by Tim O’Dwyer M.A., LL.B Queensland Solicitor & Consumer Advocate firstname.lastname@example.org
This email arrived from the producer of Channel Nine’s television current affairs program, EXTRA:
“Hi Tim, Long time, no talk. Hope you are well. I’m doing some research on “selling your home privately” and wondering if you have any info you could send me? Pitfalls, things to consider etc. Cheers, Michelle.”I telephoned “Michelle” back, briefly shared my thoughts with her at length then followed up with this more detailed email:
“Further to our chat yesterday, I should mention that for many people the very thought of selling their home themselves would bring on a bout of shingles. Naturally enough, these folk would not be comfortable advertising, promoting and generally marketing their property then having to show strangers through it before haggling on a sale price. It is not unreasonable for such sellers to accept that it may be good value to pay a real estate agent to do all this, and so take much of the stress of selling out of the whole exercise for them. As it turned out, EXTRA already had a DIY seller keen to be interviewed so my clients were not needed. When I met the television crew outside this seller’s home for an interview, the appropriate questions were asked of me and I answered pretty much along the lines of my email. Naturally enough, not everything I explained and warned about went to air, but the essence of my hopefully helpful messages came across.
Needless to say while the majority of real estate sales conducted by agents occur fairly stress-free, I see sellers almost every day who have been caused all sorts of grief, discomfort and expense because of agents’ rudeness, incompetence, thuggery, greediness, dishonesty, etc., etc.
I always discuss with clients who are considering selling without an agent the issue of safety. I caution elderly folk and particularly single women to ensure they have a friend or two, or a relative or two, present with them at all times when showing strangers through their homes. I even suggest to single women not to disclose that they live alone: let prospective buyers think that the man riding shotgun for the lady seller might be a live-in companion or whatever.
As I said yesterday, there are no real pitfalls or risks in a private sale if you ensure that any sale contract is prepared by your own independent solicitor and that you do not sign anything otherwise. The best way, as I said, to ensure you do not under-sell is to obtain your own independent valuation which can in itself be a good negotiating tool. Obtaining written appraisals from agents is a cheaper but less reliable alternative. Another method is to be a mystery shopper: find out what prices houses comparable to yours are on the market for, and for what prices they are actually being sold. By the way, I have a couple of clients who, I’m sure, would be happy to speak on camera. One lady sold her mother’s house privately without a lot of hassle while another couple handled the sale of their own home very comfortably and professionally. Finally I have a client, a clergyman/psychologist/academic, who sold two properties privately by very ingeniously engaging a small number of keen buyers in a sort of mini-auction on each property.”