How we sold our house by ourselves

It was a very typical Auckland day weather-wise.

Rain, wind, trepidation, and a lot of people wearing black. But then, out came the sun just in time for the auction.

And with the sun around 60 people sat, sprawled-out and stood on our front deck and lawn as the birds we'd promised in the advertising flittered around, harvesting the last of the tomatoes.

(Here's the back story from three weeks ago). 

Above: Waiting for the auction to start. 

You went to auction?

Yes. And we sold at auction. Here are the vital statistics you'll be waiting for.

- We were on the market for 18 days.

- We had over 10,000 hits on Trade Me.

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- Over 50 people came through the first open home.

- Over 150 people viewed the property.

- We had a pre-auction offer the day after the first open home weekend which was enough for us to move the auction forward.

- We had five buyers bidding on the day.

- The auction lasted about twenty minutes.

- Once the lawyers, auctioneers and marketing fees are deducted, the final bid was about $70,000 more than the absolute top dollar we'd been told to expect by a real estate agent.

- In addition, we saved around $30,000 in agent's fees.

- The successful buyers were first home buyers, helped out by their parents.

- I was contacted by a total of seven different real estate agents, during and after the auction.

Above: Mike - the auctioneer - in full swing. 

Seems like a pretty good result. How did you manage it?

For us it was a great result. And despite the dire warnings from some, it was a very straightforward process. It was stressful at a few points (and nerve-wracking on auction day) but I think it would have been that way with or without an agent.

What we did;

- I had the LIM, the Council Property File, the Title and the Sale and Purchase agreement in advance for anyone who wanted it so it was quick and easy for people to put us on their yes list.

- We had great photos both from Larnie Nicolson and the team at Homesell – everyone commented on them. They were on Trade Me, the flier and the sign.

- We spent a lot of time getting the finish of the house and garden to a high standard, and again, everyone commented on this.

- Only three people out of the over 150 potential buyers didn't find the property information via Trade Me.

- I had music playing and didn't follow people around the house so they were able to chat about it without feeling 'stalked' - people said they appreciated this.

- The auctioneer provided the sale and purchase agreement (and our lawyer gave it a quick check) but it's a standard document, so it was very straightforward.

- When the pre-auction offer was made there was the possibility the sale might become a multiple offer scenario. This was the one time I had to make sure I had my negotiator hat firmly in place, but after steeling myself, all it took was a few phone calls and it turned out everyone was happy to continue to auction.

- Our auctioneer was a registered real estate agent so was governed by the usual legislation. He cost $500, total.

- I spent a total of five hours (plus another on auction day) running open homes, plus four hours for extra viewings.

- Preparation and follow up took another fifteen hours, but that also included a lot of cleaning - which I would have had to have done anyway.

- I made a spreadsheet of viewers and called to follow up, then based on their interest I emailed the documents out to people and called to follow up after that. After those calls and emails I had a pretty clear idea of who was serious – especially as four parties organised building inspections straight away.

- To make sure I captured everyone who had indicated they wanted to come along, I made an auction invite and emailed that out a couple days prior to auction – as well as doing a letterbox drop in our street.

Above: Me with the sold sticker, excited about making it official.  

Were there any issues?

We did have one issue with a couple being refused sufficient finance for our property and they were told it was because it was a private sale.

I asked our super helpful team at Westpac to clarify this for me and head of retail direct, Jamie Farmer, responded that in most cases when a purchase is made via a private treaty, a registered valuation is required.

"This differs from an agented purchase as a registered valuation is only required in some cases. With a private treaty sale, the sale and purchase agreement is completed by a solicitor, but where a Real Estate Agent is involved, they are able to complete this themselves."

It turned out that as our auctioneer was in fact a licensed real estate professional, there weren't any issues, but a valuation was required because of our low (for Auckland) CV.

Jamie's advice when purchasing by private treaty that it's best to let your banker know as soon as possible.

"Then they are able to assist with the steps that are needed at each stage to ensure the process runs smoothly.

"And if any issues do arise, normally the banker will engage either with parties within the bank or with the customers solicitor (with the customer present) so we can assist where possible to work through any issues that arise."

Above: And here it is, the sign with the official sold sticker. We're excited - can you tell? 

Would you go it alone again?

In this sort of market, definitely.

Selling privately, especially by auction, was straightforward and very lucrative for us.

But I think there are four main reasons why it worked so well for us which you might want to consider;

1. Choosing not to use a real estate agent means you are not paying commission, so I approached this as a job and made time to follow up, answer questions and provide documents and information.

2. Everyone wanted to know the guide price. To start with I simply stated that we didn't know and this was why we were taking the house to auction – which was true.

However once the pre-auction offer was made, I was able to give an indication of price range without worrying that I was pitching too low or too high (you can't however, say exactly what the offer is). According to research out of the States, one of the main reasons private sales fail is that owner's price expectations are too high, so do think hard about what you really want for the property.

3. We live in Auckland which has a very strong seller's market.

4. Going to auction meant I hardly had to flex my negotiation muscle at all. But not everyone likes auctions or is able to have all their finance sorted so they can bid unconditionally. In Auckland at the moment, most homes are sold this way, but it might not work as well in other parts of the country.

Above: The new owners, who are thrilled with their new home. 



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