The 6 steps to selling your house

by Alistair Helm in


It almost seems too logical to write an insight into the process of selling your house, but sometimes it is valuable to spell out the steps in detail, after all real estate transaction is a process and in my view there are 6 main parts to this process.


1. Preparation

Selling a home is a major undertaking, doing it yourself or through an agent you need to think it through carefully. Is this the right time to move? It will take a fair amount of your time and focus for what could be a month or two or more. Selling for most people is alos at the same time associated with buying, as you are generally looking to move to a new home from your current home. Buying takes time too. So don’t underestimate the total time commitment.

Preparation is also about getting to understand the property market. Spend some time preparing yourself by visiting open homes in the area that are similar. Look to see how your house compares. Find out what these houses sell for, go to the auction or speak to a local agent. Be better informed.

Make sure you have discussed your financial situation with your bank or financial advisor so you are clear as to how much you can borrow based on your anticipated selling price.


2. Presentation

Selling a home is a task that requires you to present your property in the most appealing way to appeal to the widest audience. Make sure the house is clean, clear and everything works. Make it look its best.

When it is looking at its best get a professional photographer in to create an extensive portfolio of photos – get a wide selection from which to choose around a final set of 20 photos. A professionally photographed house is one of the most important things to do tin selling your house. It is in my estimation one of the most overlooked or "handed-off" tasks. It is madness not to invest in quality professional photography. It may cost you $500 but that amount will pale into insignificance in the context of how much the house is worth or how much you might spend on an agent, legal fees or marketing costs.


3. Marketing

The marketing of property today has become a whole lot simpler than it was a decade ago. Simply put the decisions about property marketing start online and then moves to decisions of additional media only after the main online campaign is set up and running.

Trade Me has to be the #1 focus. Choose the best 20 photos and select them in an order that tells a story and leads a prospective buyer virtually from the outside of the front of the house, through the house, finishing in the garden. It is so important for the first photo to be of the outside front of the house. The term “kerb appeal” is so relevant to the physchology of how prospective buyers see a house and creating that impression online is so important. The first photo appears in all search results and email alerts and marketing communication it is the image that will either attract or turn-off prospective buyers. If it fails to capture the interest in a search result everything else you do is lost as the buyers will never see the other 19 photos and inherent appeal of the house.

The fact is the online listing of a property for sale is all about images, as recent research has shown the key is the photos, the description is of lesser importance.

In terms of written information the best advice is to keep it short and highlight the benefits of the property rather than reiterate the features which are potentially self-evident or else already detailed on the listing. By this I mean don’t talk about '3 bedrooms, 2 of which with ensuites', describe the benefit of the ‘master bedroom with ensuite and dressing room is set apart from the other bedrooms providing privacy’. Talk about the convenience of local shops and public transport which is only 3 minutes walk, rather than blandly say “set in this beautiful suburb".

Having set up the listing, the next stage is to actively promote it. Marketing is all about capturing attention and this is where money is well spent. Go for a feature listing to place it in the top section of search results and also look to splash out on a super feature to really make sure your property gets more views than others. It’s a competitive world online and you need to be seen to capture interest and these promotion campaigns generally double or more the number of views – that does not mean it doubles the number of buyers but every bit of exposure helps.

All of the above online promotion and listing should apply to if your property is listed with an agent, these two websites and their respective apps should be your primary thought when it comes to marketing your property.

As to other media devices. Well a ‘For Sale” sign still has some merit, although in today’s world less relevance as people are less taken to drive around a neighbourhood – the web is the most efficient means of search and so much cheaper. Print advertising in newspapers and magazines might make you feel good to see your house beautifully presented in glossy colour, but you have to ask yourself “who is going to see it, and are they not as likely to see it online?” There is no doubt that property supplements in newspapers and property magazines get viewed, but given their focus on real estate companies sequentially branded pages they are not the choice of serious property hunters. My advice – spend the money online and then, decide if you want to spend almost the same amount again for a print advert!


4. Facilitation

This is the part of selling a house which gets to test the capability of the selling agent. Houses seldom sell themselves without the necessary follow up by an agent to those prospective buyers who have shown interest by contacting the agent or visiting the open home. This persistent follow up and seeking out of information is where the value in an agent really shows through. They do this work day in – day out and know how to look for the signs of interest and to be subtly persuasive. They know how to keep buyers interested and get them to visit again.

Most of all what they are good at is getting buyers to commit – that first critical step of making an offer. They know the contract and terms to steer that would-be buyer to make the initial offer.


5. Negotiation

This is the challenging part. The agent representing the vendor is seeking a favourable outcome, one where the vendors’ interests are paramount. The buyer is generally cautious and seeking their best interest. The value in the agent is to maintain the buyer commitment to the purchase of the property whilst negotiating the best terms that meet the vendors’ requirement. The agent is adept at knowing when to ease off and when to quicken the pace and move things along.


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6. The Close

Whilst the close is a natural consequence of the negotiation the ability to close a deal is probably the most important capability of any salesperson and when it comes to property transactions this skill is ever more important. The whole process of property buying is emotionally draining and challenging but at the end of the day the vendor wants to sell and ideally the buyer wants to buy, but you cannot simply assume that the contract will be signed. The close, as with all good selling techniques will utilise a myriad of options all seeking to get that agreement for both parties to sign.

From the signed agreement, so starts the legal process of completion and settlement, not a time to sit back and assume everything will complete satisfactorily and it is likely your agent will be diligent to see all components are taken care of right until the date of moving and the handing over of keys. 


If you are about to sell - good luck. My advice is get involved, even if you are using a agent take control - especially when it comes to marketing. It is likely int his day and age that you have bought and sold more household items on Trade Me than will have an agent and this actually is a skill you probably didn't realise you had, so use it.