It's always been possible to sell your house privately, but the difference now is that DIY websites let you list your property for sale and choose not to list with a real estate agent – saving the commission for yourself – and still market it widely on the web.
Agents' commissions are in the range of 2–3% plus GST. With the weighted average median house price close to $700,000, that's a potential extra $14,000 in the seller's pocket.
The extra money is tempting, but it's no small task selling a property. You need to have the time to spare, presentation skills, the willingness to organise the legal work and valuations, not to mention negotiation skills and the belief that you can do as good a job as an experienced real estate agent.
Again, DIY real estate sites can help with some of this – such as photography, 'For Sale' signs and brochures. Some even offer negotiation services. But if you're going down the path of selling your place yourself, you'll still need to organise all the paperwork yourself and follow the usual legal steps. And while the sites offer online marketing – and plenty of offline marketing advice – local letterboxing and promotion is up to you if you want potential local buyers to know about your property.
You'll also need to arrange and attend viewings on the property yourself, which can be time-consuming and inconvenient.
So where do you start? There are a number of sites where you can list your home to sell yourself. A quick search online reveals some sites promote themselves heavily in the media while others don't have so much visibility.
The costs and conditions will vary between sites so don't necessarily go with the cheapest. It's worth comparing the costs with the inclusions as well as the fine print between several sites.
Check that they include a property report for your area to help guide you in price negotiations. If a weekly report is important, look for a site that offers engagement data on your listing. And with social media a big part of people's lives, you need to see if they have a presence on social media channels to capture more eyeballs.
If you want some more personal assistance with selling your property, look for a site that has telephone help from people with marketing and real estate experience. Check that the 'For Sale' board is professionally created and installed and that open house flags or signs are available to ensure good street visibility.
When it comes to managing offers you may have to negotiate directly with the buyer, or some sites offer negotiation services – make sure that service is offered in your fee if you want this.
Some sites offer auction services for an additional fee.
We haven't reviewed or tested these sites so we can't vouch for their services, but here's a snapshot of a few DIY real estate sites.
- forsalebyowner.com.au offers residential and commercial sales and leases with sales packages from $699.
- buymyplace.com.au has sales from $695 up to $1800 for the complete professional package.
- forsaleforlease.com.au has a monthly plan that's $299 upfront plus $99 p/month, or $695, until sold.
- realestateyourway.com.au offers a free basic listing on its website or a standard package from $219.
- owner.com.au has a basic free listing service for a listing on their site, a premium package for $200 and custom packages.
Sites may require you to pre-pay for the listing. If this is the case, ensure that the listing stays active until your property has been sold. And before signing up, find out if the cost is refundable if you don't sell after a certain time period, say six months, and decide to list elsewhere.
The question of exclusivity is crucial if you're weighing up between online DIY sales and an agent. Real estate websites may let you also list your property with an agent, but many agents require you to sign an exclusive contract preventing you from having two active listings.
Many sellers want to have their home listed on the popular real estate sites such as Domain and realesate.com.au for maximum exposure. Domain and realestate.com.au only allow listings from licensed real estate agents – and some of the DIY sites have this licence. Just check that this service is offered by the DIY site and included in your listing fee. Some sites will also list on foreign sites such as juwai.com, so look into that also if you're interested in attracting overseas buyers.
Conveyancing is an integral part of buying and selling property and even if using a real estate agent, you need to ensure the legal requirements for the sale are in place.
Conveyancing covers the legal requirements such as preparing a contract, changing the deed title, arranging the payment of stamp duty, arranging building inspection reports and attending settlement.
Typically you use a legal practitioner such as a solicitor or conveyancer, although it's possible to do DIY conveyancing. If you do your own conveyancing, you take responsibility for the legal requirements of the sale and you need to fully understand the sale process and relevant legislation.
If you're using a DIY site but you're not going to do your own conveyancing, start by engaging a conveyancer so you have the contract of sale prepared when listing. Alternatively, check if legal services are available through the DIY site as some offer this too. More information on conveyancing can be found through Fair Trading and the Land and Property department in your state or territory.
In its simplest form, these are the steps you need to take to sell your property and they're the same regardless of whether you use an agent or DIY website:
- Contract for sale needs to be needs to be prepared.
- Valuation by licensed valuer to establish sale price.
- List property with an agent or real estate website.
- Prepare brochures and For Sale signs.
- Promote the property and organise open house viewings, inspections, offers etc.
- Accept an offer, exchange contracts and then settle.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.