Stay in Control

Probably the most important issue you will face is keeping in control of this whole process.  Sure you will likely need outside help from Agents, Solicitors, Banks, etc, but try to make sure you control them to do what you want and get the results you want, rather than they go off and do it their way, for their own reasons!

The main areas to consider are:

  • the decision to sell ie when, how, who, and so on
  • how much is your property worth - who to believe???
  • what needs doing to your home?
  • what's involved in listing your home?
  • sales commission - how much you should pay and what you should get for it
  • other costs
  • legals such as contracts and the conditions of sale such as when do you have to move out
  • what do you do if something goes wrong?

Deciding to Sell

It's not an easy decision but it is a big one!  Especially if it has been your home for a long time.  A couple of things to consider are:

  • How do I start?  Before you contact anyone, especially a real estate agent, begin investigating what has been happening in your local area.  What homes are for sale, how long have they been on the market, are the similar to yours, when they went under contract, and so on.  This is easy to do by simply walking or driving around your immediate local area - you don't need to go far - only 1/2 to 1 kilometre from your home as local homes are by far the best predictor of what your home is worth.  Once you are familiar with what has a "For Sale' sign, then it is time to start searching the internet (newspapers, shop windows, Agent publications only show a very, very small percentage of properties for sale and are not widely used these days).  In our local area there are only 2 significant websites worth using ie 'realestate.com.au' and 'domain.com.au' as they account for over 99% of local property market web traffic.  Use their search functions to select a local area such as Petrie.
  • When is the best time to sell?  Good properties will sell at anytime of the year but there are periods when buyer activity is highest.  Spring is typically a strong time for home sales right across Australia.  In our local area, our experience is that the cooler months are also conducive to buyers getting out & about to look at properties.  The quietest times of the year for selling tend to be school holidays so it is often a good idea to not start selling your home in these periods.
  • Talk to real estate agents!  Not always a pleasant or rewarding prospect! Nonetheless, as long as you are firm in your approach and don't accept all the sales spiel that will invariably occur, nor sign up anything on the spur of the moment, they are a useful source of local information.  Above all, don't accept everything they suggest especially about their commission rates - negotiate and get quotes as it will save your thousands of dollars!

How much is your property worth?

Your research into the local property market should give you a broad price range for your home but now it is time to get advice from a qualified & professional real estate agent(s) - to give you a 'comparative market appraisal' for your property (Note: they can't give a Valuation - only qualified Valuers can do this but you wont need one at this stage).

When you get an appraisal from one or more Agents, make sure their estimate fits in with your broad price range you got from your research.  If it doesn't then ask the agent to justify their price estimate.  It is essential to make sure they are comparing similar homes in the immediate local area in terms of style, size, rooms, etc.

Also be cautious if you are told your property is worth a lot more than you thought.  Unfortunately many agents attempt to "buy a listing" by giving inflated prices and once you are signed up they work very hard to convince you to lower your price to 'meet the market'.

There should never be a cost to you to obtain a comparative market appraisal of your home.  Just as importantly, there should be no onus on you to list your property with that Agent.  Be cautious here as many Agents will harass you through phone calls, letters and visits to get you to list (some will ring daily for weeks on end!).

What's involved in Listing your home?

Once you have made the decision to sell you need to decide who with and how!  There is no necessity to sell through a real estate agent but the vast majority of people do so.  It is possible to sell privately and this can be a viable way to go for some people.  The overwhelming disadvantage of selling privately is the difficulty in accessing the major real estate internet web sites ie realestate.com.au & domain.com.au.  Without access to these sites your ability to promote and advertise your property is extremely limited.  There are some ways to get around these roadblocks but it is not always a smooth path - if you wish to know more then send us an email and we can explain in more detail.

If you decide to use a real estate agent, then most of the work is done for you (apart from preparing and maintaining your property).  It is a legal requirement that you enter into/sign an "Agency Agreement" contract - it is wise to ensure that it has been written or approved by the Office of Fair Trading.  It is the Agent's responsibility to explain it to you.

This Agency Agreement sets out the terms and conditions of your contract with the Agent to sell your property.  It should include:

  • what type of listing (Open, Sole or Exclusive are the main types)
  • how long your Agreement will last
  • how much commission is payable by you to the Agent
  • other costs
  • what the agent will do to sell your property

If you want more information on the types of listing then it is recommended that you visit the Office of Fair Trading website.

Sales Commissions

Most of us are not used to negotiating face to face and it can be daunting!  However, in this case where lots of your own money is involved, it is essential.

It is not hard - simply ask them to put it in writing and what you get for that amount of money (and justify why it is so high!).  Ask if that is their best price and let them know you will be getting other quotes so they only get one chance and to make it their best!

Most agents are coy about commissions and try to give the impression they are not negotiable but they are!  They have well used lines about being the best and getting you a higher sales price - my favourite cliche is "if I negotiate my commission down then I will be a poor negotiator with buyers and you would get a lower price!"  They also use 'baits' like "Feature Properties" and the like which are available on the websites which they will provide to you 'free' as part of their high commissions - in practise these are of little benefit to property sellers as Buyers typically do a search based on suburb location and price range which makes these Features useless!

The internet has radically changed the face of real estate in the last decade.  Previously, an Agent needed a shopfront as well as newspaper advertising to be successful.  However, Buyers & Sellers rarely need to go into a real estate shop these days and advertising is predominantly done on the internet.  This all means that Commissions do not need to be anywhere as high as previous so don't accept them!