With the exception of the downtown Toronto condo market, how much a seller can get for their home and how quickly depends on much more than just the actual value of the house.

Seller Grace has decided to put her home on the market. Her first step is finding a realtor she can trust, even after their deal has finished. Grace’s second step is settling on a list price. Her realtor says her home should sell for around $410,000. This number is determined after discussing the comparable “solds,” as well as Grace’s competition. If there are a number of homes for sale in Grace’s neighborhood, it would be a good idea to view those homes and get a feel for where her own home stands in comparison.

When Grace hears the price of $410,000 from her realtor, she might scoff. Especially since, just a month ago, an agent came to the door insisting she could sell for $440,000. What Grace needs to understand is it’s easy for a dishonest agent to promise a price above market value, without any evidence to back it up. It’s also easy for them to put up their sign and cash in on the calls that sign generates. And if that agent is active in the area, you can bet an overpriced, inferior home goes a long way toward convincing buyers to move quickly on the reasonably priced ones.


Now, after Grace is confident in her sale price of $410,000, her list price will depend heavily on her goals. If she needs to sell within a month, she needs to list close to that number. If she has a window of a few months, Grace can list perhaps around $430,000.

If she plans on listing in July, the window of an extra month or two isn’t a smart option. Most homes like hers will sell before September so the kids can get into school. She needs to price aggressively. If she was listing in February, then maybe she could hope for a special buyer willing to pay more.

Is Grace a sucker for listing in July? Is February the best time to list? The truth is there is no guaranteed best time to list. The only real answer is the best time to sell is when you’re ready to sell!

Most importantly, Grace shouldn’t be listing her place until it is 100 per cent ready to show. I can’t stress this enough. If she needs to clean up the basement, paint one of the washrooms, or fix a few lights, she should do all this before the house is open to a single buyer. Grace shouldn’t be home during the showings, and she shouldn’t be cooking anything other than apple pie before the showings!

Her realtor should also be experienced in the art of “staging” — making a home look as good as possible to the buyer. A few quick tips include air freshener, non-cluttering furniture, accented tables and bedspread, and removing personal items, like pictures.

For more information on your real estate questions, e-mail Amit at amitp@rogers.com.