Are you looking to sell your house fast in Canada? Then you’re in the right place. In this ultimate guide, we take you step-by-step through the process. Plus, we give you online resources that will help get your home sold… fast!

Find your realtor to sell a house fast

The first step to selling your house fast is to decide if you want to sell privately vs. selling with a licensed realtor. To fully understand the differences between selling your home privately or selling with a realtor, keep reading as there are many pros and cons to consider with each approach:

Selling privately – For Sale By Owner (FSBO)

Pros: Lower fees, more control during the selling process

Cons: May take longer to sell, time-consuming, increased lawyer fees from additional paperwork the agent would have handled, negotiating required, poor quality photography/videography leading to less interest from buyers, no help with staging, buyer agents may be hesitant to show your FSBO listing to their clients, more stressful sales process

Selling with a licensed realtor

Pros: The possibility of a faster sale due to experience, trusted vendor recommendations, consistently good photos & video, negotiation on your behalf, assistance with staging, less stressful sales process

Cons: Average commission can be anywhere from 4-6% of the sale price of your home (commissions are negotiable), less control over the sales process

Based on the above criteria, if you’re looking to sell your house faster, it’s likely in your best interest to work with a trusted realtor. The first step to finding the right real estate agent to work with is reading client reviews.

You can check out Google, Facebook, REW.ca and RankMyAgent.com for local Canadian real estate agent reviews. You should also ask friends & family for personal recommendations of stand-out agents they’ve worked with in the past.

Just because a real estate agent seems to be the biggest in an area doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be the best fit for your needs. Don’t discount smaller, more boutique brokerages and agents. They may be ready to give you more of their time and effort than a busier agent.

Understand the costs required to sell a house fast

There are many varied costs to consider when listing your home for sale in Canada. For example, realtor commissions can range anywhere from 4 to 6% on average and can legally be negotiated by the seller.

Chat with your lender’s mortgage representative to find out if you’ll be hit with any fees associated with the early prepayment of your mortgage loan. If you can instead port your mortgage to your next property, prepayment fees won’t apply.

Additionally, you should also get quotes from local moving companies. Be sure to check reviews of moving services on Google and Facebook before hiring anyone.

Hiring the wrong moving company can seriously throw off your moving plans, so do your research first and don’t hire the first company you find in the phone book. Again, friends and family are the best way to learn about movers that go the extra distance for their clients.

Be sure to consider any applicable Land Transfer Tax or municipal taxes that may be applicable to the sale of your home. For example, the city of Toronto has a Municipal Land Transfer Tax you’ll need to budget for, but outside of the city line, there isn’t an additional municipal tax. Always check directly with your municipality to understand applicable taxes.

Also, be aware if you’re selling a commercial property that is not your primary residence that a portion of your sale may be subject to capital gains tax. Finally, there are costs for getting your home ready for sale. They can include but are not limited to cleaning, painting & repairs.

Gather important documents to sell house fast

Collect any important documents including builder layouts, home improvement permits and receipts, land tax receipts, utility bills and warranties.

Compile any and all rental contracts. For example, many people are renting their hot water heater, water softener or furnace. These contracts can often be transferred to the new homeowner. But this isn’t always the case.

You should take the time to investigate whether the contract can be transferred. If it’s untransferable, you’ll most likely need to pay out the remaining term on the contract before closing.

Looking to make your sale as smooth as possible? A little planning ahead can go a long way. Taking the time to invest in an updated land survey & pre-listing home inspection report will give your buyers peace of mind and information about your home.

An informed buyer is more likely to become a serious buyer. You should also consider whether or not to include fixtures and other movables in the sale (anything that’s not permanently affixed to the house). These include kitchen appliances or a washer and dryer. Appliances are usually included in the sale of a home, but not always. Don’t forget to consider common items that buyers often like to include in the deal, such as a hot tub, gazebo, patio furniture and BBQ.

If you have a pool, be sure to provide information about what company you hire annually to open and close your pool.

If it’s winter when you sell your house and the pool is closed, the buyer’s agent may call the pool company and ask them what the condition of the pool was when it was last seen by a professional. Providing this information ahead of time will speed up the process of receiving offers from interested buyers and will lead to fewer conditions in any offers.

Clean, declutter and repair your home to sell a house fast

Your home should first be decluttered as this will make the listing process significantly easier. Consider hiring a junk removal company to help you get rid of extra stuff taking up precious space in your home.

A bin rental service may also be helpful when completing any necessary decluttering of your home. Local junk bin companies will deliver a large trash container to your property and after a set amount of days pick up the container and bring it to the dump as part of their service.

Don’t love cleaning yourself? Hire a local home cleaning company to do a deep cleaning of your house, including the shampooing of any rugs. The company should pay attention to small details throughout your home, such as wiping down light switch plates and scrubbing the grout in your shower.

A great way to freshen your home is with a new paint job. It’s a relatively affordable and easy update to make when preparing to sell your house quickly. Fresh paint not only looks great but once dry, new paint helps a house smell fresher too.

Even if you’re rushing to sell your house fast, you should take the time to make any necessary updates or repairs such as replacing damaged baseboards, fixtures and burnt-out lightbulbs

Improve your curb appeal to sell your house fast

Clean up any dead leaves, trim your trees & shrubs, mow the grass and weed gardens & walkways. You may want to bring in a landscaping company to do a clean-up if you’re too busy to do it yourself.

Pay attention to your roof. Either fully replace the roof or replace any missing shingles. Clean out the rain gutters.

Consider re-paving or re-sealing your driveway for a cleaner look.

Pressure washing can give your home an instant facelift. Dirt, algae and even mold are likely covering the exterior of your house. You can easily rent or borrow a friend’s power washer to freshen-up siding and blast away grime from dirty driveways, patios, decks and walkways.

The bonus? A clean walkway is a safer walkway and will minimize the risk of slips & falls.

Looking to spruce up your home’s exterior even more? Bring in some seasonal planters and outside decor that will lend a beautiful look to your property. Buyers will love it! Once your home is spic and span outside and in, be sure to regularly maintain your hard work. 

Stage your home for photos and videos to sell your house fast

There’s a common misconception that an empty house will sell faster than a house that is still occupied. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

While there are important steps you can take to ensure potential buyers “see themselves” in the home (such as removing personal family photos), there are reasons a home should be fully staged.

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According to REALTOR.com, homes that have been fully staged sell 88% faster and for 20% more than houses that haven’t been staged. This is because buyers don’t always have the best imaginations.

Furniture should be in place when buyers are viewing your home so they can quickly identify the purpose of each room. It’s easy to tell someone which room is the dining room and which is the family room, but it’s much better to show them staged rooms.

Next, your agent will arrange to have your home photographed. This is one of the most essential steps in listing your home for sale. Great photos and videos of your property are almost priceless.

Potential buyers perusing the MLS will see your home and form a first impression immediately. Make that impression a great one with the best quality photos & videos possible. A beautifully-shown home sells a lot faster and for more money than homes with poor-quality photos and videos.

Price your home correctly for the current real estate market

If you want to sell your house fast, too often the incorrect price will lead to a slower sales process. Pricing your home too high will often result in fewer showings and more cumulative days on market.

The longer your house sits on the MLS for sale, the more buyers may think something is wrong with it. 

If you price your house too low, again buyers may think something is wrong with your property because of a below-market listing price.

Pricing correctly is both an art and a science. Your realtor will study recent local sales of similar homes in your area to come up with the appropriate listing price.

It’s important when interviewing agents that you hire a realtor who is educated about your local real estate market. You should be able to trust your agent’s opinion of the valuation of your home and the reasoning behind their recommended listing price strategy.

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Decide whether or not to hold offers to sell a house fast

Depending on your local market, your real estate agent may suggest you hold offers.

Holding offers means that the seller gives written instruction to the agent not to present any offers before a certain date & time. At offer time, offers will be presented to the seller and negotiations begin.

The upside of holding offers is that this technique, used in the right market, could result in receiving multiple offers on your home.

However, the downside of holding offers is two-fold. First, serious buyers don’t like being told to wait to submit an offer on properties they’re interested in. They might do a bully offer or abandon plans to bid on the house.

Second, buyers may be scared off by the idea of a bidding war, where buyers compete against other buyers on the offer date.

If the speed of the sale is your main concern, you may not want to hold offers even if that’s what the agents in your city are doing. This is because it delays an interested buyer from submitting a serious offer quickly.

But, holding offers may be more likely to result in multiple competing bids from different buyers. You should ask yourself what’s more important . . . a faster sale by a few days or more money?

The sales technique of holding offers is best discussed with your realtor. Trust their opinion as they study the local market daily and should be able to tell you if holding offers will or won’t benefit the quick sale of your home.

List your house and prepare for showings

Maintaining a clean, presentable house is important during the time that your house will be shown to buyers. Make yourself a short pre-showing checklist with reminders to do things like empty the garbage, wipe the counters and tuck away any toiletries or towels. 

When it comes to your availability for buyer showings, you should make your home as available as possible. Try to set the showing hours between 9 am and 9 pm daily.

Encourage your agent to host open houses on the weekends to engage as many potential buyers and agents as possible. Remember to be patient! It can take time in a slower market to sell your home but don’t lose hope.

Simply ask your real estate agent how long houses similar to yours are currently sitting for sale on the MLS before selling. This will give you a realistic ballpark expectation of how many days you’ll need to allow showings before receiving an acceptable offer.

Discuss offers and negotiate alongside your realtor to sell a house fast

When it’s time to present offers, your agent will work to negotiate a deal in your best interest that is also pleasing to the buyer. Keep in mind that the most serious buyers tend to offer sooner than later, so don’t assume the first offer won’t be the best one.

Never turn down an offer flat-out and remember that this is business. Don’t get emotional about the deal. Always try and sign back the offer with more preferable terms, even if that means signing back at the list price or higher.

Your buyer may submit an offer that has conditions. Some common conditions you’ll encounter include a home inspection condition, financing condition (securing a mortgage) or a sale of buyer’s property condition.

All conditions must be fulfilled by the date stated on the agreement of purchase and sale (APS). Once notices of fulfillment have been delivered to the appropriate persons, the deal will become firm.

Accept an offer and prepare for closing

Congratulations! You’ve come to agreeable terms with a buyer and you’ve sold your house to the right people.

Now, to prepare for a nice smooth closing, you’ll need to hire a local real estate lawyer or get a notary. They will take care of many items on your closing day checklist, including but not limited to the title search and disbursement of funds on closing day.

Your real estate agent will ask to be put in contact with your real estate lawyer or notary so they can forward all necessary paperwork well in advance of the closing date. For example, the agent will forward the lawyer the APS and any other forms legally required by your local real estate association.

Next, you should pack your belongings ahead of time so you’re not scrambling at the last minute on closing day. Also, ensure any movables and fixtures included in the sale are in working order up until the agreed-upon completion date stated in the APS.

10-week Canadian home seller’s checklist

Week 1 Find your realtor to sell your house fast and to understand selling costs
Week 2Gather important documents
Week 2-4Clean, declutter and repair your home
Week 4-5Improve your curb appeal
Week 5Price Your Home correctly for the current market and decide whether or not to hold offers
Week 5-6Stage your home for photos and video
Week 6-8List the house and prepare for showings and open houses
Week 9-10Discuss offers and negotiate alongside your realtor
Week 10Accept offer and prepare for closing

Frequently asked questions about selling a house fast

Q: How to sell a house fast?

A: Interview realtors, hire the best candidate, consider all costs to sell your house, prep your home for sale, hold showings & open houses and have your agent negotiate a closing that suits both the buyer & seller. Hire a well-reviewed real estate lawyer and moving company for closing. Pack up your belongings and move to your new property.

Q: Does an empty house sell faster?

A: No! While you should de-personalize your home (eg. remove any family photos), you should never try and sell a completely empty house. It’s been proven that staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more money than un-staged homes. Many real estate agents will offer at least basic staging as part of their services. Be sure to ask if staging is complementary or if the cost of staging is to be paid for by you, the seller. Sometimes agents will front the staging cost and pass that cost onto you at closing.

Q: Do houses with pools sell faster?

A: Pools are interesting because, pre-pandemic, a pool was neither considered a pro nor a con. This is because a pool could be thought of as either an asset or a liability, depending on who the potential homebuyer is. This changed as of the pandemic. With more folks staying home than vacationing abroad, buyers started seeking out properties that come with pools already installed. We’re seeing higher sales prices overall for homes with well-maintained pools. In the post-COVID market, pools are definitely a pro, as pool installers currently have a 1-2 year waiting list on average.

Q: How fast can you sell a house after buying it?

A: As soon as you close on the transaction you can legally sell the house again. There are potential downsides to re-selling quickly, however. You need to first check with your mortgage lender and inquire if your mortgage is portable to a new property. If the mortgage isn’t portable, you may face thousands of dollars in prepayment penalty fees. You should also be aware that reselling too soon after buying is a red flag to agents and buyers. They may think something is seriously wrong with the house. You’ll need to have a good reason for the re-sale to calm any worries of potential buyers & their real estate agents.

Q: How to sell a house fast in a slow market?

A: Lean on your realtor’s knowledge of your local real estate market. Follow your agent’s advice and make an educated decision on the listing price of your home. Try to be as flexible as possible for showings and be open to providing buyers with incentives, such as including kitchen appliances with the sale. Don’t immediately walk away from offers with conditions. Carefully consider any conditional offers by discussing the pros and cons of said offer with your agent. Remember that the most serious buyers will probably come sooner than later so don’t disregard the first offer on the table, even if it’s a lower offer than you expected. You can always negotiate.