If you are thinking about selling your home, you may be wondering exactly what is involved. What does your real estate agent do? What are your responsibilities? What factors contribute to a successful sale?
That is why we have prepared this guide to provide you with relevant information and guidance.
We briefly explain the ins and outs of marketing your property, when to sell privately and when to sell by auction, what is involved in agent/vendor agreements, and the legal and financial aspects of selling. We have also included information on our agency, highlighting the full range of services we offer.
We believe the advice in this guide will improve your chances of achieving maximum value for your property by providing you with the information you need to help you choose the best agent and the most effective method of selling your home.
At Christopher Russell and Associates we pride ourselves on our professionalism and commitment to ensuring that our experience of selling your property is smooth, positive and successful.
Assessing Your Property
Most vendors ask two or three local real estate agents to appraise the property they wish to sell. Although these appraisals may differ considerably between agents, they can help you to establish a price range that reflects the current market for comparable properties in the same area.
You should realise however that property prices can be affected by many external factors, such as interest rate rises and falls, legislation and political change. The highest assessment may not necessarily be achievable in the market that prevails when you sell your property. Conversely, the market may be particularly strong when you sell your property and buyers may be prepared to pay a higher price than you anticipated.
This is why a more conservative assessment is usually the most realistic one to use as a basis for planning what you want to do with the proceeds of the sale of your property. If the property sells for mare than you expected, then you should treat that as a welcome bonus.
When we appraise your property we will also offer initial guidance on selling , without any obligation on your part. Often this will be simple but important advice. For example, we may recommend some simple, inexpensive presentation tips so that prospective buyers see your property in its very best light, together with a tailored marketing campaign that will be an excellent return on your investment.
Whatever the market conditions, Christopher Russell & Associates take the time and effort to optimise buyer interest, and to ensure that your property sells for the best possible price.
Selling Your Property – Who and How
The first two decisions you must make when selling your property will be crucial to the final outcome:
- Choosing the best agent to help you sell your property
- Selecting the most appropriate sale method to achieve the best possible result.
The selling agent
When choosing the best selling agent for your property sale, you should take the time to do your research carefully. After all, you are entrusting this person with the sale of a very valuable asset – your home. So it pays to ask the right questions.
While your choice of real estate agency is important, it is the individual agent who will make all the difference to achieving the result you want. Look for someone you feel comfortable with, and someone you know will take a personal and active role in every aspect of your sale. You will need to decide if you want to deal with a larger agency where sales consultants may prefer to focus on selling their own listings. Or you may prefer to list your property with a smaller , integrated agency where members of the sales team do not compete against each other, but work together for the benefit of each and every client.
Ask who will personally handle the marketing and sale of your property? Who will conduct the inspections? Who will negotiate with prospective buyers on your behalf: Who will auction the property if it goes to auction? Who will report back to you on progress during the marketing campaign?
- Using your agency shortlist, attend one of their open inspections. How do they interact with prospective buyers: Are they courteous? Do they respect the vendor’s property?
- Attend one or two auctions held by your short-listed agencies. How do they conduct the auction process? Do they engage with potential purchasers and stimulate active bidding?
- Can the agency show evidence of a high success rate in selling the properties they take on? Some may be able to show a fairly consistent high volume of properties on their books, but not such a successful selling ratio.
At Christopher Russell & Associates, we have an enviable sales record – and a reputation for being totally professional yet friendly and approachable. You will benefit from the total support of our entire sales team, which is committed to making your property sale as stress-free and smooth as possible. In turn, you will feel relaxed and confident, knowing that we have your best interests at heart.
We record the contact details given to us by prospective purchasers and investors who are seeking property in the area. This information is maintained in our buyers register. We regularly contact buyers on this list to keep their details up to date, and we advise them promptly of new listings. We take great care to ensure the register gives us an up to date database of genuine buyers.
If you appoint Christopher Russell as your agent, we will use our buyers register to enhance your marketing campaign by bringing your property to the attention of genuine buyers who we now are actively seeking to buy a property similar to yours.
Poor communication between agent and vendor is a common cause of vendor frustration and anxiety. At Christopher Russell and Associates, we appreciate that you want to be kept informed at all times. This is why we will contact you after each inspection to advise you of the reactions of prospective purchasers and to discuss any necessary actions. Some clients like us to feed back this valuable information by phone, while others prefer a weekly face to face meeting.
Method of Sale
In Victoria, most residential properties are sold by private sale or auction. Each method involves different selling strategies. In a private sale the purchaser knows your price and attempts to work it down. In an auction, the purchaser is disempowered as only the starting figure is disclosed and the agent will encourage interested parties to life their sights up throughout the campaign and on he day.
The main benefit of a private sale is that it offers confidentiality. In the negotiations, he vendor is in charge, because the onus is on the purchaser to persuade the vendor to accept the offer. This method of sale may suite a vendor for whom the right terms and conditions may be equally or more important than the financial outcome.
However, private sales can have a number of disadvantages.
- The purchase may be subject to certain conditions laid down by the purchaser, such as a satisfactory building inspection or obtaining finance. If these conditions cannot be met, the purchaser may be able to opt out of the contract.
- In a private sale you have to disclose the asking price of your property to potential purchasers. In effect, this means that you are declaring the reserve price at which the property will be sold. If, at a later date, you decide to auction your property, this can inhibit the success of the auction, where the reserve is not disclosed.
Because the price of a private sale is made public, this can sometimes deter prospective buyers and limit the number of people who inspect your property. Auctions however, generate open competition within a very tight time frame. Keen buyers can become caught up in the emotion and excitement of an auction, and often bid in excess of their original intentions.
Sole agencies and open listings
Private sales may be carried out by one agency acting as the ‘sole agency’. Or the vendor may ask several agencies to bring prospective buyers through on an ad hoc basis. This is known as an ‘open listing’.
Under a sole agency, the vendor appoints one agent exclusively for a specified period of time, normally 60 days. This appointment continues until the agreement is cancelled.
Sole agency is the most popular method of private sale because it is the most effective. It provides the incentive for the agent of your choice to concentrate on marketing your property actively, reporting to you, and taking sole responsibility for all the negotiations required for a successful sale. The agent’s reputation is very much on the line when his or her agency alone has the authority to market your property.
In an open listing, the vendor asks more than one agent, on a non-exclusive basis. Each works independently to produce a buyer for your property, and the successful agent is paid the commission on the sale. While this method may, at first glance, appear to stimulate competition and broaden the pool of buyers, it can have the opposite effect.
In Victoria, auctions are the most popular method of selling residential property, particularly in sought-after suburbs where demand usually exceeds supply. Changes to auction regulations in this state over the past five years have improved the transparency of the process, both for purchasers and vendors.
There are certain types of property that should always be sold by auction to achieve the most favourable result. Your agent can advise you on the best selling method for your property.
Benefits of selling by auction
- A sale at auction is always unconditional
- As the vendor, you can specify the terms conditions and settlement period to suit your requirements
- A tightly focused, extensive marketing campaign builds momentum and brings your property to the attention of as many prospective buyers as possible, culminating in maximum bidder interest on auction day. The campaign generally runs over three to four weeks before the auction date, and can be fine tuned once it is in progress to capitalise on the level of interest generated by advertising and the agents database.
- As the vendor, you are in control because you set the reserve price. The auctioneer cannot sell below this price at the auction, unless advised by you. This price is not disclosed to prospective buyers before the auction.
- Setting a forthcoming auction date tends to ‘focus the minds’ of prospective buyers. If you receive a favourable offer before the auction, you can still accept it and the auction will not take place. Christopher Russell and Associates will not charge an auction fee, whether you go to auction or not.
Advertising Your Property
When you appoint a licensed real estate agent, you are effectively buying their professional experience and specialist skills in marketing property. Your agent is the expert on how, when and where to advertise your property to achieve maximum exposure and effect. Because each vendor and each property is unique, your agent will advise you on the most effective advertising schedule to suite your needs and budget.
If you are selling by private sale, your agent will put forward a suitable advertising schedule for your agreement, taking into account prevailing market conditions and your time frame for selling your property.
If you are selling by auction, your agent will design a comprehensive advertising schedule for your agreement. Your property should be given maximum exposure over a four-week period to ensure
that potential buyers are made aware of the forthcoming sale. The campaign should use a variety of appropriate media outlets to market your property, including the agent’s own website, and the key property websites – www.realestateview.com.au, www.realestate.com.au, and www.domain.com.au. At Christopher Russell and Associates, we ensure your property reaches as wide an audience as possible.
Purchasing a property is a very personal activity. Prospective home buyers want to picture themselves living in your property, and investors look for a property that will appeal to a broad spectrum of tenants. First impressions really count. If people like what they see when they inspect your property, they can become determined buyers.
But what you like may not be to everyone’s taste. So it is always advisable to seek help from a professional on presenting your property to show its main features to best effect, to maximise space, and to achieve the best possible results.
While your agent will include regular open for inspections in your marketing campaign, you should always be prepared for unscheduled inspections. Your agent should always phone first, but it may be at short notice. This is why it is important to keep your home looking good at all times.
General presentation tips
- Keep lawns and gardens week-free and trimmed
- Remove rubbish and children’s toys, and keep the paths clear
- Make sure the outside of your property is in good order, including fences, gates, gutters and paintwork
- Internally, try to let in as much natural light as possible. Clean the windows inside and outside, open windows and doors
- Repair minor cracks and defects, and make sure doors and windows don’t stick or creak. A quick coat of paint can work wonders, but stick to neutral colours
- Clear the rooms of clutter. The more floor area visible, the larger the room will appear. It may be worth putting some items of furniture into the garage or into storage to create additional space. Decorate with flowers and remove any precious items and family photographs
- If possible, keep your pets out of the way during inspections
- Turn off TV’s, stereo systems and radios, although quiet background music can create a pleasant mood
During the pre-auction period, we usually suggest a regular, twice-weekly open inspection, plus inspections by appointment if necessary.
We do not advise you to be present during any open inspections or viewing appointments. This is because a buyer may not want to give completely honest feedback if they know that the owner is within earshot. It is important that prospective purchasers raise any issues with the agent who has the experience to answer them without causing the buyer to lose interest.
Never discuss price or terms with potential buyers. All negotiations should be handled through your agent who, as the third party, has the necessary professional expertise and experience to bring negotiations to a favourable conclusion.
When you ask a licensed real estate agent to act on your behalf in a property transaction, you are entering into a legal agreement. Before the agent can officially begin to bring buyers through your home or start marketing your property, all parties must confirm this arrangement by signing an appropriate sale authority.
Appointing a solicitor or conveyancer
The laws governing real estate transactions require vendors to take due care and responsibility when selling residential property. Many vendors are unaware that potential buyers have a number of opportunities during the process to change their mind before settlement, without incurring any penalties.
Working through the legal complexities of property transactions in Victoria requires time and specialist knowledge. That is why it is important to seek assistance from a solicitor or professional conveyancer.
Some of the key legal processes that may be required during your property sale include the following:
Section 27 – Release of deposit monies
In certain circumstances as contained in Section 27 of the Sale of Land Act, the vendor may be able to access the deposit paid by the purchaser before settlement.
However, there are requirements that must be met if early release is to be granted.
Essentially, these are:
- The vendor has to provide the purchaser with details of any mortgage or caveats affecting the property in a Section 27 Deposit Release Statement
- The purchaser has to be satisfied that any amount owing on the property is low enough to be covered by the balance of the purchase funds payable at settlement
- All conditions of the contract must have been fulfilled
- The purchaser must sign and return the Section 27 Deposit Release Statement to the vendor to confirm that release has been approved
The agent collects the deposit from the purchaser and places it in a non-interest bearing trust account. These trust accounts are strictly regulated and audited yearly.
The agent deducts their fees and expenses as previously agreed with the vendor. The agent then distributes the balance as instructed by the vendor, usually to the vendor or the vendor’s solicitors.
Section 31 – Cooling off
The cooling off period generally applies to residential property sales. In principle, it gives the purchaser a period of three clear business days in which to change his or her mind and withdraw from any contractual obligations.
However, there are some key exceptions:
- There is no cooling-off period if your property is being sold by public auction, or if it is bought within three clear business days before or after the date of the auction
- The cooling-off period is not available to buyers who have obtained independent advice from a solicitor before signing the contract
- The cooling-off period is not available to estate agents or agent’s representatives who are buying a property for themselves
Section 32 – Vendor’s statement
Under the Sale of Land Act 1962, vendors are required to prepare a statement containing information about the property being sold. This is called a Section 32 or Vendor’s Statement. Your solicitor or conveyancer will generally prepare this statement for you.
The Section 32 provides essential information about the title, outgoing expenditure to government bodies and local authorities, any relevant restrictions or covenants, and current and future uses of your land.
If this information is not disclosed accurately and completely, purchases may legally be able to avoid their obligation to buy a property at any time up to settlement.
The completed Section 32 is attached to the Contract Note. The purchaser making the offer has to acknowledge receipt of the Section 32 before any legally binding contract can be entered into.
Terms of Sale
The terms of sale that you agree with your agent when discussing the Contract of Sale can have a direct effect on the number of purchasers for your property.
The length of the settlement period can be an important consideration. The more flexible you can be, the more you are likely to encourage potential purchasers. A 30 day settlement period may not allow sufficient time for the purchaser to obtain finance approval. A 60 day settlement period is the most common, and suits most people.
A 90 or 120 day settlement may be ideal for the vendor who is looking to buy a new property or for the buyer who has not yet sold their own property.
Most vendors stipulate a 10% deposit for purchase at auction. However, some buyers may approach the agent before the auction to negotiate a lower deposit should they be the successful bidder. Deposits for private sales are dependent on the property and the individual requirements of the vendor.
Conditions of Sale
Auctions are the most popular selling method in Victoria, primarily because they are unconditional.
In a private sale however, the purchaser can ask for various conditions to be included before signing the contract note. If these conditions are not fulfilled, the purchaser may not proceed with buying the property. This is where your agent’s experience is invaluable, as he or she can usually qualify potential purchasers without embarrassment and advise you whether any such conditions are likely to be met.
The most common conditions of sale are:
- Subject to approval of finance
- Subject to a satisfactory building inspection (by architect or qualified builder)
- Subject to sale of the purchaser’s property
The Cost of Selling Your Property
The cost of selling your property falls into three distinct segments:
- Advertising and marketing – these costs are paid by the agent on your ehalf, at your direction, and only as authorised by you
- The agent’s fee – this is payable on completion of the sale
- Your legal/conveyancing costs
Advertising and marketing
At Christopher Russell and Associates, when we appraise your property we will include at least one draft marketing proposal with the property appraisal report. This includes a suggested advertising schedule and outlines the costs of sign boards, photography, production of brochures and any other appropriate marketing activities.
The advertising costs will be set out in the Sale Authority that you sign as the vendor. You will be responsible only for expenditure that you have authorised.
The agent’s fee
In February 1995, the law governing agents’ commission was changed. The limit on the maximum commission that agents could change was removed. Agents are now required by law to make vendors aware of this deregulation and to advise them that agents’ fees are negotiable.
As a guide, the current industry standard of agents’ commission is between 2% and 3%, based on the work involved. We are always pleased to discuss this further with potential vendors. However, it is unwise to make a decision based solely on fees. The expertise and resources of your selected agent can affect the price achieved by a far greater amount than any difference in fee.
Legal and conveyancing costs
The legal fees that you will pay are largely determined by the type of transaction and the work involved. You should consult your solicitor or conveyancer for accurate advice but, generally speaking, the costs of selling are less than the cost of buying, primarily because stamp duty is payable on a property purchase. Your solicitor or conveyancer will be happy to give you an estimate of their costs, and if you intend to sell a property and buy another property, we suggest that you try to negotiate a fee ‘package’.
Christopher Russell & Associates
The success achieved by the sales professionals at Christopher Russell and Associates is based on our ability to build a relationship of trust and mutual respect with our clients.
We believe strongly in ‘word of mouth’ advertising as the best path to our continued growth, and we have many satisfied customers who continue to supply us with a substantial amount of repeat and referral business.
Headed by our directors, Chris Ewart and Russell Turner, our sales professionals work as a close-knit, supportive team focused on achieving a single goal – the most successful outcome for each individual client. Because we work as a single unit, this means that we avoid the inter-office competition that can sometimes be detrimental to the experience you may have when dealing with larger, multi-office agencies.
Our service standards
Our clients frequently comment on the professional attitude demonstrated by the whole team at Christopher Russell and Associates. They appreciate the continuous interchange of information between office and vendor, our meticulous attention to detail and the daily personal involvement of our Directors.
Our team is on call seven days a week for enquiries, advice and inspections.
While property sales are our core business, we also offer the full range of related real estate services – for both residential and commercial properties. This encompasses buying, bidding, renting and investment.
The role of real estate investment should be to provide future financial independence and, as such, should form an integral part of any well-balanced investment portfolio.
While each individual’s investment requirements will vary, we recommend income producing commercial and residential real estate investments as an excellent hedge against inflation.
Our expertise and long-standing practical experience in property investment is complemented y our up to date knowledge of current values and trends in all areas of Melbourne. This enables us to provide our clients with sound advice and help with buying, selling and reviewing their property assets to maximise their investment return and to expand their real estate portfolio.
Many clients considering the purchase of a property appreciate our independent, professional advice on whether a potential purchase is suitable for their requirements. This advice is an integral part of our service to you and covers issues such as value, construction, condition, potential return and potential capital gain.
Valuations generally fall into two types: certified valuations and those that are required when a purchaser seeks a loan to buy the property.
- A valuation carried out by a certified valuer is generally acknowledged as an accurate opinion of a property’s worth, neither on the high or low side, because it may have to be relied upon for legal purposes. For example, it may be required in a divorce settlement where it has to be equitable for both parties, or for probate in a deceased estate.
- Valuations by banks and finance providers are based on an external inspection only. To allow for any unseen shortcomings in the property and to minimise their risk, mortgage lenders therefore tend to put a conservative value on properties that they are being asked to finance.
If for any reason, you would like a certified valuation of your property, Christopher Russell and Associates can arrange this for you. A valuation fee will be charged, and we will provide a quotation if required.
Our specialist, experienced property managers offer a complete service for the management of income-producing residential and commercial property for private owners or investors. Our aim is to maximise your investment property’s income-earning capacity and future capital appreciation.
Not only can we identify, select and assist in the purchase of investment property, we will find the best tenant for your property, regularly review and adjust rent in line with the current rental market, conduct regular inspections of your property and supply you with a written report on its condition. We can also arrange for any maintenance work to be carried out by a reliable tradesperson, and we will pay all outgoing costs on your behalf. In the rare case of a rental dispute or tenancy issue, we will represent you at residential tenancy tribunal (VCAT) hearings.
One of the advantages of appointing Christopher Russell and Associates to sell your property is that we can help prospective purchasers for your property to qualify for finance by providing them with contact details of independent finance brokers who can arrange the best loan for their needs and circumstances.
Likewise, if you need to arrange finance for your next home purchase, we can provide an introduction to a broker who knows the home finance market intimately, and who will put together a package to suite your requirements.
Real Estate Institute of Victoria
Christopher Russell and Associates are members of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV), the peak industry body that speaks for all member real estate agencies in this State. A self-regulating organisation, the REIV is dedicated to ensuring a high standard of integrity and professionalism and to maintaining a Code of Ethics agreed to by all licensed real estate agents in Victoria
The REIV is also available to the public for individual enquiries about any aspect of property transactions, and to handle complaints about individual estate agents.
You can find further information on the REIV website. www.reiv.com.au
What Some of Our Clients Say…
“I would like to thank you very much for your assistance in the sale of our property. The sale was handled in a very professional manner and the auction result certainly exceeded our expectations. I am very happy to recommend your services to other prospective clients”.
“Due to bad past experiences we were both very wary of real estate agents. We felt on the first time we met you that you were genuine. This most definitely proved to be right! Your communication with us throughout the sale period was exceptional, always punctual and informative. We felt comfortable at all times. We felt your drive and determination contributed immensely to a wonderful result”.
Robyn Watts & Sandra Garnier
“Thank you for your sensitivity in a very difficult but exciting time for our family. Your communication was exceptional and made my task of managing the whole process remotely from Canberra very easy. We are very grateful for the excellent result achieved for us on the day. Your professionalism, expertise and humaneness are to be highly commended”.
“You asked us to put our trust in your expertise and marketing plan, and we did because you kept us informed and advised every step of the way, always concerned about our thoughts and emotions as the auction date drew nearer. Thank you for a great result that definitely left a smile on our faces, but most of all for your integrity throughout the process”.
Mr & Mrs Costanzos