Know the risks before you try to sell your own home: Ask Joe

I’m getting ready to sell my home and I plan to sell it without the assistance of a real estate professional. Is it possible to put a property on MLS, without being a salesperson?

Taking on the sale of your own property is an ambitious and sometimes complicated task.

When it comes to listing a property on national websites like Multiple Listing Service (MLS), you need the assistance of real estate brokerage. This is referred to as a “limited services” or “mere posting” agreement.

You should note that brokerages have an obligation to ensure the information in the listing is accurate, so you can expect a brokerage rep to confirm, for example, square footage, renovations and other key features.

That’s the short answer to your question. Choosing to sell a property privately is an owner’s perogative. But anyone considering it should do so with their eyes wide open.

Perhaps the most compelling reason I encourage buyers and sellers to seriously consider working with real estate professionals in their transactions, is that salespeople, brokers and brokerages must be registered with the Real Estate Council of Ontario. RECO is the provincial real estate regulator and insists that, in order to trade real estate in Ontario, representatives must:

  • Complete courses before they enter the profession, and complete ongoing professional development training every two years;
  • Comply with the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA) and its code of ethics,

  • Maintain professional liability insurance to pay for damages and costs arising from claims made against a registrant for an error, omission or negligent act in the course of trading in real estate; and
  • Maintain deposit insurance, which protects consumer deposits in real estate transactions, against fraud, insolvency, or misappropriation.

Security, and access to current trends and practises are other good reasons to work with a registered real estate brokerage.

On the other hand, if you are experienced in buying and selling properties and are willing to take on the risks associated with self-representation, answering these questions can help you weigh your options:

  • Do you know how to market your home and arrange showings?
  • Do you understand the rules, and law, about what you must disclose to buyers, such as latent and patent defects?
  • Are you skilled at negotiating deals, and reviewing offers for what is likely the largest asset you will ever own?
  • Do you know how much you can realistically expect to get for the home? Can you set a listing price that’s attractive to buyers?

If you don’t have much experience, and you’re unsure of your responsibilities as a seller, ask yourself if selling your home on your own is worth the risks; real estate transactions involve legally binding contracts and large sums of money.

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Whichever route you choose, I recommend discussing your sale with a real estate lawyer — you will need one to finalize the transaction.

If you have a question about the home buying or selling process, please email

Joe Richer is registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) and contributor for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @RECOhelps


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