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11 Key Steps to Selling Your Property

By Carol Birrell

Most of us don’t sell a property every day of the week. In fact, unless you have supremely itchy feet, you may only go through the process once or twice in your lifetime. Because of this, it is not surprising that vendors find it all rather nerve-wracking. However, whilst there are some pitfalls to avoid, if you follow the guidelines below, you should make it to the end in one piece.

  1. Is it the Right Time to Sell?

Selling a home is extremely stressful. In fact, selling a property is one of the most stressful things we do in life, apart from getting a divorce and coping with a bereavement. A survey in the UK found that two out of three adults voted moving as the most stressful ordeal they had experienced in the previous three years. In short, unless you have no other option open to you, consider whether now is the right time to sell.

Now may not be the best time to sell a property in Australia. The property market in Sydney has been in decline for a while, but this pattern is now spreading to other parts of Australia. Prices in the last month have fallen by 0.6% in Sydney, 0.2% in Perth, and 0.1% in Adelaide. Melbourne prices are also showing signs of cooling down, and it’s the same in Brisbane.

Many state capitals have a surplus of properties for sale, which is hampering property prices. But, some experts believe the market will pick up again soon, so pay close attention to market conditions and consider whether it is worth biding your time. This is also the case if you can afford to buy a property before selling your existing home.

2. Choosing an Agent

There was a time when your local real estate agent was the first – and only – person you called when you needed to sell your property. These days, there are numerous property agents touting their services. Some of them offer a full-service package and operate from local branches whereas others exist in the online realm only.

It is essential that you choose the right agent. Online or offline doesn’t matter – what matters is that you check the level of service on offer, decide whether you can work with this person, and then read some reviews before you make a final decision. This person will have a lot of responsibility, so take your time making a final decision. If you get it wrong, it could end up being an expensive mistake.

3. Create a Plan

Now you have chosen your agent, it is time to devise a plan to sell the property. Sit down with your agent and come up with a strategy for listing and showcasing your property. Are you willing to play the long game or are you in a desperate hurry to sell? Let your agent advise you on how to proceed, but don’t be afraid of making your voice heard. This is your property, so the final decision should always be yours.

4. Determine the Selling Price

An experienced agent will have a good idea of what your property is worth based on its location, amenities, condition, size, and local market trends. However, it pays to do your homework, so you have a good idea of what similar properties are worth. Find out what properties sold for rather than what they were listed at. Try to take current market trends into consideration, as a buyer will only pay what he thinks the property is worth, irrespective of how much you have spent on a new kitchen or extensive landscaping.

5. Signing Up with an Agent

With a real estate agent in place, it is time to sign the agreement. Remember that this agreement is legally binding, so read it through before you add your signature and make sure you are happy with the proposed selling price, commission, fees, etc.

6. Vendor Statement

The next stage is to prepare a Vendor’s Statement and Contract of Sale. This is something your solicitor or conveyancer will take care of. Now is a good time to check that you have all the correct paperwork in place, such as certification from your local council and warranties for work done on the property. Your buyer’s solicitor will want to see this, and if you can’t produce it, the sale may collapse.

7. Property Presentation

Think about how you are presenting your property. Is your home a ‘doer-upper’ or a renovator’s dream? If so, don’t bother making cosmetic improvements, as buyers will be looking to purchase it ‘as seen’, with a view to making it their own. Otherwise, it is important to take care of any repairs, tidy up, and present it as a property worth buying before the photographer comes over to take the shots for the sales brochure.

Look at your property with objective eyes. Is there anything that jumps out at you? Don’t just concentrate on indoors – pay attention to the outside area, in particular, the front of the property which is the first thing a prospective buyer sees.

You also need to ensure the property is clean and tidy before viewings. If you need any advice on how to present your property, ask your agent.

8. Meet the Buyers

Now your property is on the market, it is time to welcome prospective buyers. Be willing to open your door to buyers at various times, including some that may not be terribly convenient to you. Don’t forget that you can ask the agent to handle all viewings if you are not comfortable showing buyers around, but be aware that the personal touch does make a difference. After all, you know your property better than anyone else.

If you and your agent elect to have an open house weekend, be prepared to have the property ready on the allotted day.

9. Negotiating a Sale

One of the tasks allotted to your real estate agent is to negotiate with a prospective buyer. Buyers contact the agent to arrange a viewing and if they love the property, put an offer in. The agent will work with you both to agree on a mutually acceptable purchase price. Once a price is agreed, the buyer must pay a deposit to secure the purchase and the property is then taken off the market.

10. Draw Up a Sales Contract

Unfortunately, there is a lot that can go wrong with a property sale. Your solicitor will carry out checks to make sure the buyer is able to proceed with the purchase. You are now under contract, but there are a lot of details to work out, so liaise with your solicitor to keep the ball moving.

11. Sold!

You should have previously decided on a settlement date with your buyer that is mutually agreeable to both of you. Ideally, this gives you enough time to find another property or somewhere else to live without placing undue stress on you.

When settlement day finally does arrive, you can hand over the key, say goodbye to the property, and wait for notification from your solicitor that the buyer’s funds have hit your bank account.

All being well, you have crossed the final hurdle without having had a nervous breakdown. But if a few things did go awry along the way, try to learn from the experience so you don’t make the same mistakes again.

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