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.