Many Australians incorrectly believe that the only way they can confidently sell their home is by using a real estate agent to list their property or to sell via auction. Well, this simply isn’t the case. There is no legal impediment preventing you from selling your home privately – providing you follow all the usual rules required by your state or territory.
In Queensland, property owners wanting to sell their home privately can do so quite easily. The process starts by doing some important research that will help you bypass the costly middleman approach of paying a real estate agent to list your home. In this article, we will walk you through a step-by-step guide to selling your home privately.
What does selling privately mean?
Selling privately simply means selling your home directly to a buyer without the assistance of a real estate agent. You will still have to go through the same processes as you would with an agent. As a private seller, you will manage advertising and marketing, host open homes, talk to prospective buyers and negotiate a final price. You just do this without an agent. For many homeowners, it’s a great way to save thousands of dollars on real estate agent’s fees – on average, saving potentially around $10,000 for the vendor.
You will still need to engage the services of a competent and professional conveyancing service to handle the legal paperwork. There are many conveyancing firms operating on the Sunshine Coast that can help you finalise the sale of your home as a private lister.
Benefits of selling your home privately
By cutting out the middleman, the biggest benefit is you will save a lot of money otherwise spent on real estate agents. On average, using a real estate agent in Australia will cost you around 2.6% to 2.8% commission as well as GST on the final selling price. For example, to sell a $500,000 property would cost you around $10,000 plus GST for your agent’s fees (which are commission-based).
This doesn’t include the advertising and marketing costs that your real estate agent will spend for professional photographs, external signage, videos, and listing fees on websites such as realestate.com.au or domain.com.au. If you sell your home at auction, you will need to add an additional $400 to $1,000 (on average) for auction fees. (This auction fee applies whether or not you engage a real estate agent).
Therefore, if you list with a real estate agency to sell your home valued at $500,000 – and assuming you successfully sell for that price – you will still be at least $15,000 out of pocket when you complete the settlement. This doesn’t include your property lawyer’s fees or your professional conveyancing fees. So, if you’re confident and can master the art of listing your home privately, you can potentially save yourself a considerable amount of money.
Step-by-Step Guide to Listing Privately
The first thing you need to do before listing your home for private sale is to be familiar with the process and research all the legal and regulatory requirements in your state to make sure you are complying with the law. The Queensland Office of Fair Trading is an excellent source of information in this respect.
Step 1 – Get an independent property valuation
You can conduct your own independent research to value your property. Some techniques include visiting realestate.com.au or domain.com.au and using the ‘sold’ feature to view sold properties in your area. This will allow you to establish how much similar properties have sold for in your street or suburb. You can also gain some excellent ideas on how to write your private property listing and the best angles to photograph your home. Another option is to visit some open houses in your area – to get a sense of your local demand and competition.
If you’re still not sure what your property is worth or if it’s unique. Consider getting an independent valuation which will cost you between $300 and $600 in Queensland. An independent property valuation should include at a bare minimum the following information:
- The estimated value of your house and land.
- Details about the property’s layout and size, complete sales history, recent comparable sales as well as other important information about sales in your suburb/location.
- Suburb statistics and trends.
- The average time it will take your house to sell – based on data from average days on market for similarly priced homes in your area.
Step 2 – Finding the best conveyancing solicitors
You will need to find the right conveyancing solicitors to help with your private property sale. When looking for the best conveyancer on the Sunshine Coast consider the following:
- Qualifications, memberships, and experience of the conveyancer.
- Do they have sufficient local knowledge about the area?
- Are they willing to communicate openly and transparently during the sale process?
Many conveyancing firms in Queensland or the Sunshine Coast will offer an initial meeting where there is no charge. This is where you can get an idea of what the firm can provide. If you are happy with the conveyancing firm you have met with, you can formally engage them and this usually involves signing a cost agreement.
A costs agreement will specify all costs of their services for the property transaction which will include drawing up the contract, property searches, attending at exchange and settlement, and even liaising with your bank (if you will have a mortgage).
After you have chosen your conveyancing firm and given them instructions, your next group of tasks is essentially doing all the work that a real estate agent usually would perform on your behalf. This includes listing the property for sale, advertising, and marketing, staging your open home, and greeting potential buyers. At this time you may also want to be passing your independent property valuation onto your conveyancing solicitors to help them draw up your sale contract.
Step 3 – Preparing Your Home for Sale
After you have established your asking price, you need to consider where your house sits within the existing market. This is essentially going to drive your marketing and help you with staging your open home.
Personally inspect and repair
Before taking any photos, do a complete inspection of your property. Look at any areas where you need to do repairs. You will also need to order building, pest, and swimming pool inspections as part of the process. For the building and pest reports – you can instruct your conveyancing solicitors to help you with this. Your building or pest inspector must hold a current licence from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission – so check this before engaging them.
With repairs, make sure you complete them thoroughly. A half-fixed fence or amateur renovations will be noticed by potential buyers. Keep your repairs functional and consistent. If renovating or painting, choose neutral colours and avoid wasting money on upgrades that won’t provide a return on your investment. For example, whilst solar panels are fantastic for the environment, will they add substantial value to your property?
Staging Your Home
Staging your home for sale can be a challenge particularly if you have a young family still living there during the sale process. Staging is one of the most important aspects in not only getting your best price but also in selling your home in a reasonable time frame.
Some homeowners will engage professional interior designers or companies who specialise in house staging for real estate. You can do this, however, expect to pay several thousand dollars. A professional staging company may recommend you hire beautiful furniture to decorate your home during the sale process. Or you can simply do this yourself with some internet inspiration.
Staging is important, particularly for getting your initial real estate photographs taken. Often a real estate agent may help with staging and furniture hire to “dress” your house. This would be an additional expense to their usual commission. For privately listed real estate, you can DIY your home staging yourself. The end game of effective house staging is to entice buyers into your home and convince them to buy your property at the price you have set.
Effective staging starts with having a neat and clean house with all the repairs completed. The first thing you need to do is declutter the visible areas of the house as much as possible. Go through your drawers and cabinets and empty them out. Decide which personal items you can put into storage for preparation to move into your new home. This could include family photos, picture frames, and knick-knacks. Keep your living area looking minimal so that the potential buyer can really see the bones of your house.
Do a deep clean of your home – carpets, walls, and ceilings. If necessary, you can engage professional cleaning companies or do it yourself depending upon your budget and confidence in delivering an inviting family home ready for the buyer to move in. Don’t forget to declutter garages and backyard sheds.
During the open home process, you will be constantly cleaning and re-cleaning your house. In this way, you can present the perfect space to entice buyers. Identify areas of the home most likely to get dirty such as kitchen surfaces, extractor fans, toilets, and bathrooms. Focus on removing water stains and remove all traces of mould and try to ensure that your home has a clean, fresh smell for all open home days.
A word of warning don’t overuse household cleaning products so that your home has too much of a hospital or bleach smell. You can also artfully place vases of freshly cut flowers around the home for each open home. Some private listers even will bake homemade cookies or cakes to create an inviting and cosy home environment.
Before each open home ensure that the following is done:
- All beds are made.
- Kitchen benchtops are wiped down.
- Clean and disinfect bathroom areas (so you get that fresh-cleaned smell).
- Lower toilet seats.
- Fresh towels and soap in the bathroom.
- Use a lint roller on all furniture to remove any pet hair.
- Make sure there are no toys cluttering the house.
- Close the dishwasher and remove clutter from kitchen benchtops.
- Wipe handprints off mirrors, glass doors, and door knobs.
Finally, because you are privately listing your home and strangers will be wandering through to inspect, make sure that you haven’t left any personal items (such as bank cards, cash, jewellery) or unlocked computers around as a security provision. Open homes can be a beacon for thieves, particularly those which are privately listed as there won’t be an expectation that security will be robust.
Many real estate agents these days will take prospective buyers’ names and mobile phone numbers before allowing them to enter the home. As a private lister, you can also request this information. It shows that you are serious about security as well as about only showing your home to genuine buyers. It also provides you with a contact number to follow up on possible buyers.
Step 4 – Advertising and Marketing
This is an important step and getting this right can make a big difference to your final sale price. This is also one of the big areas that you usually pay your real estate agent to undertake on your behalf. Simply put, it’s just getting your professional photos taken, having them listed on the right platforms, and having professional signage outside the front of your home.
Good marketing starts with excellent professional-looking photography. Some homeowners even use drone footage to show the street and outlook. Posting professional-looking photos on Domain or Real Estate.com is essential. Your first photo should be an exterior photo shot from the front.
To maximise the effect, crop out sidewalks and streets to keep the focus on your home. When taking external photos make sure the lawns are mowed and your car is not in the driveway. Clear away any vegetation or unsightly overgrowth before taking your exterior photos.
You should be taking both close-up and angled photos and try to avoid shade falling over the house making it appear dark. Take your photos on a bright sunny day. For the backyard and other external photos make sure that you emphasise space and shoot long photos which elongate the area. Using a wide-angle lens will make a room look bigger.
Avoid taking photos in the direct sun and make sure you remove dog kennels or children’s toys or other distracting items in your backyard area. If you have a pool, have it cleaned before taking photos.
Interior photos are just as important. You want to include a photo of every room. Take photos using lots of natural light and open drapes and blinds. Try and photograph interesting aspects of your home like a polished wood floor or an ornate fireplace mantle. Keep your photos (like your home) clean and decluttered as much as possible. Don’t shoot photos into mirrors which will look amateurish and create reflections.
Signage, brochures, and floorplans
Before your open home and as part of your listing process you will need professional signage – which will include the professional photos you took (see above). Your signage will be an “Open Home or Inspection For Sale” sign placed outside your home and sometimes at the end of your street to entice buyers. (Note: check with your local council before placing signs on areas that are common property or streetside).
You can also have professional brochures printed yourself. All you need is some graphic design software like Canva and some imagination. Your real estate brochure should include:
- Basic details of your house such as dimensions, year built, and square meters.
- Relevant data from your independent valuation report.
- Reserve price (if appropriate).
- Your contact details.
- Personalised advertising copy about the main qualities of your home and the type of buyer you think your home is likely to attract (ie, executive professional couple, young family, retired couple, pet-friendly home and so on).
- A clearly set-out floor plan showing the measurements and dimensions of each room. Floor plans are important to show the potential buyer the value they are getting if they buy your home.
If the advertising and marketing aspects of privately listing seem overwhelming, you can engage appropriate real estate marketing professionals to help with this. Some companies that offer real estate staging can help. You will still have to pay a fee for professional photographs and marketing copy but if you do your research and find the best agency to help it can take the pressure off doing it all yourself. Your Sunshine Coast property lawyers may also have some suggestions in this regard.
How long does it take to sell a house privately vs. using an agent?
There is no reason why a private listing will take longer to sell than a house advertised for sale by a real estate agent. This depends largely on how skillfully you complete the steps listed above. You also need to be confident during the negotiation phase of the sale.
You must be confident about your price range which must both suit your budget and be realistic. Your property conveyancing solicitors will also give you some good tips about this as they handle real estate transactions all the time.
It’s important to understand the buyer and the current market. Know that these are variables that are changing rapidly in today’s economy, particularly with interest rate rises. Anchor your price and be prepared to walk away from an offer that is less than what is reasonable. Don’t be pressured into taking a price too far below your reserve.
What about auctions?
If you sell privately at auction, you need to have a reserve price at the outset. Conveyancing in Queensland allows the seller to set the reserve price prior to the auction. The reserve price is the absolute minimum amount you are willing to sell your house for. You must not divulge this figure to buyers at your open home or before the auction begins. You can simply say, you are waiting on market feedback. Show that you are open to all offers and watch intently as the auction proceeds.
Your conveyancing solicitors will have drawn up all the auction paperwork including sale contracts. The auction process is a big drawcard and not having a listed price can entice many buyers to attend and bid. If for any reason at the auction, the bids don’t reach the reserve price, don’t be alarmed. Many homes that fail to sell at auction will successfully sell in post-auction negotiations in the following hours or days. You may even get a better price. Be guided here by your property lawyers as well.
Wrapping up, private residential sales in Queensland can be by private treaty or auction. A private treaty is simply an agreement between you as the seller and the prospective buyer on the price and timeframe with contracts delivered and organised by your conveyancers. For a private treaty, the price will be indicated with words such as accepting “offers over” or “by negotiation”. The auction process cited above has a reserve price which is not disclosed to buyers as it’s the best way to test the market and potentially get the most attractive price.
Successfully selling your house privately
Regardless of whether you list your house for sale as a private treaty sale or as an auction, there’s no reason why you can’t achieve the same outcomes as you would when engaging a real estate agent to handle your sale. If you manage the process skillfully, following the steps set out above, there’s every chance you can sell your house quickly and get the price you want – saving yourself thousands of dollars on estate agents’ fees.
If you combine these strategies while engaging a competent conveyancing service, such as Bush to Beach Legal who offer a fixed fee conveyancing service you can maximise your financial gains when selling on the Sunshine Coast.
The skilled and helpful team at Bush to Beach Legal can confidently and seamlessly help you sell your home privately. Their fixed-fee conveyancing service means that you can be confident that you are getting value for money at a price you can afford.
Contact us today or learn more about how we can help as your Sunshine Coast conveyancing lawyers.