Looking to Downsize? 4 Must-Do Tips Before You Start


Downsizing to a smaller place or selling the family home can be an emotional experience, especially if you’ve been out of the real estate market for a long time. The steps involved can seem overwhelming, and that’s especially true when deals happen fast. A recent survey by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) found that most Ontarians who bought or sold a home in the last five years weren’t in the market for very long.


Among the buyers surveyed, nearly 57 per cent said they purchased their property within three months of when they started actively looking.


For sellers, things happened even more quickly: 67 per cent said they sold their property in under three months. Overall, 54 per cent thought the process took less time than they had anticipated.

By being informed right from the start, you’ll have confidence in the decisions you are making, even if they do happen quickly.

Following these four must-do tips is a great place to start:

1. Shop around before you shop around for a home.

Real estate salespeople and brokerages vary widely in terms of experience, expertise and services provided, so meet with at least three salespeople before you sign an agreement. A few questions to ask:

  • Tell me about your real estate experience.
  • Describe your approach to buying and selling and how it will suit my needs.
  • Tell me about the fees and commissions I’ll have to pay.
  • Which services does your brokerage provide? Are they included in our agreement?
  • How often will you provide me with updates, and how will we communicate?
  • Can you provide references?


2.  Look them up.

Before you meet with any representatives, look them up using the “Look up a real estate salesperson, broker or brokerage” search tool on RECO’s website. It will tell you if they’re registered and in good standing, and if they have faced any disciplinary action.


3. Read and understand everything.

When you hire a real estate representative, you will likely be asked to sign an agreement that defines your relationship with the representative’s brokerage. It’s a contract that spells out how long the agreement is for, the location it covers and what fees or commissions will need to be paid.

When you buy or sell a home, you will need to sign a contract to complete the transaction. This agreement contains a lot of important information in addition to price and conditions, such as whether the appliances and light fixtures stay with the home.

These are just two examples of real estate agreements that are legally binding, meaning you typically can’t back out once you’ve signed on the dotted line.

Whenever you’re asked to sign a contract, read it and understand it thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or request that your representative walk you through it, line by line. If you’re still unsure about something, consider asking your lawyer for advice.


4. Be an active participant in the process.

Your salesperson is a knowledgeable resource who can help you make informed decisions, but you should always remember that you’re the one in the driver’s seat.

Being an active participant means being open and candid with your representative about what’s important to you in a home, and which services you expect from him or her.

And it means you have a responsibility to perform your own due diligence: asking questions, understanding any required paperwork, conducting your own research (when necessary), and being clear about your expectations.

For more tips on buying or selling a home, visit www.reco.on.ca/boomer.