I have had my property on the market for 2 months and have it listed with my current agent for another 2 months. However I am not happy with what they are doing and wish to cancel the listing agreement. I want to withdraw the property listed with my current agent. Can I do this?
The best thing to do here is to have a meeting with your agent to discuss your concerns. The Sales Manager and/or licensee may also attend. If you cannot come to some agreement you can ask the agent to release you from the contract. Most agents will do this in order to retain goodwill. However if they refuse, unfortunately you always withdraw the property from the market completely until the Listing Authority has expired, then list with another agent.
I do know about this new “platform” – it’s an eBay style system which allows vendors to bypass agents, and its introduction does not worry me one iota. Sellers have always been able to sell their property without a real estate agent, but most sellers still do use one. This is because there are so many downfalls to doing it yourself that it ends up costing more; real estate agents have and always will have greater means to get a far better price – they’ve got (or should have!) a database of prospective buyers to expose your property too, knowledge of market conditions and local property competition, presentation advice, negotiation skills and the admin support to handle the paperwork to ensure the transaction is tidy. I’d love this scheme as a buyer – I might be able to buy a property for thousands less than I was willing to pay! But it would really worry me to think that sellers might find this an attractive option. Also interesting that this scheme has been introduced by a mortgage broker…a disguised lead generation system perhaps?
I need to sell my property fairly urgently and unfortunately there’s a tenant in there for another 8 months. Can you please give me some tips for selling a tenanted property?
The most important thing is communication throughout the process. Meet with your tenant in the beginning and talk them through the sale process. Let them know that you understand it’s not an ideal situation for them and will be considerate of their quiet enjoyment of their home. Tell them how much notice they will receive before inspections, and discuss presentation at these inspections – the better they present the property the more likely a quicker sale. If the sale process is extended over a longer than expected period of time, incentives and gifts can go a long way to appease your tenant for the disruption – a rent reduction or a cleaner may cost you some dollars, but it’s worth the cost to ensure your property looks as valuable as possible for prospective buyers.
I’ve just been married and would like to add my new wife to the title of my investment property as a joint tenant. Will I have to pay stamp duty for this? And if so, is there a way we can work it so that the duty will not be payable?
The stamp duty rules as they currently exist would state that stamp duty would be payable in your situation as it is an investment property. If it had been your own home and you wished to add your new wife to the title there would be no duty payable. It would also be wise to contact your bank to see how this affects any loan you may have on the property, and your accountant to examine whether capital gains tax might apply.
Is there a standard way of finding out how much your home is worth, or do you have to just rely on what real estate agents think it’s worth?
You can always get a sworn valuation on your property from a licensed valuer, however this tends to be conservative and does not include “emotional” aspects of the home which can affect its value in the marketplace. It is an inexact science at the best of times as each person will have a different idea of its “worth” – some people would pay hundreds of dollars for a collector stamp, others wouldn’t take it for free! Generally it is best to get 3 different market estimates from 3 local agents, as this should give you a pretty accurate idea of the range you are looking in.
I have applied to rent 4 properties now and have been turned down every time. What can I do to make my application more attractive?
Well you’re not alone! The rental market is crazy at the moment – we’ve received up to 20 applications for some properties! Each owner is different in what they’re looking for in a tenant, but there certainly are a couple of things you can do that may make your application more attractive.
Be well presented at the home open – treat it like a job interview. Make sure the application form is completed neatly, fully, all documents are provided and everything is signed. Alert your personal referees to expect a call, and pay your option fee promptly. You can also offer to pay more rent than asking, or offer to pay rent in advance. Regarding the rental term, 12 months is usually the preferred period. Most importantly, don’t give up! Keep honing your application, submitting, and something will come through eventually!
// 6 March 2012
I have my property on the market at the moment for $1,180,000. I have just received an offer after 3 weeks for $1,080,000 and my Agent is urging me to accept it because it’s a cash offer. I think the buyers have a nerve coming in this low and I can’t believe my Agent wants me to accept it so early in the programme. Shouldn’t they be working for me here?
Well obviously I don’t know the property, but I’d suggest that your Agent probably is working for you here. This is where not taking your first offer can cost you in the long run. You have just had your most opportune 3 weeks on the market and you have received just one offer within 10% of the asking price – this is not bad at all in this market. History shows that your offers will most likely go down from here. You can always counter the offer, but you risk losing your buyer. Cash offers are also hard to come by at the moment. So if you’re serious about selling, I’d be listening to your Agent’s advice if I were you.
Whoa – hit me between the eyes! Well the truth is that they don’t get paid bucket loads unless they are very, very good at what they do. And when they’re that good they are making a lot more money for their seller than they are for themselves which makes them worth every cent.
You see your property does not have a fixed price tag – along with the state of the market, your agent and their skills determine the worth of your home. Not all agents are the same!! Highly skilled agents will achieve a higher price; poorly skilled agents will cost you money even if they charge the lowest fee. In fact you should beware of agents charging the lowest fee for this very reason.
Many people are under the impression that agents get paid a lot for doing very little but this is simply not the case. In order to be successful, agents need to put in a huge number of hours – it’s certainly not a 9-5 job! If you average earnings over the hours worked, the hourly rate is not by any means outrageous, even for top agents.
Hi Niki, could you please give me some advice here as I am a bit annoyed with my agent. We were asked to pay marketing money for the ads, which is fine, but I wanted to check on the advertisements before they went to print and also the choice of photographs and wording on the brochure. They basically (and quite rudely) said that I may as well sell it myself if that was the case. Haven’t I got the right to do this if I am paying for the ads?
Well as owner of the property you have a right to do whatever you want, however I think that the point here is that if you have engaged an agent to market the property there has to be an element of trust in that agent’s strategy. This is why the right choice of agent at the start of the selling process is critical! Remembering that the agent only gets remunerated on the successful settlement of the property, you’d think that they would be making every effort to sell the property. But it definitely pays to examine the marketing prowess of your potential agents before making a selection. Once you have chosen an agent you trust, my advice is to leave the marketing to them.
My kids have just left home and I’m ready to downsize, but I’ve heard that it’s not a good idea to sell in winter as the house won’t look as good and there are less buyers. I really don’t want to have to wait until the end of the year – what can I do to get a successful sale in the winter months?
First of all, winter is definitely not a bad time to sell! Yes, there are generally fewer properties on the market, but this lack of supply can translate to higher prices. Buyers’ motivations to buy don’t disappear during winter, so there are always going to be people looking for property. There are definitely a few things you can do differently in winter to get yourself a quicker sale at a top price. Firstly, keep the place nice and warm, cozy and inviting. Lighting is particularly important in winter – cut back any trees blocking out sunlight and make sure all your lights and lamps (including outdoors) are on for viewings. In terms of styling, you want to include warm colours and heavier, textured fabrics. Some cushions and throw rugs work wonders here. Outside, clean away any moss, rake the leaves and keep the garden looking as healthy as possible by trimming any dead branches.
This is a hard one to answer as I do not know what advice you have been offered, but feel free to call me direct if you have specific queries, or go to our website and get a free copy of my book which gives excellent advice. If an agent suggests you sell a home empty or not well presented – run a mile. If an agent offers you a very low commission rate – run a mile. If an agent suggests a price that gets you really excited – run a mile – as it is probably way too high and will cost you a lot of money in the end. Check out who is selling most of the property in your area, as they are probably the best agents to go with.
It does depends on how the offer is written, but many offers do say that the Seller warrants that everything will be working at settlement. It’s true that you cannot hold up settlement if items aren’t working but there is an obligation on the Seller to have these things fixed – if not by settlement then shortly after. An alternative solution is to adjust the purchase price to reflect the cost of the repairs prior to settlement and arrange the repairs yourself. This is offer the easier way around it.
The reason it is included is so the buyer doesn’t have to check all items before making an offer on the property. That is, so the property is in the same condition at the pre-settlement inspection as when they viewed it.
Great question! OK well at the end of the day large chains are mostly franchises, so they’re basically lots of small agencies tied together by a common brand. The most important thing to look for is a WELL ESTABLISHED AGENCY that has been in the area for many years, has a great track record and a large pool of buyers (which is something that takes years to build up). Check which agencies are doing most of the business in your area and speak to them. They will nearly always get you a quicker sale and a much better price.
We have recently been listing our properties for sale using an “Offers Over” pricing strategy. A lot of buyers and sellers have asked me about this marketing strategy, so let me explain.
No residential property has a “set value” – a property will be worth one price to one person and another price completely to someone else. So to place a set price on a property (which is usually above the sellers expectations) is not only saying “don’t pay me any more than this amount”, but also sets your buyers up to be disappointed with the home when they get there having judged it on the higher asking price. And we all know buyers have a strong dislike for the use of “Offers”, “EOI” or “POA” and will often skip over these properties with no price guide in their search.
So what better concept than picking a figure that the seller would not accept as a baseline and inviting buyers to offer what they feel it would be worth to them? This provides the ideal opportunity for a willing buyer and a willing seller to meet and agree on mutually satisfactory grounds. It does not mean that the seller has to accept any offer over the “Offers Over” price; it is an invitation to negotiate over this baseline figure.
That’s a really tough question to answer without knowing anything about your property! There are lots of buyers out there looking for all sorts of things – some want character features, some want modern. Some want a big block with a yard, others want low maintenance. But whatever people are looking for, they’re always looking at presentation. Whether it’s an old or a new property, it needs to be clean and free of clutter. Dirt and mess signal that the property hasn’t been looked after, and no one wants to purchase disrepair. Also you’ve got to price your property for what it is – look at properties sold and for sale of a similar age, condition and style to yours and use that to set your price. There’s a buyer for every variety of property, as long as the price is right.
You can, by having an open listing rather than an exclusive one, however I really wouldn’t recommend it. There is no synergy in having more than one agent as they’re each working independently, and also in competition. At the end of the day, only one agent will get paid, and that will be the agent who can get you to take the lowest offer first, not necessarily the best offer out there. When you’ve got one agent, all your paperwork and marketing is being managed by a central hub – nothing is done twice or overlooked, and the marketing is consistent. The agent is aware of all the buyer interest in the property and is therefore in a much better position to advise the seller when it comes to offer negotiation. With an exclusive listing, other agents are still able to introduce their buyers to the property so you are not limiting your access to buyers. But don’t make your decision based on commission – go with the agent you feel offers you more knowledge, industry experience and a more impressive marketing plan.
I would wait and see who buys the property and what their exact intentions are. If they are intending to demolish the home, they buyers can sign a form called “RCD Exemption in the Case of Demolition” on which the buyer signs to say they will be demolishing the home and therefore the sellers are exempt from having to make the property RCD compliant before settlement. The form also states that if the buyers change their mind and do not end up demolishing (for example they chose to renovate instead), then the onus is on the buyers to install the RCDs within a certain time. However if the buyer has no intention of demolishing then yes, you as the seller would be required to install RCDs, even if it requires significant work to the wiring of the property. Hard-wired smoke alarms have to be installed regardless of whether the buyers intend to demolish or not.
It sounds like you’ve been reading media reports that are largely based on the eastern states markets. In WA, First Home Buyer numbers have been growing steadily since the Grant was introduced in 2000, and are still very strong at the moment with low interest rates and a recovering housing market being attractive conditions. Investor activity has dropped off a little as the huge number of properties available is resulting in soft rents. But in general, we’ve been finding that the bottom half of the market is turning over nice and quickly at the moment when the price is set at market value. If you’re not in a hurry to sell and require a certain capital gain, you could consider renting the property out for another 12 months and see where the market is sitting then. However depending on your situation you may have to factor in the mortgage repayments and interest you’ll be paying over that year, do your sums and see it it’s worth holding on to.
Interesting question – and I am now giving a different answer to this one than I did before 2006. Prior to 2006 I was encouraging people to extend their own homes to a) avoid the buying and selling costs, and b) to get exactly what they wanted. However, these days the costs of extending are so astronomical (as you have discovered!) that you are usually better off to buy something that was extended on redecorating to bring it up to present day. I extended my home in 2005 and it cost $320,000; today the same extension would cost around $850,000 – I rest my case!
I am planning to sell my house and have had four agents look at it. They all said it’s worth a similar amount but there’s a big difference in their commission rates. Why is this? I thought it was standard.
There used to be a maximum scale of fees for agents, and most agents charged the scaled fee. Now agents can charge as little or as much as they wish, but it’s important that you don’t just chose the cheapest agent as they can, ironically, end up costing you a lot of money! You want the agent who has all the skills and tools to get you the top price in the current marketplace, so check out their marketing and sales strategy, as well as their results from marketing price to sale price, as agents are definitely not all the same!
I really want to sell my house now as I plan to move to Melbourne as soon as possible but I don’t want to lose money on the house by selling in winter. Should I hang on until spring when the garden looks really pretty?
My advice has always been to sell when it suits you to sell and not worry about other possibilities, as you can never second guess when that “perfect buyer” will be there. At present there are a shortage of properties which is good for a seller. That may change by spring and as long as the home is cosy, warm and welcoming – and priced appropriately – you will, I’m certain, get a great result. Then…Melbourne here you come!
I’m planning to sell my property in Wembley in the next 6 months. My partner’s friend works as a real estate agent in Belmont and recently told us to make sure we come to him for the sale, but I’m more keen on getting a local agent to sell it. Do you think having a local agent is important, and if so how can I tell my partner’s friend we’re going with someone else without upsetting the friendship?
Generally it is always better to use a local agent as they have the buyers for that area, they are very familiar with the locality and they know the properties that are in competition. I would suggest discussing it with your partner’s friend and explaining the reasons why you’d like to use a local agent, emphasizing that it’s nothing personal. The friend should understand the benefits of choosing a local agent and therefore hopefully not allow it to affect the friendship. My personal opinion is that you are more likely to lose a friend by doing business with them than by not doing business with them!
I’m preparing to put my property on the market at the moment and one of the agents that appraised my property said he’s got a buyer that will buy my property for $965,000 which will save me the hassle and cost of marketing (apparently it’s exactly what they’ve been looking for). The estimates of the other 2 agents were around this mark too. I don’t know whether to take the $965,000 or advertise the property to see if I can maybe get more. What would you suggest?
I would still put the property on the market, particularly with the way the market is at the moment with more buyers than sellers, putting sellers in a strong position. If these people are genuinely interested then they can put an offer in after it’s all prepared and looking its best. Putting it out to the market will create a fair competitive environment by allowing other people the chance of putting in an offer too.
I have recently signed with an Agent to sell my property but for various reasons would now like to use a different Agent. Is there any way I can do this? We haven’t done any advertising for the house yet.
If you have signed the listing with the first Agent you will have to get that Agent’s permission to release you from that contract. Obviously he or she will be reticent to do this, especially if there is not a specific reason for doing so (eg lack of performance), but they may agree to do it in order to retain good will. However, if the Agent does refuse, then you will either have to keep working with the initial Agent or withdraw your house from the market for the period of the listing (usually 90 days). Another alternative is to use both Agents in conjunction, but you will still need to get the first Agent to agree to this.
I have just sold my house and had the final inspection with the buyers, and was really taken aback when the Agent arrived with the buyers plus an army of relatives, friends, an electrician and a builder who then proceeded to crawl all over the house and in the roof. Is this allowed?
Well, no the buyers have no right to do that at a final inspection and that is stated in the Joint Form of General Conditions for the Sale of Land. A buyer can bring a maximum of 2 people with them but any building inspections of the home must be carried out prior at a time stated on the contract. The final inspection is simply to determine that the property is in the same condition as when it was purchased, and that the included appliances are in good working order.
I am about to sell my home and was asked by an agent if everything on the property was council approved. I know that our pergola isn’t approved, but do I really have to tell this to the agent? I’m scared it might put buyers off.
The answer to this is simply “yes” – you do have to let the agent know otherwise you risk being taken to court after the sale. You will in any case be asked to fill out a Sellers Disclosure Form which will have that question on it. I would recommend that prior to selling you go to your local council and seek retrospective approval for the structure. If all is approved then there is no need to disclose it was built without approval.
I haven’t sold a house for quite some time but was really surprised when I was asked to contribute to the advertising costs. Is this “the norm” these days? As I remember it, this was included in the commission.
Yes this is very much “the norm” these days as the advertising is a lot more sophisticated and costly now than it was a few years back before the internet. Gone are the days of 2 line newspaper ads saying “Character home close to shops and transport”! The commission payment is for service, advice and expertise that you receive throughout the sale of your home and is only paid on a successful result. The marketing cost however pay for the tools required to give your home the maximum exposure to find your best buyer.
Well, every person’s situation is different but, generally, I would recommend that you buy now, rent it out and negatively gear it (to use the tax advantage if you’re still working). If prices rise (as they are predicted to), you will have a capital gain in both properties, putting you in stronger financial position later on. However – and I stress this – before making any moves at all, speak to your accountant or financial planner to make sure this plan suits your financial circumstances.