The Greenhouse
by Pine

Thinking about buying a house without a realtor? Read this first

Here are the major things to consider to help you manage expectations.

It’s risky, but can be rewarding in the right situation.

No, you’re not imagining it—the realtor market has become extremely saturated in the last few years. In 2021 The Globe and Mail reported that the number of Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) members jumped 10% to about 63,000. 

With this many folks joining the trade, it’s got to be a pretty lucrative career path, right? According to Wowa, the standard real estate agent commission in Ontario is 5% of the property, which is then divided between the buyer and seller agents. 

And with the average price of a home in Canada around $700,000, a 5% commission comes out to $35,000, which is nothing to scoff at. If you’re hoping to keep that money in your pocket and thinking about buying a home without a realtor, read this first. 

Managing expectations when buying a home without a realtor 

The cash saved when you forgo a realtor sounds nice, but it’s important to understand the additional responsibilities and tasks you’ll be taking on. Here are the major things to consider to help you manage expectations.  

1. You’ll be doing a lot more research and legwork 

Without a real estate license, you’ll need to conduct more research on the homes that fit your criteria. You’ll also need to schedule and attend showings on your own and negotiate with the seller or their agent directly.  

2. You’ll be going in with less market knowledge 

One of the major benefits of working with a realtor is accessing their local market knowledge. Your realtor has access to a large number of listings, and some listings that are not available to the public, which could help you find a home within your budget.

3. You’ll have to take care of more paperwork 

Along with market knowledge, realtors know what paperwork needs to be completed in order for you to purchase a home and more importantly, how to complete it properly. Realtors can help with inspection reports, negotiations, and outlining contingencies. When you work without a realtor, you could miss important details for yourself and in the official documentation. 

4. You’re dealing with more negotiation risk 

A realtor helps with the negotiation process and works with the seller on your behalf. Your realtor is working on getting you the best deal, and without one, you could end up overpaying for the property. 

When does it make sense to purchase a home without a realtor? 

It’s definitely a lot riskier to purchase a home without a realtor, but it does make sense in some situations, such as if: 

  • You’re a real estate agent yourself: If you’re licensed as a real estate agent or are working with a relative who is a realtor, this fact will work in your favour.
  • You’ve bought properties in the past: If you have a genuine interest in buying and selling homes and have done so before, you’ll likely have a greater understanding of what goes into the process. 
  • You know the seller: If you know the seller well, you could consider this a good opportunity to save on the real estate agent’s commission. But remember to be careful, even if you know the person well, and still consult a lawyer. 
  • You’re buying a new build: When it comes to new builds, many first-time home buyers will buy directly from the builder. But just because a new build is new doesn’t mean that it won’t come without issues. 
  • The seller doesn’t want to pay the realtor fees: Savvy saver or master manipulator? Proceed with caution in this scenario. 

How to buy a home without a realtor 

If you’re set on the idea of doing it on your own, follow these steps for a hopefully smooth process. 

Step 1: Apply for a mortgage

You’ll have a better chance of being taken seriously if you’re already approved for a mortgage. It’s a great idea to get pre-approved at this stage, and you can lock in your rate for 120 days. 

Step 2: Find a neighbourhood and home you love 

You may already have an idea of where you want to live, but it’s important to be realistic about what neighbourhood you can afford. Once you’ve determined your neighbourhood, it’s time to find the home you love. Use sites like to find properties you like, and you can use it to book showings yourself as well. 

Step 3: Request a Property Condition Disclosure Statement (PCDS)

Requesting a PCDS will help you understand what kind of condition the home is in. This step is typically done by your realtor and includes critical information about the sale of your home, like if your property is connected to a sewer or septic tank, for example. 

Step 4: Make an offer 

If you know it’s the home for you, and you’ve completed the steps above, you can make an offer. In a seller’s market, you can meet the selling price or even go slightly beyond. In a buyer’s market, you can absolutely lowball and prepare to negotiate further. In your offer, include: 

  • The address of the home 
  • Your full legal name and anyone else you are purchasing the home with 
  • Your offer amount 
  • Any contingencies, like a home inspection. A home inspection is extremely important, as it allows you to back out of the sale, depending on the findings 
  • A copy of your mortgage pre-approval 
  • Items you would like included in the sale 
  • The date you would like to close 
  • Your move-in date 
  • A deadline to respond or counteroffer 

Step 5: Hire a lawyer 

Even if you’re looking to save money, it’s worth investing a smaller amount of money into hiring a real estate lawyer. They can double-check your offer and let you know if you’ve left anything out. Search for a local lawyer in your area to see if they can offer assistance. 

Step 6: Negotiate

It’s normal to receive a counteroffer at this point. If the seller proposes a counteroffer that you can handle, you can accept it at this point. But if it’s too high, don’t take on any debt you can’t manage. Plus, if something comes up in your home inspection, now is a good time to speak to the seller about it, or you can cancel your offer if it fails. Be sure to keep all important communications documented in writing. 

Step 7: Finalize your mortgage 

You’re ready to finalize your mortgage! As long as your pre-approval still stands, meaning that your offer has been accepted in the 120-day period and your financial situation hasn’t changed, you should easily be approved for a mortgage

Step 8: Close your home and celebrate 

At this step, all that’s left is to close your home. 

  • Your lender will transfer the mortgage loan to your lawyer
  • You’re required to pay the rest of the purchase price to your lawyer, as well as any closing costs 
  • Your lawyer pays the seller, registers the home in your name, and you’ll get the deed and then the keys. 

The bottom line 

While buying a home without a realtor can be a risky endeavour, if you’re confident in the space or have a relative helping you, it can stand to save you quite a bit of money. 

One of the most important factors is ensuring you can get a mortgage, so sellers take your offer seriously. If you’re ready to take the next step, apply with Pine, and a mortgage agent will be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

Question? We've got answers.

What’s involved in getting a mortgage from Pine?

Does Pine charge any lender fees?

Can I take advantage of the Home Buyer’s Plan with Pine?

Will I have a point of contact at Pine?

Is my data secure with Pine?

How much of a down payment does Pine require?

Can Pine help me if I have poor credit?