It's a strange time to be a home-owner in New Zealand. While house prices are continuing to rise in some parts of the country they are flat in others. Stories about rapidly escalating prices have been replaced by stories talking about the threat of a property market crash.

Understandably, this has some homeowners worried — and for those who have never been through a property cycle this can be an unsettling time — but, as with most things, a bit of common sense can see vendors through.

So what should you do if live in a part of the country where the market is flat? Sell now? Wait it out? The answer is — it depends.

As a general rule, if you don't actually need to sell, don't. Downturns are a perfectly normal part of the cycle and, typically, last between four and five years before the market starts tracking up again. Given the Auckland market has been flat for around 18 months now, we would normally expect to see the start of an upswing there sometime between 2021 and 2022, and a little later in other parts of the country.

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For others who need to sell now, there are a few things that you can do to maximise your position:

1) Use an agent. It might be tempting to save some money by managing the sale yourself, but the right agent is worth their commission many times over. Selling a home is a specialist skill. Leave it to the experts.

2) Know what your home is worth. Knowledge is power, so if you can go into the sales process with some idea of what you should expect your home to sell for you'll be in a stronger position to assess the merits of any offers you receive.

OneRoof.co.nz provides users with estimated values of properties both on and off the market, and most agents will provide sellers with something called a "market appraisal".
There are also benefits to having a registered valuer examine your property.

3) Give yourself as long as possible to sell. The average time it takes to sell a home in Auckland is increasing, so putting yourself under a tight deadline will increase the pressure to make rash decisions.

4) Some sale methods work better than others. Ask your agent what sales method is working best in your suburb and for homes that are similar to yours.
You may find that days to sell is longer for price by negotiation or that an auction isn't the best method for your particular property.

5) Present your home as well as possible. Presentation has never been more important — so make sure your house looks great and that those niggly maintenance issues have been seen to. If they're obvious to you, they'll be obvious — and potentially off-putting — to potential buyers.

6) Be realistic. It's a buyer's market right now, so it's likely that any initial offer will be disappointing. Generally, there will be room for some negotiation on this so keep your eye on the bigger picture.

Don't lose a sale out of pride or a misplaced sense of the value of your home, particularly if buyers aren't beating down your door.

7) Don't buy until you've sold. Doing this is risky in any market, but entering into a contract to buy a house can be a recipe for disaster and simply not worth the anguish.