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The Globe and Mail

Toronto DIY home seller Bernie Doyle is happy, naysayers be damned

Bernie Doyle’s Bloor West Village, Toronto home. Mr. Doyle says he saved $15,000 by selling his home on his own rather than through an agent, though he did pay a commission to the buyer’s agent.

Bernie Doyle

Bernie Doyle feels vindicated.

So do some of the real estate agents who followed his efforts to sell his house without any help from them.

Mr. Doyle and his wife, Alison, sold their house at 673 Willard for $595,000 -- $20,000 above the asking price of $575,000. Each side is pointing to that result to prove their case.

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According to Mr. Doyle, the house was on the market for six days and he received three offers. In his opinion, that counters the argument put forth by agents that they are the ones who generate multiple bids.

Mr. Doyle says some agents refused to bring their clients to see his house because he was representing himself.

One agent who had no such qualms was Chander Chaddah of Sutton Group - Associates Realty Inc. His clients purchased Mr. Doyle's house.

Mr. Chaddah's reasoning is simple: "It worked for them," he says of the detached house near Dundas and Jane.

Mr. Chaddah says he has negotiated for-sale-by-owner deals twice before. Sometimes they're tricky because the sellers are inexperienced. "The sellers are a bit nervous and apprehensive as the process is unfolding."

But in this case, the Doyles were pleasant and courteous. They sent information when requested and generally handled the process well, he says. The Doyles paid him a commission for his part in the transaction.

Mostly, Mr. Chaddah doesn't mind dealing with private sellers as long as they act with integrity. While he knows that his fellow real estate agents are bound by a code of ethics, that's not the case with an owner representing himself or herself.

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"There is nothing stopping them but their own moral code, which in some cases is insufficient."

As for the deal at 673 Willard, Mr. Chaddah says he gave his clients the same advice that he would heading into any situation where there is more than one bidder: "Be measured; don't go crazy," he recommends. "Don't get caught up in the frenzy of a bidding war."

Mr. Doyle says some agents have speculated that he could have received far more.

For example, a house on Durie Street attracted nine bids around the same time he was looking at offers. That house, two streets over from his, was listed with an asking price of $599,000 and sold for $770,100.

But Mr. Doyle says that the comparison is not apples-to-apples because the properties had such different attributes. He also points out that some properties in the area listed with an agent have not sold.

Mr. Doyle has gamely waded into the online comments about previous installments of The Next Move. While some agents have suggested the Doyles had a mediocre result, he points out that he also saved $15,000 by not paying commission to a real estate agent. He adds the amount saved to the tally.

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The effort took about 30 hours of his time, he estimates. As an investment adviser he thinks that's a pretty good result. He also found the process fun, stressful and rewarding. was extremely helpful, he adds.

Of course, he'll never know how much he would have received for his house if he had gone the conventional route, but Mr. Doyle says he would do it all again.

"Alison and I are extremely pleased."

Mr. Doyle figures he's learned so much that he should share his experience with others. He so enjoys the to-and-fro with people who are debating whether to go it alone, that he and Ms. Doyle have started a blog called

And he wants to make clear that he doesn't intend to slam all real estate agents. "I'm not an agent hater."

All in all, Mr. Doyle thinks he succeeded in his goal. "Some people in the industry have told me I did extremely well," he says. "And that's a hard-won compliment."

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