Hi there! The Property Exchange is here to answer any questions you might have about real estate, so ask away. Below the form you will also be able to access previous questions and answers, hope this helps!

    "We recently purchased a property in West Leederville through the Property Exchange and found Chelsea Peinke to provide outstanding service. Chelsea went above and beyond what I would expect from a real estate agent, including gaining access to the property for a second viewing at short notice and personally coming to see us to amend our initial offer (twice!) late on a Saturday afternoon and into the evening. Chelsea was very easy to work with and we couldn’t be happier with our purchase.” Matt and Kathryn, Buyers, Tate Street, West Leederville

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is it expected to contribute to the advertising costs when selling a property?

    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.

    Our pergola isn’t approved, do I have to tell the agent?

    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.

    What is allowed at the final inspection when selling a house?

    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 signed with an Agent, can I now use a different Agent?

    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.

    Should we buy now or wait for the market to change?

    I’ve heard that there are very few properties on the market at the moment and lots of buyers so we’re not sure if we should go out and buy another property now or wait until things calm down a bit. What’s your advice?

    This is getting a little into crystal ball territory but I don’t think that there are any real indications out there that would make the prices of properties go backwards. So if I was in your shoes I would be buying sooner rather than later. Prices have not moved significantly for the last 6 years and the pressure on the market now is quite likely to drive prices up rather than down in my opinion.

    // 14 May 2013

    During final inspection a few things weren’t working. Can I hold up settlement over this?

    I bought a house recently and during the final inspection found that a few minor things weren’t working. One of these was a burner on the gas oven and another was the lights in the range hood. My agent told me that I could not hold up settlement over this even though the seller warranted that everything was in good working order. Is this correct?

    Yes it is correct, as that warranty was from the seller and not a condition of the contract. So holding up settlement is not an option. If the seller is unable or unwilling to fix these things before settlement I would negotiate the price to allow you to do this yourself after settlement.

    An agent that appraised my property said he’s got a buyer that will buy my property. Should I advertise the property to see if I can maybe get more?

    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.

    Should I choose a local agent or a friend who works as a real estate agent?

    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!

    Should we put in a cash offer or go with a subject to finance offer?

    My partner and I have pre-approval for a $700,000 loan and are looking to buy a property for about this amount. When we find a property we like is it better to put a cash offer in since we have the pre-approval, or safer to go with a subject to finance offer? What are the pros and cons of each option?

    This is a great question because when there is a lot of competition for properties as there has been lately it is an issue that is often raised. If you put a cash offer in on a property you need to be 1.) absolutely certain that you are able to borrow the money, and 2.) confident that the bank valuation will be substantiated. Without giving any specific advice here, if I was borrowing less than 80% of the purchase price, had a pre-approval in place and was in competition for the property, I would put in a cash offer as this will nearly always be more appealing than a subject to finance offer. For the slightly faint hearted, you could always put in a cash offer with the condition that the bank valuation is satisfactory for the loan.

    I don’t want to lose money on the house by selling in winter. Should I hang on until spring?

    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!

    Why is there such a difference in agents commission rates?

    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!

    What’s your opinion about buying an investment property since the interest rates are so low at the moment?

    My husband and I are thinking about buying an investment property because the interest rates are so low at the moment and we like the idea of starting a portfolio. But I believe rents have dropped and may continue to do so. What’s your opinion?

    Well my opinion about buying investment properties is that I truly believe it’s the fastest way to creating future wealth, so I highly recommend it as a strategy. However I don’t advise getting in over your head. I would suggest you do your sums and buy a property that is affordable, in a highly desirable area and shows a good rental return history. It’s true that rents have come down from the high of early 2013 but I believe they will level out now and possibly start to climb again toward the end of the year.

    It’s worth noting that the rental market has a much more prominent annual cycle than the sales market, usually being a bit slower over the winter months, so a drop in rents is quite normal for this period of the year. The important thing is to always have a “safety net” – If you do your sums based on current rental returns and allow for a month of vacancy then you’ll be in good stead to pay your mortgage comfortably through the highs and lows of the market.

    // 3 September 2013


    We have been tossing up whether to extend our current home or just sell and buy something bigger. We were a bit shocked at the quote we got to add an extension.

    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’ve heard there aren’t very many first home buyers or investors around at the moment. I’ve got a small 1 bed unit to sell but wondering if I should wait until first home buyers and investors are active again?

    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.

    I’m selling an old disused property of mine that’s really run down and ready to be demolished or seriously renovated. Do I still need to make sure there are working smoke alarms and RCDs in there? There hasn’t been electricity or water to the house for years so it would be really expensive and a bit pointless if the house is just going to be bowled over!

    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.

    I’ve had a few agents come and have a look through my property and I can’t decide which one to go with. Can I list my property with more than one agent?

    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 want to have a crack at selling my property privately, but I’m just not sure what features to focus on in my marketing. What are buyers looking for at the moment?

    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.

    “Offers Over” explained

    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.

    I am wanting to sell my home soon and wondered if it was better to list with a large real estate chain or with a local single office agency. What do you advise?

    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.

    I recently bought a home and did the final inspection only to find that a few things weren’t working properly. For instance, the grill on the electric stove and a light fitting. I wasn’t going to settle until these things were fixed but my agent said I couldn’t hold up settlement because it was only a “warranty” that they would be working, not a condition. Is that correct? And if so, why even include such a clause in the contract then?

    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.

    I have had three agents in to appraise my home and they’ve all given me a different figure, opposite advice and they all charge different fees. How do I go about knowing who to choose?

    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.

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