Dear Urbaneer: What Are The Tasks & Timeline When Selling Your Home?

Dear Urbaneer

Welcome to this month’s installment of Dear Urbaneer where I answer real estate questions from my ever-inquisitive readers. This month, I am responding to an elderly property owner who is planning to sell their residence of nearly 4 decades to downsize into assisted living. Given it’s been a long time since they’ve purchased or sold a property, they’re wondering what the typical timeline is when selling your home, as well as what tasks, obligations, and responsibilities lay with the Seller.



Dear Urbaneer:

Although I have enjoyed living in my home for many decades, the time is approaching when I will have to downsize into an assisted living care facility and sell my residence. I have already started the task of emptying my house of unnecessary contents, and I’m having a handyman complete my list of fixes that I haven’t been able to address for the past few years because of health issues. Even though my house is a little bit old-fashioned, I want it to be neat and tidy for the Buyer.

However, I’m wondering about some of the other details involved in selling my home. For example, what is involved with staging, and what is the usual cost for this service (I have a 3 bed / 3 bath house with a basement)? Also, what are the other expenses and fees a Seller incurs when they’re selling their house (i.e. land taxes, real estate commissions, and insurance)? And what is the usual time frame to sell a house typically? It would be very helpful to know because I’m trying to get as much information ahead of time to help me plan my transition and my finances.


Seeking a Smooth Transition



Here’s my reply:

Dear Smooth Transition:

Thank you for reaching out! Your inquiry is very timely and important given you’re part of a large generational cohort of homeowners who are reaching this stage of property ownership and are reconciling where best to age in place. In fact, I want to begin my reply by acknowledging how truly significant this undertaking is, both in the magnitude of finding the appropriate ‘where next’ supportive living environment, and the sheer amount of preparation required in order to exit a home that has held you for much of your adult life.

I also recognize that the circumstances and timing of making this decision are rarely according to an individual’s preferences or choices. For example, after being on a waiting list for many moons, a suite becomes available in a preferred long-term care home, requiring a move to be put into action. Or an unexpected health issue – like one that impacts mobility – may fast-track the need to move into assisted living. Living with this possibility or resisting it can be unsettling and can easily leave one feeling overwhelmed and fraught with anxiety. In this respect, just as you’re writing to me inquiring about the nuts and bolts of selling your property, I believe it’s never too soon for people – let’s say ‘society at large’ – to start having conversations about the inevitable journey we all face, which is where will our last move be, and under what terms and conditions?

And, quite frankly, no matter how well-informed you believe yourself to be, the stakes are high when you’re having to make a life-changing decision on where one goes next, and objectively determine whether it’s the right option amidst all the competing interests given your circumstances. 

Having helped many people through this process, I’ve learned that while most of my clients are deeply attached to the meaning and memories contained in the bricks and mortar that have sheltered them, including having even enjoyed attending to the maintenance, repairs, and upgrades that accompany the privilege of homeownership, the majority admit there comes a moment when they’re ready to let go of all the time, energy and commitment associated with operating a property. This frequently occurs when they realize they need to shift their focus off the roof over their heads and onto their personal health and well-being. 

No one tells you when you’re a young adult that the process of aging will require us to channel more of our time and energy into navigating and nurturing whatever ails us, whether it be mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual in nature.  It is often for this reason that the responsibilities of a house become less appealing, or less possible, in favour of living in a community where care and company are at hand, especially when you are on your own with limited support. 

I applaud you for thinking ahead and asking lots of questions. Knowledge is always power, but when it comes to initiating the transition – especially towards downsizing – having a comprehensive idea of what to expect and how to best plan ahead opens more opportunities to help you transition happily and healthily on your own terms.

This is something I relate to personally, having witnessed firsthand the challenges associated with downsizing at a time of ailing health, which I shared in two posts I wrote earlier this year. The first one–>  Dear Urbaneer: What Is The Best Process For My Elderly Parents To Downsize And Sell Their House? offers you lots of valuable nuggets in navigating this journey, while the second one –> As We Start Calculating The Impact Of Covid-19, The Failure Of Government To Care For Its Senior Citizens Becomes Apparent shares my dismay over the government’s unwillingness to protect the health and welfare of our elders, who have often contributed the most in making Canada a better place.




Let Go Of Possessions, Not People

It’s great that you’ve already thought ahead to purging and decluttering. Not only is this an essential first step in getting your home ready for sale but, providing you have the time and inclination, it gives you the opportunity to examine your contents, recall and reflect on their meaning, perhaps even take a photo of some on your iPhone and send a ‘Remember When?’ to a friend, and then curate select pieces to accompany you to your next home.I’ve written about this before. Click here to read Urbaneer’s Secrets To Successfully Downsizing To Smaller Accommodations and How To Begin Your Downsizing Journey.

Keep in mind though that downsizing isn’t as simple as living smaller. For example, the scale of the furniture in an existing larger dwelling might not comfortably fit in a smaller space. Furthermore, the utility of a smaller space might be more limiting, meaning you may not be able to fit all of your bundt bakeware or bring all of your unfinished craft projects into a new residence. Some people find this frustrating while others find it liberating. In all likelihood, it will be a bit of both. I recommend, if possible, bringing a few key cherished items and blending them with new furnishings and accents.



Systematically Prepare Your Home For Sale Well In Advance Of Listing It For Sale

If I had to choose just one piece of advice to give a prospective Seller, I would recommend that the moment they know a move is in their imminent future, they start preparing their home for sale. Why? Because not only does an owner have to undertake the pragmatic and functional essentials associated with coming to market, and by this I mean, for example, dispose of every item that isn’t accompanying you to your next residence before your property goes for sale, and not after it’s sold when your focus should be on moving into the next place rather than extracting yourself from your existing space; assemble all of your property’s annual operating expenses, plus household warranties, third-party contracts, tenant leases, mortgage documents, survey & title insurance, etc; and prepare a summary of all the repairs, replacements, upgrades & renovations you’ve completed during your tenure, along with their dates, and any associated paperwork including receipts. Then, you also have to decide if you’re going to try to maximize your return on investment by attending to existing deficiencies in advance of selling, and/or making modest upgrades to mitigate Buyer resistance and/or undertaking a Style Enhancement, and/or a more comprehensive refresh including a professional Staging Service to elevate your property’s appeal to your Buyer Target Markets by presenting them with a ‘Reveal’ (think any show on HGTV where the couple walks through the front door to see everything they never knew they wanted. Here’s my post –> Behold The HGTV Effect On Toronto Real Estate).

In this post of mine, aptly called How To Prepare Your Home For Sale, I list all the items a Seller should attend to in advance of coming to market for sale, as well as a list of all the things my team and I undertake as part of our sales strategy and marketing efforts. 




Answers To Questions Everyone Wants To Ask

But now to your questions. Let’s start with the timeline so that you’ve got a broad overview to work from.


• Presuming a normal sale scenario, from start to finish (engagement to close), how long would the selling process take?

The time to prepare the property before it goes to MLS can vary depending on many circumstances including how far along in the process has the seller prepared their property for sale, and whether the seller wants to invest some capital in advance of listing in order to realize a higher return on investment. This can take some time to complete, especially if the homeowner decides to undergo more significant remodeling.

There are pros and cons to selling a home “as-is” with basic preparations compared to diving more deeply into upgrading it with an eye to increasing your Return On Investment. The right path for you (and for all homeowners) will hinge largely on things such as your access to capital, your time frame to sell, the size and condition of the property, whether your property complements or contrasts with the fabric of its location (ie. it’s surrounded by similar dwellings constructed in the same time period or it’s one-of-a-kind or has unique features) as well as the overall goals for the sale.

In this regard, I would encourage you to interview several realtors and seek their advice on what is the best approach and strategy to sell your specific property taking into account your circumstances. There are many approaches to the trade of real estate that vary based on the dwelling type, its location, the dynamics of that specific market, as well as the motivation of the Seller. Furthermore, market conditions are always in flux, successful realtors know this, and they know how to serve their clients accordingly.

For example, in October 2020 I wrote –> The Season Of COVID-19 & Canadian Real Estate because I was witnessing the flight to the suburbs, exurbs, and the rural-slash-cottage country as Buyers sought family compounds. Junky houses weren’t selling because Buyers were hesitating about supply chain issues. Forever Homes in desirable family-friendly neighbourhoods were skyrocketing in value. And rich people who had been securing shelter as a badge of self-actualization were now buying for physiological and safety motivations – the two lower rungs of Maslow’s pyramid (my post on the subject for Buyers and for Sellers)  – wherever they choose. That’s not how the market is oscillating today. It’s radically different, as I wrote just last week in –> Is The Toronto Real Estate Market Crashing?

But back to the timeline. Once the property is ready and gets listed on MLS, the closing date is typically anywhere from 30 to 90 days, depending on the circumstances. For example, if a Seller needs a quick closing then the asking price might be an extremely appealing sum in order to secure a fast sale. If a Seller requires a longer closing date then the property might come to market explaining clearly that the closing date cannot be earlier than the one stated on the listing. Should a Buyer still submit an offer with an earlier closing date than the Seller wants, the Seller can reject it. It’s important to know that the Seller is never obliged to accept any offer regardless of the price or terms.

For example, this post of mine explains how and why we often execute listing a property using the ‘List Low Holdback Approach’ if the Seller is willing to go this route –> Dear Urbaneer: How Does The Toronto Real Estate Bidding War Process Work?. I want to be clear and mention this isn’t the only way we sell real estate (the Seller may want to list high and see how the market responds) but we’ve had tremendous success using this approach because of –> The Psychology Behind The Hyper-Competitive Toronto Real Estate Market.

That’s why it is important for you to consider your objectives, as well as your priorities when bringing your home to market, as there are different strategies to employ in pursuit of the stated goals.

• What taxes and fees are paid by the seller on the sale?

The Seller pays for all services they engage in for the sale of the property (including real estate commission, and HST on that commission).

In terms of other fees, the Seller would pay for a real estate lawyer to complete the trade of the property with the Buyer’s real estate lawyer. This post describes what services and support a real estate lawyer offers to a Seller What Does A Toronto Real Estate Lawyer Do For A Property Seller?

Some Sellers (and again, this depends on a number of factors surrounding the sale) proactively order a pre-sale property inspection and a new property survey that shows all the fences, structures, easements, and rights-of-way in order to facilitate a sale. They are responsible for those fees as well.

I do encourage all Sellers to arrange a pre-sale inspection report in advance of listing as it provides all parties with the same information by which the market value can be determined. It tempers the expectations of both prospective Buyers and Sellers, it provides ballpark costs to address existing deficiencies and, as a result, it expedites the sales process. For Sellers looking to the low list/holdback approach, a pre-sale inspection is a very important tool to help execute that strategy successfully. Here is my post on the pros and cons of a pre-sale inspection Dear Urbaneer: What Are The Benefits Of A Presale Inspection Report For Property Sellers & Buyers? .

Regarding who pays taxes, it is the Buyer who incurs the Land Transfer Tax which is a sizable sum in Toronto.

• What is the typical cost for staging?

You mentioned that you have a 3-bed/3 bath home. The typical cost to stage a 3bed 3bath house (excluding the basement which is usually left vacant) is in the range of $7000 to $9000 per month for a quality staging company who have good furnishings. It’s not inexpensive, however, staging is a crucial part of the selling process to get top dollar.

Here is my post called –> Dear Urbaneer: Why Is Home Staging Important When Selling Real Estate?

That said, there are options when working to present your home at its best for sale. What route one takes depends on the objectives of the Seller as well as their budget.

For example, Urbaneer is pleased to offer a Style Enhancement service for our clients – which is very popular and effective – in order to reduce costs, when possible. In a Style Enhancement, we blend homeowner belongings, furniture, and decor with selections from a cache of our own goods, all with the goal of presenting a home in its best light – both decoratively and in terms of the best use of available space. There is also authenticity and warmth that comes from including homeowner belongings, which is very appealing.

How we execute a Style Enhancement, depends on what the property and its contents are like. Here’s an example of  How Urbaneer’s Custom Marketing Program Sold This Handsome Edwardian Residence In East York.

There are also instances when we may forgo staging altogether if we don’t think it will serve our client. I want to mention that when we list a property we automatically dedicate 0.5% of the 2.5%+HST portion of the listing commission to the preparation, sales, and marketing of the dwelling, and if we don’t spend all of those funds we rebate the Seller the savings.

Sometimes some of that budget will go towards staging but, as I share in this post How Urbaneer’s Custom Marketing Program Sold A Bungalow Approaching Obsolescence In Toronto’s Oakwood Village, to expedite the listing process and make it as effortless as possible for that Seller, we coordinated a temporary patch on the leaking roof and the repair of a failing eavestrough, hired pest control to extract the family of raccoons living in the attic, coordinated mold abatement in the basement, brought in a landscaper to attend to the unruly garden, had all the debris from the water damage and junk from past tenants removed, hired cleaners to wash the windows and completed a deep clean, prior to having a presale home inspection report, floor plans, a virtual tour and professional photographs executed for our sales & marketing campaign.

Furthermore, we recently sold Hip Hip Hooray For 140 Hampton Avenue In Riverdale, Toronto (offered for $1,599,000) for $1,910,019 with 6 offers in April 2023. We brought it to market vacant except for a couple of pieces of furniture that were being picked up while it was listed for sale. We did this because the sellers were moving out prior to the house being listed; it would be available with a ‘quick 30-day closing’; and the owners had had their sizable property painted top to bottom, with new broadloom installed and several smaller deficiencies attended to.

Rather than filling it with aspirational furniture at a cost of $11,000 per month, we felt allocating the funds to property improvements was more sensible. Our sellers invested nearly $40,000 in advance of bringing the property to market so that it didn’t look like it needed substantial renovation. Even though the basement of this Edwardian house did have water management issues that were active at the time of listing (such that it was sold in ‘as-is where-is condition’ with full transparency) we positioned the dwelling as a ‘move-in-and-make-it-your-own’ opportunity. We felt the Riverdale buying target market would be receptive to this and that presenting an already coveted property in a highly contrived ‘intentionally staged’ manner could potentially backfire.

In fact, I would say some sophisticated buyers are getting turned off by overt shows of aspirational staging. I’m sure you know from your own experience how eye-rolling it can be. Fortunately, it turns out we were right. Because the property was vacant it instantly conveyed a quick closing was possible. In fact, even one of the unsuccessful offers had a super speedy 14-day closing. If the property had been staged it would have been challenging to accommodate that.

Here’s another of my posts that explains How Can You Best Prepare Your Home For Sale On A Budget?

Here is a couple of before & after photos of a house owned by a friend of mine living in St Catherine’s who relied on my advice. She spent $9000 giving her home a mini-makeover and garnered $60,000 (a 15% premium) more than the original estimate of value.



There is so much that goes into selling a home, starting with your reasons why and what you hope to achieve – beyond top dollar. That’s why aligning yourself with a realtor with a sound strategy – and a toolbox of solutions tailored to help you achieve those goals, manage priorities, and happily move on to the next part of your housing journey. We are here to help!



If you enjoyed this, you may find some value in these posts:

Is The Toronto Real Estate Market Crashing?

Dear Urbaneer: How Can I Best Prepare My Home For Sale On A Budget?

The Psychology Of Real Estate, Housing & Home

Gentrification, Densification, And The History Of Toronto Real,  Estate

As-Of-Right Multiplexes Create Missing Middle Options For Toronto Real Estate

Dear Urbaneer: Our Toronto Commute Is Costing Us Money & Our Sanity! What Should We Do?



Want to have someone on your side?

Since 1989, I’ve steered my career through a real estate market crash and burn; survived a slow painful cross-country recession; completed an M.E.S. graduate degree from York University called ‘Planning Housing Environments’; executed the concept, sales & marketing of multiple new condo and vintage loft conversions; and guided hundreds of clients through the purchase and sale of hundreds of freehold and condominium dwellings across the original City of Toronto. From a gritty port industrial city into a glittering post-industrial global centre, I’ve navigated the ebbs and flows of a property market as a consistent Top Producer. And I remain as passionate about it today as when I started.

Consider contacting me at 416-845-9905 or email me at It would be my pleasure to assist you, and yours.

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Serving first-time Buyers, upsizers and downsizers, and people building their long-term property portfolios, our mandate is to help clients choose the property which will realize the highest future return on their investment while ensuring the property best serves their practical needs and their dream of “Home” during their ownership.

Are you considering selling? We welcome providing you with a comprehensive assessment free of charge, including determining your Buyer profile, ways to optimize your return on investment, and tailoring the listing process to suit your circumstance. Check out How Urbaneer’s Custom Marketing Program Sold This Authentic Broadview Loft In Riverside to learn more about what we do!

Consider letting Urbaneer guide you through your Buying or Selling process, without pressure, or hassle.

We are here to help!



Thanks for reading!


-The Urbaneer Team

Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-800


– we’re here to earn your trust, then your business –

Celebrating Thirty-Four Years As A Top-Producing Toronto Realtor


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