Looking to sell your Toronto house?

We know that selling your home can be daunting. That’s why we put together this comprehensive guide to give you the information and tools you need to navigate the process confidently.

Scroll down to read our advice for every step of the selling process, or quickly jump to any section using the menu.

Deciding When to Sell Your House

If only there were an easy answer to the question: When should I sell my house? Important considerations include:

  • Time of year – Real estate in Toronto is seasonal, with December, January and August historically being the slowest months. The best months to list a house for sale in Toronto are February, March, April and September, when buyers are motivated and the other sellers are busy preparing to list their homes for sale in the “spring” or “fall” markets.
  • Current competition in your neighbourhood – At any given time, there are only so many buyers looking for the kind of house you have. If those buyers have a big selection of houses like yours to look at, you can expect fewer showings and fewer offers (which usually results in a lower price). Conversely, if you’re the only renovated three-bedroom house with a garage for sale in your neighbourhood, everyone will flock to your house.
  • Current competition in similar neighbourhoods – Most buyers have two or three target neighbourhoods they want to live in, so it’s important to consider what’s for sale in neighbourhoods similar to yours too. Similar neighbourhoods aren’t just those that are physically close but include those similar in quality of the schools, proximity to parks, restaurants, services and transportation and similar in terms of the type of people who live there (singles, couples, families, retirees, etc.).
  • State of the real estate market – Interest rates and consumer confidence affect prices, and like any other type of financial market, what goes up usually comes down. What’s going on in the market right now?
  • Your personal needs and goals – If you’re moving out of the city or have already bought a new house, that timing will likely override everything else. Likewise, an upcoming baby, need for a live-in nanny, wedding or divorce might dictate your timing too.

Related: Are You Ready to Sell Your Home?

RelatedShould You Buy or Sell First? 

Hiring a REALTOR

The real estate agent you choose to hire matters—in fact, it might be one of the biggest factors impacting how much you sell for, how long your house is listed for sale, and your overall experience. Hire the right REALTOR, and you’ll benefit from a fast sale and a great price. Hire the wrong one and expect to pay in time, aggravation and money.

When selecting an agent to list your house for sale, look for:

1.  House experience – Selling a house is very different from selling a condo, so make sure the agent you hire understands the intricacies and unique challenges of Toronto houses.

2. Listing expertise – Ontario real estate agents are licensed to help both buyers and sellers, but the skills needed are very different. When interviewing agents, ask how many homes they’ve LISTED for sale. In 2023, 69% of Toronto REALTORS didn’t successfully list a single home for sale.

3. Familiarity with your neighbourhood – A listing agent isn’t just selling your house – they’re selling your neighbourhood too.

4. Services and inclusions that matter to you – Some REALTORS include professional cleaning, staging, HDR photos, floor plans, videos, 3-D tours, and more in their commission, while others offer more basic services.

5. Marketing acumen – There’s so much more to marketing a house than listing it on the MLS. Hire an agent who has proven they can reach potential buyers online and on social media.

6. Advanced skills in pricing, negotiation, and strategy – They don’t really teach this in real estate school, and these are the skills that will make the biggest difference in how long your home takes to sell and the price you get.

7. Communication skills, responsiveness and availability – Selling your home is stressful; you can reduce the pain by hiring a REALTOR who prioritizes communicating how and when you want to be communicated with.

Remember, you get what you pay for. Real estate services come in all shapes and sizes: you can list your house on MLS for $150 and do everything yourself; you can list with a discount broker who provides limited services; or you can list with a full-service broker and get the staging, marketing, expertise and strategy that comes with higher commissions. Decide what you need, what you’re prepared to pay for, and pick accordingly.

Remember: Your REALTOR Is On Your Side

If you’ve chosen to work with an ethical agent, be honest with them. Tell them the real reason you are selling (even if it’s a divorce or you’ve gotten yourself into a financial mess). Disclose the good AND the bad about your home. Tell them what you really want – or need – both financially and from the selling experience. Your agent works for you, and their only job is to protect your interests. If you don’t trust your agent, fire them and hire someone else.

Related: Discount vs. Full-Service REALTORS: What’s the Difference? 

Related: 15 Big Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Listing Agent

Costs to Sell

Home Preparation – variable

Cost varies depending on how much you decide to fix and upgrade.

Staging – $0-$10,000+

Usually, the seller bears the full cost of professional staging; however, some real estate agents pay for professional cleaning and staging.

Note: When you list your condo with the BREL team, you get cleaning, professional staging and help wrangling tradespeople, included in the commission. 

Home Inspection – $400-$600

We often recommend that sellers get a pre-listing home inspection before they put their house up for sale. This gives sellers the opportunity to proactively fix any issues with the house before it hits the market or factor the cost of those issues into the asking price. There’s nothing worse than first learning there’s a buried oil tank in the backyard…from a buyer at the negotiating table!

BREL tip: the person with the most information almost always wins a negotiation

The transparency of a pre-listing home inspection gives buyers the confidence to make an offer, without the nagging fear of the “what-ifs”.

Note: When you list your house with the BREL team, you get cleaning, professional staging, a pre-list home inspection and help wrangling tradespeople, all included in the commission. We consider it an important part of our pricing strategy and a critical part of marketing your home to prospective Buyers.

Real Estate Commission – variable

The biggest selling cost is the commission paid to real estate agents. The commission is usually split between the…

  • Agent who works for you, the seller (aka the Listing Agent)
  • Listing Agent’s brokerage
  • Agent who brings the Buyer (aka the Buyer’s Agent)
  • Buyer’s Agent’s brokerage

In Toronto, we find many service and commission options, ranging from 1-6%. The commission an agent charges depends on their experience and expertise, the services they offer (professional cleaning and staging, HDR photography, floor plans, videography, virtual tours, digital marketing, print marketing, etc.), and the amount offered to the agent who brings the buyer.

Note: At the BREL team, our business model of ‘All-in Pricing’ means that our commission includes the primping, prepping, staging and marketing necessary to get our sellers the highest price. You can read more about our commission options here

Legal Fees – $1,200-$2,000

Legal fees for selling your home depend on the law firm you choose and the price of your home. Check out one of our favourite lawyers’ websites, Feld Kalia, for a quick online quote.

Mortgage Penalty – $0-$10,000+

If you have a mortgage, your lender may charge you a penalty if you sell during the mortgage period. Most banks allow you to apply the remaining mortgage balance to the mortgage of a new property (provided you purchase the new home within 90 days of closing), but some mortgages have restrictions. If you’re selling your home and not buying a new one, you will likely have to pay a pre-payment penalty, which might be thousands of dollars. Make sure to talk to your lender before you list your house for sale.

Other Costs – variable

Before closing, your lawyer will give you a full breakdown of any other selling costs, which may include outstanding property taxes, utilities, etc. The seller is responsible for these costs up until the closing date, so if your closing date doesn’t align with the date you normally pay these expenses (it usually doesn’t), you’ll be responsible for paying the partial month’s costs.

If you have pets, you’ll likely want to factor in some extra dollars for boarding. It’s much easier for buyers to view a home without Fido following them around, and a dirty litter box is one of the fastest ways to turn off a buyer. Boarding your pets will speed up your sale.

Last but not least, there’s good news: the buyer is responsible for paying land transfer taxes, so that’s one cost you won’t have to budget for!

Getting Your House Ready to Sell & Staging

Gather Relevant Information

In order to be able to sell your house, your REALTOR will need some important information, including:

  1. Copies of your hydro, gas and property tax bills
  2. Any rentals (eg hot water tank)
  3. Any renovations you’ve completed

Be prepared to discuss with your REALTOR any current issues with the house—it’s better to disclose any ongoing issues than to get sued later.

Preparing Your House for Sale

When preparing your house for sale, keep these 4 goals in mind:

  1. Declutter to make the space look as big as possible. Remove personal items, extra armoires and anything that could distract potential buyers. Smaller furniture will make the rooms look bigger, so consider swapping out that king-sized bed that takes up the whole bedroom for a smaller one and replacing the L-shaped couch with a more compact version.
  2. Fix the small stuff. Buyers overestimate the cost and hassle of fixing minor issues, so fix any scratches, holes, or damage to your flooring or walls. Repair leaky faucets and re-caulk the shower/bathtub if needed.
  3. Make sure every room is staged to its optimal use. It’s OK if you’re using your second bedroom as a walk-in closet, but convert it back to a bedroom for the sale. Buyers don’t often have great imaginations, so put a dining table in the dining room and a desk in the den.
  4. Clean, clean, and clean again! The cleaner your home, the faster it will sell. Potential buyers will look inside closets, kitchen cupboards, and bathroom vanities. Make sure everything sparkles!

You might also want to consider updating light fixtures, painting walls and ceilings, updating bathroom fixtures, replacing cabinet hardware or getting new window treatments. Talk to your REALTOR to understand the costs and benefits before you make any upgrades.

Special Considerations for Houses

  • Curb Appeal – More than once we’ve had buyers pull up to the front of a house they were interested in and instantly decide to go home. How your house looks from the outside – the porch, door, walkway, gardens – will set the tone for how a buyer feels about your home. Give it the attention it deserves.
  • Basement – Buyers love basements, so make sure to showcase yours to the fullest. Clear out the clutter so buyers and home inspectors can easily reach the electrical panel and furnace. If your basement can be used as a second apartment, make sure that’s obvious to buyers too.
  • The Big Mechanics – While buyers are often swayed by granite counters, hardwood floors, and fancy appliances, your house’s mechanics matter, too. The furnace, A/C, hot water tank, electrical, plumbing, roof, and insulation are all important. Make sure your real estate agent knows every unsexy detail about your house.
  • The Small Repairs – We all have things in our house that we’ve ignored, and now is the time to take care of all that stuff. Hiring a handyman for a day can help show buyers that your home is well-maintained and keep them focused on the important things (instead of the leaky faucet in the kitchen).
  • Termites – If you live in a termite area (you’d be surprised at how many Toronto neighbourhoods have termites), consider getting a termite inspection. Dealing with any problems before listing your home for sale or being able to provide a clean termite report can add real value to your home. Contact Aetna Pest Control for an inspection.
  • Backyard – Many homes have been sold because of their outdoor space, so make the most of your backyard. Consider re-staining the deck, updating your gardens, fixing the fence, and getting some stylish patio furniture. If you’re selling your home in the winter, provide summer photos of your yard to your agent—everybody loves to imagine hosting a BBQ when it’s -20 degrees!
  • Get a pre-list home inspection – 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 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. 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.

Related:  The 30-Day Guide to Preparing Your Home for Sale

Professional Staging

When a house is professionally cleaned, staged and showcased at its best, it sells faster and for more money – often tens of thousands more than the unstaged competition.

Note: We believe so strongly in the value of staging that we own our very own staging company, UPstaging–with full-time employees, a carefully curated collection of furniture and accessories, a dedicated warehouse and a moving truck. Our staging and design services are exclusive to BREL clients. 

Check out some of our before/after house transformations….

Related: A Staging Q&A

Related: Staging Before & After Photos


Pricing a house in Toronto is both a science and an art. Your REALTOR will discuss with you the pros and cons of pricing your home for a bidding war vs pricing high with the intent to negotiate vs pricing your home at market value.

Ultimately, buyers will decide how much your home is worth by deciding how much they want to pay for it. Buyers will consider:

  • Recent sales on your street and in your neighbourhood
  • Recent sales of similar properties in nearby neighbourhoods
  • Properties currently on the market
  • Current market conditions
  • The size, finishes and condition of your home
  • Location – what’s happening in your neighbourhood and how people expect it to change in the short and medium terms

Other things that can be important to buyers include:

  • Parking and/or a garage
  • The basement (whether or not it’s finished or can be used as a second apartment)
  • Closets and storage
  • Style (modern vs character, etc.)

Your agent should be able to show you how much your property is worth and why.

It’s important to be realistic about the value of your house. Almost every seller thinks they live in the best house on the block and believes their property is worth more than everyone else’s. It’s been proven that overpriced properties sit on the market longer and generally sell for less than they would have, had they been priced accurately from the start.

Related: How Much Is Your House Worth? Valuing a House

Related: Pricing Strategies

On the Market

Getting Buyers Excited: Marketing

One of your real estate agent’s most important jobs is ensuring potential buyers see your house. With thousands of houses for sale in Toronto, standing out from your competition is critical. A few notes about marketing:

  • Stunning photography is essential.  Professional photography is a must! Most Buyers will see your home for the first time online, and if the photos don’t capture their attention, they’ll move on to the next house and be lost to you forever. If your agent suggests taking the pictures themselves, run!
  • Your target buyer is out there – they may be first-time buyers, the parents of first-time buyers, an international investor, a recent divorcee, a newly married couple, seniors who’ve just sold their family home or a young couple with a baby on the way. Great real estate agents go to great lengths to profile your target buyers and create marketing campaigns to reach them.
  • Digital marketing is critical. Homebuyers start their home search online, but it’s not enough to be listed on the MLS and realtor.ca. If you want your house to sell for the highest price, it needs to be promoted to your target buyer in the places where they spend their digital time. We find first-time buyers on Tiktok and Instagram, downsizing seniors on Facebook, and investors on LinkedIn.
  • For Sale Signs – It’s not unusual for Buyers to cruise their target neighbourhoods in search of their perfect house, so a For Sale sign on the lawn is always recommended.
  • Open Houses – Weekend open housing is so popular in Toronto, that we often wonder if it’s our city’s #1 pastime. While curious neighbours will undoubtedly make an appearance, open houses are a great way to showcase your home to real potential buyers. Depending on your neighbourhood and how well the open house has been promoted, you can expect anywhere from 5 to 100 or more people to attend. Great agents will be able to spot serious and motivated buyers and will make selling your home their only priority. Your agent may suggest hosting an open house on Saturday, Sunday or both days, so be prepared to leave your home for 2, 3 or 4 hours. We’ve had great success hosting wine and cheese open houses for the neighbours on Friday night too (which lets us focus on the real buyers on the weekend).

Note: Our marketing is one of the top reasons sellers hire the BREL team. Find out How We Market Listings here.

Buyer Showings

Leave the House

Despite how tempting it is to want to “help” your sale by being home while buyers tour your house, it’s actually really uncomfortable for the buyers if you’re home. Nobody wants to see you making dinner, smell your clothes being laundered or have to awkwardly walk around your kid who’s napping on the couch.

Fact: The National Association of Realtors reports that the #1 reason a home stays on the market for a long time is the seller being home during showings – even if the seller waits outside or stays in one room.

Serious Buyers will want to explore: they’ll open closets and cabinets, check inside the kitchen appliances and lift your area rugs to check for scratches on your hardwood floor. They’ll want to take their time and not get distracted thinking about you. The goal of every showing is to make the buyer connect with your house, and that starts with making it comfortable for them to explore. No connection = no offer.

Be Flexible with Showing Times

Most showings happen on evenings and weekends, outside of regular 9-5 work hours. Restricting showing times means restricting the number of potential buyers, which could result in a lower selling price and/or a longer time on the market. We recommend allowing showings between 10 am and 8 pm, 7 days a week, with as little notice required as possible.

Expect agents to book one-hour showing appointments, though they’ll likely only be in your house for 15-30 minutes. The longer appointment time allows them flexibility since they likely have appointments before and after yours, and it’s impossible to know exactly how long buyers will want to spend in each home.

Before Every Showing…

While your house is listed for sale, it’s best always to leave things in top condition at all times. Before you leave, make sure to:

  • Make the beds (yes, every day!)
  • Clean up the kitchen – no dishes in the sink, items on the counter
  • Tidy the bathroom – put away products, hang up towels, no clothes on the floor
  • Take the garbage out
  • Clean the litter box
  • Sweep/vacuum/wash floors
  • Put away cash and any valuables
  • Leave all lights ON

Be socially discreet

Savvy Buyers (and their agents) are apt to creep sellers online before putting in an offer. Don’t announce on Facebook that you bought a new house before your current house is sold. Don’t Instagram the leak in the basement. Don’t tweet about the poor person you sold your house to, whose offer was 80K above everyone else’s. Don’t announce to the world that you are finding the selling process stressful, that you’re two weeks away from having a baby or that you’re getting divorced. Never imply that you’re desperate to sell your home. Don’t think it happens? These are all true stories.

Special Considerations for Tenanted Houses

If you have a tenant in your house, you must give them 24 hours’ notice for showings (unless they have already given notice they will be ending the tenancy). A quick sale will be less intrusive to them, so their cooperation in de-cluttering and keeping it clean will go a long way. You can read more about selling a tenanted property here.

Related: 25 Tips for Selling with Kids

Related: Tips for Selling with Pets


Despite what the media might have you believe, not every house gets a bidding war. While your agent will take you through what to expect at offer time, if there is only one buyer for your house, you can expect to see the following two conditions in an offer:

  1. A financing condition, which allows the Buyer to confirm their mortgage qualification with a lender for that specific property and purchase price
  2. A home inspection condition, which allows the Buyer to bring in a home inspector of their choosing to go through the home. Home inspections generally last 2-3 hours.

Of course, there’s a lot more to negotiate than conditions: price, closing date (the date the buyer takes possession), inclusions (appliances, big-screen TVs, etc.), and deposit (usually 5% of the purchase price in Toronto, paid within 24 hours of the offer being accepted).

In the event of multiple offers (commonly referred to as a bidding war), offers will generally be “firm”, meaning there are no conditions. A bidding war can proceed in many ways—your agent will suggest different strategies to help you get the highest price.

Related: Offers: What to Expect for House Sellers: Offer Night 

Related: Offers: What to Expect  for House Sellers: Bidding Wars

Related: Offers: What to Expect for House Sellers: Bully Offers


Closing day is the day the new buyer takes possession. As it approaches, you or your lawyer will need to make sure to:

  • Inform the utility companies of your impending move
  • Inform the city so that you don’t continue to be billed for property taxes
  • Cancel your home insurance (to take effect after you have confirmation that the sale has closed)

In the week before closing, you’ll need to visit your lawyer to sign the paperwork (some lawyers do this over Zoom). When the property is transferred to the new owner, your lawyer will send you the money (less real estate commissions, legal fees and any adjustments).

Related: Important Advice for Sellers on Closing

Selling with BREL

Here are a few of the reasons to consider selling your Greater Toronto Area house with the BREL team:

  • We’ve listed and sold a LOT of houses – our expertise has been honed by facilitating over 2000 transactions and over $1 billion in real estate sales.
  • Our reputation precedes us – we have 750+ 5-star reviews ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  (you can read them here)
  • Our results speak for themselves. In 2023, BREL listings sold more than twice as fast, and for an average of $10,969 more than the average home listed on the TRREB MLS.
  • Nobody markets a house like BREL – Digital marketing isn’t new for us; it’s been at our core since day one. You’ll find us on FacebookInstagram and TikTok – and more than 75,000 people visit our website each month.
  • Have you seen our staging? Our competitors regularly try to hire us to stage their listings – but our in-house designers, stagers and warehouse full of furniture and accessories are exclusive to BREL clients.
  • All-inclusive commission – We’re transparent about our commission and pay for professional cleaning, staging, home inspections and more.
  • We’re responsive and available – We pride ourselves on being easy to reach and quick to respond. We know that selling a home can be stressful – we’re here to answer your questions and provide guidance whenever you need it.
  • Pricing and negotiation – We’re really, really good at this. Every BREL agent is a Certified Negotiation Expert.
  • Bespoke service – We know that no two sellers are alike, so we tailor our services to meet your unique needs. Whether you’re a first-time seller, upgrader, investor, or need to sell because of a death, divorce, or change in financial circumstances, we can help.
  • No BS – It’s not just part of our slogan – we pride ourselves on being upfront and honest with our clients.

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