Q- What is my first step if I plan to sell my home?

You should get an idea of the market value of your home, that is, what you can expect to sell it for. One way to do this is to get a professional appraisal. They are listed in the yellow pages of the phone book under ‘Appraisers.’ It costs around $200 for an appraisal. Appraisals are based on what houses similar to yours sell for in your area as well as replacement costs. Another option is to contact a real estate agent. He or she will be able to give you a good idea of what you can expect to sell your house for based on what other houses are selling for in your area.

Q- How do I list my house with a real estate agent?

There are many agents to choose from. You should find someone who knows the area you live in. Family, friends or people you work with may be able to recommend an agent. Real estate agents fees may vary so you should find out as much as you can about how much an agent charges. Some owners choose to sell their house without using an agent and there are businesses that provide services to help people do this for example by providing signs and draft documents. Although this costs less than hiring a agent, you will have to be prepared to advertise and show the property yourself and will not have access to the same resources as a professional agent.

If you decide to hire an agent, you will have to sign a listing agreement. Carefully read through the agreement and be sure that you understand the charges and commissions you can expect to pay and what to expect from the agent. You and your agent will discuss whether it should be a multiple or exclusive listing. Multiple listings give you broader exposure, but you may pay a higher commission. Generally, the agent will be entitled to his or her commission when a buyer who is ready, willing and able signs an offer to purchase your home at the price you and your agent agreed to sell it for. Depending on the listing agreement, even if the transaction falls through, you may still have to pay a commission. You may also have to pay a commission if you sell the house yourself while the listing agreement is in effect, or if you sell it after the listing agreement has expired, and the agent was the ‘effective cause’ of the sale. For example, the buyer came to an open house arranged by the agent and later makes an offer to purchase after the listing agreement has expired.

Q- Can I have the same real estate agent as the purchaser?

Yes but is recommended you hire a real estate agent that is not representing the purchaser. This is to ensure that he or she will solely serve your interests in the home selling process. If one of your real estate agent’s clients wishes to purchase your property, the agent must inform you. An agent who represents both the seller and the purchaser, is not permitted to advise one party against the interests of the other party. As the seller you still pay the agent’s fee.

Q- Do I need a lawyer if I’m selling my home?

Yes. Your lawyer will advise you, ensure that the documentation is prepared and that the property is registered prior to closing, receive the money from the purchaser’s lawyer on closing day, pay off the amount owing on your mortgage, and provide you with an accounting of the proceeds from the sale. You should not use the same lawyer as the purchaser.

Q- Do I have to pay off my mortgage before I can put my house up for sale?

No. You should contact the financial institution holding your mortgage to find out exactly how much is left owing on the mortgage. Find out if you can pay off the mortgage early, and if so, is there a penalty. Ask that this information be put in writing for you. If you sell your home and you owe money on a mortgage, on the closing date for the sale, your lawyer will arrange for the amount owing on the mortgage to be paid off from the proceeds of sale and for a release to be issued by the financial institution. You can also ask the financial institution if the mortgage is assumable. That is, can the purchaser simply take over the mortgage from you, the seller? If it is assumable, will you be released from any further obligations under the mortgage? Again ask for this to be put in writing.

Q- What happens when an offer is made on my house?

Your real estate agent will review any offer made with you in detail. He or she will ensure that you fully understand the offer and you are satisfied with it. If you are not satisfied with the offered price or with any of the conditions, you can reject the offer. You can also make a counter offer. Your real estate agent can help you prepare a counter-offer. You can decide whether to make this your final offer or whether you will consider a counter-offer from the purchaser. If you and purchaser cannot agree on an acceptable offer, you can end the negotiation. If you reach an agreement, the purchaser makes a deposit on the house which is held by the estate agent in trust until closing.

Q- When I sell my home, what fixtures are included in the sale?

When someone buys your house, all fixtures are included, unless you clearly exclude them in the agreement to purchase. Legally, ‘fixtures’ include anything that is attached to the house in a permanent way so that its removal would leave obvious damage or a scar. Permanent attachment can include anything that is plastered, bolted, screwed or nailed in place. For example, wall to wall carpeting, a sink and central air conditioning would all be considered fixtures, while a throw-rug, free standing cupboard, and washing machine would not, unless you have agreed with the purchaser to include them.

Q- What is a property condition disclosure statement?

A Property Disclosure Statement is a report prepared by the seller for the purchaser. It discloses information known to the seller about the existing condition of the property. It contains information that the seller is aware of about such things as the age of the roof and electrical wiring, any problems with leaks or water damage, etc. Your lawyer can advise you on preparing this statement. The statement may help the purchaser decide whether any aspects of the house need further inspection, for example, the roof, electrical wiring or heating system.

Q- Do I need to add sales tax to the selling price?

Generally speaking no, sales tax (HST) is not collected from the sale of used private homes. I if you are selling the home that you currently live in it is unlikely that you will have to collect HST. However, if you have done significant renovations or the house you are selling is a newly built house, you should contact the Canada Revenue Agency to find out if you need to collect any taxes. You should also talk with your lawyer. The Canada Revenue Agency is listed under ‘Taxes’ in the government blue pages of your telephone book

Q- Must I register my home under the new Land Registration Act before I sell?

If the home you are selling is not yet registered under the new Land Registration Act, it must be registered before the completion of the sale of the home. This is also referred to as having the property migrated or converted. There is a registration fee. It is up to the purchaser and the seller to negotiate who covers the costs involved. The practice has developed that the seller usually registers the property and pays the registration fee. Usually the cost will be between $500 and $1000 plus tax. Your lawyer can provide advice on this and on other costs involved in selling your home. Once a property is registered under the new registration system it will not need to be registered again. For more information on registering property and the new Land Registration Act you can visit the website of the Land Registration Office of Nova Scotia.

Q- When do I have to move out of the house?

The purchaser is entitled to vacant possession once the funds are released to your lawyer and the sale is complete so you must arrange to move out on or before closing day. Most often the agreement to purchase will contain a closing date. This is the date the house must be vacant. Usually the exact time of day is not included. Keep in mind you do not receive your sale proceeds until the house is vacant, and most often you will require the proceeds to purchase your new home.



return to top of page