So the time has come. You’re upsizing, downsizing, or just need a change of scenery.
Whatever the reason, it’s time to sell your house. But how do you go about it? In Australia’s hot real estate market, it can be a confusing time for anyone. Luckily, we have a guide here on how to get the most from your home and make the process go as smoothly as possible. Let’s have a quick overview of all the steps.
1. Get your home ready
Before everything else, it’s important to get your home ready for every step in the process that comes afterward. Real estate is about selling lifestyles and the closer your home is to the kind of lifestyle potential buyers want--and real estate agents can sell, the better your sale price will be. This means fixing any obvious issues with your home like:
- Broken or damaged utilities
Anything you can reasonably address to make your old home look like someone else’s dream home will go a long way to making that sale easier and more profitable. Clean up any mess, perhaps add a fresh coat of paint, and bring out your best decorations to really show off your home. As well as inside the house, it might be worthwhile to have a look at your outdoor areas; lovely greenery for ‘curbside appeal’ can work wonders for first impressions when buyers see that sale sign.
2. Select your real estate agent
This is arguably the most important step, as your real estate agent can make the whole process or break it. When choosing an agent, trust is crucial, so consider things like the real estate agency’s closeness to you, knowledge of the local market, and track record of closing great property sales. Take a quick step to make sure you have a licensed real estate agent too, as statistics show the vast majority of sellers don’t even check this important detail. Not just anyone is able to do this job, it takes a licensed real estate agent to do it professionally.
A good way to choose is through Agentselect.com.au, which has an extensive selection of agents all across Australia and from many different real estate agencies who will compete for your business, instead of the other way around. It’s an easy, streamlined process that makes agents in your area simpler to compare while keeping you informed and in the loop every step of the way.
With this normally stressful step made much simpler, it’s a great choice to get started comparing agents now.
3. Choose how to sell
There are two main ways of selling your house. The first is by auction and the second is by private sale, otherwise known as private treaty. Let’s have a quick overview of the advantages and disadvantages of each.
- Generally better sale price
- Generally quicker
- Direct competition can encourage higher bidding
- Potential buyers feel more pressure to close quickly
- Intense, more expensive marketing campaign in the leadup to auction day
- The event of a property getting “passed in” can send a public signal that diminishes its market value
- More dependent on the right conditions in the current market for a favourable outcome
- Harder to manage if For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
- More options as determined by the seller: fixed price or sale by deadline.
- More time to review bids
- Generally cheaper marketing campaigns
- More flexible bidding process, potentially including more buyers
- More easily managed if FSBO
- Generally takes longer, with prospective buyers trickling in over a period of time
- Buyers may make bids at different times, making comparison difficult
- Can be difficult to determine the right property value
4. Decide what your house is worth
The expertise of your real estate company is of utmost importance here. Set your sale price too low and you miss out on potentially thousands of dollars. Set it too high and you may never sell at all. It’s vital that you do your own research too, as you can google many property websites that publish property values and sold property prices across Australia.
Think like a prospective buyer and compare your house to similar properties in your area. Remember that you’ve lived in your house for years and appreciate how special it is, but others won’t be able to tell from a short twenty minute inspection. Consider what you would find reasonable if you were a stranger with the available information in the current market.
5. Work out your relationship with your agent
Your agent will present you with an agreement stipulating the process of selling with them. It will likely include things like:
- Agent commissions and fees
- Estimated selling price
- Length of agreement
- Other conditions of your working relationship
You don’t have to sign the agreement as presented to you and it’s perfectly fine to negotiate changes that you feel are necessary. Try to avoid feeling pressure to agree on the spot and really take the time to go over every point in the agreement. After all, this is about the biggest thing most people sell in their lifetimes so it pays to make sure all the conditions work for you.
Once you’ve settled on a fair relationship with your agent, make sure you have their contact details like phone number and email address handy at all times, because you are about to be best friends until you clinch that sale.
6. Prepare your vendor’s statement
In Victoria, this is called a Section 32, while in NSW it’s called a Schedule 1 Prescribed Documents of the Conveyancing (Sale of Land) Regulation. In South Australia, it’s a Form 1 Disclosure Statement, and in Western Australia it’s a Seller’s Disclosure Statement. Whatever your state or territory calls it, this is the information you legally must give buyers about your property.
For this, you must go to a legal practitioner or conveyancer to have it prepared. Typically, good real estate agents will be able to refer you to one they trust if you don’t have one in mind already.
Depending on your state or territory, the statement can include things like:
- A copy of the Certificate of Title
- Mortgage information
- Connected utilities
- Recent building work
- Asbestos assessments
- Outgoings payable to councils, body corporates, etc.
- Natural disaster risks in the area
- Development restrictions
Different states and territories will require you to disclose different things so it’s important that all information is complete and up to date. If not, there are potentially legal penalties, including the possibility for the buyer to cancel the contract after it has been signed.
Here comes arguably the most exciting part: Showing your house to the world! There are a number of traditional areas to market your property, such as newspapers, property listings with your real estate company, across the major property websites like realestate.com.au and domain.com.au, and of course, on the property itself with a big, attractive sale sign.
In all of these, photography is crucial. All the work you did in step one will pay off as your house now looks the very best it can. You agent may also provide extra help in making it look great as some may have furnishings and decorations to complete the picture. Many agents are also skilled in photography with their own equipment or can recommend a photographer to use.
At the end of the day, you want as many property buyers to see your property listing and get interested. Most of them will come from looking up property online, so it’s important to take extra care with your realestate.com.au and domain.com.au listings. You can even purchase more prominent advertising space on these property websites if the upfront cost is reasonable. The best part of this fact is that even property that is for sale by owner can have a solid fighting chance on the market with smart use of the major websites.
8. Open homes
Once the open house signs go up, it can be hard to live in your house as you’ll have to deal with constant interruptions on top of the stress of making this important sale. Maintaining your home visually to a showroom standard will also prove difficult if you’re still living in it, especially for young families or pet owners. Because of this, many home owners opt to live elsewhere in the open home phase.
An obvious but overlooked matter is that it’s also important that property buyers know where your property’s location is. Remember that the map on real estate websites are often not enough; visitors will be arriving to unfamiliar streets and if they get even slightly lost, some may simply decide not to bother showing up at all. Having clear and visible open house signs directing visitors from major roads to your property ensures you get as many interested buyers as possible.
9. Make the sale
Here’s where your choice of agent is crucial. If you decided to sell by auction and your agent has done a great job, you should find yourself with a great sale between a happy buyer and you--the happy vendor. The agent will then work out all the details of the contract with the buyer in consultation with you and you’ll find yourself assured you made a great choice.
If you went by the private sale route, a great agent can also shine, especially in comparison to managing the whole process yourself. Negotiating with many different prospective buyers over a longer period of time can take its toll on anyone, which is why a skilled agent can really show their value here. The choices of whether a deal is the best it can be, whether a better one could be right around the corner, or which buyers are the most serious about proceeding are all things that many vendors acting solo will find difficult to make.
In either case, this is the point where trust in the agent you chose works wonders. The closer buyers get to actually buying, the more vital every little decision gets, so you need to have someone who knows what they’re doing. Remember that you chose them, so their instincts are your instincts.
10. Contract and settlement
Finally, we’re on the home stretch, no pun intended. You, your agent, and the buyer have agreed on a sale price for your--soon to be their--home and it’s time to draw up the contract. Like the vendor’s statement in step six, this should be done by your solicitor or conveyancer and again, your agent should be able to recommend one if you don’t already have one in mind. Together with your agent and solicitor/conveyancer, you’ll be able to reach a contract that meets your needs.
Once your house is under contract to the buyer, the sale is still not 100% guaranteed however. The buyer may reasonably negotiate conditions in the contract which, if not met, may cancel the sale. Common conditions include things like:
- The buyer being able to obtain a home loan
- The property passing a building and/or pest inspection
- The sale of the buyer’s current house being completed
If certain conditions in the contract aren’t met, the sale may very well be cancelled. Furthermore, most states and territories automatically include a cooling-off period where the buyer may cancel the sale. While this only applies to private sales, it is typically around 3-5 business days where the buyer can rethink their position and back out. In many cases, backing out can incur financial penalties as a percentage of the sale price. For example, in NSW, backing out within five business days means a buyer still must pay 0.25% of the sale price.
During this period your agent may still be working hard to shore up buyers because you never know when a sale might accidentally fall through, even if it’s already under contract.
Finally, if all goes well, we’re at the finish line. With all contract conditions met and everyone happy with the deal, the buyer hands over money and you hand over the keys. If you chose the wrong agent, or bit off a bit more than you could chew trying it solo, you might be thinking that was a long windy road. If you selected the right agent however, you might be thinking it was smoother than expected.
To find the right agent that’ll make every step simple, browse the top performing agents in your area at Agentselect.com.au