Selling a house privately in Canberra. My 2013 experience

By 3 December, 2013 13

As promised a few months ago, here is my experience of selling a house in the ACT. If you don’t want a long read then here are the highlights for you:

  • It’s pretty easy to sell a house privately, you don’t need a real estate agent.
  • Banks can be annoying to deal with.
  • Lawyers are not the fastest at responding to emails.
  • Be prepared to receive a lot of unsolicited mail from removalists, storage places and real estate agents.

 

Step 1 – Do your research

Before you sell your house, have a good look at what else is available in your suburb and in the neighbouring suburbs. Go to a few open homes and talk to the agents about prices. This will give you a good idea what your place is worth. Try and view your house as objectively and unemotionally as possible.

You should also get two or three agents to come around and give you an estimate of what they think it could sell for. Once you have all that, work out the minimum you would accept for the property and set your sale price accordingly.

Step 2 – Obtain the required paperwork

Pest & Building Inspection - I used www.actpropertyinspections.com.au and got their sellers package for $890 (all of this cost will be reimbursed by the purchaser). This includes everything that you need by law to sell a house in the ACT – building, pest, compliance & EER reports. Two very friendly and professional blokes turned up exactly when they said they would and spent about an hour checking the place out. We had the completed report emailed to us within 48 hours. I highly recommend using this company.

One other thing I recommend doing is going around the house and fixing all those minor maintenance issues BEFORE you get the inspection done.

Contract For Sale - You are not required by law to use the services of a solicitor for conveyancing purposes, but I chose to save myself the hassle of doing paperwork. I rang around a few places and it seems that all the law firms in Canberra have standardized their rates and will quote you a price of $1400-$1600 (including GST and disbursements) to do the work. I took the advice of my fellow rioters and went with James King at Legitimate Solutions – primarily because he was the only one of the four lawyers I contacted who seemed to be interested in talking to me. All lawyers in Canberra these days will ask you for about half of their fee up front, so be prepared for that.

Overall I was pretty happy with James and the team, but be warned that they will not respond to emails in anything less than about 48 hours, so if you have an urgent question then you better ring them.

If you find yourself tempted to use the services of Symons Phillips Lawyers at Manuka, I urge you to reconsider. I sold a property in NSW recently using them and I did not enjoy it…

Step 3 – Advertise the property

Photography – You could take some photos yourself but I don’t have a good camera with a fish eyed lens, so I used the services of a nice lady who normally just does portrait photography, but we asked her if she was interested and she was happy to oblige.

All Homes – Forget newspapers or any other websites, if you are selling in Canberra it really is the only place you will need to advertise your house. Just be warned that you are going to pay through the nose for the privilege ($1595 to be exact). The process of creating the listing for your house is fairly straightforward, but any photos you want to upload need to be under 2MB (information that would have been helpful if you included it on the initial upload page guys).

Lawn signs - I purchased a For Sale sign and an Open House sign (with lawn spike) from these guys – www.propertysigns.com.au and they were really good. I just picked from a series of templates, entered my text and then submitted the order. I received my signs in less than 1 week and it only cost me approx $108 including postage. I recommend using them.

Step 4 – Hold an Open home

De-clutter & clean – Best thing you can do for an open home (and before you get photos taken) is to remove as much stuff as you can from your house, and get it as clean as possible. I hired a storage unit from Storage King and moved a bunch of junk into there to make the house look as spacious as possible.

Before the open house I made a few flyers myself and printed them out. I also got a clipboard so that I could take people’s names and phone numbers as they came through. Finally I threw on a suit and banished the wife and kids (and dog) for an hour at the allotted time, and then smiled at everyone who walked through the front door.

I only needed to hold one open home before I got an offer, we did a bit of haggling and then agreed on a price. The buyer then gave me a holding deposit of $1000 that I deposited in my lawyers trust account.

It took a while to exchange contracts as the buyer’s bank (ME Bank) is horrendously slow to give unconditional approval. If I had my time again, I would not have taken the place off the market until exchange. However, it all worked out in the end and the settlement went through without a hitch.

Step 5 – Move out

We hired Two Men and Truck (although it was actually three men) and they were really good. They were very considerate and professional, and managed to get all our furniture out of the old place and into the new one in about 3 hours, and without doing any damage to anything. This is the second time I have used their services and I can happily recommend them.

Any questions?

Please login to post your comments
13 Responses to Selling a house privately in Canberra. My 2013 experience
#1
Madam Cholet12:31 pm, 03 Dec 13

Good for you. Well done.

Maybe you could start your own agency??!!

We have also had to use that solicitor you mention when we re-financed with another mortgage company I can confirm they are woeful. Good to see nothing has changed there in a few years!!

#2
Canberroid1:53 pm, 03 Dec 13

Thanks for the write-up.

“You should also get two or three agents to come around and give you an estimate of what they think it could sell for.” – Did you mention to the agents that you won’t be paying for their time and expertise?

#3
Testfest2:33 pm, 03 Dec 13

@Madam Cholet – I did spend 3 seconds considering a career selling houses, but then I realised that would make me:
i) a real estate agent
ii) a massive hypocrite

@Canberroid – You’re welcome. Thanks for the passive aggressive question. No, I didn’t mention that I “won’t be paying for their time and expertise” as I only used agents who had left their unsolicited cards in my mailbox offering to value my house for me.

#4
tim_c2:51 pm, 03 Dec 13

Testfest said :

@Canberroid – … No, I didn’t mention that I “won’t be paying for their time and expertise” as I only used agents who had left their unsolicited cards in my mailbox offering to value my house for me.

Ha ha ha, good one! We have a “No Junk Mail” sign but Real Estate agents seem unable to read.

#5
churl2:54 pm, 03 Dec 13

“Pest & Building Inspection – I used http://www.actpropertyinspections.com.au and got their sellers package for $890 (all of this cost will be reimbursed by the purchaser). This includes everything that you need by law to sell a house in the ACT – building, pest, compliance & EER reports. Two very friendly and professional blokes turned up exactly when they said they would and spent about an hour checking the place out. We had the completed report emailed to us within 48 hours. I highly recommend using this company.”

This seems like a forced tax on buyers from the building reports that I’ve seen (not necessarily from mob above; I can’t recall the details) with neglible information you wouldn’t get from putting a torch into the roof and under the house yourself?
And with enough caveats written in that you would probably never be able to sue the inspectors you are (indirectly) paying for even gross negligence, should that it occur?
Has anyone seen a useful report?

#6
Canberroid3:40 pm, 03 Dec 13

Testfest said :

Thanks for the passive aggressive question. No, I didn’t mention that I “won’t be paying for their time and expertise” as I only used agents who had left their unsolicited cards in my mailbox offering to value my house for me.

No worries. It just bothers me when people take the piss with free quotes, particularly with self-employed builders etc who generally can’t afford to spend a fortnight quoting a job with no chance of getting it because the “clients” were just kicking tyres.

#7
Robertson4:03 pm, 03 Dec 13

“If I had my time again, I would not have taken the place off the market until exchange.”

I’ve forgotten the details, but the law changed about 10-15 years ago to restrict your options on what you can do once you have accepted an offer. Just be careful with this one.

#8
Grrrr4:34 pm, 03 Dec 13

I concur with everything Testfest wrote.

Sold property #1 in 2011 – got offers before the first opening. Took a couple of openings to get offers on property #2 in 2012. Had one agent call to offer their services after we listed #1 – “flat fee of $6k” .. Um, we’ve already got offers – you expect us to pay $6k to have a friendly face at our door and conduct a few negotiations?

Didn’t bother to get an agent in to quote on either at sale time, though had had one through a couple of years earlier on #2.

Moved ourselves, too. Van + trailer = win.

“All you need is AllHomes .. and a good competitor to AllHomes to get their prices back down.”

#9
Testfest5:26 pm, 03 Dec 13

@ Robertson

At any time prior to the exchange of contracts, either party can withdraw from the sale without any penalties whatsoever. Nothing is binding until you officially exchange contracts.

The $1000 holding deposit doesn’t actually mean anything, it’s just a useful way of helping to weed out the tyre kickers.

On the other hand, the seller could accept an offer from one buyer, then accept a higher offer from another and then pick whichever one they wanted to sell the place to (commonly known as “gazumping”). It’s a pretty low act, but as long as it happens before exchange it’s all perfectly legal in the murky world of real estate…

#10
milkman5:29 pm, 03 Dec 13

Robertson said :

“If I had my time again, I would not have taken the place off the market until exchange.”

I’ve forgotten the details, but the law changed about 10-15 years ago to restrict your options on what you can do once you have accepted an offer. Just be careful with this one.

Until you exchange, either party can walk away and any holding deposit is returned.

#11
poetix6:06 pm, 03 Dec 13

tim_c said :

Ha ha ha, good one! We have a “No Junk Mail” sign but Real Estate agents seem unable to read.

Many of them write in a very strange way: ‘This residence is enviably and grandly situated adjacent to rural-type sweeping views whilst embedded in a convenient cul-de-sac with all known modern amenities and a stunning architecturally designed floorplan oozing unmatched ambience’. These sentences bear an occasional resemblance to a language known as English.

#12
Pork Hunt7:04 pm, 03 Dec 13

milkman said :

Robertson said :

“If I had my time again, I would not have taken the place off the market until exchange.”

I’ve forgotten the details, but the law changed about 10-15 years ago to restrict your options on what you can do once you have accepted an offer. Just be careful with this one.

Until you exchange, either party can walk away and any holding deposit is returned.

So, why are houses sold the way they are? Why not sell a house the way super markets ply their wares? Agree to pay the price asked and it’s yours.
Why is petrol the only “consumer” product sold the way it is? If toilet paper was sold the same way petrol is, there would be some weeks I could not afford a dump.
Only joking, I have a diesel.

#13
milkman8:52 pm, 03 Dec 13

Pork Hunt said :

milkman said :

Robertson said :

“If I had my time again, I would not have taken the place off the market until exchange.”

I’ve forgotten the details, but the law changed about 10-15 years ago to restrict your options on what you can do once you have accepted an offer. Just be careful with this one.

Until you exchange, either party can walk away and any holding deposit is returned.

So, why are houses sold the way they are? Why not sell a house the way super markets ply their wares? Agree to pay the price asked and it’s yours.
Why is petrol the only “consumer” product sold the way it is? If toilet paper was sold the same way petrol is, there would be some weeks I could not afford a dump.
Only joking, I have a diesel.

Because the sale of property has far reaching consequences for many people hence the use of a formal contract. Until the contract is executed no-one is actually on the hook.

And yes, I know you’re joking… :)

Advertisement
GET PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP
Advertisement

Halloween in Australia?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

IMAGES OF CANBERRA

Advertisement
Advertisement
Copyright © 2014 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.