After interviewing four real estate agents, I was having trouble deciding which agent was genuine enough to not overprice the apartment or oversell me on marketing expenses, yet skilled enough to get me the highest sale price. It was a fine line.
I was moving overseas in about 6 weeks and had just spent the last year doing as much prep work as I could to my fairly modern apartment. I’d painted the walls, fixed the sliding doors, replaced a toilet, added new blinds, partially renovated the kitchen, removed the InSinkErator, sold or disposed of all clutter and purchased a few items of furniture and decor in an attempt to stage the apartment. All with the help of Bunnings, YouTube and Ikea.
Since I’d already proven myself as a bit of DIY queen, I Googled ‘How to Sell without a Real Estate Agent’. From what I read, the sale process itself in Queensland was fairly straightforward but it was impossible to list an apartment on realestate.com.au without an agent. I eventually found an Australian company called For Sale By Owner. For a fee of $699, they technically become your agent which allows you to list on RealEsate.com.au, but you still do all the work and they don’t receive a commission.
What Does For Sale By Owner Include for $699?
- Basic Listing on RealEsate.com.au
- Basic Listing on Domain.com
- Listing on ForSaleByOwner.com.au
- For Sale Sign
- Property Reports
- Printable Brochure
- SMS Alerts and Email Notifications when there’s an enquiry
- Extended Phone Support
What Does For Sale By Owner Include that I actually used?
Before purchasing, I spoke with Colin Sacks. During the first conversation, he was helpful and answered a lot of questions I had about the process. I wanted to upgrade to a Highlight Listing on RealEsate.com.au for 45 days and Colin offered this for $1,500 including GST.
The pack For Sale By Owner sent contained a lot of material that’s only real purpose was to increase their brand awareness. Support also stopped after the purchase. For Sale By Owner allows you to list on RealEsate.com.au, but the rest is up to you. For that reason, I’ve compiled a list of steps to selling a property in Queensland yourself.
Prepare the Property for Sale
Clean, tidy, dispose of, fix, renovate and declutter. Make it look the best it can possibly look, and promise yourself you’ll keep it that way until it is sold.
Request a Disclosure Statement from the Body Corporate
Order this directly from your Body Corporate Management company. Mine cost $180 and I was able to order through their website.
Prepare a standard REIQ Contract
The REIQ Contract is very simple and you can do this yourself. As this was my first time selling, I had the solicitors associated with my chosen conveyancer prepare this for a fee. They sent me a simple form to complete then returned the contract to me within a few days.
Hire a Conveyancer
I used Top Gun Conveyancing. They offered a flat fee of $350 and were extremely helpful with all enquiries I had.
Organise Professional Photos
Open2View.com is the company most of the Real Estate agents outsource their photography to. Prices are reasonable at $135 for a Daytime photoshoot. I was lucky enough to have a friend offer to take my photos.
Write the Copy for the Listing
Check out listings for similar properties to yours and mix and match what they have to say with the unique features of your home.
Create a Colour Floor Plan
Without any design skills or specialised programs, you can create a beautiful floor plan of your property in a few hours. I used a website called Floor Planner.
List the Property for Sale
Log into the For Sale By Owner Website. Upload your photos, floor plan, listing copy and select your open home times. I made sure my times didn’t overlap with any new listings in my area and only listed two times to generate a sense of urgency.
Download and Print the For Sale By Owner Flyers or Design Your Own
For Sale By Owner offer ready-made flyers that use your listing information, which you can download and print. I didn’t particularly like the layout of these, so I designed my own and included my floor plan on the reverse side. I purchased a thick paper stock and printed these at home.
Prepare for your first Open Home
I created a simple Visitor Registration form containing fields for Name, Phone Number, Email Address, Purchasing Price Range, Comments and also asked the question “How much do you think this apartment will sell for?”. I attached these to 5 clipboards with pens. I notified the building manager of the dates of my open homes so the building would be clean, gave the apartment another thorough clean and ensured there was no visible clutter and printed copies of the REIQ Contract and Disclosure Statement. The morning of, I opened all the doors and windows to air out the apartment, closing them again before the guests arrived to block out the traffic noise.
I invited a friend over to help. We both stood down the bottom of my apartment complex, with a set of keys each and clipboards in hand. As potential buyers arrived, I handed them a Visitor Registration form to complete then took them up to the apartment and answered any questions they had. My friend remained downstairs in case anyone arrived while I was upstairs. We also had a note on the front door of my building about the Open Home in case anyone came through a different entrance and missed us both. When buyers were ready to go, I gave them a flyer and hand wrote any extra details they required such as body corporate contributions, rates, sinking fund balance and water fees.
I held my Open Homes on Saturday mornings, then followed up with a call on Sunday afternoon. If I was unable to reach the potential buyer, then I called again on the Monday night. A lot of the time, the leads asked for some time to think, in these cases, I made a calendar reminder to call them back in a week. I kept track of all communication with leads in the For Sale By Owner app.
My first Open Home was very overwhelming. It was difficult to work the room and answer everyone’s questions with people constantly coming and going. After this experience, I began suggesting to each enquiry a private inspection. I let them know I was an Owner Seller and scheduled these in for week days after work. I found private inspections to be far less stressful as I could connect more with the potential buyers.
Negotiations and Signing the Contract
When I found a serious buyer, I invited them over for a second inspection. We negotiated the price and I gave them a copy of the REIQ Contract and Disclosure Statement. They took this home to sign and returned it to me in person. My solicitor had included a clause which allowed the contract to be emailed, so I signed it myself and scanned and emailed it to my conveyancer and the buyer’s solicitor.
If you have a mortgage, you need to contact your bank to have the mortgage released. This can take up to 3 weeks, so do this as soon as possible after the contract is signed.
Building and Pest
If the contract includes terms for a building and pest inspection, the buyer will arrange and work with you to find a suitable time. For me, the building and pest inspection took about an hour.
Finance Terms and Going Unconditional
If the contract is subject to finance terms, then you will need to wait until this time is up. If the buyer doesn’t secure finance from their bank during this time then they are allowed to pull out of the contract. At the end of the term, the contract is unconditional.
Lead Up to Settlement Day
My conveyancer contacted me with the final figures after taking into consideration rates, water and body corporate expenses I’d either paid in advance or would be owing. Since I was not using an agent, I took the keys to my conveyancer the day before Settlement Day.
Woohoo! When Settlement Day arrives, there isn’t anything left for you to do. All the stress and handwork is now over. I received a final email from my conveyancer letting me know settlement had taken place.
Pat yourself on the back and celebrate because you not only saved a bucketload selling your property yourself, but you should be proud because a bit of research has allowed you to accomplished something most people automatically put in the too hard basket.