What’s the best approach to selling your home?

Upside down house

At some stage of your life you will be confronted with the reality that in order to buy that next property that you and your family hanker after, you will need to sell your existing home.

How difficult could that be - you may well ask yourself?

Certainly the whole real estate industry is entirely focused on selling, acting as they do for the vendor. After all they earn their income in the form of commission when they sell a property. You might therefore naturally assume that you would have the massed support of an army of over 10,000 salespeople looking to help you sell your property - after all they could all earn a part of that commission if they find a buyer to help their colleagues - right? Sadly this impression is far from the reality of the behaviour of the real estate industry. The vast majority of interactions in the industry occur exclusively through your agent exclusively, few properties are ever sold through agents acting on behalf of buyers. So the reality is, the sale of your property will be largely down to the capability of the agent you choose. This makes the process of finding an agent all the more critical. A process that should be given as much consideration as you will give to the process of finding your next home.

My advice is to do the research with consideration to who are the local agents who are selling homes that match your own home in size, style, location and price? Ask yourself who are the agents that best present the property based on your impression of the way they present their vendors properties online after all this is the most important medium for property marketing? Look through their listings to see professional photographs and descriptions that speak to practical benefits of the property not bland generalities of effusive features that could apply to any home as if cut-and-pasted from a book of real estate clichés.

A piece of advice in the process of finding an agent is to focus on the person, not the company they work for. You will be contracting that person and they will deliver the result - the colour of their badge or open home flag is of little or no relevance, you are relying on that one person. When you have found the answer to the question which local agents best meet my expectation? Then organise a meeting with them individually to assess if you like them - that is what matters. Real estate is a human business and if you don’t like the agent then don’t engage them. Only when you have gone through this process should you ask them to appraise your home and recommend a strategy to sell your home. It is wrong to judge real estate agents based on which agent believes your home is worth more. The price you will eventually sell for has more to do with the capability, experience and fit of the agent than with what they say the property is worth.

When it comes to marketing of the property, especially the choice of advertising, use your brain. Ask yourself the question as a buyer, where you would look to find out what properties are on the market and how to find the best selection of properties as well as much information about these properties. The answer we all know is property websites. Trade Me Property and Realestate.co.nz are the must-have of property advertising, everything else is optional and that includes real estate company websites. As for newspapers and magazines, just do the test - when did you last look at these publications? When did they last send you an alert to say a new property that matches your interest has come onto the market? And when did they ever show you 20 photos and a map showing exactly where the property was and what it looked like from 50 metres overhead?

The final point when it comes to property advertising is don’t be complacent. Every day around 350 new properties come onto the market for sale across the country. Now that may not result in tens of new properties appearing in your local suburb every day or every week, however very quickly and often in less than a week your exciting new listing will be demoted to the pile of “other properties on the market”. Your choice is clear in my mind. Don’t ignore your listings; for the costs of a single small advert in the local newspaper you can probably afford a premium advertising feature on both of the leading websites for the full 3 weeks of an advertising campaign for the property, thereby ensuring your property always stands out as a property buyers should seriously examine. Not complex, but it is really important to think through and get involved in the process of selling your home rather than just call up that agent that stuffed a flyer through your letter box last week.

There is no guarantee that by choosing one agent over another will get you a faster sale or a higher price. However there is no second chance; once you put your property on the market you have done all you can do and the market will decide. But wouldn’t you want to try and stack the odds in your favour by making some smart simple decisions before that day the property goes on the market?