How to Sell Your Own Home Guide List of Contents

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How to Sell Your Own Home Guide
List of Contents
Page No
I Sell My Property
1. How to Sell Your Own Home Guide - Summary
2. The Pros & Cons of selling your own home
3. The Pros and Cons of using an agent
4. The Valuation - How to Set the Right Price
5. Legal Advice When Selling Your Own Home
6. Marketing Your Own Home Without an Estate Agent
7. The Description - How to Describe Your Property
8. Preparing Your Home to Sell
9. Viewings
10. Security Tips
11. Dealing with offers - Tips and the Golden Rules to Negotiating
12. Exchanging Contracts and legal stuff
13. THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX – Selling options
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Page 1
How to Sell Your Own Home Guide - Summary
So you’re going to sell your house (and probably buy another). This is of course a big deal – a deal
worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Selling a house at any time, whether it's through an agent or not can be quite a stressful experience.
You might think that selling with the help of an estate agent might make things easier. However,
surprisingly, people who have sold their own house seem to say that it was less stressful than if an
agent had been involved.
This may be because they've done it before anyway. But it may also be because estate agents can often
add unnecessary stress. (see pros and cons of using an agent). One of the biggest pressures is keeping
the property clean and tidy for inspections. You need to do this if you use an agent or not.
Whatever the reasons, don't worry that selling your house yourself is going to be an impossibly difficult
task. A lot of people have done it before. And as the word gets out about how easy it can be, and
how much money can be saved, more and more people are taking the plunge.
So to remove most of the worry, make sure you use a competent professional. We tell you how to
find a good solicitor or licensed conveyancer.
Pros & Cons of Selling Your Own home
At this stage, before you make too many irreversible decisions, it would probably be a good idea to look
at the pros and cons of DIY selling.
The biggest pro is of course that you don’t pay commission when you sell your own home.
Estate Agents charge anything between 2% to 3% of the sale price which, at today’s prices, is not to be
sniffed at. (So it will easily cost you $6,000 - $40,000 or more depending on the value of your house).
The biggest con is the work you’ll have to do.
Summary of PROs
You can save thousands in commission when you DIY
Avoid relying on Agents, they can make mistakes, are lazy and/or very busy or just plain incompetent
Be able to deal directly with the purchaser, isn’t it frustrating when a buyer slips away and the agent
can’t explain it?
Be able to set your own appointment timeframes directly with buyers
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Summary of the CONs
Time. Showing people round and talking to them on the phone.
Negotiating. Some people seem to be better than others at getting their way. Will you relish the battle
or cave in too easily? (Follow our negotiating tips and learn the simple golden rules of negotiating. You'll
wonder what all the fuss was about).
Legal Reasons. If your property is jointly owned, if there are sitting tenants or if there are any other
legal complications take advice before deciding to sell yourself.
OK, assuming you’ve decided to go ahead and sell your own home, the first step is valuing your
property ie to see what price you should set.
Pros and Cons of Using a Real Estate Agent
Selling your home via an Agent will cost you thousands of dollars in commission.
Here is a list of pro's and con's of using Estate Agents with a comparison of doing it yourself
Agent Pros.
Agent Cons
Doing it Yourself
Values Property for you
May give an unrealistic value
just to get your business.
Then they drop it later on.
You can establish the value
yourself using our suggestions.
You can pay a local surveyor for a
valuation. Or you can get free
valuations from local agents if you
decide to market your home with
them as well as doing it yourself.
Gives an objective,
experienced opinion on any
improvements you should
make to sell the property, from
painting the gate to painting
the living room.
An agent may put self
interest in front of what is
really right for you. He might
get you doing things that
cost you to make his job
Ask friends and family for an
objective opinion.
Prepares property description,
takes good photos, takes
measurement of the rooms
Has Retail Shop. Will advertise
in their window
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You can do it yourself with the
help of our guides. Or we will take
the photographs for you.
This is not guaranteed. Again
there is only so much space.
It is a small amount of
exposure really. accounts
for the majority of real estate sales
in Australia. 95% of buyers use it.
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Agent Pros.
Agent Cons
Doing it Yourself
Supply a For Sale board
Sign boards are often a way
for the agent to advertise
their business rather than
your property
You can get one from us for a
small added cost if you have
plenty of passing traffic and you
think its worthwhile
Already has a list of buyer
enquiries they could match to
your property.
Despite it being a simple
admin procedure it seems
some agents may not bother.
The same buyers are looking
on at home
We have the biggest bank of
buyers looking at our internet
adverts right now.
Convenience. Can conduct
unattended viewings
Don't necessarily do this and
may not show up - as a result
of simple inefficiency that
agents are renowned for.
This will seriously put off
potential buyers. Also they
may not be as good as you at
describing the best features.
If you are stuck at work then most
other people are too. So evening
or weekend viewings are the norm.
Otherwise you could revert to
friends, relatives, neighbours. Or if
you are using an agent anyway
you could strike a deal with them
to do the viewing. - in writing! eg a
quick email. They will want a
partial commission.
Deals with offers and
negotiates the sale. They are
professionals and do it all the
They often don't get back to
people. They are not
available or responsive. They
are dealing with many other
Negotiating is not as difficult as it
may sound. Our simple guide
teaches all you need to know.
The Valuation - How to Value My Own Home to Sell.
Getting an accurate selling price is vital. Too high and you might never sell. Too low and you could be
losing out by thousands.
The most accurate valuation you could get to value your own home to sell would be from a Registered
What you need is to find a good local firm. Many of these have been established for generations and
really do know the area. Besides giving a highly accurate valuation they could also be a fount of useful
Search for similar properties in your area. Be critical of that property and your own. Call
the agents and arrange inspections of target properties so that you can accurately work out how yours
is situated. Ask the agent what he thinks of the price of the other property and how long has it been on
the market for.
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It’s relatively easy to get a free valuation
If you don't want to invest in a Valuer, real estate agents offer a free valuation service.
Apply to a few local agents. Tell them you might be interested in using them to sell your house. They
will send an agent who will value your home free of charge. The role of this person is to get you to sign
up with their agency. (see tips on using a Real Estate Agent).
Estate Agent's Pricing
Please get more than one agent as they may use a tactic of overpricing your property so that you will be
interested in their service over another agent. Understandably, you will probably be more interested in
taking on the agent who you believe can get you the highest price.
The reality is that this agent may know they won't be able to sell your property at that price. They are
just using it to win your business over another agent - who may have suggested a more realistic price.
Several weeks down the line, in the face of your criticism that nothing is happening, this agent may
suggest lowering the price. Don't be surprised if their new price is below what the other agents
suggested originally.
As traditional agents, we know that this practice happens all the time, it is part of the reason we are so
convinced that the real estate industry needs to change!
Property Valuation Webdocuments
Also search the net – this set of search key words works: “value my property” and several free
documents are available to you. has a property appraisal service on their webdocument that costs $29.95. Compare
that result to the other information you have collected.
We would suggest you try dealing with a local expert - like a surveyor or agent - and focusing only on
your property.
What price do you use?
What you need to do is study the price range being suggested by all the agents, webdocuments,
word of mouth, your own searches.
Be objective with your own property. Are you in a hurry? How did the other comparable properties
stack up?, how long have they been sitting around?
The more research you do, the more accurate you can be.
If you're wrong on the high side you can always lower it. (Tip: don't necessarily put your house on the
market for that price though. See your two key house prices in the section on negotiating.
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When deciding on the price remember that a price like $294,750 is much more attractive to buyers than
$300,000. It might be irritating but it really works.
Always set a reasonable price. No matter how nicely you do up your property if the price is too high
it just won't sell.
Note that what you are really doing by getting a good valuation is making sure you are not selling it
for too little.
There can be value in setting a higher price and then reducing it so that we can advertise the property
as “Bargain – Price Reduced!”. Do this if you are in no hurry to sell and we suggest you leave at least
three weeks before reducing. You never know, you may sell at the higher price!
Remember that buyers will often come up with objections about the property to try to improve on the
price they pay. We suggest you add a small amount to allow them to have a reduction. This will give
the buyer the feeling that they have negotiated well and have a “bargain”. In reality, you achieved the
price you wanted!
I Sell My Property takes a “marketing perspective” on the value of the property. We suggest you study and take note of the features and the prices of comparable properties. This is usually
suburb specific. So search for properties with similar features in the same location. Be objective… “that
one has bigger bedrooms, less land, not near train etc” You will be able to work out where your
property lays within the others that are on the market right now and competing with yours.
We suggest you forget the fact that “Joe’s house sold for $xxx a few months ago”. What is important is
that right now today, the buyers are comparing your property to the others available. They will be
visiting as many as they can and judging the most features they can get for the money. The buyer isn’t
thinking about how much you paid for it or your efforts to improve it. He only wants to buy something
in that area that is the best value for money right now.
How to get Legal Advice When Selling Your Own Home
You will need a solicitor to do all the tricky legal stuff when it comes to making the sale. Now would be
a good time to go out and find one.
When the real estate agent has concluded the sale part of the process, he invariably passes all
information on to your appointed legal representative. In Queensland he may organise the contract. His
job is pretty well over at this stage. He might call to see how it is going but you can just as easily do
A good solicitor is worth his/ her weight in gold.
Don’t just pick one out of the book if you can help it. Ask around, particularly with people who have
moved recently, to get a personal recommendation.
Tip: Make sure the recommendation is for direct experience of conveyancing and not for some other
legal specialty - like divorce.
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Questions to ask
Charges. Find out exactly what you’re paying for. Is the fee all inclusive or are there hidden extras?
Does the fee include GST?
Ask for a breakdown of the costs. Is there a charge if the sale falls through before exchange of
Are they experienced? Ask him/her how much conveyancing they do. Look at their firms adverts for
an indication of what they specialise in (You could check the yellow pages or their webdocument, or call
their office and ask the secretary).
If using a licensed conveyancer you can sometimes save money.
State by State Legal Requirements
Three states of Australia require forms to be filled out prior to advertising. Your solicitor will explain this
further but here is what you will need to prepare in advance of advertising in Qld, NSW or Victoria.
Also find below the name of the relevant legal act for each state. You don’t need to read it unless you
want to!
New South Wales
Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 (NSW)
NOTE: In NSW you are required to have your Contract of Sale pre-prepared before advertising your property. Your
conveyancer or solicitor prepares this for you.
Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act 2000 (Qld)
NOTE: In Queensland you need to fill out a Sustainability Declaration Form before advertising your property. Your
conveyancer or solicitor prepares this for you or you can fill it out yourself. Ask us for a copy of the form to be sent to you.
Estate Agents Act 1980 (Vic)
NOTE: In Victoria you need to have a contract of sale or at least a section 32 pre-prepared before advertising your
Australian Capital Territory
Agents Act 2003 (ACT)
Northern Territory
Agents Licensing Act (NT)
Western Australia
Real Estate and Business Agents Act 1978 (WA)
South Australia
Land Agents Act 1994 (SA)
Property Agents & Land Transactions Act 2005 (TAS)
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Marketing and Selling Your Own Home
Your house might be the finest in the street but unless you tell people about it, it will sit there unsold.
Fortunately the internet makes marketing your home a much simpler exercise than it was once. Now,
using internet services like ours, you can get your advert directly in front of buyers who are searching
for your type of property, in your area, at your asking price. From a marketing point of view this is an
extraordinary development.
However there are some old fashioned options that are worth considering as well.
Get a For Sale sign / board
The selling board is one of your available marketing tools.
While they are by no means essential we would recommend you think seriously about putting one up.
Some people don’t like them because of the security and privacy issues. You might not want your
neighbours to know your business.
And you don’t want every Herbert who walks past knocking on your door - but you can easily deal with
this see our Security Tips.
At I Sell My Property, we take the view that the sign is often just a way for the agent to receive
exposure for their businesses and not really much help to you. People pass your property going about
their normal business. Only a tiny percentage of those passers by are buying property at the time you
are selling yours. Unless you are on a busy road, the sign may be fairly useless as a tool to sell your
You can get a For Sale Sign from that is designed to get you the maximum
interest, it is not designed to promote our business. We have two types to choose from, please see our
webdocument for details.
Advertising Yourself
Back in the dark ages, before the digital revolution, houses were advertised for sale in local newspapers
classifieds. You could do the same.
The problem is that most local newspapers feature full page adverts showing properties for sale by the
local estate agents. Your ad will probably be hidden at the back among the situations vacant etc ads.
How many people will see it?
Also; most local newspapers are owned by major media groups who ensure the charges are very high.
Is it worth it?
As part of our service your advert goes onto by far the most popular webdocument of all,
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You could try putting a card advert / flyer in local newsagents' windows. These are cheap and are
looked at by a lot of people so well worth considering.
The Property Description - How to Describe Your Property
The law states that if you make false or misleading statements about your property you can be sued
for misrepresentation. However the art of describing a property to show it in its best light is not dead
– it just requires a little subtlety.
The best way to describe your house is to copy the way the professionals do it.
We have a useful Property Advertising Assistant which can help you write your own property
description by showing you a wide range of words and phrases commonly used by the professional
estate agents.
You can copy these directly or use them to fire up your imagination. Try it. You'll soon see that you
don't need to be either a good writer or a property professional to end up with a good description of
your property.
Besides creating a property description you will also need to:
Provide photo(s).
If you need to take your own pictures then follow some simple photo tips. (Here's a few good
webdocuments for tips.
Perhaps obviously: Make your house look its best. Move the wheelie bin. Pick a sunny day. Clean the
windows. First impressions always count.
Take quite a few photos. It’s probably a good idea to have pictures of the main rooms and garden or
view (if any). allows you to have up to fifteen pictures.
Measure your Rooms
You might like to measure each room – and the garden(s) and write a brief description including
heating/cooling, electricity points, windows etc.
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Make a list of the fixtures and fittings
This should include air conditioning, fireplaces, fitted kitchen or bathroom suites etc.
Remember these are all good potential selling points.
List of any fittings that you intend leaving – washing machines, fridges, curtains or mowers for instance.
You can include these in the asking price or price them separately. They will also go on your contract of
Preparing your Property for Sale
How to Prepare your Home for the Viewings
How to get your home sold quickly, for the maximum possible price
Firstly it may help you to bear in mind the following. You are not "doing up" your home. It is not your
home any more. It is a commodity you are bringing onto the market.
First Impressions Count
Whether we like it or not, the first impression we get of anything is the one that is likely to last.
Psychologists say that when we first meet a person we make up our minds about them within 15
The same is true when someone comes to view your property. The first impression they get is all
important. They will basically make up their minds about whether they will buy it before they even
With people, if we’re lucky, we have more time to get to know the person behind the exterior. Then we
can form a more realistic impression of who they really are.
But with a property, your potential buyer won't be hanging around for long enough to get to know your
lovely home.
So, firstly, you need to pay particular attention to the front exterior of your property.
Roadside Appeal
This is the best term to use to describe the effect the external appearance of your property has on
Basically as they stand at the boundary what do they see?
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Go outside and have a look. Try to see your home for the first time. Pretend you are a critical buyer.
If you have a garden make sure it is looking good. Mow the lawn, do some weeding. Give it a general
Make sure the path and/or driveway is clean and has been weeded.
Make sure your front gate looks good. If necessary give it a lick of paint.
Get rid of any clutter. Less is definitely more.
Don’t park your car on the driveway. It will only detract from the view. The buyer’s imagination will
work better if they don’t have to factor out your car or other objects.
Remove the children’s toys from the front garden. If you can bear it put away your collection of postpost-post-modern, ironic garden gnomes.
Clean your windows.
You may need to pressure-wash the front of the house. (You can get good pressure type hose
attachments from any hardware store).
You may even want to paint the entire front of the house? If so choose your colour very carefully.
Ideally you need the advice of a designer - or at least someone who went to art college.
Clean out the gutters. Buyers will definitely notice if gutters are full of leaves.
Think about installing some welcoming exterior lighting. Many people do a quick drive-by at night
after work before arranging a formal viewing. Carefully positioned spotlights can have a really good
All of this might be a bit of a pain. But don’t underestimate how worthwhile it can be to bother
making the effort. It can make a big difference to your asking price. And more importantly it can
ensure you get a sale.
If you use a surveyor they will also give you indications of any simple repairs you need to make to the
front of your property. Buyers will spot these. It will make them question other maintenance issues.
Preparing the Inside of Your Home for Sale
People want to see a well-lit, light coloured, clean interior.
So you might want to paint the entrance/ hall. Again, if you’re not too sure, ask an expert.
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Get rid of Clutter
You want to make your space look as big as possible. Clutter is your enemy. Get rid of it.
Clear as many things away as possible. Remove excess furniture. This includes side tables, magazine
racks. Photo frames; anything non-essential – except for flowers.
For example your mantelpiece should be completely empty, except, possibly, for a small ornament positioned stylishly.
Ideally you should strip your living room of everything except for your three best objects.
Rearrange these tastefully.
The idea is to get the buyer to be able to imagine how nice their things would look in the property.
(Sorry but they are just not interested in how beautifully arranged your home was...).
Don’t take it personally: You aren’t selling your home.
You are selling the buyer a new lifestyle.
You might want to consider putting some stuff into short-term storage. You're moving anyway...
Mirrors make rooms look bigger. You might want to buy a large one to hang in your entrance hall
or over the fireplace.
Remove rugs. They tend to make rooms look smaller. If they have left a stain on the carpet it might
be easier to get rid of than you think.
Clean the inside of all your windows.
Consider the view. If there is a good view then let it be seen. If a window looks onto something
undesirable then cover it with heavy net curtains for example.
Spring Clean
Ideally you want to have a complete spring clean of the entire house. Get into every corner. While
you’re doing it de-clutter some more.
Crucial rooms
All the rooms in your house will need to look as good as possible. However some rooms are more equal
than others.
The Kitchen
This is probably the most significant room in the impression it will have on the buyer.
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If it is in need of repair then do it! And think seriously about a fresh coat of paint. Particularly on the
ceiling where years of cooking might have taken their toll.
(Tip: If you do it yourself use a lot of sugar soap to save you time and effort when it comes to the
You could replace the exterior fittings on cupboards and shelves. Painting them is an option but it can
all too easily look tacky.
Always tidy away as many of the worktop appliances as you can. Basically you want all work surfaces
completely clear.
Organise inside cupboards and cabinets. People often look in them. So don’t just stuff them full.
You want to make them look roomy and usable.
This is where you want the smell to be perfect. (Definitely burn the poor old dog’s basket). The
traditional advice is to bake a loaf of bread and leave it out to smell good and look welcoming.
Don’t cook anything else before the viewing.
These are another potential big selling point. Time spent on doing up your bathroom will definitely pay
Certainly get rid of any mould from the corners.
Get rid of toilet bowl scale. (Search Google for thousand of easy how-to tips for these).
Get a new shower/ bath curtain. Get some new fixtures eg taps, towel railings etc.
A cool looking bathroom in an otherwise boring property can make all the difference. So consider
painting or tiling it an interesting style. Check the many home styling magazines or webdocuments for
easy tips. Tip: Simply copy a classic winning design from these rather than your own idea - unless you
are an interior designer. Otherwise it could all be a wasted effort.
Tips to Showing People Around Your Own Home
How to Avoid Timewasters
There may be a few timewasters out there who want to come and look around people's houses when
they have no intention of buying.
To sort the wheat from the chaff ask these simple questions on the phone before arranging a viewing
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Explain politely that there is a lot of interest in the property and that you need to make sure that anyone
who comes around is serious... you had a couple of people who seemed to be complete no hopers.
Are you selling as well?
What stage are you at with that?
If it's for sale, who is selling it (you could then check that they have actually got it on the market
and are not just on a fishing expedition to see what's out there).
Are you in a chain? (their buyer is dependent on another buyer)
First time buyers: do you have a mortgage offer ie they have been approved by a bank.
Have you arranged your finance?
Can you really afford my property?
Generally how quickly can you move
Depending on their answers you can assess their level of seriousness and whether you want them in
your house at all. If you're not sure say you'll have to refer to your partner and will call them back.
Tip: Serious buyers tend to ask quite a lot of questions themselves before coming to view.
Viewings Basics
On the day of any viewings make sure the property is tidy, turn on all the lights, and make sure it
smells nice.
Rule number one: let the buyers look through the property on their own.
Don’t follow them around.
If you really think you should show them around then do so. But stress this is just to let them know
what’s where.
While you are showing them around in this way always stand back and let them enter the room first. It
Once you've shown them the layout say you’re off to make a cup of tea and disappear.
Tip Create a competitive atmosphere by organising group viewings.
Ideally you don’t want to be present at all.
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Er what? Yes that’s right. Try not to be there.
Get a friend, relative or neighbour to do the honours. The reasons for this are:
It makes for a more relaxed viewing for the buyer.
And significantly: It protects you from having to answer any difficult questions.
You don’t want to be put on the spot when they ask you direct questions like “are the neighbours
noisy”. Assuming the neighbours are from hell, if you lie about this you can be done for
misrepresenting the property. Far better for that answer to come in writing from a clever solicitor.
Now here's a naughty idea: if you can’t get someone else to do the viewing you could always pretend
you’re someone else. The chances of you meeting the buyer – if they do buy – are very remote.
In any event: Prepare for any difficult questions. You will know what they are. Try to prepare a
neutral, convincing answer.
Are the neighbours noisy? “Oh they’re a bit salt of the earth. But they’re good hearted people really”.
Say this with confidence and a smile.
But don’t misrepresent your property
Tip: Keep a copy of your description/particulars to hand. People under the spotlight, at interviews or …
house viewings ! ... can often forget their own phone number.
A good idea is to keep copies of your property description in your front hall (you could print your printable brochures) - not least to give these to anyone who sees your For Sale
Sign and knocks on your door without an appointment.
A huge factor this. Make sure your home smells nice. Give it a good airing. Use pot pourri. If you
have pets, take steps to reduce their smell.
Put on a pot of coffee.
Or you can get essential oils like lavender to diffuse a smell through the house. Or incense sticks. Use
these sparingly as they tend to be strong – you don’t want to over-power the buyer, or make it too
If you have been painting leave a few sliced onions out overnight. These help get rid of the smell,
particularly of gloss paint.
Don’t arrange viewings while you're cooking - or just after. Cooking smells can be off putting.
10. The best ways to guarantee your security / safety when conducting
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Viewings and Your Safety
The difference with showing your own home is that - unlike an Estate Agent - you are not doing it all
the time and will take it that much more seriously.
Ideally you can have someone else in your property while doing the viewing.
Here are some safety tips.
Before arranging an appointment for a viewing get the following from the potential buyer.
Firstly get some personal details from them and check up on these.
Get their name and address
Get TWO phone numbers: Home and Work.
Ideally, don’t just accept a mobile number. If they want to give it for convenience that's great. BUT ask
them for their current home land line number and if there is anyone else who lives there who can
verify them. Don’t be shy, it is something an agent would do anyway (hopefully!).
Explain that as part of the normal security check you need their main work number (ie not a direct
line) and the name of a colleague who you can call to verify their identity.
Ask what their firm is called
Then check that their company exists and the phone number is the one listed publicly.
Explain politely that this is simply a requirement from your insurance company. You need
this from anyone who wants to view your home
If there is any problem at all with providing any of these easily, quickly and without any edge then don't
deal with them. You can call them later and explain politely that you have found a buyer, thank you.
If you have to do a viewing on your own and feel nervous.
When they arrive you could make it clear to them that you are not totally alone. For example you
could say that your partner is due back soon but let’s get on with the viewing now shall we?
Or make a phone call within earshot. Say, “I’m just doing a viewing, come over in 15 minutes.” So the
buyer knows you won’t be alone for long. OK, there are very few psychos out there, but do it anyway.
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You won’t have any problem with nice things going missing because you have completely de-cluttered
your home, haven’t you?
Never show anyone around if they haven’t got an appointment.
Your For Sale sign may attract passers by. If someone knocks at the door, tell them they are welcome
to phone you. If they persist say slowly and firmly that you are not the seller, are expecting company
imminently and/or busy or watching your favourite TV programme, thank you.
Tip: Keep copies of your description / particulars in your entrance hall and just give them one of
those. It will have your number or email on it. Just ask them to phone. There will be no need to fuss
about finding a pen. They will find it very difficult to talk their way through that.
11. Dealing with offers / Negotiating Tips
Selling your property yourself means the negotiating is up to you.
But don't worry. It's not that big a deal at all.
Knowing the tricks of the trade - which we divulge below - will make a huge difference to your
confidence and performance.
The same "golden rules" of negotiating are used by children working on market stalls in the Third World
as by multimillionaire business people.
These are the "golden rules" of negotiating
You are never in a hurry to sell. You are not desperate at all.
There's someone else who's very interested. This introduces the idea of competition for a scarce
resource - your humble home !
The other party is suddenly in a rush? Well you'll try your best to help them, but sorry you won't be
rushed into deciding anything without thinking about it first
Every time you make a concession this is a very big deal. It must be matched by a similar gesture
from the other party - certainly before they try to get another concession from you.
Your asking price is only a cover for your real price:
Agreeing on a price: You say Three. The buyer says one. You both know that you will agree on two.
So it's always essential to work out your strategy in advance ie decide on your asking price and know
your bottom line price (see below).
It's useful to have an absent authority who you must refer to. It's they who are the tough person who
keeps saying no. You are the reasonable one. In this way you buy yourself time and remain the
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approachable one by saying this other person is the problem. For example they could be a relative who
has an interest in the property.
Always leave the door open. If the negotiation breaks down keep it friendly. Always allow the other
person to feel comfortable about approaching you again. You'd be surprised how often circumstances
That's it really. The only other thing to focus on is the tone you adopt when negotiating. You are
friendly but firm. Simply saying no is easy. Practice saying it !
The Price
Ideally you simply set a price and that's what the buyer pays.
That might work, particularly if your property is in demand. However it is likely that you need to be
flexible because "everything is negotiable".
What often happens is that last minute, supposedly unforeseen circumstances, are bought into the talks.
The buyer uses them to justify reducing the price.
Setting Your Two Key Prices
The asking price vs the bottom line
Firstly check out how to value your property
You can work out from that what your initial asking price should be.
Set this asking price slightly higher than you expect to get. This means you can come down a bit in
negotiation without having really given anything.
Meanwhile you decide on a minimum price that you will accept. Under no circumstances must you
be persuaded to go below this "bottom line" price.
This is your secret. You never mention this figure. But you position every price discussion with it in
For example: Your asking price is $349,000. The buyer seems to agree to this. Your secret minimum
price is $335,000.
The buyer then starts fussing about their survey revealing some problems. Accordingly they want to
drop the price to $340,000.
You sound a bit disgruntled. You say you'll have to think about it.
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Secretly you know you're sitting pretty. After much thought you come back to them to say you will
accept it. You could add that it's only IF they offer some corresponding concession to show good faith
- for example they agree to buy immediately.
When considering your price you may want to take into account the saving you are making by
selling yourself and avoiding paying agent's commission. You may wish to pass some of this on to the
buyer by lowering the asking price. Or you might prefer to keep this in reserve to offer as an incentive if
proceedings slow down.
The Quality of The Offer
If you have more than one offer take time to consider them carefully.
It doesn’t always follow that the highest bid is the best – for instance you may get a lower cash bid from
someone who isn’t selling their own home - so isn't stuck in a chain which can get slowed down, or
Keep Incentives in Reserve
It’s worth having a few incentives to pull out of your hat. Think about fittings you might throw in –
white goods (fridges and cookers) are always popular. Do you really want to take them with you?
If Negotiations Get Stuck
You could try to force the buyer's hand by setting a time limit on the sale. You could suggest a
month to complete or the house goes back on the market, for instance.
Know Your Enemy
Try to look at your home through a buyers eyes.
If you were buying how would you try to lower the price? For instance are there any faults with
the house that could be used to lever the price down?
Be prepared either to offer to drop the price or to hold your ground in advance.
No more Mr Nice Guy
Remember, however pleasant the buyer appears, they’re not really your friend. Your only concern is to
get the best price for your house that you can. You can be friends afterwards !
Remember that it is you decides who to sell to, for how much and when. Be polite and be honest
but remember you hold the whip hand in the negotiation.
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Take your time. Don’t be hurried.
This is a classic tactic that an experienced negotiator will use. They try to force you into accepting a low
offer by saying you have to accept it immediately. Call their bluff.
They say: they will have to go elsewhere if you don't accept their offer right now?
You say: you're sorry that they are such a rush. You appreciate how difficult it must be for them. But
you also have another option. You have just had another offer.
Tell them politely that your door will stay open. You're happy to keep talking to them but you need time
to compare the two offers and certainly can't respond immediately.
If you ever feel rushed, be prepared to break negotiations for a day or two to give yourself time to
think. Say you need to speak to the absent authority.
Letting the buyer stew for a while can be a good tactic. It reinforces the idea that you are not at all
desperate to sell and certainly won't be pushed around. However:
Be responsive and available
If you go off on holiday tell your prospective buyer beforehand. Don't just disappear for a couple of
weeks. It's rude and it's bad for business.
Always aim to respond to any questions within a day or two.
Keep up the momentum. If you don't, the longer the process goes on the more you risk being affected
by "events" - other people’s problems and so on.
Never put the other party into a face losing situation
Don't humiliate them - for example by responding to their tactics with your own deadlines which will
make it difficult for them to come back to you without losing face.
No one likes to have to admit that their tactic was a load of guff. No one likes to crawl back with a weak
excuse or look stupid. So never put them on the spot.
A major secret about negotiating
Here is a little known but very important consideration: People tend to only want to deal with people
they like.
If you are pleasant, direct, open and friendly with people they will respond much more positively.
Deal with problems and set backs humorously.
While you'd think that "business is business", the way even the most serious business people actually
operate is from a sentimental viewpoint. They like: they buy. They no like; they walk away.
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Always "leave the door open"
It's possible that circumstances will change. The people you were secretly furious with for pulling out
after a lot of talk might come back to you. If you vented your spleen at them it's unlikely they will.
Don't be taken in by the myth of the tough negotiator
The tough negotiator is a bad negotiator.
They can only get away with being so unpleasant to people because they are in a position of power.
They have the money.
Sadly most of these somewhat over-rated individuals seem to enjoy turning this power into a rather
unattractive spectacle of personal humiliation.
Even if they do a deal with someone they always seem to ask for too much. This will only lead to
resentment and bodes ill for the future partnership.
Now the problem with this is that if the tables were to turn, the person they had been unnecessarily
rude to or unreasonable with, would be very unlikely to want to deal with them.
This applies particularly to a property deal. With all the ins and outs of property chains etc it may well
be that the tables do get turned. So don't be rude. Keep it civil. Act fairly.
12. Exchanging Contracts and general legal issues
Ideally you should have already found a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer. Unless, that is, you’ve
decided to do the legal work yourself. Be careful about this. It may be a saving too far.
While it is possible to do, it can be time consuming and specialist work.
You will have to do the various "searches" and pay for them; deal with a solicitor or conveyancer and
organise for receipt of payments.
In particular you will have to be able to understand legal property documents to make sure there isn't a
problem hidden in them. (There might well be).
Whether using a professional - or doing it yourself - here are some tips:
When you’ve found a buyer, the first thing to do is swap your solicitors or conveyancer details
The buyer's solicitor or conveyancer has to send a letter confirming they have finances in place - eg a
mortgage offer.
This letter should be sent to your legal representative.
It's a good idea at this point to confirm exactly what the price includes with regard to fixtures and
fittings and other peripherals.
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The legal details start to be thrashed out between the legal representatives They will be looking at the
title deeds, the lease and so on.
When all has been agreed the exchange of contracts takes place.
You now agree a completion date ie when you will actually sell. On this date the buyer's legal
representative hands over the money. Your solicitor or conveyancing agent makes sure the money has
been transferred properly and confirms you can hand over the keys.
That's it
Bear the following in mind
Sell first buy second. If you’re buying as well as selling, make sure your sale is completed before
buying. Even though it is highly unlikely for a buyer to pull out after the exchange of contracts, to be
completely safe, wait until you have the money. If you employ a solicitor they should be able to
arrange simultaneous completion.
The cost of delay. Delays costs money. Make sure you provide or make available all the information
you need promptly. Once an offer has been made make every effort to keep things rolling.
This means: Keeping your solicitor's nose to the grindstone.
There’s nothing more infuriating than delays caused by inefficient solicitors.
Don’t assume they’re going to do everything on time. Check up on proceedings regularly. Go and
talk to one of the partners if you’re unhappy. Be cordial but insist on good service.
Once contracts have been exchanged it’s time to think about moving. Contact utility providers like
the phone and fuel companies for final meter readings and the council to arrange to stop payment of
council tax. Also, ensure you have insured your new property because as at exchange date, you may be
liable for any issues with your new property.
Once the sale has been completed and the money paid you can hand over keys. But don't ever
allow this to happen until the money is in your bank. Regardless of any excuses do not give the buyer
the keys until your legal adviser confirms that you can do so.
13. THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX – Alternative Home Selling options
There are alternatives to selling in the traditional way. If you’re having trouble selling your house it’s
worth bearing these options in mind:
Selling at auction can be a good way to sell a house that has unique properties or that you’re finding
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difficult to sell in the traditional way. Talk to us to discuss if your property would be suitable for
conducting an auction. We provide auction services for an extra fee, please call us to discuss.
Part Exchange.
If you are interested in buying a new build property the developers sometimes offer a part-exchange
deal on your existing home. The advantage is that the sale will go through quickly, there are no chains
to worry about and the costs are low. Of course you’re limited in your choice of where to buy.
Property Development Firms
There are quite a few services that offer to buy your home immediately. It seems that what they do is
undervalue it, get you to sell it for say 10% below market value and profit that way.
To find these you could search on Google and checkout the adverts. But "seller beware" !
And That’s It !
We hope you have found this guide useful and encourage your opinion, either negative or
positive please.
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