Perhaps your rambling garden is too much to handle, you’d like a shorter commute, you need more space, or you simply want a change. Everyone has a different reason for wanting to move house. If you’ve been thinking about selling, but aren’t sure where to get the help you need or feel overwhelmed about the whole process, we can help.
There’s an ocean of opinions when it comes to selling your house, which can make it seem like a daunting prospect but it doesn’t have to be. We’re here to help you make sense of it all and work out the best course of action for you.
Here, you’ll find all of the information and tools to help you weigh up your options and determine if this is the right time for you to sell and how to go about it. After reading this we hope you’ll be feeling a lot more confident and armed with everything you need to know about selling your house.
Before you start trawling through the property pages in search of your new dream home, it’s important to stop and really think about why you want to move on. You only do this a few times in your life, so you want to be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, and you want to get it right.
As a starting point, consider your motivations. Make a list of the reasons for your move and then take a reality check. Will moving home solve these problems? What will be the financial impact of each reason? Think what your future self may hold as priorities in a home and visualise the way you and your family will want to live. Will you really need three lounges and a triple car garage?
Going through the packing, selling, buying and unpacking processes of a move can be taxing, so be sure that you are ready for the actual move. Also look beyond your desire to box up all your worldly possessions only to unpack them again maybe 5-10 years beyond that. What sort of lifestyle would you like to be living then? Will you be needing lots more room, or would you rather have a lot less maintenance and more time for travel?
If you decide to sell, you’ll need to ensure your home is looking spotless and perfectly presented ahead of open homes. That means washing the front of the house, touches up paint chips, fixing anything broken and decluttering.
Your home needs to stay looking irresistible every Saturday and Sunday for a month and also potentially for drop-in viewings outside of open homes. Can you maintain that level of perfection with kids, pets and a full-to-the-brim diary?
Once you’ve got your head around selling you’re halfway there. Having bought a home before, you’ll at least know what you’re in for with buying your new home, which can also be filled with the disappointments of missing out on ‘the one’, and seemingly ridiculous expectations from sellers.
Are you ready to live in the in-laws’ basement with your possessions in storage for months while you search for for a new home? Can you deal with the pressure of having to buy a house within your settlement period, the stress and cost of bridging finance? These are all important factors to consider as part of your decision.
Market conditions are an important factor to consider when looking for ‘a good time to sell’. The value of your house may have increased dramatically but keep in mind you’ll likely be buying into the same market particularly if up-sizing or upgrading is your key motivator. Arming yourself with the right information and advice can help ensure your sale process is a profitable and enjoyable experience. The key thing to remember is that since you’d be both a seller and a buyer (for at least a short period of time), market conditions need not be a major influence in your decision to sell.
Consider regional and national trends and fluctuations. Look at inventory levels — the supply of properties for sale — and the average time it takes between listing and selling a home across your city, region and the country. As buyer demand surges, properties sell faster and sale prices increase, reflecting the level of vendor confidence. What is happening politically? Are there any other upcoming national events which are likely to impact the economy, and in turn, the property market?
Seasonality in real estate is also worth considering. You could be led to believe that summer is the best time to sell. Yes and no. In New Zealand, most new property listings tend to pour into the market in February and March and again in October and November. Unless your house suffers from damp or too much shade, taking advantage of the winter months when there are fewer listings but still plenty of buyers could allow your home to stand out and have less competition.
To maximise your hopes of getting the best price, it makes sense to sell when the time is right for you and you’re not under pressure to sell. Also consider factors beyond market conditions. If you have kids, will they have to change schools? Have you recently been through another upheaval, like a bereavement, health issues or a major change in your work? An even keel and a clear head will help you get a better result when the time comes.
When deciding whether to stay or go asking yourself the below questions could help clarify your thoughts and determine the right course of action for you.
Most people like to get an initial idea of the value of their property before going into the selling process, boots and all. And there are a couple of ways you can do this. Here we describe the two most common valuation methods - online valuations and agent market appraisals.
In today’s digital world, it’s very quick and easy to get an online valuation of your property using the many ‘eValuation’ tools promoted by real estate sites, mortgage brokers and banks.
These tools do play a valid role in the process of understanding the potential value for your home. But it’s really important to understand the reference data and variability in results that commonly occur with these tools.
Online valuation tools combine data from a variety of real estate sources to estimate the value of your property. This data might include:
This information is fed into an algorithm which then comes up with a market value estimate or value range for your property. As the exact data sources vary from tool to tool, this explains why you can get vastly different values when you compare your property on different tools.
Online valuation tools are a start, but as described above, they're not perfect and vary widely. They also don’t account for what your property actually looks like, recent improvements you may have made to the property, and local market conditions.
Only a ‘human’ who physically visits your property and who has the experience and local knowledge to assess it’s value beyond what the data says, can do this. She or he can account for things like a charming park view, your slick new kitchen renovation or a location just next to an amazing cafe. These little details can add thousands of dollars to your property's market value. But over and above the sighted value, an agent has the negotiation skills, marketing ‘nous’ and database of potential buyers to draw upon that can see you reach the full potential value of your property well beyond what the bots will tell you!
So try online valuation tools, but if you're serious about selling, arrange to get a market appraisal with an agent. They should be free, and you are under no obligation to list with any agent who does an appraisal for you.
Let’s break down the process of selling your home into steps and some tips for each one:
When selecting your real estate agent, choose one you feel comfortable with and ensure you know their experience and capabilities.
Each individual selling situation is different so it’s important your selling plan suits your needs. An agent will create a plan that balances these factors: getting you the best possible price, selling as quickly as possible and marketing your house with minimum inconvenience.
There are various ways to achieve this, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Your agent can help you to determine the best option.
The next step is to determine a price for your property and how that price will be presented to the market. It is vital that you have a clear idea of what your property is realistically worth in the current market. This will be influenced by location, property condition, building size and land area, buyer demand, comparable, recently-sold properties and prices of similar properties currently for sale.
Once you have your selling plan and a clear idea of the market value of your property, it's time to form a partnership with your agent. A listing agreement is a legal contract with your agent that you both commit to in order to achieve a successful result.
With your agent you’ll first decide how much you want to spend on marketing. You’ll then set a marketing strategy appropriate to your individual needs and in line with your budget. Your agent may start by offering potential buyers a pre-marketing property preview. This will provide you with feedback on price and saleability and may even mean an offer is made prior to public advertising. Your public campaign can then include a number of options such as:
Now that your property's marketing campaign is underway, your agent will keep you informed with regular progress reports and feedback.
Your agent will provide assistance around considering any offers and negotiating these. Once you have accepted an offer the contract is forwarded to your solicitor to check and make final arrangements.
Your sale has gone unconditional, congratulations! On settlement day the balance of the purchase price will be paid by the buyer. As soon as this is confirmed you hand the keys over and the sale is complete. You can now get your moving plans underway.
A market appraisal is an inspection of your property by a real estate agent, combined with recent sales data from your area to determine what your home is worth.
Your agent will make a time with you that’s convenient to complete the home appraisal. During their visit, they’ll be looking for the key selling points that first attracted you to your home. These features will also help shape what’s appealing to potential buyers.
It’s helpful if you’re able to supply the agent with the following information:
A market appraisal will give you a better idea of what your property may be worth in the current market without committing to the cost of a formal valuation. The information the agent has collected during the appraisal can then be used to develop a marketing campaign that will accurately position the property in the marketplace.
A fundamental part of the sales process is choosing your team. Your property is most likely your biggest asset so it’s essential to surround yourself with a team highly skilled experts who will get you the best price possible and help each step go smoothly. Here’s a list of key people to include and the value that each brings:
Your agent will walk you through the whole sales process from well before the ‘For Sale’ sign goes up, right through until after the ‘Sold’ sticker is triumphantly placed on your sign. From the outset they can provide a good understanding of what your house may be worth and advise you of all costs associated with selling a property. Other roles of the agent include, preparing the marketing plan for your home, helping you with the sale price and method, showing your home to potential buyers, presenting offers, negotiating and ensuring sale conditions are met.
Selling your property most likely means that you’ll be moving into another one. A mortgage broker helps take the stress and confusion out of the financial side of the moving process, by finding you a lender. He or she will evaluate your financial situation, while offering constructive feedback and a translation service on any new terms you may be encountering. Be ready for the first meeting with your mortgage broker by mapping out your finances early.
Your banking consultant will tell you how much you’re eligible to borrow and will work with your mortgage broker to ensure the necessary finance is in place so you’re ready to to put an offer in when you find your next property. Depending on your income and ability to service your current mortgage and that of a new property, keeping your current home as a rental property may be an option. In this case, you would be using your current equity as security on a second property, while becoming a landlord at the same time. This is where a chat with your bank will really help.
Whether you’re buying, selling or both, you will need a lawyer on your team. He or she will translate any contract legalise for you and will approve all legal documents before you do! When you’re ready to list your home, a key document your lawyer will need to check is the Listing Authority. This is a legally binding agreement which outlines information including the agent’s fees and commission, and the extent of the agent’s ability to act on your behalf and the terms of the agreement.