21 steps to D.I.Y selling

Aussies love to DIY, as a way to save on professional fees and to appeal to our inner sense of our “handyness”. It’s a chance show our hard work or creativity, or simply our ability to competently apply ourselves to every craft and task.

This is evidenced by the prominence of reality TV shows showing everyday Australians taking on DIY property projects, with shows like “The Block” and “House Rules” ruling the prime-time slots on our major stations.

And if your interest in trying your hand at everything extends to selling your own home, then here’s my list of the 21 steps involved in taking on the task and selling like a professional & experienced agent (like me!).

Phase 1 – Preparation

  1. Carefully research information regarding current market trends and buyer behaviours. Know the allotment/house size (actual size, not your “best guess”, but the size determined by a surveyor), & relevant property disclosure laws. Then establish a realistic price for your property.
  1. Get to know the current lending institution guidelines and borrowing criteria to determine financing alternatives for your prospective buyers. This can also help you later on in determining which buyers “have the cash”, and which are just a lot of hot-air.
  1. Conduct your own mini walk-through inspection, taking note of all the items that need repair or improvement. Be careful not to over-capitalise by only doing jobs that will enhance the price and saleability of your property. Painting and cleaning are great investments, while a whole bathroom renovation is not.
  1. Make all necessary repairs and improvements before you begin to photograph & advertise your property. Getting a professional property photographer is critical, as they have the right equipment, software and skills specific to real estate. There are also rules around how an image can be edited or altered, and you are responsible if they make a mistake, so get someone who knows what they’re doing.
Good on the tools? Make any necessary repairs before selling to avoid nasty inspection surprises…
  1. Determine if your property is susceptible to termite attack and organise a pest report and/or treatment. Be prepared. If the report comes back alerting you of issues, you are legally required to disclose termite issues to potential buyers.
  1. Be aware of any relevant council zoning or building infringements and either rectify the fault or obtain the appropriate certificates from the DA panel at the council. Failing to obtain approval could lead to fines or an order to demolish the unapproved developments.
  1. Be available at all times so that you can walk through the property with prospective buyers to answer their questions and offer information about local schools, parks, transportation, shopping centres and churches etc. Remember, buyers have lots of choice on the market at the moment, so you need to make sure you are able to close the deal any time they call!
  1. Establish a marketing budget. You’ll need to consider how you are going to market the property to the largest audience possible of genuine buyers. Be aware of scams and overly expensive advertising that achieves little result.
  1. Determine which websites, newspapers & postal services will be advertising your property. Call them for rates and deadlines and negotiate the best deal. (PRO TIP: Committing to at least 4 – 6 weeks of marketing will give you the best deal possible, for an upfront fee)
  1. As you don’t have access to an existing database of buyers, you will be more dependent on advertising. Prepare a professional, attention grabbing advertisement that will attract the right buyers to your property. Place your advertisement in the newspaper and any homebuyer magazines that are effective in your area. (PRO TIP: If you don’t know how to write an effective ad in under 500 words, consider talking to a professional copywriter)
  1. Prepare a plan to reach local buyers plus those out of town buyers who account for a good portion of today’s home purchasers. Many interstate and overseas buyers will be looking online at the major websites, so find a way to reach them effectively.

Phase 2 – Advertising & Negotiation

  1. Purchase an eye-catching and weatherproof sign and install it at the front of your property. Make sure there isn’t too-much detail, and it’s written in font large enough to catch the eye of anyone driving past at speed.
  1. Prepare a ‘features and benefits’ fact sheet, outlining specific features of your home and corresponding benefits to prospective purchasers, keeping in mind who is your likely buyer. Also prepare a list of inclusions that will stay with the property and any other items that may stay by negotiation. Be sure to be very specific about the list of fixtures and fittings that are not staying.
Make sure you track and measure your marketing results and effectiveness – getting great marketing results will lead to more competition and a better price.
  1. Learn how to separate the ‘tire-kickers’ from qualified buyers – questions around finance, what other properties they’ve looked at and what exact features they’re after are good qualifying questions. Ask for names, phone numbers & emails and be sure to follow up with telephone calls to gauge interest in the property after the weekend.
  1. Schedule and conduct private inspections with qualified buyers only. Ensure they are really looking to buy a home and do not have a ‘hidden agenda’ or just looking to waste your time (it happens more than you think!).
  1. Be prepared to negotiate with the buyer(s) as though you are an impartial third party. Remain calm and refrain from any emotional outbursts that might jeopardise your sale price. Always remember to filter out extra comments that don’t matter, and really look and listen for cues that tell you a buyer is holding back.
  1. Obtain all forms & paperwork necessary for the legal sale of real property such as a contract for the sale of land and the vendor’s disclosure statement and ensure it includes relevant documents and a current: council search, property interest report, certificate of title, rates and taxes etc. Failure to provide all the correct paperwork could result in a jeopardised sale.
  1. Determine the type(s) of financing or contractual terms that you are willing to consider such as: vendor finance, option sale, extended settlement, subject to sale, subject to finance, subject to settlement, access under license agreement etc. Be familiar with the terms and conditions of each type of sale so you know what will work and what could get you in trouble.
  1. Negotiate with buyer(s) all final terms of the sale including price, financing, inspections, date of settlement, date of possession, conditions like sale of another property and any other pertinent considerations. Have a solicitor review the contracts if necessary.
  1. Plan a final walk through with the buyer(s) just before the settlement process is complete in order to resolve and potential dispute. Have a witness present.
  1. While you are marketing your current property, locate and negotiate to purchase your next home. Attempt to schedule both transactions so that they settle simultaneously. In this way, you and the buyer are able to move at the same time.

For any further hints, tips and advice on the Real Estate selling or buying process, feel free to get in touch.

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