The primary advantage of selling your own house is saving on the real estate agents commission. Some owners of average homes have reported saving $20,000 or more – that’s $20,000 of extra savings, additional travel funds, or a bigger decorating budget for your new house.
Of course selling your home does take work, so this isn’t ‘free’ money. You will have to give up leisure time for paper work, advertising, and open homes. You will have to deal with tire kickers, nosey neighbours and there’s also the emotional burden of having to cope with negative reactions from people towards a house you own and love. But, if your expectations on the work and stress load are well-managed, private selling can be a good choice to make.
Here are some tips for each step in the process.
Working out the value of your home
If there is one secret to getting a prompt sale of your home it is having realistic expectations about its value. You can hire a registered valuer to give an accurate assessment of your home for about NZ$3-500. You could also find valuation support online for about NZ$55. These are helpful websites:
Another good idea is visiting open homes of similar properties in your area and finding out for yourself how much other houses are going for.
An important decision to make is how much budget you’re willing to set aside for advertising. Without a set budget, you are bound to spend more than you really need or want. A sensible amount is around NZ$1,000, and this includes good photography, signs, and some paid ads.
Taking good photos of the property is absolutely essential. Unless you are already an accomplished photographer do not try and do this yourself. Whether online or in print the photos of your house are everyone’s first impression and if they don’t do a good job selling your home you will miss out on lots of potential interest. This is too important to get wrong so going with a professional photographer is a good idea.
Advertising online is essential these days and given we are talking about selling privately there is really only one choice, Trade Me Property. Trademe and Realestate.co.nz or Whittle Knight & Boatwood Real Estate if you’re in Christchurch are the two main property sites in New Zealand, but Realestate.co.nz (owned by the Real Estate Institute) only has listings from Real Estate companies. As long as you are listed on Trade Me Property then there’s a very high probability that your listing will be seen by your target market of buyers looking in your area.
Regardless of where you advertise be sure to prepare an e-mail response with all important information about the property so that inquiries can be responded to quickly and efficiently.
Set aside open homes on weekend afternoons. Details on these should be included in your ad placements and online.
Open homes require decluttering and tidying up, which you will need to do before handing over the house to the next owner anyway. Obviously it is imperative to present every aspect of the house as beautifully as possible. Make sure that the interior is hot enough on cold days, and try adding the olfactory touch by brewing coffee or baking cookies. You should also ensure that the house is well-lit as this adds an overall positive vibe.
Make sure that noisy appliances like washing machines, dryers and dishwashers are not going running during open home hours.
Not all potential buyers are pet lovers, so it would help make the house appealing to all possible customers across the board if there are no pets or traces of pets in the house. Find someone who could give your pet good care during this short period.
Have everyone entering your house sign a guest book with their name and contact details. This serves both a security and marketing purpose. You could do a follow-up call later on to give more information about the property, check their interest level and answer any questions they might have.
Distribute information packets with every needed piece of information about the house (including photos) to every viewer.
Negotiating an offer
The hardest part of selling privately is probably the negotiation process. You home is not only your most valuable asset it is also intensely personal and so the negotiation can feel that way too. If you are to successfully negotiate the sale of your home however you must be able to remove the emotion from it and treat it strictly as business. Prospective buyers don’t want to deal with emotional vendors, and erratic or emotional negotiations will only turn them off.
If you sense that a potential buyer is interested, feel comfortable to ask if he or she would like to make an offer. Once an offer is made, consider it well and consult a lawyer before signing.
After a verbal agreement is reached put everything on paper. Standard Sale & Purchase agreements are available to purchase from the Auckland Law Society.
The standard Purchase & Sale Agreement is likely fine for 90% of regular residential property sales, but regardless you should have your lawyer look over the agreement and make sure it is fit for your purposes. Paper work, including title transfer, should be handled by a qualified conveyancing lawyer.
To be clear, there are lots of good reasons to hire a real estate agent, particularly if your property unique or special in some way and will need some experience to market it effectively. Indeed if you are uncomfortable with any of the steps in the process you should probably work with a well established local agent. This simply serves to make the case that in many cases it is entirely possible to sell your own home and save on the agents commission…assuming of course you are prepared to put in the extra work that would otherwise be undertaken by the agent.How to Sell Your House Privately,