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Steps to Selling a Home

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Home Preparation You know what they say: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Preparing your home for sale is hard work, but do it right and you’ll reap the rewards of your efforts in your bank account.

There are five 5 steps to preparing your home for sale:

Step 1 De-cluttering and De-personalizing We all have too much stuff, and too much stuff can be distracting to potential Buyers. When preparing your home for sale, you want to eliminate as much clutter as possible—books, knick-knacks, storage boxes, off-season clothes, your giant shoe collection, etc. It’s also important to neutralize your space as much as possible so that potential Buyers can see themselves living in your home—and that means putting away personal photos, mementoes and collections.

Step 2 – Cleaning Think of the cleaning you need to do to prepare your home for sale as what you’d expect in a hotel room. Wash the baseboards, remove the cobwebs from the ceiling, clean inside your fridge and oven, clean inside your closets and kitchen cupboards, dust under your stuff and have the carpets professionally cleaned. Sadly, the cleaning won’t stop when your house goes on the market–every day, you’ll need to make your bed, do the dishes, wash the floors and clean up after the kids.

Step 3 – Staging Staging involves optimizing the use, look and feel of every room in your home. It might mean converting your home office to a third bedroom, adding, removing or re-arranging furniture, painting the walls, replacing light fixtures or investing in some fluffy towels for the guest bathroom. Whether you bring in a professional stager or just work with your REALTOR, making your home appeal to the greatest number of Buyers doesn’t have to be expensive, but it will take time. But remember: the effort you put into transforming your home will impact how long it takes your home to sell and of course, the price you get.

Step 4 – Repairs and Renovations Let’s face it, we all have a tendency to procrastinate fixing the little stuff – the leaky faucet, the peeling wallpaper, the dent in the kitchen cabinets, the loose gutters. Bringing in a handyman to complete all those little fixes will go a long way to communicating to potential Buyers that your home has been well-maintained (and you’ll wonder why you put it off so long). And make sure there are no burnt out light bulbs!

Step 5 – Pre-listing home inspection If you own a house, completing a pre-listing home inspection before you put your house on the market will help you identify any issues with the home that might be objections for Buyers. For example, the home inspector may determine that your house needs a new roof. Armed with that information, you can choose to either a) fix the roof before putting the house up for sale, or b) factor it into your asking price. Either way, having accurate information puts you in control of how the deficiencies in your house will affect the price you get for the house. If you’re pricing your home for a bidding war, making the pre-listing home inspection available to Buyers will encourage them to make offers. How the BREL Team can help you prepare your home for sale

  • We’ll tell you what others won’t. We’ll give you frank advice on what you can do to help get top dollar for your home, and yes, that might mean telling you precious Fido doesn’t smell very good. Or that you need to re-paint that pink wall.

  • We’ll help with coordinating the preparation of your home and give you access to more than 100 trusted home professionals including handymen, painters, plumbers, gardeners and more.

  • We’ll send in our staging and design team to make your home look its best – our staging warehouse is full of furniture and accessories to fit any decor. Click here to read more about our staging services.

  • We’ll send in our professional cleaners to clean the places you probably don’t.

  • We have a full-time Client Concierge on staff, so if you need someone to wait for the locksmith or get you boxes, we’ve got you covered. Click here to read more about the BREL Concierge for Sellers.


Your home is only worth what a Buyer is willing to pay, but the right pricing strategy can make the difference between how much money is left in your pocket and how much is left on the negotiating table.

Should you price your home for a bidding war? Price high and plan to negotiate? How do you factor in the time of year you decide to sell into your asking price? Should your listing price be a whole number (700,000) or end in 9’s (699,900) and does that even matter? What should you include in the price? When is it time to lower the price? Your asking price is equivalent to naming the first number in a negotiation, so it’s important to select the right asking price. Price too high and you risk being on the market for a long time and getting less than you might have (had you priced at market value); price too low and you’re leaving money on the table. When it comes to determining how much your home is worth, it’s important to look at:

  • recent sales in your neighbourhood

  • properties currently on the market

  • current market conditions

  • the pluses and minuses of your home

It’s also important to remember that the price of your home is a moving target, and will depend on the time of year you sell and who you’re competing with. How the BREL team can help you price your home:

  • We know the market and comparable sales. We live and breathe Toronto real estate, and when we’re not out looking at properties with clients, we’re doing it ourselves.

  • We physically see all your competition before and during the listing, so we know how to price ourselves accordingly.

  • We know what sells, what doesn’t, and why.

Want to know more about pricing your home? Check out these blog posts about pricing for Sellers:

Marketing Contrary to what some agents will have you believe, there’s a lot more to marketing your home than just putting it on the MLS – at least there is if you want to get top dollar. When it comes to reaching Buyers, an ideal marketing plan should involve:

1. Identifying Your Ideal Buyer If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the big retail brands, it’s that effective marketing needs to target a specific audience, and the more you know about your Ideal Buyer, the better. Who is the most likely person to buy your home? Are they single or do they have kids? How old are they? How will they live in the home? Where are they living now? What features and benefits are important to them?

2. Marketing Materials that Resonate with your Ideal Buyer Different Buyers will respond to different types of marketing, and it’s important that the marketing for your home is written and designed to appeal to your Ideal Buyer. Does your target Buyer read the postcards he gets in the mail or is the most likely to respond to a video or social media post? Is your Buyer already working with an agent or going-it-alone on Craigslist? What words and language will your Buyer be most likely to respond to?

3. Looking Good and Being Found Online. 96% of Buyers look for a home online, so if they aren’t finding yours, you’re in trouble. Outstanding photos are crucial to capturing the interest of today’s Buyer, and no matter how many pixels the iPhone camera has these days, it’s just not enough. In our opinion, professional photography is non-negotiable. A comprehensive digital and social marketing plan allows Buyers to find you online, in the places where they’re already spending their online time.

4. Exposing Your Home to Buyers Who Don’t Even Know They’re Buyers Yet. Sure, your Ideal Buyer might already be looking for a home right now…but what if they’re not? What if they aren’t working with an agent and not trolling Effective listing marketing reaches people who are already in the market for a home AND people who are not. How the BREL team Can Help You Market Your Home:

  • We admit, we don’t market properties like everybody else. We take the best of traditional advertising and couple it with proven digital and social marketing to give the homes we list maximum exposure. We’re known for our leading-edge listing marketing (heck we often speak at conferences and teach other REALTORS how to do it!)

  • We work with Buyers too, so we know how Buyers think. We’re pros at profiling your Ideal Buyer and figuring out where they are (so we can be there too).

  • We don’t take photos with our phones or fool ourselves into thinking that we can create our own advertising. We work with professional photographers, designers, writers and web geeks to make your home look so good online that people can’t wait to see it in person.

  • Our marketing strategies aren’t just custom to your Ideal Buyer, we use custom advertising campaigns targeting three specific audiences: Buyers who already in the market; real estate agents working with Buyers; and people who don’t even know they want to buy a house yet (let alone in your neighbourhood).

  • It’s no surprise that you’re here reading this: we get over 90,000 visitors to our website a month. That’s a LOT of potential Buyers for your home.

  • We don’t just market your home, we market your neighbourhood: from neighbourhood infographics to neighbourhood Pinterest boards. There’s nothing more effective than helping a potential Buyer experience your home, and we use video and virtual tours to do just that.

  • We know how to make your home stand out in a crowd and get the attention it deserves.

Want to know more about marketing your home for sale? Check out these blog posts for sellers:

  • 100 Mistakes Sellers Make (Please Don’t Make Them)

  • Does Marketing Matter When Selling Your Home?

  • How We Reach More Buyers

Showing Your Home To Buyers

Your home is ready, the price is right, the marketing has worked, and the Buyers want to see it. Here’s our best advice for showing your home to potential Buyers:

1. Be flexible with showing times Selling your home is an inconvenience, there’s no denying that. But if you want top dollar for your home, you’ll want to be flexible with when you allow people to see it. Remember that most people work from 9-5 Monday-Friday, so they’ll most likely want to see your home in the evenings or on weekends.

2. Leave your house during showings While I’m sure you could tell potential Buyers all about your renovations and the leaky basement, Buyers aren’t comfortable looking at a house when the Sellers are home, so it’s best to let them explore at their own leisure. Go for a walk, catch a movie or temporarily move in with a friend—do whatever you need to do to allow potential Buyers free reign.

3. Make sure your home is always in top condition Make your bed, do the dishes, wash the floors, clean the litter box—and always remember to crate the dog (or better yet, take him with you).

4. Open houses While the official stats are that 4% of houses sell as a result of an open house, our personal experience is that they’re much more effective than that. Open houses allow potential Buyers (and let’s face it, curious neighbours) to see your house in a non-threatening, low-pressure environment. Many a Buyer who wasn’t in the market to buy a house fell in love at an open house. 5. Feedback Remember: what really matters in selling your home is what Buyers are seeing and feeling. Responding to their concerns and objections in a timely matter will go a long way to reducing how long your home is on the market.

Your hard work has paid off…and you’re getting an offer from a Buyer. Here’s what to expect:

The Buyer’s offer may be presented to you and your agent in person, your agent might receive it by e-mail or, in a throw-back to the 90’s, the offer may arrive by fax.

The offer will contain some important points of negotiation:

  1. The deposit

  2. The price

  3. The closing date

  4. The irrevocable time/date

  5. The conditions

Once you receive an offer, you can respond in one of 3 ways:

  1. Accept the offer as is – congratulations, you’ve just sold your house!

  2. Make a counter-offer (with better conditions and/or price for yourself) – the Buyer at this point can accept your counter-offer, make another counter-offer or walk away altogether.

  3. Decline the offer and walk away.

Negotiating is a fine art, and if you’ve chosen your agent wisely, they’ll provide solid advice and guidance to get you the price you want. The final price decisions when selling your home are always yours to make, but it helps to have a strategic negotiator on your side.

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