For Sale By Owner:What's the Consensus?

By: Dana Gain

For Sale By Owner:
What's the Consensus?

Tags: Private sale, For sale by owner

Considering selling your home privately? The temptation can be strong, especially in a seller's market. Why not save half the real estate commission and just do it yourself? After all, who knows the features of the home better than you do?

The fact is, many people who attempt to sell their home privately end up using a REALTOR® in the end. Let's look at some of the reasons why.


Promoting a home is a full-time job. Consider the last time you prepared to sell your home using a REALTOR®. De-cluttering, depersonalizing, changing the function of spaces to appeal to a more generic audience.

Then, keeping the house immaculate around the clock in case you get a call for a showing, and getting ready for the weekend open houses.

Without a real estate professional to help, you'll be arranging showings and hosting the open houses yourself. Screening the phone calls to ensure your potential buyers are qualified. Answering questions from visitors and following up afterwards to see if the showing resulted in any kind of serious interest.

Assuming you have priced the home competitively, eventually an offer may come in. Since it's your own home, there is a considerable emotional investment involved in the negotiation process. Will you be objective and negotiate the best possible price, or will you be so exhausted from the efforts of trying to sell on your own that you accept less than you planned just want to get it over with?

Finding The Buyers

Now that you have had a sign created and placed in front of of the home, how will you tell buyers about your property? The vast majority of home buyers search to check out houses before a showing. This site is driven by the MLS®, or Multiple Listing Service, and is accessible only by licensed REALTORS® who belong to a local Real Estate Board.

Without access to 
®, how will you market your home?

Some For Sale By Owner sellers opt for Kijiji or other free classified sites. However, these marketing venues tend to be cluttered with real estate advertisements from other brokerages and new home builders. As a result, buyers may not find your advertisement at all.

Word of mouth or social media can certainly be effective. However, in the case of social media you now must find the time to manage these ads and reply to questions. Importantly, you must also find a way to qualify these potential buyers to ensure they have the means to purchase your home.


Successfully advertising your home in any strategic way costs money. Since this investment is typically shouldered by real estate professionals, it's an additional expense to consider.

Will you take photographs to use in your advertising? Standard fees for real estate photographers vary, but you can expect somewhere in the neighbourhood of a couple hundred dollars for professional photos to be taken.

Feature sheets, the small brochures that 
REALTORS® use as leave-behinds during open houses, are an excellent idea, but these too are an additional investment. Who will you use to create these, how long will they take to produce, and how much time will be involved in organizing the effort?

There are other things to consider. For example, do you know the market well enough to get the most for your home? Often private home sellers decide on a listing price from anecdotal information, and either end up too high or too low. This results in either leaving money on the table, or not finding a buyer at all. 

Real estate law is another consideration. Complicated and ever-changing, real estate law governs nearly every phase of selling your home. Successful transactions are dependent on precise documentation, research, and due diligence.

Securing the assistance of a real estate lawyer is prudent to ensure you have covered your bases, but remember that there will be an additional financial investment to consider.

While the temptation may be strong to try and sell privately in a seller's market, ultimately it will depend on your ability and willingness to dedicate the time and the money.

Subscribe to Monthly Newsletter

Explore More Articles

Find out when Neighbours Are Selling

What's Your Home Worth?