How to: sell your own property

HOMELY: Michele Powles' Auckland house, which the family are now selling by themselves.
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HOMELY: Michele Powles' Auckland house, which the family are now selling by themselves.

We live in Auckland. Every week we are bombarded by stories about how the prices of Auckland houses are going up, up and … away. And every week our mailbox is graced by the flyer of one real estate agent or another asking to sell our home. I'm not kidding. Every. Week.

It feels like there is a fair amount of demand out there. Which is why, now the time has come to put our property on the market in line with our build schedule, we've chosen to market and sell ourselves.

Without an estate agent? 

The kitchen, featuring some very funky wallpaper.
Larnie Nicolson

The kitchen, featuring some very funky wallpaper.

Yes. I've been watching discussions about this for a while and know a bunch of people who have sold their homes themselves. Other than estate agents, there hasn't been anyone that has had a bad experience. I don't pretend that I'm not nervous about it. It will take time and energy and I'm guessing it will provoke a fair amount of stress, but selling a house is stressful anyway, right? 

Apparently we are not alone, because according to Nigel Jeffries, head of Trade Me Property, around 10 per cent of people will attempt to sell themselves. That rate is even higher in some provinces, places like Hawke's Bay for example. He's noted a shift in agents trying to differentiate themselves to better compete with this process, and an increasing number of service providers offering to support private sales.

How are you doing it? 

Wood, bricks and a cosy corner couch - what a cosy living room in which to while away a winter.
Larnie Nicolson

Wood, bricks and a cosy corner couch - what a cosy living room in which to while away a winter.

The things I would want out of a real estate agent are (a) exposure, (b) getting boots through the door, and (c) ensuring we can close the deal. So we've tried to address each of these specifically in our approach.

(A) To ensure exposure, we've chosen to use Homesell to help with marketing. They've been quick, efficient and reasonable. Signs, brochures, flags, web-listings and photography are covered and all I've had to do is edit and press go.

I also figure that people driving by can see the Homesell logo on the sign (much like an estate agent sign), and find our house quickly and easily through their site if they don't have a pen to note down the Trade Me reference number.

The children's bedroom has plenty of room for a desk and play space.
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The children's bedroom has plenty of room for a desk and play space.

I did contemplate doing all the signs and listing on Trade Me ourselves. It's not that hard, and we even had a bunch of glorious pictures from our turn as cover models in Your Home and Garden, but in the end it came down to time and money. By the time I paid for the Trade Me advert and the printing, I wasn't going to save all that much, but I was going to have to spend a bunch of time trying to lay up my massive print-ready files.

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(B) As for getting people to the open homes, everyone I know that has recently bought or is buying starts with Trade Me regardless of whether they have enlisted the help of a real estate agent. We've chosen to Super Feature our listing to make the best possible use of this online home buyer's guilded guide.

Whether we'll get as many people as an estate agent would, we won't know, but we don't need hundreds of people to come. Just the people who want to buy the house.

The baby's bedroom is clean and neutral with bright accents of colour.
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The baby's bedroom is clean and neutral with bright accents of colour.

(C) Closing the deal is a biggy and I can see how an estate agent could help here. Negotiation is a skill not everyone possesses and when you throw in emotion, it could get messy.

Because of this, and some advice friends of ours were given, we have chosen to go to auction. It's a process that's tried and true in the Auckland market, and it hopefully provides buyers with an easy, clear way to buy our house. So far our auctioneer, Mike Van Wagoner, has not only given us a great rate ($500 for the process) but also a ton of advice and an open ear.

Pros and cons?

A serene spot where you can rock the baby to sleep.
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A serene spot where you can rock the baby to sleep.

The biggy on the plus side is keeping the large chunk of cash that we would otherwise be handing over to an estate agent in commission fees. We also get to showcase the home on our terms and can spend more time with potential buyers. We hope that we're great advocates for our property. We genuinely love it and know the area intimately. So it's a personal tour, with personal insight and personal attention.

And our particulars and conditions of sale are the same as if we had a real estate agent, the forms are approved by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand Incorporated and by Auckland District Law Society Incorporated, so buyers know what they're up for from the get go.

The flipside is that everything takes time. Our time. We meet and negotiate with all the potential buyers ourselves, attend all the open homes and have to make sure we're all set to go come auction day, especially if it gets brought forward. This is where Nigel Jefferies from Trade Me Property voices caution: USA research indicates the biggest downfall in private sales is the owner over valuing their home. This means their property sits on the market longer and often ends up discounted.

Sheer drapes and plenty of natural elements feature in the bedroom.
Larnie Nicolson

Sheer drapes and plenty of natural elements feature in the bedroom.

We don't have experience in selling or valuing houses, and certainly not in closing the deal, but like I said earlier, we hope to have alleviated our shortcomings by using an auction to let the market set the value, and hiring a professional for the business end of the sale.

So? So. We'll see. I'll let you know how the process goes. And in the meantime, the blocks are climbing higher and the house is taking shape on the building site.

READ MORE ABOUT MICHELE'S BUILD ... 

A peaceful spot on the back deck.
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A peaceful spot on the back deck.

* Introducing the family and the build

How to price a new build

* How to find a builder

How to get resource consent

* How to work around rain

* How to: concrete foundations

* How to: build an outside office

Michele Powles is a writer and mother of a Lego engineer and destruction specialist. You can read more about their New Build Love over at buildingboxes.co.nz or on Facebook

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