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Selling your house privately: What you need to know

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Selling your house privately: What you need to know

So you’ve decided that you don’t need an agent to sell your house and are taking on the responsibility yourself. Good decision! Cutting out the middleman is a great way to save money as well as gain more control over what happens to your property. There are a few things you need to know before you get started.

In Australia, it is your legal right to sell your house privately. However, the government bodies responsible for regulation vary state by state, so depending on which state your property is in, you may have slightly different legal obligations. The first thing you should do is research thoroughly what you need to do depending on where you are located. Pay attention to cooling-off periods and contract of sale laws which vary state by state and are vitally important when it comes to complying with the legal framework of selling your house. It is recommended that you speak with a solicitor or conveyancer before listing your house for sale to make sure you are doing so within your legal requirements- correctly writing a contact of sale with the appropriate warnings about cooling-off periods and completing a vendor’s statement.

If you are selling your house in NSW, for example, you are legally required to prepare a contract of sale BEFORE you list your property for sale, as the law states that a residential property cannot be advertised to potential buyers prior to a contact being created. If you are selling your property in Queensland, you must provide a five day cooling-off period as well as a warning statement in your sales contract which advises the buyer about the cooling-off-period and to obtain their own legal advice. In South Australia you are also legally required to carry out searches and complete a “Vendors Statement” before listing your property. It is paramount that you are across your legal obligations before you begin the process of selling your property.

Legalities aside, broadly speaking the process of selling your house privately is typically as follows:

  • have your property valued
  • deciding a sale price or price range
  • advertise the property
  • find a buyer
  • settle

How do I find the value of my home?

When finding the value of your home its best to start by making an estimate. You can do this by researching recent sales data in your area and by using online evaluation tools. Keep in mind that these estimations are prone to under and over pricing. You may wish to have your home evaluated by an independent valuer, who can give you insights into the positive things about your property and things that you might need to fix up before selling. Make sure you are on site when they are conducting the evaluation so you can point out improvements and features you feel make the place more valuable.

How do I get the best price for my home?

There are a few tricks you can use in your favour to optimise your price. The obvious thing to do is make your home look as presentable and liveable as possible before opening your house to potential home buyers for inspections. First impressions are hugely important and can never be undone! While presentation is important, there are also some practical steps you can take to further your price potential. Choosing the right time of year to sell actually makes a big difference. Spring and Autumn are well known for being the busiest times of year in real estate. But this can also mean more competition, which may not work in your favour depending on how quickly you are looking to sell. Winter is a quieter period, and in the middle of summer the real estate market takes a break meaning few properties are sold between late December and early February. Ultimately choosing the best time of year comes down to your personal circumstances and the characteristics of the property in question, but it is still important to know your options so you can best figure out what works for you. Make sure you research and know the market in your local area- what are the current trends, what are the busiest times of year and what are the prices like.

What happens after selling my house?

The proceedings that happen after selling your house again vary from state to state, but generally they happen in three stages: exchange of contracts cooling-off period and settlement.

Once an offer has been accepted the buyer and the settler sign the Contract of Sale and the buyer will pay a deposit on the house. Generally, the deposit is around 10 per cent of the negotiated purchase price. After the deposit is paid, a cooling-off period begins. A cooling-off period is a fixed period in which both parties have a chance to confirm they are happy with the contract and agreed sale price. The buyer may conduct final home inspections during this time, and once it is up the contract is locked-in.

Lastly, the settlement period is when the transaction happens and the property is handed over. On settlement day the buyer receives the money owed and the legal transfer of the property is conducted, and the property keys are given to the new owner. Its very important that you continue to have your solicitor or conveyancer work alongside you during this period to make sure everything runs smoothly.