There are only two ways to sell your home - get the help of a real estate agent or sell it yourself. Yet it can be hard to know which is best for you. To shed more light on both processes, Auckland's Batu and Pellett families have allowed the Herald to follow behind the scenes as they put their most valuable assets up for sale.

Siva and Sheila Batu say there was never any doubt they would choose a real estate agent to sell their four-bedroom Sandringham villa.

They don't have time to study the rules and regulations of selling a home and believe an agent could get the best price for their property.

Siva and Sheila Batu believed an agent would get the best price for their home. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Siva and Sheila Batu believed an agent would get the best price for their home. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

"We opted for an agent, number one because it's stress-free. Number two, they know the market," Siva Batu said.

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Ryan Pellett and Candice Ruthven - on the other hand - chose to sell their four-bedroom Royal Oak bungalow themselves in the hope of saving on agents' fees.

Family and friends told Pellett these fees could get as high as $40,000.

"Once we looked at it that way, technically, I'm paying myself $40,000 to sell the house - so we thought, 'Why not give it a go?'" he said.

Out of the two families, Pellett and Ruthven are taking the road less travelled, with nine out of 10 Kiwis now choosing to sell through a real estate agent.

Real Estate Institute of NZ data found private sales dropped from 17 per cent of all home and apartment sales in 2014 to 10 per cent last year.

Ryan Pellett and his partner Candice Ruthven hoped the cash they saved by not using an agent would go straight in their pockets. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Ryan Pellett and his partner Candice Ruthven hoped the cash they saved by not using an agent would go straight in their pockets. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

The institute also said agents typically get better prices, with homes sold by licensed agents fetching a median price 10.9 per cent higher than homes sold privately.

REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said private sales work "perfectly" for those "who have the time, inclination, expertise, understanding of the regulations and patience to do so".

For more property news and listings go to oneroof.co.nz

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"However, for busy families, those without strong sales and negotiation skills or those who just don't understand the regulatory environment, then it might be better to utilise the skills an agent has," she said.

Kevin Lampen-Smith, the chief executive of Government agency Real Estate Authority, also warned private sellers to read up on the rules and regulations because mistakes could land them in court.

"As a seller, you are legally obliged to share all the relevant information about a property to prospective buyers, such as whether or not it's subject to weather-tightness issues, or is in an area prone to flooding, for example," he said.

"If they buy the property and discover you've misled them to the extent that they suffer financial loss, they can even take you to court."

So with everything seemingly stacked against him, can Pellett - a digital marketer by profession - generate enough interest in his property to make a good sale?

And will having an agent ensure the selling process goes smoothly for the Batus?

Siva, 53, and Sheila, 47, Batu

6 Columbia Rd, Sandringham

4 bedrooms 2 bathrooms 2 carparks

Siva and Sheila Batu outside their Sandringham villa. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Siva and Sheila Batu outside their Sandringham villa. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

The Batus' four-bedroom, 1910s villa sits on 608sq m of mixed housing and urban zoned land. It is also close to Edendale Primary, Mt Albert Grammar and Sandringham village. The couple bought the home in 2014 for $976,000 according to OneRoof, and it now has a council valuation of $1.24m. The family listed the property for sale on November 14.

Why use a real estate agent?

As an education consultant Siva Batu and his family lead busy lives. They hope Bayleys' real estate agents can get the best price for their home with minimum stress.

The story so far?

The Batus had six open homes across three weekends last year with about 30 people through the first weekend and 16 the next. Batu said they had six offers to buy the house and were in the process of settling one when they got a seventh and even better offer. They now expect to settle this offer by January 18, two months after listing.

What has their agent done for them?

• Advertise their home online, through the company's network and in the media

• Negotiate with buyers, prepare a sales and purchase agreement and step the Batus through the regulatory process

• Inspect the property and offer tips on how to make it appear more valuable. This included painting the fence, water blasting the driveway, tidying the garden and connecting it better with the backyard decking by adding stairs and removing a partition.

What have the Batus done?

Batu said he and his wife have had little to do besides tidy their home. They have been comfortable letting their agents guide them through the process, draft legal documents and handle the marketing.

How are the stress levels?

Having received the first offer for their house just days after their first open home, and now being close to settling, Batu said the process had been "stress-free" so far. He said he gets on with his agents, they are never pushy and always answer his questions.

What have you learned?

"Let the experts do the job," Batu said. "Sometimes we think we can save money but we also might miss out on potential buyers interested in our house."

Top tips?

• Choose an agent you feel comfortable with and trust

• Choose a local real estate agent, who knows the area you are selling in

• Making little changes to your home can make a big difference to the sale price

Ryan Pellett and Candice Ruthven

15 Boyd Ave, Royal Oak

4 bedrooms 2 bathrooms 2 carparks

Ryan Pellett and his partner Candice Ruthven are selling their own Royal Oak home. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Ryan Pellett and his partner Candice Ruthven are selling their own Royal Oak home. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

Pellett and Ruthven's four-bedroom, 1920s bungalow sits on a 597sq m block with large outdoor decks. It is close to One Tree Hill, the Royal Oak shopping centre and Royal Oak primary and intermediate schools. The pair bought the home about seven years ago "when it was the worst house on the street" for $510,000, Pellett said. Then just over two years ago, they spent six weeks living in a tent as they renovated it inside and out. It now has a council valuation of $1.425m. They listed the property for sale on November 16, before holding an unsuccessful auction on December 5. They now have an asking price of $1.675m.

Why sell your home yourself?

When Pellett was made redundant in October, the family made a snap decision to sell and look for a bigger home. Pellet is a digital marketer and thought he could use his time between jobs to market and sell the family home. He hoped what he saved on agents' fee could go straight into his pocket.

The story so far?

Pellett and Ruthven had more than five open homes across four weekends with about 15 groups through the first weekend and 11 the next in "atrocious weather". The home failed to sell or attract a bid at auction on December 5, even though there was a healthy crowd. Despite the setback, Pellet said he was happy to leave the home on the market and wait for the right offer to come through.

What work has Pellet done?

• Aside from using an auctioneer at the auction and lawyer to draft his legal documents, Pellett took care of everything else.

• He has done all the marketing, including listing his home on TradeMe and other websites, setting up Facebook and Google posts, and printing leaflets to drop in the letterboxes of families selling smaller homes in the area in the hope they might want to upgrade.

• He ran the open homes and tidied and cleaned the house. "It's been busy, but I think 90 per cent you do by yourself anyway, whether you had an agent or not," he said.

How are the stress levels?

Initially, Pellett was "freaking out" because it had been hard to gauge how much interest there was in his home. He then felt deflated when the home failed to sell at auction. But he said he's feeling more upbeat now and has time to wait for a good offer.

What have you learned?

• Selling your house is a lot of work, but it's mostly work you have to do regardless of whether you use an agent or not.

Top tips?

• Talk to real estate agents even if you plan to sell your home yourself, because they have plenty of knowledge and are often willing to chat and share advice

• Declutter your house before open homes, such as by hiding kettles and toasters, and finish cleaning jobs such as water blasting the driveway

• Take good photos of your home because it's an important way to attract interest. Pay someone to do it if you're not a good photographer

• If you want to auction consider using an agent because they are best at working in tandem with an auctioneer and other agents to get buyers in the mood to buy

• Give potential buyers confidence. This is where you have a massive advantage selling your own home because you know it inside and out and can share personal stories about why it's amazing