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Need some real estate help or real estate advice, property advice or just plain old help with selling your real estate?

Many many people have written to us seeking independent guidance with selling their property and dealing with their agent. Here are 10 of the most recent questions, along with our replies...

I'm getting plenty of buyers coming to the open homes but no one has made an offer? The sort of feedback I get is a bit of everything? It's very confusing. The only time people come through is at the opens. Am I doing something wrong?

Here's the thing with open homes - your home is open for anyone to come through and have a sticky beak whether they are interested in buying a home or not! As for the feedback you get, the only relevant feedback we want to hear is from the ones that came through and bought something else. The others are a waste of breath. It concerns me a little that no one has come through outside the opens. If the agent had someone that they thought was dead keen on your home they certainly would not tell them that they would have to wait till the open to have a look. They would put them in the car immediately and drive them over to sell it to them. A remedy - stop doing opens. It's not about quantity it about quality. Get your agent to qualifying the prospects properly first.

Do I multilist or give it to one agent exclusively?

Most people think that the more agents you have the better the chance of getting a sale. This is just not the case. Find a good agent that has exceptional negotiating skills and leave it with him/her. When the right buyer comes along they will find your home and your highly skilled negotiator will get you the best price. The last thing you want is for an agent that you originally rejected getting hold of your buyer and not getting the best result. You only get one shot at selling-make it the best one.

Agents all say the same thing blah blah blah. Should I just pick the one that will charge me the lowest real estate commission?

At the end of the day you're going to get what you paid for. If you pay peanuts you'll have monkeys working for you. Don't focus on what they'll charge focus on what they will do. An agent can be the cheapest one at the start of the sale but turn out to be the most expensive after the sale. Look for good negotiation skills. The right agent could get your buyer to pay the real estate sales commission fees therefore reducing them to $0. Think about it.... Focus on the agent not the fee.

I'm selling my house and about to start looking for a real estate agent. What should I be doing?

The first thing you can do is approach them not as a potential seller but as a buyer. How you are treated will be a good indicator of how your buyers will be treated when they enquire on your home. This will narrow it down a bit. After that you can interview the remaining agents. Remember you are interviewing them for a very important job. You will be allowing them to control hundreds of thousands of dollars. Your dollars. I'll send you 11 questions you can use in the interview. The answers you get will also allow you to narrow down your options.

I'm tossing up between 2 agents, I like both of them, one is an independent one is a franchise? I don't know which would be better?

Whether they are part of a franchise or an independent makes no difference. Here's two little tests for you....

1. Look at them as if you were a buyer and they were trying to sell you your place. Who would you feel more comfortable with?

2. Imagine this for a minute.... when you finished your meeting with them and just before you showed them the door you walked into your bedroom, opened your floor safe, took out $320,000 in cash, placed it in a brown paper bag, and handed it to them, then watched them walk out to their car, open the boot, put the bag of money in it, then close the boot and open their car door, but just before they got in, they turned and waved and said "I'll be in touch". Then hoped in and drove down the street.

Make sure you close your eyes and actually picture doing this. It's very important. Who do you feel more comfortable with? See this is your 'gut' instinct telling you. Both these examples are how you feel about the agents. A common misconception is that real estate is all about houses. It's not, it's about people! You pick who you feel more comfortable with.

I know that agents fees are negotiable, but how much of a discount should I expect?

A good agent will justify their fee. Be careful. If they are easy to discount the money that they take home to put food on the table for their families imagine what they can, and will, do with your money. Some agents feel that they have to give something away to entice a buyer to buy, if they readily give their own money away what do you think that they will offer your buyer?

My agent wants me to lower my price. But I haven't had any offers yet?

You need to look at what's happened to date. Find out of the buyers that have been through whether they bought elsewhere, why they bought elsewhere over your home, what the other home sold for. This will give you a bit of an indication. Ask the agent what other homes, comparable to yours, have sold for in the past month. Look at other homes that are currently for sale and see what they are asking and how they compare. If your agent is good and can justify his reasoning, listen to him.

I'm considering selling my house using a price range?

The theory behind this strategy is that it will attract buyers that normally wouldn't look because the asking price is too far out of their reach. If say you're after $255,000 you would price range it from $235,000 to $260,000. You as the seller see it as $260,000 however the buyer sees it as $235,000. Theory is if the agent can get them there and they like it, they will find the extra money. Reality is that this isn't always the case. What you may find is that if all the buyers keep telling you that they will only pay the lower amount you may be lured into the false belief that that is all you'll get. It's only happening that way because that's all they can afford to pay.

I'm looking to sell property, I'm not keen on a For Sale sign do you think they're really that effective?

A For Sale sign is your 24hr salesperson. The best enquiries come from signs. If a potential buyer enquires from the sign it means that they have already seen it in the flesh so to speak, they like the look and the location, they are almost there. Be careful not to have too much information on the sign, you want them to inspect and experience your home not make up their mind by a short message.

We have set a price that we want the Auctioneer to achieve but are very anxious to know the rules as to how vendor bids are made and reserve bids set.

A vendor bid is made on behalf of the vendor, which is the seller. This bid is legal, but only when made by the auctioneer. It can only happen when it is permitted by the auction rules, the auctioneer must announce before the auction that such bids are permitted or while making a vendor bid.(Vic)

The reserve will be set by you. The general process is a series of open homes, your agent should provide feedback from each of these then the day before the auction you'll have a sit down with the agent, discuss the feedback and determine a reserve. Fairly simple.

Be wary. Most agents want a sale. The easiest way to ensure that there is a sale 'under the hammer' is to make sure that the reserve is low enough that bidding reaches and exceeds it. There is a term called 'conditioning'. This happens frequently in real estate. If it is going to happen to you it will start with the first/second open. It's where the agent gives you pretty sad feedback from the 'prospective buyers' and then starts back peddling on their opinion of the sale price. It will continue until the final meeting where you discuss the reserve. All this negative feedback will 'condition' you to consider a lower price, hence set a lower reserve, hence the better the chance of a sale under the hammer! I think you get the picture. A good agent won't do this.

My advice, the reserve is not important. Stick to your guns, see what happens on the day. The Auctioneer will come to you with the highest bid and ask if this is acceptable that's the only time you need to make a decision. One more thing, don't fall for the old "we'll tell them it's on the market and that usually gets the frenzy of bids happening". This is very rarely the case and once you announce that the property is on the market the Auctioneer can knock it down at that price. Again, a good agent won't do this to you!