Selling property privately – clever or crazy?

Carolyn_G 26 August 2012 41

Hi all

My husband and I are hoping to sell in the next few months and are currently looking at our options. We have met with an agent who was very nice but had a commission of almost 3%. We find it hard to imagine that the work of selling our house is worth over $12,000! A private seller ad on All Homes is a little over $1500 and it’s not much for a For Sale sign on Vistaprint or the like. Besides those and a few brochures to hand out I don’t think we would need for much more marketing.

We have a friend who takes property photographs for a living and I have already whipped up some words about the place (took all of 5 minutes).

I have read some other Riot ACT posts about selling privately and am thinking more and more than we could do it.

Would love to hear how other people went. Did it go terrible wrong for anyone? Also interested in suggestions for a great solicitor to help us through the process.

And just curious, would you think that an open house is the way to go, or viewings by appointment only?


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41 Responses to Selling property privately – clever or crazy?
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gsp gsp 3:38 pm 24 Sep 12

It depends on your property (how good is it)and the state of the market(how quick will it sell). Doesn’t hurt trying it yourself initially and then as a last resort go to an agent. That is if you can wait. Also try contacting a few agents and negotiate the commission. G’Luck!!

2604 2604 9:19 pm 28 Aug 12

Carolyn_G said :

I’m interested to read that people seem to think that buyers are these difficult and scary people that us normal folk shouldn’t deal with… That it’s best to leave them to real estate agents.

+1. I’m always amused by the idea that all purchasers are tactical geniuses who’ll rip you off unless you have an agent acting for you.

The fact is that most of them only buy a house every ten years or so and are just as inexperienced at negotiating as you are.

zorro29 zorro29 7:27 pm 28 Aug 12

hi there…i engaged an agent to sell my house. after 2 months they had achieved no offers anywhere close to what i wanted and were repeatedly failing on basic things (like mistakes in ads etc etc).

fed up, i decided to cut my losses (the $2k i spent on their marketing) and do it myself

i ran an ad on AllHomes (just under $1500 for the ad) and wrote the text myself (using the photos i had purchased from the RE Agent package already)…
i asked a friend who was handy with photoshop to create A4 brochures which i printed
i made up little lolly bags which i handed out with the brochures at the open house
set up an open house time of 30 mins
i did not need to use a For Sale sign (and would recommend against it actually…not needed)

over the week i had the ad listed, i received maybe 10 phone calls and a few emails. hardly worth $12-20k for an agent

a lot of people came to the open house (but ultimately it is 1/2 hour out of your time and if you schedule individual appointments it could take hours/days – best to manage numbers with someone at the door and yourself wandering around – let only 3 groups in at a time and the remainder can look in the yard or somewhere else)

sold the house at the first open home for $15k more than the agent managed to get (and didn’t have a commission to pay)

all up about 3-4 hours work to save $15k in commissions and achieve $15k better

completely recommend selling and all you need is AllHomes and a good solicitor. Canberra RE agents have it too cruisey and don’t earn their $$

good luck! 🙂

Funky1 Funky1 5:49 pm 28 Aug 12

If anyone is ever thinking of selling a few properties privately, I thoroughly recommend taking the REI Real Estate Agents course. In a former life as a finance broker, I decided if I was going to deal with RE Agents, I needed to know how they thought and what maked them tick. So I took the 3 day course (not overly expensive either) and learnt the basics as well so some marketing ‘tactics’ (if you could call them that).

95% of being a RE Agent is about finding your next property to sell. And the other 5% is not rocket science.

If you were looking to sell a high-end property, then an experienced agent with the right contacts and list of potential buyers might be the way to go (that’s what you;re really paying for here). But for a low to mid level property, most capable people could easily sell it on their own if they did their homework.

Carolyn_G Carolyn_G 2:11 pm 28 Aug 12

poetix said :

Carolyn_G said :

poetix said :

Reading this, you seem like too nice a person to sell your own house. I have an awful feeling that your real name is quite close to the one you are using here? So, if I were a canny buyer, I would be looking for a privately sold house, with a vendor with a name like the name used here, and remembering what you said about being willing to take a lower price.

Get an agent, on a percentage. They don’t, in general, tend to be nice.

Thanks for your comment, and yes, I would like to think I am nice. I don’t think that automatically means I will throw my house away for dirt cheap though. A canny buyer may well do all that and offer me less… But less than what? I agree it would be silly of me to have said “I plan to ask for $600,000 but I’ll really take $550,000”, but as I have not mentioned the lowest price id take I don’t think it matters.
No matter how people come to find out about our house, they will make their low offers. All I have to do is say no thanks, we are wanting more. If they don’t want to pay more thats ok, just means they are not the right buyer for us.

I’m interested to read that people seem to think that buyers are these difficult and scary people that us normal folk shouldn’t deal with… That it’s best to leave them to real estate agents.

Crazy idea perhaps but aren’t most buyers just normal people? After all I have been a buyer and I will be again soon. I just wanted to find a house I liked and pay a fair price in the current market.

I may well be nuts for thinking like this and am happy to be told so! Are buyers really horrible scary creatures I should avoid at all costs?

Sorry, I’m probably projecting my feelings onto you. If I sold a house myself (one I had lived in) I would spend half the time abusing potential buyers who criticised it in any way, and half my time in tears. So the agent’s fee is a kind of proactive therapy for me. You are probably more mature than that.

Some people do let the anxiety of buying affect them too much, too.

The whole process is awful.

Ha, yes I can imagine it would be difficult if you really loved your place.

I don’t really feel any strong emotional attachment to the house so hopefully that will help me. I have thought about how I would react to negative comments… I think I would just think ‘fair enough’.

If people provided negative feedback I think id just accept it but also remind them of the special things about the place. Having said that I’d be the first to suggest that if they didn’t like big things about it that it may not be the house for them. I’m ok with that, we all like different things and it’s not personal.

dynomatt74 dynomatt74 2:03 pm 28 Aug 12

I’ve sold two houses privately. One a first home owner townhouse, the other a large 5 bedroom place.

In the first case, Allhomes didn’t exist, and it was sold via the equivalent of a public service Departments internal mailing list.

In the second case, Allhomes was used, (not for the $1500 you quote here, so ditto the comments above about their gouging) took a bunch of photos that really weren’t that good (with a point and shoot, not even a decent SLR with depth of field or wide angle lenses), constructed a few words and it sold within a couple of weeks. Saved ourselves over $18,000 (as quoted by agents). In our final negotiations with the buyers we used the “professional valuation minus half the commission” as the final price and the buyer was happy with that. Win for them…win for us. We could have probably been more greedy, but we were happy with a fair price that enabled us to move into our current home.

I assume there was an element of luck there, but for the energy we put into it (cleaning ready for the 4 or 5 open houses we had, some signs that I bought from a sign maker and that’s about it) I’d struggle to do anything else in the future.

Well worth giving it a go. I’m also happy to have a chat if there’s a way that can be done?

Cheers,
Matt

poetix poetix 1:52 pm 28 Aug 12

Carolyn_G said :

poetix said :

Reading this, you seem like too nice a person to sell your own house. I have an awful feeling that your real name is quite close to the one you are using here? So, if I were a canny buyer, I would be looking for a privately sold house, with a vendor with a name like the name used here, and remembering what you said about being willing to take a lower price.

Get an agent, on a percentage. They don’t, in general, tend to be nice.

Thanks for your comment, and yes, I would like to think I am nice. I don’t think that automatically means I will throw my house away for dirt cheap though. A canny buyer may well do all that and offer me less… But less than what? I agree it would be silly of me to have said “I plan to ask for $600,000 but I’ll really take $550,000”, but as I have not mentioned the lowest price id take I don’t think it matters.
No matter how people come to find out about our house, they will make their low offers. All I have to do is say no thanks, we are wanting more. If they don’t want to pay more thats ok, just means they are not the right buyer for us.

I’m interested to read that people seem to think that buyers are these difficult and scary people that us normal folk shouldn’t deal with… That it’s best to leave them to real estate agents.

Crazy idea perhaps but aren’t most buyers just normal people? After all I have been a buyer and I will be again soon. I just wanted to find a house I liked and pay a fair price in the current market.

I may well be nuts for thinking like this and am happy to be told so! Are buyers really horrible scary creatures I should avoid at all costs?

Sorry, I’m probably projecting my feelings onto you. If I sold a house myself (one I had lived in) I would spend half the time abusing potential buyers who criticised it in any way, and half my time in tears. So the agent’s fee is a kind of proactive therapy for me. You are probably more mature than that.

Some people do let the anxiety of buying affect them too much, too.

The whole process is awful.

Carolyn_G Carolyn_G 1:17 pm 28 Aug 12

poetix said :

Reading this, you seem like too nice a person to sell your own house. I have an awful feeling that your real name is quite close to the one you are using here? So, if I were a canny buyer, I would be looking for a privately sold house, with a vendor with a name like the name used here, and remembering what you said about being willing to take a lower price.

Get an agent, on a percentage. They don’t, in general, tend to be nice.

Thanks for your comment, and yes, I would like to think I am nice. I don’t think that automatically means I will throw my house away for dirt cheap though. A canny buyer may well do all that and offer me less… But less than what? I agree it would be silly of me to have said “I plan to ask for $600,000 but I’ll really take $550,000”, but as I have not mentioned the lowest price id take I don’t think it matters.
No matter how people come to find out about our house, they will make their low offers. All I have to do is say no thanks, we are wanting more. If they don’t want to pay more thats ok, just means they are not the right buyer for us.

I’m interested to read that people seem to think that buyers are these difficult and scary people that us normal folk shouldn’t deal with… That it’s best to leave them to real estate agents.

Crazy idea perhaps but aren’t most buyers just normal people? After all I have been a buyer and I will be again soon. I just wanted to find a house I liked and pay a fair price in the current market.

I may well be nuts for thinking like this and am happy to be told so! Are buyers really horrible scary creatures I should avoid at all costs?

AG Canberra AG Canberra 12:25 pm 28 Aug 12

Has the AllHomes listing price for private sellers gone up?

If it is more than the $995 that we paid 12 months ago I’d love to hear the justification…..Maybe the ACCC could investigate given the discrepancy between what they charge agents and what they charge individuals….

Grrrr Grrrr 11:50 am 28 Aug 12

whoodzzz said :

The reasons I find them difficult are:
– they ALWAYS think that their emotional attachment to the house means its worth closer to their non professional opinion
– if you pass on the house, they take it personally
– they often have NO idea when it comes to any legislation around the real estate game

I understand your first two points – sellers don’t act professional. In my experience, anyone with half a clue would have as good idea of the current market value of their house as an agent .. Either from getting in an agent for a free valuation, a professional valuation, or even just keeping an eagle eye on similar houses on Allhomes..

Can you explain what issues have arisen by private sellers “having no idea when it comes to legislation”?

I’ve successfully sold a house privately, and would have thought that most sellers would still engage a solicitor for conveyancing who would also give some advice for any issues encountered along the way. My opinion was the $1k spent on the solicitor provided far better value for money than any agent could.

Now the Canberra market needs a serious competitor to Allhomes to reverse the recent massive price hikes for private sellers.

dpm dpm 10:11 am 28 Aug 12

Jazz said :

snoopydoc said :

We sold our house in QLD in 2004 when we moved back to Canberra. We did it privately, rather than pay a real estate agent a very large sum for doing very little.

– Retained a solicitor for conveyancing $1,200
– Custom sign for the front yard $55
– Star pickets, etc., for abovementioned sign $20
– Listings on two different websites, with lots of photos we took ourselves $110
– Few page info pack I put together myself $[printer paper and an hour or so of time]

We ended up selling it within 3 weeks, costing around $1,400 all up and avoiding coughing up something like $14,000 to a real estate agent.

Its a little bit naive to think that an agent does nothing else and there are no other cost. Is your own time worth so little? not only are you having open homes, private viewings at times convenient to the buyer, make potentially hundreds of phonecalls, AND have access to a database of pre-qualified buyers.

worth it? i think so.

‘Hundreds of phone calls’? Really? Hundreds?

‘a database of pre-qualified buyers’? Do you mean when you give them specs of a place you are looking to buy and they ring to sell you houses that are completely different? i.e. every house they have on their books is *your* dream house…

‘Is your own time worth so little?’ Well, if they saved $12,600 I’d hardly say that is ‘little’, but perhaps that is to highly paid agents! I mean, if the homeowner worked a 40 hour week solely on selling their house – for each of the 3 weeks it took to sell – it works out that they ‘earned’ $105 an hour by doing it themselves. Personally, that sounds like good money to put towards a holiday, or perhaps some renos on the new place! Or at least cancelling out some of the BS stamp duty related to the new place….
Basically, if people are confident and competent enough to DIY, why try to talk them out of it? There don’t appear to be too many horror stories here (yet!)?

RedDogInCan RedDogInCan 9:40 am 28 Aug 12

Jazz said :

Its a little bit naive to think that an agent does nothing else and there are no other cost. Is your own time worth so little?
not only are you having open homes,

Which are frequently manned by the office trainee

Jazz said :

private viewings at times convenient to the buyer,

I have to pay for that!?! Usually I have found that the agent’s convenience comes first, the buyers second, and stuff the seller.

Jazz said :

make potentially hundreds of phonecalls, AND have access to a database of pre-qualified buyers.

Who to? I have yet to find an agent who has more than two potential buyers and they certainly weren’t qualified. The standard modus operandi of real estate agents in Canberra is to list on All Homes and wait for the phone to ring.

Jazz said :

worth it? i think so.

Hey, its your money.

Jazz said :

What you’re paying for with a solicitor is the ability to sue them if something goes wrong.

Wrong. You don’t need a solicitor to create an enforcable legal contract. If something does go wrong, all a solicitor will do is refer you to a lawyer mate. Solicitors don’t even do the convenancing, they get the clerks to do it.

poetix poetix 9:33 am 28 Aug 12

Reading this, you seem like too nice a person to sell your own house. I have an awful feeling that your real name is quite close to the one you are using here? So, if I were a canny buyer, I would be looking for a privately sold house, with a vendor with a name like the name used here, and remembering what you said about being willing to take a lower price.

Get an agent, on a percentage. They don’t, in general, tend to be nice.

Jazz Jazz 7:37 am 28 Aug 12

RedDogInCan said :

shauno said :

Not only that you have about $900 in building inspection and maybe a grand in lawyer fees for a bill of sale

Building inspection fees are refundable by the buyer.

If you are paying a grand in lawyer fees for them to hand you the standard Law Society property contract you are getting ripped off. You can purchase a copy from the Law Society office for $28.

Even then you get ripped off. By law you need to have a contract prepared before putting a property up for sale. However, solictors call this a ‘marketing contract’ and a charge extra to draw up the ‘real’ contract and then insist that there is a buyers copy and sellers copy.

You really don’t need a solicitor if you are selling. We sold this year using the standard Law Society contract without a solicitor. There is plenty of information available about how to go about it on the ACT Govt web site.

What you’re paying for with a solicitor is the ability to sue them if something goes wrong.

Jazz Jazz 7:32 am 28 Aug 12

snoopydoc said :

We sold our house in QLD in 2004 when we moved back to Canberra. We did it privately, rather than pay a real estate agent a very large sum for doing very little.

– Retained a solicitor for conveyancing $1,200
– Custom sign for the front yard $55
– Star pickets, etc., for abovementioned sign $20
– Listings on two different websites, with lots of photos we took ourselves $110
– Few page info pack I put together myself $[printer paper and an hour or so of time]

We ended up selling it within 3 weeks, costing around $1,400 all up and avoiding coughing up something like $14,000 to a real estate agent.

Its a little bit naive to think that an agent does nothing else and there are no other cost. Is your own time worth so little? not only are you having open homes, private viewings at times convenient to the buyer, make potentially hundreds of phonecalls, AND have access to a database of pre-qualified buyers.

worth it? i think so.

davjp davjp 3:28 pm 27 Aug 12

I think it depends on what your selling. My wife and I have sold 3 houses now all privately. 2 were in the first home buyers market and sold easierly. Sure enough it took a while for one of them but we got over what we wanted.

If your selling a second house thats over the $450k mark its a little harder to sell. I would definetly sell myself again.

Sorry about the spelling. If you want any more advise I am more than happy to talk via email.

RedDogInCan RedDogInCan 3:07 pm 27 Aug 12

shauno said :

Not only that you have about $900 in building inspection and maybe a grand in lawyer fees for a bill of sale

Building inspection fees are refundable by the buyer.

If you are paying a grand in lawyer fees for them to hand you the standard Law Society property contract you are getting ripped off. You can purchase a copy from the Law Society office for $28.

Even then you get ripped off. By law you need to have a contract prepared before putting a property up for sale. However, solictors call this a ‘marketing contract’ and a charge extra to draw up the ‘real’ contract and then insist that there is a buyers copy and sellers copy.

You really don’t need a solicitor if you are selling. We sold this year using the standard Law Society contract without a solicitor. There is plenty of information available about how to go about it on the ACT Govt web site.

AG Canberra AG Canberra 2:47 pm 27 Aug 12

No – we didn’t provide the valuation to buyers – it just re-inforced what we thought our place was worth.

We were lucky as our bank needed the valuation to work out how much equity we had when considering the next loan. As such they organised it but I believe the guys were from Knight Frank. I also know that Egan Property Valuers do a good job.

Email me – sellprivatecanberra at gmail dot com

Carolyn_G Carolyn_G 2:23 pm 27 Aug 12

2604 said :

Carolyn_G said :

2604 – congrats on selling so fast. Just wondering if you found that people expected a discount due to a private sale?

Not at all, and if they had asked for one, I would have pointed out that I had done all the work that an agent would normally do, so the price should remain the same.

I also don’t think you should assume that an agent will automatically increase the price you can get for a house by $10,000. The fact is that many of them aren’t particularly smart, nor good negotiators. They also put buyers off – in fact, a couple of people who looked at my apartment told me how nice it was not having to deal with an agent, for once.

Good to hear. I totally agree with your comment there, especially as our house is entry level. In my eyes $10,000 is a big difference in price when you are talking low $400,000s. For an agent to be worthwhile they would have to be able to talk someone up at least $10,000. Could they do it? Maybe… But maybe not. As you say, I’m sure some are great at negotiating but a lot are probably no better than you or me.

Having done all this research (and finding a wonderful and supportive solicitor today) I’m now pretty keen to give it a go. Worst case is a few months go by with nothing happening and we can then decide to take it off the market or talk to an agent. We might lose a bit of money on the allhomes ad but I think it’s worth the gamble.

If we do go ahead I’ll be sure to post to let people know about my experiences.

Lisa_W Lisa_W 2:17 pm 27 Aug 12

With the internet it’s easy to get the enquiry yourself and save the money. I think an agent is only worth their fee if they can negotiate a higher price than you. That’s the dilemma. Most property sales seem to bargain over tens of thousands of dollars, much more than the typical fee but will the agent do any better than you? When we sold we interviewed several agents and visited some opens to test their skills. Most, in our opinion, weren’t really looking after the sellers interest. We did find one in the end who impressed us and I believe more than made up for his fee in the negotiation. He even gave us an option to reduce his fee if we weren’t happy with the result! Some guarantee I thought.

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