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Property Selling & Buying Guide

Property Selling & Buying Guide




Seller Guide











When it comes to selling one of your most valuable assets, your home, it makes sense to take the time to choose a qualified and knowledgeable sales consultant who has the right tools and strategies at their disposal.


When speaking with sales consultants, don’t be afraid to ask the right questions to make sure you trust your consultant and to make sure you’re confident they have the experience to sell your home quickly and for the best price.





The following are a few things to consider




Is your salesperson experienced?


Experienced sales consultants don’t just know all there is to know about selling real estate, they also know about your local market, average house and unit prices, what kinds of homes and even features are popular with buyers, important negotiation strategies, and how to effectively market your home.

Thats why its vital to sit down with a prospective sales person and ask detailed questions about your market, how much homes have sold for in the area, and what they’ll be doing to market your property.

An experienced sales consultant should be able to take you through all of this in great detail and answer any questions you might have.



Is your salesperson focused on you?


Its about people. Successfully buying and selling real estate is so often about understanding human needs and aspirations. Thatwhy Harcourts people not only receive in-depth professional training (the benchmark for the industry) but are also committed to creating meaningful and genuine personal relationships. The huge volume of referrals and repeat business generated is proof this method works. A complete consultative approach is what makes the Harcourts way of doing things so seamless. Alongside the trust, honesty and integrity of Harcourtspersonal hallmarks, an intimate knowledge of local markets and current property trends help to establish our consultants credentials. Combined with a solid work ethic and well-developenegotiation skills these qualities ensure that the Harcourts consultant leads the field.



Is your salesperson able to achieve the right result?


Achieving the quick sale of your property for the right price can depend on more than your sales consultant alone. A consultant needs the right tools at their disposal and the support to use them effectively. At Harcourts our sales consultants have a full range of marketing, research and technological tools available to them at all times. Working within a highly motivated team environment, the business, customer support and online services that they can draw upon are truly impressive. It’s this network that helps produce the best results. That’s what helps us to achieve over 60,000 written sales every year - that’s one property sold by Harcourts every 11 minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.



Our Promise


For us, all of this forms part of what we call Our Promise. Research has demonstrated that our clients expect an exceptional level of personal and professional service from Harcourts and their chosen consultant. Our Promise is our way of being held accountable, and your way of assessing our performance every step of the way. Consider it a total commitment to working together to make the whole experience easier, less stressful and far more rewarding. Here's how we make that happen:

  • Written marketing plan and calendar
  • Post inspection feedback
  • Regular written marketing report
  • Marketing review meetings
  • All offers presented in writing



Marketing your property





Written marketing plan

Following initial consultation and property inspection, we will present a comprehensive marketing strategy specifically tailored for you, your property and the current market conditions. A fully- detailed marketing action plan calendar will be prepared which

clearly identifies where and when all scheduled promotional activities and regular client contact will take place. Because wbelieve that our relationship is a partnership, your input is invaluableat this key stage.


Post-inspection feedback

Following each visit by an individual potential buyer and, of course, immediately after all inspections,  we will keep you completely up- to-date on how your property was perceived, pertinent comments, price-relevant issues and prospective ‘hot prospects. Just like us, you need to know exactly whats going on at all times.


Weekly written marketing report

This is an important tool for assessing market reaction to your property and also to identify those prospective buyers who are showing the most interest. Based on this regular information, wwill make on-going recommendations which will maximise the effectiveness of our targeted marketing efforts.


Marketing reviemeeting

It is during the initial few weeks after your property is first introduced to the market and has gained a high profile and maximum level of interest that it is most valuable to review the marketing progress to date. A frank and open discussion between client and consultant can often identify new opportunities and strategies which can build upon the original marketing plan.


All offers presented in writing

Because it is your property, it is solely your decision whether to accept or decline a specific offer. For your consideration we will formally present every offer received in writing so that you are better able to make an informed judgement. Obviously we are only too happy to offer advice, but we will always leave the final choice up to you.




Preparing your


home for sale




Why choose to hold open homes when selling?

Open homes are one of the most effective ways of marketing a property and attracting interest from a wide variety of buyers. Some of the advantages are:

You have plenty of time to ensure your property is tidy and ready for inspections

You can control the viewing times

Open homes can create plenty of activity, even in a slow market

Interest and activity can trigger urgency with buyers

Th sales consultant's time is put to best and most effective use. They will have the opportunity to talk to numerous people about your property

Comments from open home visitors can provide feedback on price, presentation, sales appeal, etc


" Look at your home from


a potential buyer's







Top tips for attracting potential buyers and higher offers




The first tip is the simplest. Its obviously a must to clean and tidy your home before an inspection, but its crucial to also get rid of clutter that could stand in the way of a potential buyer picturing themselves within the home. That means getting rid of personal nick knacks and photographs, unnecessary furniture or furniture within

a room not designed for that purpose, for example a bed within a space traditionally used as a living area. Even if it means putting belongings and furniture into storage until the property sells, the investment will be worth it.




Make any aesthetic repairs well before inspection. Things as small as a chip in paint in an interior wall could detract from the overall feel for the home, so get these things up-to-date before your open home. You could also invest in updating features like tired curtains, older fixtures and fittings, or laying new turf if you have a patchy lawn.




Once clutter free, consider using a home stylist or home staging service. The results can be dramatic. Home stylists will take a look at your space, and then loan you the furniture which is the size and

style best suited for your home, which will make a space look bigger, comfortable and liveable. Again, this will help potential buyers to see themselves living in the space.




Before even getting to your first home inspection, consider using a professional photographer to take quality, well-lit pictures of your home. After going to the trouble of updating, de-cluttering and staging your property, the last thing you want to do is turn people away before they’ve even inspected your home. Professional photos are taken with professional equipment, they can make spaces look bigger, well-lit and showcase them in the best possible way. Plus

you benefit from the experience of someone who knows exactly how to take a photo that appeals. This way, you attract buyers looking online, scanning through ads, and looking through the paper. Its about piquing interest to attract buyers to inspect in the first place.


Your property may not need all of the above, so its really about taking a look at your home objectively from a potential buyers perspective and assessing what needs to be done. What would distract you if you were inspecting the property? What would you want to replace or update if you were thinking of making an offer? If you were to say to yourself “this place is great, but, how would you finish that sentence?


Once you’ve made a list of the possible things your property needs, you can employ the top four tips above to make your home a stand- out to the sea of potential buyers out there.


Pricing your

home for sale


The price of your home must be right. Too low and you lose money. Too highand you lose buyers. Thats where the intimate local market knowledge andexpertise from your Harcourts marketing consultant comes in. Coupledwith Harcourts advanced information technologies this knowledge proveinvaluable.


The price of success


The most difficult task for most sellers is determining the value of theirhome. Many different elements can combine to create unrealisticexpectations - be it uninformed and optimistic opinion, the cost of improvements a seller hopes to recover or the final amount needed to realise future plans. The best method is to study the current real estatemarket facts and figures. Your Harcourts sales consultant will show youcomparisons of other similar homes in your area - those which have sold,those which have yet to sell and those which will represent your competition.Quite simply, the current property market determines the value of yourhome. Buyers will see your home for what it is and, while they may still look,if the price is too high, they’ll pass on your property for one else where. Thisis backed by research clearly showing that properties that sell quickest alsosell closest to their initial asking price.



Time limits


Buyer interest is greatest for your property within the second and third week of its entrance into the market. After this, interest falls away quite dramatically. To maximise this window of opportunity your Harcourts sales consultant will design a marketing programme that peaks during this prime period. Your property will have the highest profile for this vital time. If you have the decided to market your property with a price remember that it must be valued correctly right from this initial surge of interest.


A Realistic Return


It’s a fact that over – priced properties take longer to sell and do not attract the optimum number of potential buyers, particularly during the prime selling period the longer properties sit on the market the lower price they achieve. After three or more months this can often be 20% to 25% less. To ensure this doesn’t happen. your Harcourts sales consultant has all the relevant information necessary to help you price your property correctly for the best return.






The best way to

Sell your home


With market conditions constantly changing and no two properties ever the same there's never one 'tried and true' method of selling. The type of property you wish to sell and the timeframe in which you want to do it ultimately determne the most appropriate and effective marketing strategy.

Harcourts people are top achievers, no matter what it takes. And, while the result should always be what's best for you, that outcome can be achieved  in a number of different ways



"The best option is listing


exclusively with one










With successful real estate business based around establishing excellent personal and professional relationships, strong paths of communication are a necessity. Due to the highest level of technological support, we have the ability to access vital information and communicate this to potential purchasers. It’s this capability that keeps Harcourts on the cutting edge of technology-based support.

Information at your fingertips


The Harcourts website receives hundreds of thousands of unique visitors every month. These aren’t just domestic enquiries – there are also a large number of international hits. The number of people who log on in search of property is only getting larger. The majority of these prospective buyers shop at their leisure and have definite ideas about exactly where they want to live, what kind of home they want and what they can afford to buy. The information provided on the Harcourts website is comprehensive, to say the least. It offers a detailed property search with virtual and video property tours. And that’s just the start.


The highest visibility – from the moment you list


List your property with Harcourts and it will be entered into our own listing system, Harcourts One. Harcourts One spans every single office in our group and enables buyers and sellers to be matched far more effectively. Of course your home will also be automatically listed on our website. The comprehensive detail of each listing enables potential national and international buyers an ease of access that’s unparalleled. With just a few clicks of the mouse a virtual tour of your property affords these buyers the opportunity to visit without ever leaving their computer.


A buyer-seller matching system that can’t be beaten


Harcourts also offers the services of your own personal account online. This is an intelligent, reliable system that automates the process of matching buyers with properties that meet their criteria. And it’s all done fast, automatically and confidentially online.



Accepting an offer



At Harcourts, our commitment to you is to bring you each offer formally in writing. We will do this by providing interested buyers with a contract, and will give both you and the potential buyer the opportunity to add conditions when negotiating  the sale of your property.


Common conditions of sale are subject to

  • Finance
  • A builder’s report
  • Sale of another property
  • Solicitor’s approval of the contract
  • Specialist inspection or approval


Your sales consultant will have the purchase sign a standard approved contract  with their offer and any conditions of sale either you or the purchaser has requested . Once this process has been completed your sales consultant will check whether any other interested parties are putting in an offer . This system ensures it remains fair to all parties in a multiple offer situation.

As the vendor, you can then accept the offer, reject it or counter sign it. Counter signing usually occurs when you are not satisfied with the price offered and/or conditions included and wish to subsequently alter them. The contract will then be brought back to the purchaser for their consideration

If accepted, the purchaser will initial your alteration and the property is under offer subject  to any conditions that the contract may contain. Alternatively the purchaser also has the right to counter sign. Your sales consultant will continue negotiations between you and the purchaser until you are both in agreement.



Completing the sale



Settlement generally takes place between you and the purchaser and your legal/financial represenrtatives. Officially, it’s where ownership passes from you to the purchaser, and the balance of the sale price is paid to you or your financial institution.


As the seller, you would have set the settlement date within the contract of sale. Settlement usually occurs 30-90 days after the contract has been signed, depending on what has been agreed upon.


The purchaser is entitled to inspect the property at a reasonable time the week prior to settlement, and as the seller, you must hand the property over in the condition in which it was sold.


On settlement the purchaser’s solicitor will exchange the following with your solicitor:


  • Monies
  • Transfer documentation
  • Keys to the property


Within a few days of settlement the purchaser’s solicitor or financier will register the necessary documentation and mortgage transfer with the Land Titles Registry.


Possession of the property usually takes place on the settlement day although you and the buyer can agree for these dates to be different.


The next steps are to ensure you’re well prepared for the move to your new home.






Buyer Guide






Buying a home is a big step! Theres a lot to consider, from the merits of buying over renting, doing your research, inspecting a property, making an offer, contracts and settlement. We want to take the mystery out of the home buying experience, so the Harcourts Buyers’ Guide will cover everything you need to know from start to finish.



Buying vs renting.


Which puts you in Front in the long run?



When it comes to the decision of buying a property versus renting one, there are a few factors you need to consider.


On the one hand, buying a property certainly has significant immediate costs, but on the other, renting means you’re effectively paying off someone elses mortgage.


So if you’re weighing up which option is right for you, consider both the short and long-term pros and cons of both.







One day, you’ll own your home


The obvious pro of buying versus renting is that once your mortgage has been paid in full, you’ll have a home that you own. This means you won’t have to consider the cost of renting into your retirement plan. If you plan to sell your home after retirement, theres the potential that the property has increased in value, and you’ll have more cash to put towards your nest egg.


You can change the home to suit your needs


Even before you pay off your mortgage, the house is still yours to change as you see fit. This means painting, fencing, landscaping and large-scale renovations are up to you. This gives you a certain amount of flexibility too, if you buy a home in an area you love, but its too small, or in need of work, then you can always address these issues down the track.


Whereas when renting, if the home doesn’t fit your needs in the future, you’ll be looking to relocate to another rental property.




Theres definitely a certain amount of security that comes from owning your home versus renting it. For instance, no one is going to tell you need to vacate because they’ve decided to sell the property or move back in themselves. Theres no risk a rental agreement won’t be renewed for any reason, or that certain conditions will changthat may impact your lifestyle.


This security can make it easier to plan for your future and consider things like pets and children without the risk that your living situation may dramatically change through no fault of your own.




Upfront costs

It depends on your location, but across the globe one thing about home ownership is generally the same, and thats the requirement of a big lump sum up-front as a down payment or deposit. This means you’ll need a hefty amount of cash just to enter the property market.


There are other initial costs too depending on your country, like taxes, stamp duty, solicitor bills and title fees.


The cost of upkeep


Unlike renting, the costs associated with the upkeep of your home falls to you. Depending on the age and state of your home, location and whether or not you have a free-standing home or apartment/unit will all determine how much you may be spending in maintenance costs over the course of owning your home. Its best to factor this into your budget before committing to a mortgage.


Your return on investment is not guaranteed


Of course it depends on your area and how this area fairs in the long- run, which can be pretty hard to predict without a crystal ball, but the costs of owning your home versus how much of a return you’ll receive if you decide to one day sell might mean you could make a loss at the end of the day.


Other things to factor in here are how long you plan to be in the home, how much work is needed on the property (could you see yourself taking out additional loans to cover things likrenovations?), has the area experienced recent growth? What other long-term factors could impact the neighbourhood positively or negatively?









Cheaper in the short-term

In a lot of areas, the option of renting property is usually going to be cheaper, at least up-front if not week to week, than paying off a mortgage on the same property. Not to mention that in most

countries, the only up-front cost is usually a bond, a relatively small amount of funds kept in a trust in the event the home is damaged or unreasonably worn at the expiry of the lease.


This also means costs associated with owning a home, like land/ property taxes, building insurance and maintenance are handled by the landlord. Another plus is the ability to rent a home in a desirable suburb, close to transport, offices, entertainment and other lifestyle amenities as a rented home in these areas is usually within most peoples’ budgeversus the sale price of a home in the same area.



One of the obvious pros to renting is the flexibility. Thats the flexibility of not being locked into a long-term commitment, as you are with a home you buy. At the end of your lease, you’re free to move, or stay on if it suits. When it comes to selling a property you own, you’re faced with the prospect  of selling the home for the price you need, you’re up for the costs associated with this, and you’re at the mercy of current market conditions.


This kind of flexibility allows you to move jobs, travel or simply change your mind about an area with the opportunity to move relatively quickly.


In some areas, particularly popular ones, you may even be able to break your lease early if the property manager/landlord is able to find a replacement tenant easily, or for a pre-determined fee. In

some cases, there are even rental clauses which stipulate acceptable reasons for breaking a lease, such as a job transfer.



Financial stability

When it comes to your monthly expenses as a renter, your budget can be more stable than that of a mortgage holder. Without fluctuating interest rates, taxes, and maintenance costs to worry about, and the cost of rents generally only changing upon renewal of some leases, you can potentially have more financial stability than a home owner.




The home will never be yours

Its true that at the end of day, the home you’ve been paying to live in will never be yours, whereas the mortgage repayments of the home owner will mean the home will one day belong solely to them. Whilst renting gives you flexibility, it can also mean that at a time when you’re looking to settle down, you don’t have the stability of a home of your own.


You won’t be able to personalise your home

Things like renovations and home improvements usually can’t be done on your rental property unless negotiated with the homeowner and even then, you might find that some things will be at your expense or will mean that your rent could potentially increase.


It could also mean that things like pets aren’t permitted, and you’rrestricted to looking for properties that will allow animals.


So the look and feel of the home will usually not be up to you, and if you’re looking for extras, like air-conditioning or ceiling fans, or features like security screens, your landlord may agree to put these in only if you agree to a higher weekly rent amount.


Renting long-term has its pitfalls

If you decide to rent until retirement, unlike a homeowner who very well may have paid off their mortgage and will now have no ongoing loan repayments to make, you will need to be able to afford rent even after you leave the workforce.


Depending on your other investments, and how well you’ve saved for retirement, it may be feasible to continue renting for life. But if you’re unable to continue renting in your area during your retirement years, you may only be left with the option of relocating to a less desirable area or a far more modest home.



Its your choice.

At the end of the day, the decision to rent or buy is a very personal one, heavily dependent on both your short and long-term plans and goals. For most people, renting is the necessary option for at least a portion of their lives, with home ownership the long-term goal.



“Weigh-up the

personal pros and

cons of your

situation to figure

out the best option

for you.”



Doing your research.



Once you have your finances in place, you’ve worked out your borrowing capacity, and perhaps sought pre-approval on your home loan, its now time to get to know the market.


Start to look at neighbourhoods that would suit your needs and your budget. A great place to start is online. There are lots of property comparison sites on the web which will give you an indication of the average sale price of houses, land and units in an area.



"A great place to start is online.



Also take a look at how a neighbourhood has fared over the last five to 10 years. Have prices steadily increased, stabilised or been in decline? These figures can help you to determine if the property will be a good investment over the long-term.


Once you’ve found a location that fits your needs, and fits in with your average price range, start to look at properties on the market. Compare features, price and land-size. You can engage your local Harcourts sales consultant to help you find the perfect property for you. Consultants know the areas they work in very well, and can also give you advice on what the neighbourhood is like, if there are new infrastructure projects planned, and how prices have changed over the last few years.



Inspecting properties.



Take advantage of an open home and use the time to perform a thorough property inspection. Later on, you'll want to engage the services of a professional to inspect the building's structure and for pests, but it's a good idea to use your initial tour of the home to perform your own inspection



So what should you really be focussing on in an open home?



The dwellings structure


When inspecting a property, chances are the current owners are going to present  the interior of the property in the best possible light. They will have cleaned and tidied, perhaps added  a new

coat of paint, or even had the home styled with beautiful furniture. Whilst these things will help you to appreciate what the home could look like for you, at this stage, its more important to focus on the dwellings structure.




Some things to look for include:



  • Damage from pests. Recent termite damage in wooden structures is a huge red flag. Have a look for bores through wooden frames, or dirt tubes in the foundation or exterior walls that hint to termite infestation.
  • Poor construction. Windows and doors that jar, or cracks in the walls around doors and windows are both signs of poor construction.
  • Wet spots on walls or ceilings. Condensation within the home can lead to mould build-up, timber decay, leaks, corrosion and even loss of structural integrity.
  • Cracks in the foundation. Some small cracks in a home's foundation can be harmless, but large cracks either running down the foundation or across could mean a home is shifting. which can cause significant structural damage over time.

If you're not entirely sure if what you're seeing is cause for concern, and you are interestedd in the property, the best course of action is to enlist the services of a qualified building inspector.


The neighbours


If you've got to the stage where you're inspecting the property, then you probably know a bit about the neighbourhood you're looking in, but what about the neighbours? Take a look at the neighbours on each adjoning border of the property for any clues you might not be comfortable long term. 


  • Are the neighbours' yards  nead and tidy? it might not directly impact on the property you're considering, but what about when it comes time to sell the property? Would untidy yards next to yours  reflect poorly on the area?
  • Do they have pets? it might not be an issue, particularly if you have pets of your own. But look for problems pets. Is a neighbour's dog barking non-stop during the inspection? Are animals loose or roaming? Is there evidence of pet damage to shared fences or common areas? 
  • Do you have a comfortable level of privacy? Take a look at different angles around the home, particularly on smaller blocks or apartments. Are you too close to neighbours? can you easily hear them through the walls? Are certain windows placed directly opposite a neighbour's window? Is the property fenced off from neighbours? 



The Location


Location means more than the general neighbourhood. You may be attracted to the are, but take a look at the property's exact location for things that may bother you long - term, hurt re-sale value, or cause lifestyle issues. Things to consider are:


  • The property is on busy main road. Houses on man roads can attract lower prices than those on quieter, private and less congested roads. You'll also have to get used to the noise of heavy traffic.
  • The property is next to a retail or commercial space. This can cause issues with local business traffic, and depending on the type of business hours, there could bea additional noise. Also be mindful of properties that are next to land that may be zoned as retail or commercial. Local real estate consultants should know this information.
  • The property's proximity to a train line. A home close to public transport is always convenient, but a home that shares a border with a train line, for example can cause a lot of excess noise, potentially hhurt re-sale value, and cause safety issues for young family members depending on fencing around the property.
  • Power lines over the land/property. Sometimes found on larger parcels of land, power lines have been known to drop property prices due to being unsightly, sometimes noisy, and due to claims that living close to them long term can cause health issues.
  • The property is on a flood plain. Depending on the city, the climate and the proximity to dams, lakes and watercourses, the potential of flooding on the property will be different. Be wary though, during major floods, houses within the same street, let alone the same neighbourhood, can be affected differently depending on their position, the house desig, and hills and slopes.

These are just a few considerations to look into when going through an open home. After inspecting a property, continue to do your due diligence. Start to research any areas you're still unsure of, and if you do decide the home is the one for you, enlist the help of independent property inspectors to cast a professional eye over the property.






Making an offer.

Once you’ve found the perfect property for you, it’s time to make an offer. Depending on the type of sale, and even the state or country you live in, the process of making an offer can vary.



"The best way to make a formal offer and avoid any confusion is to make the offer in writing.