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Dealing with Separation or Possible Divorce? These Steps Will Save You Money & Aggravation When Selling Your Home

Any couple who finds themselves in the unfortunate position of separating or divorcing faces a multitude of difficulties, so taking the aggravation out of handling the sale of the mutual home can be a major factor in cutting out stress. Most ex-couples have enough to worry about already without that addition of even more legal and financial costs. 

Why People Sell Their Property In A Separation or Divorce Situation

Before we dive into the steps you can take to minimize aggravation from real estate while dealing with divorce or separation, it’s worth taking a moment to cover why many couples end up selling. 

For most couples, it comes down to personal reasons for selling, since the Globe & Mail reported that for most couples in Toronto a separation comes with big financial consequences

Emotional Considerations When Selling Your Home When Dealing With Separation Or Divorce

Divorce is an emotional time regardless of the reasons for the separation. These emotions can play a big role in the decision to sell the home, especially if there are years of memories in the family home where children were raised. Maybe the couple has customized the home just how they like it and neither want to leave behind all of the efforts which went into those renovations. 

These sentimental attachments can go either way. They may foster attachment and leave both ex-partners wanting to stay. Conversely, they can have both ex-partners wanting to move out as soon as possible to avoid bringing up old memories. Both partner’s preferences may not match up and lead to difficulties in deciding what to do with the property. 

Deciding whether you want to stay or go takes a great deal of thought and requires some honest conversation. It isn’t a decision which should be undertaken lightly, and both parties should consider not only what they think in the present but also how their feelings may change in the future. 

Living in the home you shared during your marriage may not be what you thought it would be after the divorce. 

Financial Considerations When Selling Your Home After Divorce

When it comes to selling your home after divorce, one of the greatest financial considerations is not only who bought the house buy who will pay for it. Assuming you bought the house together with your ex-spouse it’s likely you were working together to make payments. When people buy a house together, they typically buy a house which requires both partners’ salaries to pay for it. 

Since you are presumably losing half of the household income following the divorce, it’s not hard to see how paying the mortgage, property taxes, insurance, and the maintenance costs can become daunting, if not completely impossible. That’s not saying anything about the time and energy a homeowner must invest into maintaining and managing the house properly.

Stay or Separate For The Sale?

Staying together to sell is not always an option, particularly if the separation is not on the best terms. Remaining a married couple over the course of the home sale is too much stress for some to bear if they simply want to get the separation over with. 

Of course getting your home sold in the right time frame for top dollar value can be made possible with the help of an experienced real estate agent. Starting with a home evaluation is a good place to start because it will help you determine how much you can expect to get for the home sale. Working with an experienced Realtor will help you navigate the best way to get the most money out of the sale of your property. It is very important that you proceed wisely since it is typically the largest asset for most and since you will be on one salary going forward there can be many factors eroding your bottom line.

Now that we’ve covered the general considerations you should be aware of when you are selling your property after or during a divorce or separation we can get into the steps of the home-selling process and how to handle them to minimize aggravation and maximize profit. 

Step 1: Understand the Law

Before you hire a Toronto & GTA real estate agent or get a home evaluation, consider learning the laws separation and divorce.

Regardless of the circumstances of your divorce or separation, whether amicable or not, understanding the divorce law is sure to leave everyone better off. As an Ontario Real Estate Team we will cover the Ontario Divorce Laws, but readers outside of the Province of Ontario should do their due diligence and research the local separation laws in their locale. 

At the very least, understanding the laws will make the process of selling your home go more smoothly and save potential legal fees. At worst, it will give you an advantage when it comes time to get a lawyer involved if you have a basic understanding of where you stand in the eyes of the law. 

Real Estate and Divorce Law in Ontario

In Ontario, both parties have an equal right to stay in the home during a divorce, at least until a separation agreement or other settlement is made. 

One of the questions which divorce couples ask regarding their shared real estate is whether one can change the locks on the other. Under current Ontario law and the Family Law Act, the answer is no, unless there are special circumstances:

  • If you have a court order which establishes exclusive possession of the matrimonial home pending a family trial, you can take exclusive ownership until the trial. 
  • The two parties have made a separation agreement which details which spouse has exclusive ownership. 

In most cases, both spouses have equal rights to occupy the property until they reach a resolution about the possession of the home, it’s rarely easy for couples to continue living together following a separation. 

However, the Globe & Mail reports that regardless of the difficulty posed by a cohabitation situation post divorce, some couples will, in fact, continue living together. They often end up occupying different parts of the house but continue to live together either not to relinquish something to the ex-partner or because they would otherwise be unable to afford to buy a house in Toronto. 

In many cases, a great Toronto & GTA real estate agent who has the experience and market insights to provide truly personalized service can help one spouse find the house that’s right for them. 

Step 2: Make Arrangements Before You Separate

The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure rings true in the case of avoiding aggravation when selling your home after divorce. 

There are a few measures one can take before separating or getting a divorce to reduce aggravation during the home sale. The most impactful is a prenuptial agreement which clearly outlines who will be entitled to what should the marriage dissolve. This type of agreement enables the homeowner(s) to go straight to choosing the best Toronto & GTA realtor for them.

When you are getting separated and don’t have a pre-existing agreement in place you can opt for a separation agreement. A separation agreement is a legally binding contract which details who gets what when it comes to different marital assets. 

Step 3: Answer Important Questions When It’s Time to Sell Your Home During A Divorce

There are countless questions to answer regarding the home sale alone when you are separating, so having answers to the biggest ones ahead of time can save misunderstandings and conflict later on. 

It is advisable to prepare for these decisions by consulting with your divorce attorney. Your divorce attorney will help you determine where you stand with regard to the law and how to handle the negotiations to keep your priorities in line. Be sure to consult your attorney before the final decision.

The home selling process is long and complex even with a good real estate agent. You can use our Toronto home seller’s checklist to keep yourself organized and maximize your chances of selling for a great price in the timeframe that works for you.

Decide Who Gets What

Determining how to split up the proceeds from the sale of your home after divorce or separation is a personal decision that has no right answer. The best way to avoid aggravation is to prepare by reaching a separation agreement which details how the real estate will be divided. Hire a lawyer if you want legal guidance or assistance determining what you are due. 

Couples who aren’t on the best terms can benefit from getting a mediator to help them with communications and drafting the document. A mediator can be a friend or family member but there are professional options available as well. Knowing when to get a mediator is a personal decision. 

If you need to know how much potential profit you’re looking at from selling your home post divorce you can get a free home evaluation to find out what your home in Toronto is worth.

Will Someone Continue Living In The Home?

Separated couples who live in large cities like Toronto may have a difficult time relocating after the separation. With many couples depending on the combined household income to pay the mortgage and maintenance cost, some decide to continue cohabitating instead of downsizing their living situation.

Deciding who claims which room is a prudent course of action for couples cohabitating after separation. In cases where one person stays in the home and the other leaves it’s important to outline specific details of ownership in the separation agreement. 

Does The House Need Work Before It Is Put On The Market?

Getting top dollar value for your home sale is important regardless of whether you are separated. Making improvements, renovations, updates, or simply preparing your home for sale often takes an investment.

Who will handle the bill? Who will decide which changes to make and decide how they will be carried out? Your real estate agent may be able to guide you when it comes to renovations and the best way to carry them out, but the decisions will be up to you and your ex-spouse. 

Which Party Will Be Responsible For The Sale of The Home?

You may find that for purposes of convenience it might be helpful to outline each person’s responsibilities, even if they are shared equally. The arrangement you reach really depends on your personal circumstances. 

Couples who are parting amicably may trust all responsibility to one of the partners while others aren’t comfortable unless they are a part of every decision and interaction. If you are concerned with your involvement you can consult your lawyer or outline your demands in the separation agreement. 

Step 4: Choosing A Real Estate Agent

Choosing a real estate agent to sell your home after divorce is an important consideration regardless of the agreement you reach. A good real estate agent is more likely to get you top dollar value for the home and leave more profit to divide regardless of the reason for the sale. 

Working with a real estate agent also offers the added advantage of having an impartial 3rd party working on your behalf. That way any personal tensions between you and your soon-to-be ex spouse will stay personal and not interfere with business. 

All Ontario real estate agents are required to do what is in their clients’ best interest as part of their Code of Ethics. This legal requirement is taken seriously and enforced by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (R.E.C.O.). This requirement is consistent throughout most jurisdictions so you can stay at ease knowing your real estate transaction is being handled by an impartial party.

An experienced real estate agent can also take the stress out of selling because an agent handles all aspects of the sales process. Everything from evaluating the value of the home to considering offers and providing guidance, a good Toronto & GTA real estate agent will take on a great deal of additional work and stress which can come with selling a home. You can trust your agent’s advice and concentrate on the demands of your separation.

When it comes time to make a joint decision about the home sale with your spouse, your real estate agent can also serve as an impartial mediator who takes the personal issues out of what is fundamentally a business decision. You and your ex-spouse might have different ideas about selling and an agent can ground your discussion in experience and market insights. 

If you are considering selling your home in Toronto & The GTA Frank Leo & Associates are available to answer your real estate questions. You can contact us or take advantage of our free home evaluation at any time. We’ve been serving the Toronto & GTA real estate market for over 3 decades and have helped 1,000’s of people buy and sell homes in the region.

Step 5: Agreeing To A Selling Price

Once you’ve settled on the details, reached an agreement about who will handle the real estate sale, and have a real estate agent advertising your home you can start the negotiations about accepting offers. 

If your real estate agent has evaluated your home’s value accurately you most likely already have an idea of how much you will get for your home. The difficulty may arrive when you must work together with the ex-spouse to settle on a selling price. 

Most separated couples face the dilemma of wanting to sell quickly to minimize interaction without taking a loss for the property. You may find yourself in a situation where one person wants to accept a price and the other wants to hold out. 

The additional financial stress of a divorce or separation can add additional pressure on those who may be depending on the money from the home sale to sustain the cost of the divorce.

So how do separated couples overcome these challenges and agree on a selling price that makes everyone happy? Working with your real estate agent is a good place to start.

An experienced realtor will be able to help you sell your property for a higher price and leave everyone satisfied with the result. Frank Leo & Associates, for example, have helped sell real estate in Toronto for over $1 million over the asking price

Evaluating & Negotiation The Offer On Your Home

Home buyers who are prepared to buy your home will make a written offer to purchase the home via your real estate agent. At this point your real estate agent will review the offer with you and walk you through the contract in order to decide whether to take it. 

If the price meets your asking price or there are competing offers which push the price above asking price, everyone will be happy. It’s typically when the offers don’t meet your minimum requirements that difficulties begin. 

Regardless what starts the disagreement about accepting & negotiating an offer, there are a few ways to overcome the challenge. The first and most simple option is to lean on your real estate agent as the voice of reason. Your real estate agent’s recommendation may be enough to get your spouse to accept the buyer’s offer.

Passing on the offer in hopes of getting a better one or investing in improvements to boost appeal are also both viable options, within reason. The divorce or separation might make these options less appealing but they can work out in some cases. 

The hardest situation to overcome is when an ex-spouse is unreasonably selective about accepting offers or negotiating the price. If difficulties persist and you or your agent suspect they might jeopardize the sale of your home it may be worth considering a professional mediator or legal assistance. 

Step 6: Splitting The Profit From The Home Sale

If you’ve already reached a separation agreement the matter of splitting the profit from a house you’ve sold during divorce will all be prearranged. Deciding how to divide the profit well before you sell your home is the best course of action to avoid aggravation. It may also help you maximize income from your home sale by allowing everyone involved in the home sale to concentrate on selling the home.

Important Final Word Of Wisdom

Of course, in reality, most couples who sell a home after or during a divorce or separation will not have a predetermined plan in place. Reaching an agreement among themselves is the option which leaves the most money in the pockets of both parties. It can be very difficult emotionally during this stressful time. It is important that all parties understand how the law works but it is typically divided equally. If the couple is having disagreements it is wise that they agree to get the property sold for the most money amicably and have the funds held in trust until they can agree as to how they should be divided. The reason for this suggestion is that it will avoid the potential for losing many thousands fighting while bills mount. If there is a disagreement as to who will pay the taxes, mortgage, repairs and any other costs associated with the property? This will lead to overdue payments, interest and penalty charges and even may affect your credit rating. These consequences can avoided by agreeing to do everthing to get the property sold asap and have more money held in trust for you once you decide on how it should be divided. When this isn’t possible it may be necessary to get lawyers involved. Just be aware that the amount you will be left with could be substantially less.

Each partner’s financial situation and the details of the divorce may play a role in how much equity they are awarded. One thing which is certain is that the cost of settling in court will eat into the profit from the sale of the home quite quickly. 

Contact us today or get started working with the Frank Leo & Associates team by signing up for a FREE, no-obligation property evaluation

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Has Your Toronto or GTA Home Listing Expired & Now You’re Getting Realtors Calling You & Knocking on Your Door?

When you put your home on the market with a real estate broker you give your agent permission to create a listing for the property on a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The listing contract you have with the agent gives them exclusive rights to sell your property for the period of time outlined in the contract.

If your contract expires agents will want a shot at representing you and selling your property, but did you know that this solicitation is not only unethical but also against RECO (Real Estate Council of Ontario) Guidelines just like the DO NOT CALL LIST. If you report these realtors they will get fined & reprimanded. The RECO exists to protect you and public interest in order to keep the industry fair for everyone.

All real estate professionals must abide by the regulations set out in the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act (2002) in order to operate in Ontario. RECO is the regulatory body which oversees real estate operations and Ontario to ensure they are up to the legal standard. If an agent does not abide by these rules, they will face consequences ranging from a warning to expulsion and criminal charges.

RECO receives approximately 2,000 complaints annually and each complaint helps keep the industry safer for people selling their home. If you should find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having an experience of an agent who breaks the regulations, you can get all the information you need to know about filing a complaint with RECO here. You can use this link to file the complaint.

What If A Real Estate Agent Breaks The RECO Guidelines By Soliciting An Expired Listing?

Since Toronto & GTA Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Listings are publicly visible, an agent might contact you hoping to sell the property for you.

However, under no circumstances are realtors allowed to contact you after your listing expires unless you explicitly authorize them to do so. If they solicit you they are breaking the rules. Under no circumstances should anyone contact you to sell your listing expires. They are either registered under REBBA and breaking the RECO regulations or not registered. If the later is true, they are operating illegally since very real estate professional in Ontario must be registered under the REEBA.

The Reason A Real Estate Agent Is Not Allowed To Contact You If Your Home Listing Expires

When someone solicits you to sell your home in Toronto or The GTA, there’s a good chance you have no idea who they are. Since selling your home for top-dollar value in a timeframe you agree on is a challenge depending on the agent, the market conditions, the listing, and many other factors, picking the right real estate agent for you is essential to a successful sale.

The RECO guidelines are in place to protect home sellers from being targeted by predatory agents who take advantage of someone’s desperation to get the listing and make a sale, even if it isn’t  the seller’s best option. When your listing sits on the market unsold for a long period of time it can be discouraging. You may start doubting whether you’ll be able to sell at all never mind thinking about getting top dollar from the sale and settle for less. You need a proper strategy for your particular property and  home evaluation to make sure that you sell and get the best possible results.

An agent could take advantage of the situation and contact you in your time of despair, which could result in you making a decision without doing your proper investigations and inquiries. This could ultimately result in selling your property for far less than the home is worth. Although the agent would earn less on the sale if the house sells for less, it may be easy money since he or she doesn’t have to invest time and money into marketing the house. Selling a home in Toronto for the best price takes a great deal of investment of time, resources, and knowledge. Selling for  below market value makes the job much easier. Savvy buyers or investors will naturally be attracted by the price but since the lack of advertising will not be reaching the largest pool of potential buyers, they can get a deal at your expense. Also this will minimizing the amount of work the agent needs to do and require little or no advertising budget or expense.

How To Avoid Getting Contacted By Real Estate Agents Who Want To Sell Your Expired Home Listing

To minimize the chances of having agents solicit your expire listing, you can ask the agent you listed with to make you check off that the box that states to not be contacted if the property expires. This now will protect you from being solicited from unscrupulous realtors. If anyone does  contact you directly they will be in breach of the RECO rules and subject to penalties..

What You Should Do If Your Real Estate Listing Has Expired

Obviously no one expects to sign a listing contract with an agent and the property not be sold. When offers don’t appear or you receive low-ball offers that are not acceptable it can be tremendously frustrating.

The first thing to consider when your listing expires is that your official relationship with the real estate agent is more or less over. At this point, you will have options. You can decide not to sell or can to do some research to find an agent to determine why the home isn’t selling and provide you with a solution to get it sold with the best possible results. Each sale is different, so determining why the home didn’t sell can be a challenge for someone with inexperience.

If you have any further questions about selling your home in Toronto & the GTA remember that you can always contact us to get answers and take advantage of our real estate resources.

How To Find The Right Realtor To Sell Your House In Toronto Or The GTA

Finding the right realtor to sell your house in Toronto or the GTA doesn’t have to be difficult. You should be selective and do research. Remember history repeats itself. It’s not by accident that the same realtors keep having success in selling more and more home while other agents have trouble selling any properties at all. Before you reach out and contact a real estate agent at least you have done some research or received a recommendation and are now knowing who is coming to meet with you. You are in control and can ask the appropriate questions to proceed with confidence.

For most people, their home is the largest investment and one of the most important financial decision of their lifetimes. Don’t leave it to chance? Seek out an agent you trust who has a proven track record. Interview them and ask what their plan is to sell your property and how they will maximize your profit from the home sale. Frank Leo & Associates, for example, employ a Guaranteed Home Selling System developed by Frank and his team over 3 decades helping people buy and sell homes all over The GTA.

Most agents offer a free home evaluation but the evaluation is only as good as the person’s ability and experience providing it. You need to know much more than just price and the fee charged.  Anyone can throw out numbers at you. The most important question you should ask any realtor is “ What will you do to maximize the net dollars I receive from the sale of my home”. It is also very important to follow the money spent or invested to sell your property. It probably easy to realize that it costs nothing to do nothing. To get the best results in any industry you need to have the best professional with the best tools working for you. This will help you attain the best results. Would you want any surgeon to perform heart surgery on you? If you were mistakenly charged with murder would you want just any lawyer representing you? Of course not, considering that you home is one of your largest investments wouldn’t you want the best possible agent representation for you.

Interview Real Estate Agents

Interview the agents you are interested in and make sure they can provide you with the level of service, expertise, and marketing you need to maximize your results. Ask them tough questions. Remember that a good agent will definitely have an answer and solution.

Look for an agent who’s willing to invest time and money into selling your property instead of passively waiting for buyers to stumble onto your property. Get an agent that does things differently and is progressive and doesn’t just rely on old traditional methods. For example, open houses are a proven ineffective method that can benefit real estate agents more than home sellers.

If you are in a situation where you need a reputable real estate team with a proven track record. Don’t hesitate to contact us with your Toronto & GTA real estate questions. A good agent will help you perpare your home for sale in Toronto, provide you with a free home evaluation and plan of action to give you the peace of mind knowing your home will be sold with the best possible results.

Find out more about more about your rights as a home seller in Ontario by contacting RECO and making sure you hire a reputable agent to represent you.

The Difference Between A Withdrawn (Suspended) Listing vs. An Expired Listing vs Cancelled (Terminated) Listing

A withdrawn (suspended) listing has been withdrawn from a Multiple Listing Service but is still represented by a real estate agent. Even if your listing is withdrawn your contract with the listing agent remains intact. An expired listing is also withdrawn from the MLS but the contact between the agent & seller is no longer intact. Also a cancelled listing before the expiry date will also make the contact between the agent & seller is no longer intact

Keep in mind the difference between a withdrawn listing, an expired listing and a cancelled. Real estate agents are not allowed to solicit your business regardless of whether your listing is withdrawn, expired or cancelled, but it’s helpful to understand the difference nonetheless.

How To Avoid Having An Expired Listing

Most people, if given the opportunity, would opt to avoid having their listing expire. Home sellers place their properties on the market to, well, sell them. Fortunately there is a way to guarantee your listing won’t expire.

It’s called the Guaranteed Home Selling System. Offered by Frank Leo & Associates, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Frank Leo & Associates will sell your house for a price you agree to and in a the timeframe that works for you – 100% guaranteed. We use a multi-million dollar marketing operation working around the clock to find a qualified buyer for every property. Frank & his team have developed this system over 3 decades selling homes in Toronto & The GTA.

In fact, if we don’t find the right buyer for your home we will buy the home ourselves. That’s how confident we are about selling your property. You can contact us any time to find out more about selling your home in Toronto or just to ask any real estate questions you might have.

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Home Seller’s Checklist: What You Should Take Care of Before Selling Your Home in Toronto or The GTA

Selling your home in Toronto or The GTA requires planning, organization, and more work than many people realize. This home seller’s checklist will help you keep track of all the tasks that need to be done when selling your home in Toronto or The GTA.

To deal with the workload and ensure everything runs smoothly for the buyer, seller, and any intermediaries, many people chose to hire a real estate professional – but whether you are working with a real estate agent or not, our home seller’s checklist will help you get acquainted with what needs to be done.

If you’re selling with an agent, it still helps to know what needs to be done and when. Although a good real estate agent has processes in place and covers all of the necessary tasks for you, being aware of what’s going on can only help.

This checklist will help you maximize your chances of getting the best value when selling your home. Understanding the checklist will allow you to help your real estate agent highlight your home’s strengths on the market.

Your knowledge of the house combined with your agent’s understanding of real estate markets, preparing  your home for sale, and marketing is a combination for success.

Home Seller’s Checklist Categories

We break our checklist down into several sections. Segmenting everything helps keep your process organized, although there may be some overlap between the sections.

The primary categories on this list are:

  • Documents
  • Before Listing
  • Home Improvements
  • After Listing
  • Depersonalizing
  • Outside Your Home
  • Your Home’s Interior
  • Air Quality/Pets
  • Special Considerations

You may already have a firm handle on many of the sections on this list. If so, you can still skip through the different sections to find the information you haven’t considered or haven’t done yet.

At the very least you’ll have double checked all of the consideration you should take into account when selling your home in Toronto or The GTA.

Home Seller’s Checklist Tasks – Keeping Track of Documents Before You Sell Your Home in Toronto

Selling a home takes paperwork. Having these documents identified and organized, whether that’s in hard copy or digital form, will get you through the home selling process much faster.

Keep a list detailing each document and its status. Since some of these documents might be with your attorney or real estate agent for security, it can be helpful to make notes about where each document is kept. In the event you can’t locate a document this list will be indispensable.

For hard copies, create folders and label them accordingly. Keep them in a secure place. Below you’ll find the main real estate documents you’ll need to sell a house:

◽ Do you have your home’s original sales contract complete with the purchase price?

◽ The deed to your home

◽ Any home surveys you’ve had done (professional inspection reports)

◽ Your professional home appraisal (when you bought the house and the current home evaluation)

◽ Receipts from your property tax

◽ Completed renovation contracts or documentation of home improvements

◽ Warranties (only if they are transferable)

◽ Insurance records

◽ Any warranty information or manuals relating to appliances which are part of the sale

Documents You’ll Need After You Sign A Listing Agreement When Selling Your House

Once you’ve got the documentation regarding the home sale in place and you have found an agent, together you’ll need to assemble various documents for different points in the home selling process. They will include:

◽ The agreement with your real estate agent and a collection of your written communications

◽ A list of all the professional service providers you deal with during the course of your home sale. These include contractors, movers, plumbers, etc.

◽ Any documents your lawyer will need

◽ Documents for your tax accountant

Before you List Your Home For Sale in Toronto or The GTA

Getting all the facts recorded and organized before listing your home for sale is crucial to a smooth home sale. It’s best to have all information before you get into listing or negotiation. If there are problems the must be addressed, you can deal with them before they are a disruption.

Your real estate agent will be in a better position to negotiate in possession of all the facts. In order to make an accurate home evaluation and have a solid foundation for the asking price.

Major repairs should all be completed before putting it on the market. Being proactive also sends a good message to buyers and agents and makes it easier to work with them.

If you want a recommendation for a home inspector, your real estate agent is the best place to start. Here are some of the points to consider before you list your house for sale in Toronto or The GTA.

◽ When was your house built?

◽ Is your home’s electrical wiring in good order? (e.g. lights don’t flicker, breakers and fuses don’t blow)

◽ What type of wiring do you have? (e.g. aluminum or knob and tube)

◽ Is there a fusebox/electrical panel?

◽ Is the plumbing in good order?

◽ When was the furnace last replaced/installed?

◽ Are the furnace filters often replaced?

◽ Is the home equipped with a water softener?

◽ Is the roof well maintained?

◽ Are the windows energy-efficient and well maintained?

◽ Are there any defects in the foundation?

◽ Are there water problems of any sort (including mold and/or mildew)?

Consider General Updates & Repairs Before Selling Your Home in Toronto or The GTA

There’s always room for improvement. Your home inspection and realtor may give you an idea of where it’s a good idea to invest resources when it comes to home updates or repairs.

Remember that while repairs are typically important to do to maximize your chance of getting top dollar for your home, not all updates will provide an equal return on investment. Upgrades don’t have to be major overhauls, and a little update can go a long way.

Work with your real estate agent to prioritize what needs to be done within your budget in order to improve your home. From the buyer’s perspective, the less work they have to put in after they buy a home the better. Make sure your home is in turn-key condition and move-in ready and you’ll be more likely to find a buyer.

◽ Here are some points to consider regarding home upgrades and repairs:

◽ Have you established a timeline?

◽ Do you have a budget set aside for essential repairs and potential upgrades?

◽ Are there any updates or repairs you have been putting off? It may be sensible to take care of these first.

◽ Are there any essential repairs?

◽ Are the windows and doors in good condition?

◽ Are permanent light fixtures in showing condition?

◽ Do your doors and trim appear new?

◽ Are there any holes or cracks in the walls?

Catch our article about cost-effect energy saving updates that you can expect a return on when selling your home in Toronto or The GTA.

Once You’ve Listed Your Home, Get Organized Before You Or Your Agent Stage Your Home For Sale

After you’ve found the best real estate agent for you, had your home inspected, and completed the first part of the checklist, it’s time to move on to getting your home’s interior organized.

Preparing a home to sale is likely to increase the odds it will sell in a good timeframe for a great value that you will be happy with.

Here’s what you should think about when you and your agent are preparing to stage the home:

◽ Is there clutter in any part of your home?

◽ Does the house look immaculate and clean all throughout?

◽ Are personal items and things you don’t need when selling your home away in storage or at your new residence?

◽ Have you stored non-essential items off the premises or in a discreet place?

◽ How does the garage and/or other storage areas look?

◽ Is the basement tidy (if it is used for storage)?

Removing Personal Items Before Selling Your Home

An essential part of home staging is making potential buyers who visit the property feel like they are in their future home, not someone else’s. Although we don’t believe in intrusive open houses at Frank Leo & Associates, when we bring qualified leads to a property we stage it beforehand so they can project their future lives into the space.

◽ Personal items like pictures, unique furniture, and other items can interfere with buyer experience and even cost a home sale.

◽ Here are the points you should consider when depersonalizing the property:

◽ Don’t keep any personal photographs on walls, mantles, etc.

◽ Pack away all books, music, or magazines which don’t appeal to a mainstream audience

◽ Keep memorabilia out of sight

◽ Any children’s items (toys, books, etc) should be neatly organized or stored away

◽ Any potentially offensive items should be removed from the residence

For more tips and insights about staging your home for sale in Toronto & The GTA you can refer to our Home Staging Guide. Frank Leo & Associates have gleaned these insights over 3 decades selling billions of dollars worth of real estate for 1,000’s of satisfied customers in Toronto & The GTA using our Guaranteed Home Selling System.

Curb Appeal When Selling Your Property

The first impression your home makes – whether through Toronto & GTA MLS Listings or in person – is often hard to overcome if it’s not positive.

Although the front yard and face of the home are important, make sure you don’t discount the sides of the home as well as the backyard. These are not to be overlooked, since many people will form an impression of how well the home is maintained based on its exterior.

The exterior is your opportunity to get potential buyers excited about viewing your home. It also gives your real estate agent and photographer ample material to work with for the promotional photography.

Here are the main points regarding your home’s exterior you should think about before selling:

◽ Does the exterior need any major repairs?

◽ Does the exterior need any minor repairs?

◽ Are there any festive or seasonal lights or decorations which need to be taken down?

◽ Are the front, side, and back yards neat and tidy?

◽ If it’s winter, are walkways and paths free of snow and ice?

◽ Have you made a list of everything that needs to be addressed in order of priority?

Maximizing the Appeal of Your Home’s Interior Before Selling

So far we’ve covered depersonalizing your home’s interior spaces and thought about curb appeal, but now you need to make sure every room and element of your house is arrange in a way that maximize appeal to interested buyers.

From flooring, to paint, to the way each room is arranged, each element of your home will be under scrutiny. Here are the things to consider before your agent shows the property to potential buyers. We’ll break them down into individual sections relating to the major parts of your home to evaluate.

Preparing Your Home’s Main Rooms for The Sale

Nobody’s home will be perfect, but there are many things you can do to keep buyers interested when they’re touring your property. The general idea is to show buyer’s what they are looking for, not what they will have to do in order to make the property suitable for themselves.

The small details can often make a big difference, and together they could be more significant than one single but more glaring issue. It’s easier for a buyer to see one thing they want to change and think it will be easy to take care of than for them to be overwhelmed by countless small details they’ll have to alter after the sale.

The longer the potential buyer’s to-do list of things the want to change, the further down the list of homes they’re considering buying your home will sink. Home buyers are happiest with turn-key, move-in ready homes.

Here’s what you should consider to give your prospective home buyers a home they can move right into and feel at home:

The Foyer

◽ Does the home’s entryway feel inviting?

◽ Is the entry spacious and well organized?

◽ Does it reflect the character and appeal of the home?

◽ How does the rest of the home look from the perspective of the entryway?

◽ Are personal items such as shoes, coats, etc. packed away?

Kitchen

◽ Does the kitchen look appealing when you walk in?

◽ Are there too many appliances/accessories like blenders, microwaves, or other gadgets?

◽ Has clutter been removed from the countertops/island?

◽ Are all of the surfaces sparkling?

◽ Is the fridge spotless (exterior and interior)

◽ Is the stove clean (exterior and interior)

◽ Do the appliances match and create a sense of consistency?

◽ Are the cupboards functional and looking tidy?

◽ Is there anything that could use some updating?

◽ Are the floors well-maintained?

◽ Are the sinks sparkling?

Living Room

◽ Is the living area inviting and comfortable in appearance?

◽ Is the furniture arranged nicely and in good repair?

◽ Has any excess furniture been removed and stored away?

◽ Is the room’s decor neutral?

◽ Are pet and children’s toys put away?

◽ Are entertainment consoles and wires all arranged neatly?

◽ Is the room open and full of natural light?

◽ Is the shelving clean and well-ordered?

◽ Are window coverings open to let in sunlight?

◽ If you have a fireplace, is it arranged neatly and cleaned?

◽ Has everything been thoroughly vacuumed and dusted?

Dining Room

◽ Is it clear the space is meant for dining?

◽ Is the centrepiece furniture elegant and matching the rooms decor?

◽ Are all of the components of furniture arranged properly?

◽ Is an upgrade or repair in order?

Master Bedroom

◽ Does the master bedroom evoke a sense of relaxation and comfort?

◽ Is the colour palette consistent and neutral?

◽ Are the pieces of furniture arrange well?

◽ Is there anything that could use an update?

Basement

◽ Does the basement have a specific purpose or use other than storage?

◽ Is that evident when you enter the space?

◽ If the basement is finished does it have the appropriate furniture for its purpose?

Bathrooms / Powder Rooms

◽ Are all surfaces clean?

◽ Is the counter neat and free of clutter and personal items?

◽ Are faucets clean and working properly?

◽ Have all tub and shower surfaces been cleaned?

◽ Are the towels fresh and neatly arranged?

◽ Are any storage areas clean?

Evaluate Your Home’s Paint Before You Sell

The paint on the walls of your home takes up a great surface area and can have a big impact on buyers. Painting a room is a big enough job on its own, so painting a whole tasks is a mammoth undertaking in the minds of potential buyers.

If buyers don’t like it for whatever reason it alone can cause them to form a negative association and pass on buying your property. Fresh, neutral-toned paint is the best way to go. It allows buyers to easily project their vision of how it will look as their space and it’s easy to paint over.

With a neutral palette your buyers will be able to comfortably live in the house before deciding if they want to redo the paint jobs.

◽ Have you recently painted the house?

◽ Is the paint chipping, discoloured, or otherwise in decay?

◽ Do the walls have loud colours which need to be painted to more neutral tones?

◽ Although the walls have neutral colours do they need a fresh coat?

◽ Do the rooms have a consistent colour scheme throughout? (e.g. cool or warm)

◽ Are any of the walls covered in wallpaper? If so it should be removed and replaced with a neutral paint colour.

◽ Do any finishes (e.g. doors, trim, wainscotting) need a new coat of paint or new colour?

◽ Do any of the ceilings need fresh paint?

◽ Are any of the surfaces covered in dirt or fingerprints?

◽ Any residue from tape, thumb tacks, or nails?

Check Your Home’s Flooring

A home’s floors can be a good indicator of how well the previous owners have maintained the property. Scuffed, poorly kept floors can give buyer’s the impression that other parts of the house aren’t in great condition either.

Having nice flooring all throughout is a good indicator that a home is move-in ready. With that in mind, here are the key points you should knock of your to-do list when it comes to your home’s flooring.

◽ Does your home have carpeting? If so, what condition is it in?

◽ What colour is the carpeting in your home?

◽ What is the carpet’s style (e.g. cut pile berber)?

◽ Do any of the rooms that don’t have carpeting need it?

◽ Which carpets need to be replaced – All rooms of just a few? (if only a few rooms need new carpeting make sure you chose something that works with the rest of the carpets)

◽ Does any of the carpeting have hardwood underneath?

◽ Is there vinyl flooring?

◽ Does any vinyl flooring need to be replaced?

◽ Do you have hardwood floors?

◽ Do the hardwood floors need to be refinished?

◽ Any places with excessive wear or water damage?

◽ Are all area rugs strain free?

Furniture & Other Accoutrements

Removing too much furniture makes a house feel empty and not livable while leaving too much or not arranging it properly create clutter. The happy medium is having the right number and type of furniture in each room arranged in such a way that brings out the rooms strengths and favourable qualities.

Keep in mind that the furniture should be arranged with the showing in mind. Arrange things according to the flow of how buyers will move through the house, not necessarily what is most comfortable or convenient for residents.

◽ Don’t forget to light everything properly to place emphasis on each room’s most attractive features.

◽ Here’s what you should consider what arranging and placing furniture in the house your selling:

◽ How much furniture does each room have in it?

◽ What is the placement of each piece of furniture in the respective room?

◽ Is your furniture in good, showing condition?

◽ Do you think you need to replace or rent furniture to replace furniture with wear and tear?

◽ Is there enough light in each room and are the bulbs appropriate wattage?

◽ Are all of the bulbs working properly?

◽ Do all switches work correctly?

Doors, Windows, & Finishes

Elements like windows, doors, and finishes are elements of your home which can serve as accents that really accentuate a room’s charm. If they’re in disrepair or mismatched, they can unfortunately have the opposite effect.

Here’s what to consider when evaluating whether any of your home’s finishes need a once-over or replacement:

◽ Do any doors have chipping paint or need new paint or replacing?

◽ Do all the doors open and close smoothly?

◽ Are the handles and locks moving smoothly?

◽ Do any of the doors creak?

◽ Do any frames or doors have smudges?

◽ Do any screens have holes?

◽ Are all of the windows clean and streak free?

◽ Is there any damage to any of the windows?

◽ Are all of the window latches and other hardware working?

◽ Are all of the seals in place?

◽ Are the curtains, drapes, and/or blinds all clean and elegant?

◽ Do any of the homes finishes (e.g. wainscoting, crown moulding) need attention?

Air Cleanliness & Pets

Your home’s air quality can have a big impact on your home sale. Even with new HVAC your home could have an atmosphere which is normal to you but not what most buyers are used to. It’s particularly common for properties which are home to pets to have this problem.

It is important to ensure your home has a neutral atmosphere to maximize its appeal to buyers. Odours can get trapped in carpets and furniture, mean it might be necessary to rent or buy new furniture or do some minor renovations.

◽ Is your homes HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, & Cooling) running smoothly?

◽ Have you inspected your smoke & carbon monoxide detectors and confirmed they are in good working order?

◽ Are there any lingering smells or odours permeating your home that you could eliminate?

◽ Do you often cook with strong seasoning or foods with strong odours?

◽ If you have pets around keep them somewhere else while showing the house. If not try to keep them and their items out of sight during showings.

◽ Remove signs of your pet including food, toys, accessories, etc.

If You’re Selling Your Home During The Holidays

Although you shouldn’t let the sale of your home stand in the way of holiday celebrations you should celebrate in a manner which won’t adversely affect your chances of attracting buyers.

For example holiday decorations and religious items should be stored away immediately following your celebration and not kept out in the open. Although some home sellers think adding a festive touch makes a home more inviting, it’s best to leave these items out of site at all times.


◽ Here’s what you should consider regarding holidays, celebrations, and your home sale:

◽ Are you selling your home around the holidays?

◽ Is it a festive time of year/ are there holidays taking place?

◽ Do you have decorations hanging around/inside your home? If so take them down for showings/photography.

◽ Keep the decor only for the celebration and remove everything after your festivities are done

Keeping Track Of Everything When Selling Your Home in Toronto & The GTA

There you have it – the checklist for selling your home in Toronto or The GTA. The list may seem daunting, but keep your list current by checking items off the list and you’ll get peace of mind that your sales process will run smoother.

Thinking of selling your home in Toronto or The GTA?

Consider working with Frank Leo & Associates. Led by the #1 Individual RE/MAX Agent in the World, our Team has helped 1,000’s of Torontonians get top dollar value for their homes over 30 years. We’ve sold billions of dollars worth of real estate and are proud to serve the region.

You can get started with us by getting a FREE, no-obligation home evaluation in Toronto or contacting us with any Toronto real estate questions.

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How Do You Sell A Home in Toronto or The GTA For Top Dollar Without Intrusive Open Houses? Learn How From Frank Leo, The #1 RE/MAX Agent in The World

Entertaining guests is one thing, but for most people the only strangers they want in their homes are plus ones at a party. So why is it taken for granted that you need an open house to sell your home in Toronto & The GTA? Many people go as far as having multiple open houses hoping to find the right buyer.

Over his career Frank Leo has taken the “hope-ing” out of the home selling process in Toronto. In fact, he’s taken the open house out of selling homes. Why?

It’s because open houses don’t necessarily sell houses in Toronto, The GTA, or anywhere.  In fact, they attract unqualified buyers.

Most agents and sellers hold open houses because it’s easy and convenient. It’s also in their personal interest to hold open houses, but we’ll get into that later. 

First we’ll run you through why open houses are ineffective and how you don’t need to have open houses to sell your property in Toronto for top dollar.

Do Open Houses Actually Sell Houses?

Let’s look at the numbers.

Most home seller’s guides recommend holding open houses. With 517,018 houses sold in Canada in 2017, that’s a lot of open houses. That statistic would suggest that open houses play a big role in selling houses.

However, it may come as a surprise that hardly any buyers learn about the home they eventually buy from an open house.

Considering that an open houses is a standard marketing tactic that is practically assumed in most real estate offerings, it’s remarkably ineffective.

Open houses – along with other traditional marketing tactics – are simply outdated. During a time where they were at the forefront of real estate marketing they were surely more effective. However, times have changed.

With the advent of the internet and other communication tools available to real estate agents open houses are falling by the wayside. Knocking on doors, cold calling, sending out flyer and open houses are no longer the norm.

That’s right. Open houses are going the way of travelling salesman and cold callers. It’s all because the consumers have moved on. People are more responsive to different forms of communication.


Because consumers do things differently now these methods don’t reach many people & even less buyers. What’s more, the people they do reach don’t respond to them.

In short, open houses are not a good way to allocate resources when marketing your home for sale.

Is An Open House Still A Good Idea In Your Case?

In some cases, an open house can still be effective. If the property is available to show the property by appointment anytime then it is effectively an open house 24hrs a day.

If you find yourself wondering whether it’s still a good idea to run an open house, as yourself if it’s really worth the trouble.

Selling your home in Toronto & The GTA is an involved process. If you have a great real estate agent he or she will handle nearly everything, but that still leaves you with a number of new issues:

  • You have to make time, probably on the weekend, to invite who knows how many strangers into your home
  • Buyers have to take time out of their busy lives to find out whether it will be a good fit
  • The stress of a public showing of your private space
  • An added time frame during which you’ll have to prepare your home for the open house
  • The security issue of not knowing who is coming to see your home.

What You Should Do To Sell Your Home in Toronto Instead Of An Open House

There are plenty of impactful marketing tactics that will help sell your home fast for top dollar.

Over the course of a 30 year career selling billions of dollar worth of homes in Toronto & The GTA, Frank Leo has used his innovative real estate tactics to help thousands of Torontonians get the best value for their homes.

As the #1 Individual RE/MAX Agent in the World Frank Leo didn’t get where he is by accident. Frank Leo doesn’t do open houses because he cares about his clients and getting them the best deal on their home sale. That’s why he doesn’t do open houses

You see, an open house often ends up benefiting the realtor more than the home seller.

Why Realtors Really Hold Open Houses

First and foremost it costs almost just some time. When realtors hold open houses, their chances of attracting and closing a new prospective buyer are very low. After all, buying a house is a big investment, one which the vast majority of people won’t make on a whim.

Although he may not have a high chance of selling your property, a real estate agent is likely to meet a number people interested in buying a property. He can then show those buyers other properties similar to yours and find the right one for them. Of course, this comes with a commission for him, but nothing for you.  Basically using our property as bait to attract buyers.

When you look at it this way, most people don’t want their home used as a sales parlour for other people’s real estate deals.

Frank Leo & Associates Don’t Hold Open Houses

It’s a matter of principle. Frank Leo & Associates always put their clients’ needs first.

Instead of using ineffective open houses, we allocate the time and resources we have available to the most effective techniques for marketing each client’s individual property. We know that by reaching millions of potential buyers weekly, that translates into greater opportunities to sell your property for the more.

The methods Frank Leo his team have developed have innovated the real estate industry and Toronto & beyond. That’s why Frank Leo is an award winning realtor in Toronto & The GTA, recognized as #1 in the World.

Our multi-million dollar marketing system works 24/7 all year round to find qualified buyers for our clients’ homes. Using both inbound and outbound methods we find buyers before we show them houses in person.

We understand that a property won’t sell unless buyers learn that it’s for sale. Our 360 degree marketing system uses many methods to attract buyers from every walk of life. We drive buyers to the internet using TV, Radio, Billboards, Social Media, Mass Campaigns, Targeted Campaigns, Newspapers and Magazines to drive traffic and attention to our properties. Since 51% of home buyers find their home through the internet, we understand how important it can be in our arsenal of tactics for finding the perfect buyer for each home we sell in Toronto & the GTA.

An Effective Real-Estate Website

Our website provides buyers with not only in-depth information about homes and photos which showcase each property, but includes statistical information which can help buyers find the right homes for them.

It gives them a more convenient experience because they see homes they are interested in.

We use social media and other digital marketing tools to target precisely the type of buyer which would be interested in a particular home. It’s really a win – win.

Buyer’s seeking a home have an easier time finding the right house when they are thinking of buying a home in Toronto & The GTA. Sellers can reach highly-qualified buyers and increase their chances of getting great value on their home sales.

If you’d like to learn more about working with Frank Leo & Associates or you’re thinking of selling, we’re always here to talk with you. Don’t hesitate to contact us.

Marketing That’s Guaranteed to Sell Better Than An Open House

At Frank Leo & Associates we offer our clients what we call a Guaranteed Home-Selling System.

Our system is better than traditional marketing like open houses. We even guarantee to sell your home for a price and at a time frame you agree on because we are so confident in the success of our system.

Selling Homes in Toronto & The GTA & Reaching More Buyers

Open houses only appeal to the small geographic area around them. As a marketing tactic, they won’t reach the buyer’s who live out of the immediate area and is also time restrictive to buyers so they may not be able to attend.

Mass marketing is able to reach more home buyers searching home listings in Toronto & The GTA all around the world. Regardless where the buyer is, they can learn about your home and whether it’s right for them.

“Online” Open Houses in Toronto & The GTA

A well-made, marketed, promoted, known, and high-traffic website is far more effective at attracting interest than an open house. As mentioned, users can browse Toronto MLS listings at their convenience.

With professional photography of a well prepared and presented home, an online presence for a Toronto home will  give users a more accurate idea of whether they are interested in a home over seeing a directional sign for an open house.

Realistically, very few home buyer hear about an open house. Only a limited amount of people from the neighbourhood and random people driving by. People not necessarily buyers.

When a home buyer views a house online they get far more. They can learn about the intricate details of the house like what kind of finishes it has, when it was built, how many square feet they can expect, and what kind of upgrades it features, & more.

Buyer’s can use real estate resources like these to make an informed choice about expressing interest in a house instead of a general interest. That way, when your realtor will bring you pre-qualified parties and don’t waste anyone’s time.

How To Sell A House Without an Open House

As you can see many realtors still use open houses in Toronto & the GTA as a marketing tool. Not because they are effective but because open houses do not cost money to hold, only some time.

Selling without open houses takes resources. You (or your realtor) will need to spend marketing and advertising dollars to reach as large an audience as possible. This will greatly increase the likelihood of finding the ideal and or best buyers for your property in order to get you the highest price possible. Unfortunately advertising is expensive but how expensive will it be for you if you don’t reach the ideal buyer for your home and sell it for less that you could have?  Don’t take chances with your largest investment!

This is just a short summary of all the work that a real estate agent puts in to sell your home.