David and Libby Koch: Tips on selling your own home

Your Money Koch

IN a strong property market, real estate seems to sell so easily but in a poor property market, like now, the whole process can be frustrating and expensive.

There is nothing worse than having a property just sitting there not selling while the marketing costs rise and the offers get lower.

Many are now taking control themselves and deciding to dump the real estate agent, saving the commission and selling their house themselves.

But be warned. While selling a house privately can be fairly straightforward, it can also be a very time-consuming and frustrating process.

For example, the time spent on inspections can be long and sporadic. It’s also important you don’t get too emotional during the whole process.

Using an agent means you are using a professional and someone who is objective.

But for those with an eye for detail and the patience and time to do the job themselves, there can be big savings if you follow the right steps.


Before offering the property for sale, a contract must be prepared by a solicitor or qualified conveyancer unless you do your own. A decision to do-it-yourself depends on your confidence, willingness to inform yourself and the time you are prepared to devote to the task.

Publications are available to guide home sellers through the process. Doing this yourself can end up saving conveyancing fees of up to $1000, but don’t forget to measure your time and energy against this.

We’ve never done it because our view is that you need an expert when legal documents are involved but we have had friends successfully undertake the task themselves.

There are also consumer law associations which can offer a wealth of assistance to private home sellers.


The price can’t be too high to discourage potential buyers, nor do you want to sell it for too little. The aim is obviously to maximise the sale price.

The asking price should be a starting point for negotiations, so it is advisable to leave some room for that.

It is generally unwise to accept the first offer but our view is if you get the price you want, then grab it.

Vendors should do their homework and base the asking price on comparable sales (of properties with a similar size, quality and location) obtained from local councils, the property sections of the newspaper and online.

There are several online property research sites which, for a small fee, will list all past sales in your area as well as what’s on the market now, for how long and the asking price. It is money well spent.


  • Real estate agents normally provide vendors with some guidelines on how to maximise the presentation of a property.
  • Their tips generally focus on the following:
  • Fresh flowers in the house.
  • Tidy up outside and add some fresh pot plants.
  • Clean the windows.
  • Turn on garden lights during night inspections.
  • Remove pets during inspection times.
  • Have lots of natural light with blinds open to maximise the home’s space and light.
  • Remove junk and clutter.
  • Ambience still counts for a lot, so the smell of freshly brewed coffee and soft background music contribute to a “homely” feeling.


Inspections can make or break a private sale. Getting a potential buyer through the front door is an opportunity too good to miss. Be courteous and helpful with any queries but don’t be intrusive.

Stay in the background as much as possible and only get involved to answer questions or to point out attractive features.

Most visitors want to wander through the property at their own pace and see the areas of most interest. They don’t want to be badgered or feel as though they are imposing.

Ensure inspection hours are convenient and that you note the name, address, email and phone number of visitors so they can be followed up. Also ensure sale contracts are available for examination.


People approach advertising in different ways. Listing the home on popular online real estate sites is a must, but also look at distributing flyers in the neighbours’ letterboxes, advertising in local papers and preparing a brochure with photographs and features of the house.Read the real estate sections of the newspaper and find the best property ads which attract your attention. Then simply apply their techniques to your own home.

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