Selling your home can be a stressful undertaking

By Lawrence Gullery

Chrystal Kireka has experienced the highs and lows of selling a family home commercially through an agent, then privately, and finally went through a second agent to seal the deal.

A decision to move to Australia a few months ago meant the family had less than eight weeks to sell their Tamatea home. The pressure was on to promote the home to the market and so Mrs Kireka opted to sign up with Cox Partners, the company which initially sold the home to her about three years ago.

The house was on the company's books for about eight weeks but Mrs Kireka felt it had been listed in a higher price bracket compared to other homes of similar size and age.

She believed it was one of the reasons why there were no solid offers coming in.

"So near the end of the eight-week contract we had with Cox Partners, we decided bugger it, we would try selling it ourselves.

"By that stage we only had two or three weeks left to sell the house before our Aussie deadline."

Mrs Kireka listed the house on Trade Me but wasn't sure of the legal requirements to sell the property privately.

"An agent from Leaders, Tina Chamberlain, called me after seeing the listing on Trade Me and said there were a few things that I legally needed to put on the listing that I didn't know about.

"We just started talking and I was a bit reluctant to listen because we had just spent a lot of time trying to sell the house with another agent."

But she agreed to Ms Chamberlain's proposal to complete an appraisal of the house, mindful of that short time left to sell the property.

"She said she was surprised the house had not sold already. She came over and did the appraisal and said it was going to be easy to sell.

"They all say that to get your listing I suppose but I had a good feeling with Tina, she looked confident and knew what she was talking about. She even offered to write up a contract if we still wanted to sell privately.

"She gave me a huge amount of confidence when I was initially reluctant because of our experience previously."

Mrs Kireka made it clear she needed the house sold within three weeks to be able to take her three children to Australia to join her husband who had already begun work there.

"Within five days of it being listed with Tina it was sold, with multiple offers coming through. I must admit they were fantastic."

The Tamatea house included four bedrooms, two bathrooms, double garage, spa bath, two lounges and was built in the late 1970s. It was sold for a price in the mid-$300,000 range.

Mrs Kireka said the experience has left her with a wealth of knowledge gathered over a short period of time. Her advice to other people looking to sell their homes includes learning to "shop around" for agents.

"Check out a number of agencies and go with your gut feeling. I went with Cox Partners initially because they sold me my house and it was an act of good faith.

"But with Tina, when she came in, she was straight down to business and that's all I wanted, someone to help me sell my house quickly."

Using two agents could be expensive but in Mrs Kireka's case, with a tight deadline, it proved beneficial to look at more than one.

"With a sole agent you are relying on that one person and for our family it was really critical because we had the deadline for Australia. It was left in the hands of one person and that experience failed.

"The other thing I picked up is that the agents on full commission, which I believe Leaders agents are, they rely on selling property to get an income and so work harder to get the job done, I believe."

Mrs Kireka said she probably would think about selling a house privately again, if she had more time to research what's needed.

"We are going to Australia so I didn't have time to understand what's involved. There is a lot of emotion involved in selling a house. When you get an offer (lower than expectations) it's a matter of whether you are strong enough to stand up and say, no that's not what I want.

"Agents don't have a problem saying stuff like that, that's what they are trained to do. I definitely would not count out giving it a go selling my own home again, after the experience I've had. But also on the other hand, I liked Tina and she was worth paying for to get over the line."

Leaders owner Elanor MacDonald said she did not think more people were trying to sell their homes privately in Hawke's Bay. The most recent 100 listings in Napier and Hastings showed only 10 were deemed private sales.

Leaders recently sold two properties which were previously listed privately. Both had multiple offers for more than they were advertised for privately.

Many people were tempted to sell their house privately to save on the fees paid to agents. Mrs MacDonald said the only cost a seller would incur, without achieving a sale they were happy with, could be for marketing and advertising.

"The standard fees for a successful sale are $500 plus 4 per cent sale price up to $350,000 and 2 per cent thereafter, plus GST.

"This can be negotiated and is often discounted by agencies in exchange for a sole agency and the seller contributing to the marketing costs. Marketing costs can vary from a couple of hundred dollars through to many thousands depending on the type of property and marketing campaign being actioned."

Hawke's Bay Today asked Mrs MacDonald to list the main advantages of using a REINZ agent to sell a property or home, as opposed to selling privately.

The top of her list included the fact agents were already dealing with a current buyer pool and had other properties on their books to attract new buyers as they came into the market.

Agents often suggested properties for buyers to view which the buyer may not have selected themselves or had discounted because they didn't have all the information.

"New Zealanders are not big on haggling and try to avoid confrontation and direct discussions around price.

"In many cases buyers will not view a private sale unless they see it as a bargain. If they do view it, they will tell the owner they like it but not tell them what they didn't like, or that they thought the asking price was too high. They just don't come back."

With an agent in the middle, the situation could be bypassed. The buyer can visit the home without having to speak directly with the owner and give their feedback honestly.

"They can make an offer they feel is reasonable without feeling embarrassed. The process of negotiation is handled by the agent diplomatically and experienced negotiators can facilitate an agreement that bridges the gaps around terms and price so that everyone is happy."

Real estate agents could run set sale campaigns, from auction to tender, deadline and sale date, which encouraged multiple offers.

In competitive situations, this could significantly increase the sale price.

"People buying privately expect to benefit from the fact the seller is not paying commission and will discount the price they are happy to pay by what they think the seller is saving by not using an agent."

Agents were required to inform buyers of any defects or problems a property had, a point which was crucial from the buyer's perspective.

Mrs MacDonald said agents understood what worked and what did not when it came to marketing and attracting buyers to a property.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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