties.
A realtor also carries a number of professional insurance policies which help protect you.
What is the "Agency Relationship" with my Realtor?
Agency is a complex and highly regulated subject. It is a formal legal binding relationship. Briefly, when you sign a selling agreement with a realtor, you agree that the Broker to whom the Realtor reports to, actually represents you. This representation is delegated to the Realtor who has several responsibilities by law, towards the seller. These 6 legal duties.
1- Disclosure, where the agent must disclose to his principal any relevant information regarding the sale he has been engaged to assist.
2- Competence, The agent is under legal duty to use superior skill and knowledge while pursuing the seller's affairs.
3- Obedience, to the principal's lawful and reasonable instruction even if the agent does not agree with them.
4- Accounting, for all monies or property entrusted to his care relative to the principal's transaction.
5- Confidentiality, regarding information acquired as the seller's agent for any purpose that is likely to cause the principal harm or to interfere with the seller's business.
6- Loyalty, the agent must place the interests of the seller above all else except the law is carrying out his functions

Agency can only be terminated by specific procedures or circumstances: Mutual consent, revocation, expiry, completion of the sale or the impossibility of selling, death-mental incapacity or bankruptcy and finally the cancellation of the agents licence/registration.
In return, the seller is obligated to compensate the Realtor according to the agreement. The buyer is also subject to the various clauses he has agreed to within the agreement with his Realtor.
NOTE: This is an informal description of Agency, it is not claimed to be the complete or definitive description. The brochure "Working with a Realtor" is a good source of information. Download a pdf here, or Nick Boothby will be happy to send you a copy upon request.
How much commission are Realtors paid?
There is no set amount but at this time common commission split is a total of 5% of the selling price, 2.5% for the listing agent and 2.5% for the buying agent. To ensure more advertising or better service, an owner sometimes chooses to offer more, which acts as an added incentive for agents to show your property.
An agent will sometimes discount the commission if expenses are reduced. If for example an agent sells a property and buys a new home for a client then expenses are reduced. Agents who significantly discount commissions run the risk of not having enough resources to pay for marketing and advertising expenses. In the end "You get what you pay for!"
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What do I get for my money?
You get an experienced formally trained professional (who has paid substantial fees to have access to the MLS system and who is covered by insurance) on your side, advising you and representing your rights in the transaction. A selling agent will use the commission to pay for direct marketing and advertising costs, ads, flyers, websites, Virtual tours etc.. Some of the money will be paid as annual fees to have access to MLS and to be insured (The deposit insurance is paid for in this way.) It will also pay expenses and compensation for the Realtor. Realtors are required to take several courses each 2 years to remain current. Nick Boothby is very conscientious in keeping up with any change in his areas.
An agent will often know of properties that are coming onto the market before they are listed. Because of his experience an agent will be able to advise you on selling price, this will help prevent over pricing and not attracting buyers, and underpricing and selling at a lower price than you could have.
Also, an agent like Nick Boothby is extremely hands on and will assist you in staging your home and garden. This includes access to his extensive collections of accessories.
An agent will also have active lists of potential buyers looking in your area and lists of agents active in the area. These lists will be useful during the marketing of your property.
You will also get the benefit of the Brokerage office display window as well as Brokerage advertising on several web sites besides the MLS service.
Assistance in negotiations is another significant advantage to having an agent in your corner.
What about discounted commission?
Some agents will discount and this usually translates in less money being spent in marketing budgets. Sometimes agents will discount a commission if they sell your property and help you buy a new home. The reduction in their costs allows them to pass this saving on to you.
What is a holdover period?
A holdover provision is found in listing agreements. Under this provision, while the listing brokerage's authority ends upon the expiry date, if the brokerage introduces a person to the property during the term of the listing , who effects a private sale with the owner during a specified period after the expiry, the owner is liable for a commission payment to that broker. In other words if the listing agreement ends and the owner sells the property during the hold over period to a person that was introduced to the property because of the efforts of the Realtor, then the Realtor is entitled to compensation.
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Selling Process

What are the steps usually followed in selling a property?
Chosing a realtor to work with.
Deciding when the property will go on sale, preparing the listing information, entering listing in MLS
Preparing the property for sale, this can involve cleaning, repairing, staging, landscaping.
Assessing the property, the neighbourhood, and the market conditions and deciding on a selling price.
Preparing flyers, photos, virtual tours, floor plans, surveys, email campaign and any other marketing step.
Marketing the property, entering listing information in MLS, advertising, Web presence, open houses, email campaigns, signs and displays, lock boxes.
Scheduling showings, and answering questions, contacting potential buyers
Receiving offers, assessing them, and preparing counter-offers
Dealing with conditions, buyer requests, and any issue that arises.
Looking after the actual legal steps of selling
I don't understand Legaleeze, Simplified Real Estate Forms.
The Toronto Real Estate Board has created a series of simplified Forms that explain various forms commonly used in the buying and selling process. Find the Plain Language Forms here.
MLS, what is it and is it worth it?
Multiple Listing Service provides a large database where Properties for sales are displayed. The database gives access to the information on the property to thousands of potential searchers. Over 20,000 Realtors have access to more in depth information but all can search the public side of MLS. Realtors are experienced using the sytem and this works in your benefit when your listing goes on MLS. Only Realtors can put properties on MLS.
Occasionally an agent will try to sell a property without putting it on MLS. This happens if the agent has a specific client in mind for example. This has the effect of preventing other agents from showing the property thus avoiding paying the buyer agent commission and allowing the selling agent to "double end" a deal. This kind of listing is usually more beneficial to Agents than to Sellers.
How are offers presented?
An offer is prepared by the buying agent in collaboration with the buyers. The offer will have several components, but essentially it will identify the property, identify the buyers and sellers, state how much the buyers are willing to pay, how much they offer as a deposit, when they want to close, what they expect to get besides the house, commonly this includes appliances or window shades or curtains. The offer will also include any condition that the buyers would like. Conditions such as satisfactory inspections and arranging financing are common conditions. In difficult economic times a purchase conditional on selling your own property is often seen.
The buying agent will contact the selling brokerage and advise them of his intention to present an offer. This is referred to "registering an offer". The offer will then either be faxed to the selling brokerage, or presented in person by the selling agent to the sellers and their agent. At this point the seller can accept the offer or refuse the offer, or make a counter offer changing some of the clauses. Each offer and counter offer is given a time period during which the other party can respond. If there is no response, the offer dies. If one of the parties signs the offer with no changes, there is a deal.
Along with an offer, documents identifying agents and their exact legal position are also signed.
Why pay a deposit and who gets it?
A deposit shows the seller that the buyer is serious. It is in fact putting your money where your mouth is. Banks like to see large downpayments because it means there is more equity in the property making it more likely for the bank to recover their mortgage money if the buyer goes in default of their mortgage. Usually the Listing Broker keeps the deposit in his special deposit trust account. This account is strictly controlled by law, and is protected from bankruptcies and fraud by a special insurance. Once the deal is accepted by both sides it becomes part of the money being paid by the buyer for the property. If no deal is made, the deposit is returned to the buyer with no deductions taken from it. Often the different parties request mutual releases before deposits are returned.
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Showings, what happens?
When a potential buyer wants to see a listed property, their agent makes an appointment with the listing brokerage. If buyers are not working with a Realtor, the listing Realtor will show them the property. The selling brokerage will call the buyer agent with a lock box number, or arrange to show the property to an individual. Buyers will always visit accompanied by a Realtor. Individuals alone are not permitted through an empty property. When they have finished looking at the property the Realtor will replace the key in the lock box after locking the house. A visiting Realtor will leave his business card to indicate he has come through.
Chattels and Fixtures?
Loosely defined, a chattel is something that is not attached to the property, while a fixture is not surprising, fixed to the property. For example light fixtures and built in shelving are fixtures, while furniture and pictures are chattels and usually move with the owner. Oddly, the house key is considered a fixture! When preparing a listing or an offer, it is important to clearly list any fixture excluded (commonly ornate chandeliers) and list all chattels included, such as stove and refrigerator or window coverings.
Marketing Plan?
Nick Boothby has a detailed plan that he implements when he is selling a property. His highly successful plan includes helping the owner stage the property, producing high class graphic material for feature sheets, professional photography, floor plans, web site, virtual tour plus much more.
View Nick Boothby's Marketing Plan
Floor plans, Feature sheets, Photos?
High quality professional sales material help your property stand out from the competition and Nick Boothby prepares stunning material! Good Photos will be used in the MLS website, and on Nick's web site as well as on the Virtual Tour, and included in printed promotional material and feature sheets.
Multiple offers?
When more than one buyer prepare and present offers for one property we speak of multiple offers. Usually multiple offers help a seller get a higher price through competition. If too many multiple offers are received it can be an indication that the property was listed too low.
There are no set rules governing how multiple offers are handled. Usually potential buyers will be allowed to improve their offers before the sellers make a final decision. However there is no obligation to do so and the buyer might simply chose the best and not allow others to improve their offers.
Lock Boxes, why use them, are they safe?
A lock box is a heavy duty box that is attached to the door or to a structure of the property and which holds a key. It is opened by keying in a code. It allows a property to be shown by a buying agent without having to go pick up and return a key, or without needing a selling agent to be present. They are extremely solidly built and have proven safe and useful. Usually the code is given to the showing realtor, when the listing listing office calls them back to confirms that the property can be shown at the requested time.
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I have a firm deal. When do I get my money?
You take possession of the money on closing day as agreed on the agreement for purchase and sale. Lawyers and Brokers will have calculated and adjusted various costs and you will receive the remaining sum. This amount will include the deposit paid by the buyer. Costs such as taxes remaining to be paid up to closing date, any outstanding utility, lawyers fees, commissions are all possible fees and adjustments.
I've signed the final papers but I want to change my mind?
Once a deal is firm it is a contract and cannot be modified without consent from both parties. It is not uncommon to change the closing date for example. A formal request must be made to the other party who may or may not accept. The process to amend is similar to that of presenting an offer, with a document being prepared, signed and sent to the other party. Once both parties have agreed and signed the document, the change then becomes binding. You cannot unilaterally revoke a firm agreement.
Can I change the agreement once it's complete?
If both sides agree to an amendment, then the change can be incorporated into the agreement and become part of the contract. If the other party does not agree to your change then it does not apply.
What do I have to tell the buyer? Are there disclosure requirements?
It is essential to disclose any existing condition that you know of that would affect the value of a property or that might have a significant effect on the opinion of the purchaser of the property. If you do not disclose these things then you can be liable if the purchaser chooses to go to court with his complaint. Such conditions as Urea Formaldehyde, termites, structural problems, knob and tube, if the property was used as a grow op, are obvious cases. Any not at arms length transactions, which affect the price of the property should be disclosed, such as your agent is also your brother. NOTE: This is only a brief description and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a question regarding disclosure consult your lawyer. Your Realtor can also help you or point you to a proper authority. Realtors are legally bound to strict disclosure rules.
Buyer beware... Right?
Yes and no, because of the requirements for disclosure of any significant flaw in the building you must advise the buyer if the property has any problem. Your Realtor is also obligated by law to disclose any problem which could influence the value or perceived value, of the property.
Do I need a lawyer?
Although there is no strict legal requirement saying you MUST have a lawyer, they provide significant benefits to their client. They do the title searches, make sure there is no outstanding problem on the building title, help establish adjustments, ensure there is no taxes outstanding, verify the Condo Status documents, advise you on your the wording of complex offers/counter-offers. They advise in the case where there are tenants. They provide knowledge and experience. The added security is well worth the investment in almost all cases.
How do I find a lawyer
Word of mouth and personal recommendations are often your best route. All Brokerages will have lists of potential lawyers if you require them. Nick Boothby has suggestions that he offers clients who ask. It is to be noted that Nick Boothby NEVER takes a referral fee for any recommendation. If one is offered Nick will hand it over to the clients.
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Getting my property ready

How clean is clean?
Your property must look immaculate and smell good. The house inside and out including the yard, the basement and the garage should be as clean and tidy as possible. You don't need to wax the garage floor but the potential buyer should feel that they could just move in. It is often advisable to power wash the outside of the house. Windows should be invisible. Carpets should be cleaned as well as upholstery if it needs it.
Garbage and recycling containers should be inconspicuous. Not only does your property have to be immaculate, it has to look it.
If you have pets then special efforts should be made to get rid of any source of odour.
I have tenants, what happens about them?
Tenants have many rights and need to be considered in your preparations. Any showing requires a 24 hour notice stating reason, times of entry are between 8am and 8pm. When you sell you need to give your tenant 2 months notice. It would be extremely wise to seek legal advice when dealing with tenants.
Properties with tenants are often sold and buyers might want to take on good tenants. It is useful to cultivate good relations with tenants as a cooperative tenant can be useful in making your property more attractive.
This is not intended to be legal advice and is not complete. Seek legal advice.
Pre-sale inspections, are they worth it?
These are valuable if a seller need to eliminate a uncertainty or a concern that most buyers will have about a property. For example if some properties in the neighbourhood have had termites, the owner might present a recent termite inspection report to show the property is termite free.
A pre-sale inspection might might be useful in reassuring buyers that they will be able to insure their property. If a condition exists that makes insurers nervous, such as knob and tube wiring a report might also be useful demonstrating that the wiring is safe and has been inspected. (Read our article on Property Insurance here) In the case where a property is likely to attract multiple offers, it is often preferable to pay for a pre inspection rather than present an offer with a condition of Inspection.
What is staging or Fluffing?
It's the process of preparing and decorating your property to make it most attractive to potential buyer. The goal of staging is to present your property in a way that allows potential buyers to imagine themselves fitting in your property. A staged property will have empty storage space to allow buyers to imagine their stuff there. The decor will be modernized to avoid a dated look. As well very personal distinctive items will be removed, again to depersonalize a property and make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves living there. Unlike interior decorating, the personality of the person living there is downplayed and a stage is set for another person to fit in. Read Nick Boothby's Staging Article here.
How much does staging cost, is it worth it?
Although Nick Boothby usually assists in staging your property FREE OF CHARGE, he might suggest renting some suitable furniture and accessories. A professional stager will usually cost about 1% of the selling price of a property. There is no doubt that staging makes a property easier to sell and sometimes the gain in price is substantial. Some staging is always worth it.
Pets, what happens to them during the process?
It depends on the pet! A quiet elegant cat might graciously welcome visitors then retire and observe, while a nervous puppy might bark, defend his home, and generally intimidate nervous visitors.
It is essential to present an immaculately clean property (as much as possible) so kitty litter, dog hair, hamster smell are all to be avoided. It might also be stressful for the animals to have strangers walking around. As well some people are simply terrified of dogs, cats, mice, snakes, or any other animal. They will simply not feel comfortable in your home. The opposite is sometimes true as well and a pleasant welcome from a big friendly dog might make people feel right at home. Trust your Realtor to give you an honest opinion.
Pet smell, how do I get rid of it?
Your property should never smell of your pets while you are trying to sell it. It will severely hurt your chances of selling. Some pet smells are extremely persistent. This is the case of urine and cat spraying odours and these require specialized treatment. There are a number of different products that deal with this problem. Some products have enzymes and / or bacterial starters that actually break down the chemicals that smell. These products will be the most effective. To work however they need to contact ALL the stain. Other products absorb the odour. These can be useful but not as effective. Still other merely cover the smell with a perfume. This is the least effective.
The most effective products will chemically destroy the smell as well as cover with some pleasant odour.
Some visitors will imagine they can smell pet odours if they know there is a pet!
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Improvements and Renos

Upgrades and Renovations, are they worth it?
Sellers should be aware that property values and returns on renovations depend on many factors such as the location of the property, i.e. province, rural/urban, the neighbourhood, and the quality of the materials and workmanship.
Some Renos return better than others. The Appraisal Institute of Canada reports that the following types of renos return the best:
Kitchen or Bathroom renovation will bring back 75% to 100% of investment back, while Interior and Exterior paint will bring back between 50% to 100%.
These are significant returns on investment! Some improvements bring very poor returns and should only be done if YOU want them, not as a means of increasing the sale value of your property. Adding a swimming pool (10-40% return) or Installing a skylight (0-25% return) are not good investments.
See our more detailed page on Return on investment for Reno and Upgrades or our best 5 ROI projects for sellers
Will I get my money back?
It depends on what you do, Kitchen, Bathroom and Painting are the best return, while Fencing, Paving, Skylights and Swimming pools are poor returns.
What should I do first?
Kitchen, Bathroom, Painting inside and out. In particular when the condition is poor or dated.
Liens, what are they and how do they affect a property?
A lien is a note attached to the title of a property placed by someone who says they have an outstanding claim against the property. There are different kinds of liens, but one of the most common is a mechanic's or construction lien. This type of lien is put into place when the property owner owes money for materials or labour which improved the property in some way. This includes among other things, repairs, maintenance, new construction, landscaping and renovation.
When purchasing real estate, it is important to make sure there is no lien on the property. If there is you will not be able to obtain a clear title and the person or organisation that put the lien on the property might hold you responsible for the debt. A title search will usually indicate whether or not a lien exists. It should also indicate the details regarding a lien or other encumbrances against the title. Searching the title is one of the services provided by your lawyer.
NOTE: This is only for general information and is not intended as legal advice.
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What is the value of a parking spot?
If parking is scarce then parking can be a substantial benefit to your property. In downtown condo buildings some underground parking spot is being sold betwen 20-30 thousand dollars.
Handymen, Plumbers, Electrician, How do I find a good one?
There is a good reason the expression "it's hard to find good help" is heard often. Usually word of mouth is more reliable than just looking up in the Yellow pages. Sometimes your Realtor will have a list of people he has used, otherwise ask your neighbours.
When is the best time to renovate?
Depending on the reno, it's often best to try and renovate when the workmen are least busy.
Permits, What are they and are they necessary?
According to the City of Toronto, A building permit is your formal permission to begin construction or demolition. It means that the City of Toronto has approved plans for any new structure, addition or renovation. Approved plans must comply with the Ontario Building Code, local zoning by-laws, and other applicable laws and regulations. It is unlawful to start some construction or demolition before you get a permit.
Building permits regulate types of construction allowed in the community and ensure that building standards are met. The building permit process protects each homeowner's interests, as well as those of the community at large, and provides for the erection of safe structures.
How do I get a permit?
Visit the City of Toronto Web site for details
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Pricing my property

How do I figure out the correct price for my property?
Pricing is a complex subject and this is one area where your Realtor's help can invaluable. To arrive at a price for your property, Nick Boothby goes through an extensive exercise.
He will inspect your property and note any special feature or upgrade, as well as potential problems. He will look at the area, neighbourhood, neighbours around your property. Nick will then look up similar properties in the area that have sold recently and compare them to your property adjusting for fewer or more features. Using his experience and knowledge he will analyze the data he has collected and arrive at an opinion of value. It is part science and part guts and experience. Have Nick Boothby prepare an opinion of value for your property. Read about the Worst Mistakes a Seller can Make Pricing His Property.
Can I list it high and drop it later if it doesn't sell?
There is a strong opinion based on experience among Real Estate Professionals that recommend against it. When a listing is first offered it generates immediate interest. People who have set their price limits at the price offered will have a look and if they are experienced or are looking with a Realtor, they will realize the property is overpriced and walk away. People who have set their upper limits below your asking price will not come, and you will miss out on otherwise good exposure and buyers who would otherwise have considered your property and maybe placed offers on your property. When you drop your price later it never generates the same excitement and people are not as interested. The longer a property remains on the market the more likely it is of becoming stale and not attracting buyers. There is a sense that there is something wrong with the property. Of course sometimes you will be lucky and your house will be just what someone wants, at any price. This rarely happens but everyone repeats the story when it happens! Having to reduce a price puts the seller at a disadvantage besides someone who has priced it at a more attractive price from the beginning. It is sometimes a better strategy to price your property slightly lower than you expect to get and try to generate multiple offers. Multiple offers usually result in improved selling prices for the seller because of the "auction" effect. Read our article on Overpricing and why it is a big mistake
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Do you have a question?

Do You have a question?
Send Nick Boothby your questions and he will answer or direct you to the appropriate authority.
Find out the 5 C's of getting your property ready for sale.

Nick Boothby, Maddy Dennett and Greg McDowell
REALTORS® / Salespersons

Christine DeMerchant Unlicenced Support Person
Real Estate Homeward, Brokerage
1858 Queen St. E., Toronto, On, M4L 1H1, Canada
tel: 416-698-2090   fax: 416-693-4284
Maddy's cell: 416-951-5507   Greg's cell: 647-984-3065
emails: Nick   Maddy   Greg   

Disclaimer: Nick Boothby and his team take great care in insuring the accuracy of our facts but some information cannot be verified. We do not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process discussed or presented.