Selling your house yourself: can it be done?

Ryan Boyd
Selling your house yourself: can it be done?

When selling your house you’ll naturally want to get as good a price as possible, but with real estate agent fees claiming a good chunk of your profit, it must be tempting to think you can do it yourself.

But what exactly does that entail? And who can you turn to if you need help along the way?

Why use a real estate agent

Put simply, they’re the experts. They have the market knowledge, the networks, and the systems in place to sell quickly and effectively.

But of course that sort of expertise comes with a cost, with a commission for a $1m house taking a $20,000+ cut, and that’s before marketing and staging costs.

So if you think you can get a good price yourself and are willing to take on the extra work to do it, here’s what you need to know.

The essentials of selling

Before you commit to the job, you have to be aware that there’s a lot more to it than putting an ad up on TradeMe and letting the buyers do the rest.

The Citizens Advice Bureau  has a helpful list of things you need to do in order to sell your house, with the broad steps being:

  1. Get the house sale ready (e.g. minor renovations, tidy things up, removing clutter)
  2. Value your property and decide on a sale price
  3. Get a lawyer to help prepare a Sale & Purchase agreement and any terms and conditions of the sale
  4. Get all the background info on the property (e.g. LIM report) and any additional paperwork (Code of Compliance Certificates)
  5. Advertise and hold open homes
  6. Once you have interested parties, begin the negotiation
  7. When you agree, sign the Sale & Purchase agreement (which your lawyer will take care of)
  8. On settlement date, the buyer’s lawyer will transfer the money to your lawyer and you must be moved out by then.

Central Auckland homeowner Ian both sold his apartment and bought his current house in private sales.

He says he would never use a real estate agent again.

“The money we saved – probably 60 grand all up – made the whole move possible. We found the buyer through a friend and the same for the house we ended up buying. We were lucky.

“The only tricky thing was the negotiation of the price because you basically have to have a high-stakes argument with someone. We just kept it nice and civil and did it all through email to take the emotion out of it.

“We had lawyers do all the sales stuff of course but otherwise we did it all ourselves.”

It might sound simple when listed like that, but each step involves a decent amount of time and energy (and possibly money). However there are people that can help you through it.

Need a helping hand?

If selling your house yourself sounds like something you are keen to take on, but are not quite sure where to start, there are some businesses that can help, such as Homesell. However, they are not licensed real estate agents.

While you do most of the work, Homesell provide experience in the more specialised processes that will help you sell, such as photography and setting up the online listings, plus tips for how to run an open home.

However there is still a large amount of the work that will need to be organised by you, such as the legal stuff and getting all the building reports ready, which will prove too daunting for many amateurs.

Perhaps a middle ground?

The next step up is Proppy, who for 1.5% commission, provide a hybrid real estate model.

With licensed real estate agents on hand, Proppy are injecting themselves in this middle ground that “gives control back to sellers and buyers”, as Managing Director Tyson Walker says, while also providing expert support.

While you take care of the listing and open homes, Proppy help with the legal and paperwork side of things.

“If you’re doing it yourself, it’s quite daunting, so we still hold people’s hands through the process.” he says.

“There might be fishhooks going on with the Sale & Purchase agreements and other contracts that you’re not aware of, and we still take control of the negotiation.”

But can you still get a good price? “Absolutely! Currently we are selling houses at an average of 29% above RV/CV.” Tyson says.

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