Downsize your home with the help of some expert advice

Interview a few real estate reps to learn how experienced they are with properties in your area.

Our children have moved out and we recently retired. Now we’re thinking about moving into a smaller home. Do you have any advice before we put our house up for sale?

Your question is timely: June is Seniors’ Month in Ontario, a time to celebrate the contributions of seniors but also a time to discuss the many life changes coming in the years ahead.

One such change is home ownership. Many people reach a point when owning a family home becomes more than they want — or can manage. And chances are, it has been a while since you’ve been in the housing market.

A lot has changed in the world of real estate over the last several years. Moreover, there seems to be an overwhelming amount of information available on the Internet about selling a home.

So, my first piece of advice to you is to plan ahead with some help and advice from experts before you jump into the market. The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is a good starting point.

RECO may not have been around when you last bought or sold a home. It is a consumer protection organization that was created by the provincial government in 1997 to enforce the rules and code of ethics for real estate professionals.

Every real estate professional and brokerage in Ontario — currently there are more than 70,000 — must be registered with RECO. You can use RECO’s search tool at the top of RECO’s website ( to search for a salesperson and to verify they are registered and in good standing.

When you’ve made the decision to go ahead and sell your home, it’s a good idea to interview several candidates about their experience in your area and their approach to the selling process. Each one should be able to give you a sense of your home’s value in today’s market and provide advice about how to get the best return on your investment.

And it’s important that you ask questions. Have a candid discussion about your wants versus your needs. Make sure you understand how the sale process will work. If you don’t understand, keep asking questions until you get the answers you need.

Make sure you read and understand all of the paperwork. If anything is unclear, it’s fine to take extra time — and seek additional professional help — before you commit to an agreement. Real estate contracts, including seller representation contracts with a brokerage (often called Listing Agreements), are legally binding, so understanding all the clauses and what impact they will have is important.

An important consideration throughout the process is what downsizing actually means for you. If you’ve been in the home for a long time, even contemplating a sale can be a difficult and emotional experience. Give yourself plenty of time to come to terms with leaving your family home without the pressure of a moving date on the horizon.

There’s no question that selling the family home can be a difficult decision. That’s why it’s smart to start the discussion well in advance of the time decisions actually need to be made. Planning ahead and being informed will go a long way in making this tough task a little easier for you.

Source:  Toronto Star Joseph Richer is registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He oversees and enforces all rules governing real estate professionals in Ontario. Email questions to . Find more tips at reco.on.caEND, follow on Twitter @RECOhelpsEND or on YouTube at

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