Article by Cheryl McKenna – Office manager, and licensed estate agent

It began with a conversation with a lady enquiring on a property that we had for sale.  All said quickly without a pause or even time to take a breath!

I’d like to have a look at the house on Wellington Street but before I could buy it I would need to sell my house and I don’t know if I should sell that house first and then buy a house or buy a house and then hope I can sell my house and everyone is telling me to do different things and I have never done this before and the last real estate I called didn’t even return my call sorry for the big blurt!” And breathe.

My first thought was ‘oh, you poor woman, I’d better get an agent because I don’t know if I can help’. My second thought was ‘hang on, I am also a woman who has been in that moment of not knowing what I should do or who I need to talk to – of course I can talk to her!’

So we just talked.  We went back to the start and talked about why she was looking at buying a new home.  She had never bought a home, her partner had always handled those things, and now they were parting ways so it was time she learned about doing things herself.

After stepping her through the buying process in broad strokes – seeking clarity regarding her financial situation and buying budget, identifying what she needs in a home, looking at properties on the market, inspecting the property, what ‘due diligence’ means and making an offer subject to her selling her own home she was dumbstruck.  “Is that really a thing?  Can I buy a house subject to selling mine?”  Most people just don’t realise that this is an option.

You don’t know what you don’t know.  And if you don’t ask then you live in the ongoing limbo of wondering, treading water and just not doing anything because you don’t know the options.

Other questions that she asked and I answered (after I promised her that I would not laugh at her because no questions were silly questions) –

Do I stay home when the photos are taken?

Up to you!  Sometimes the photographer may move things around to enhance the photos, and if you are okay with that, then go for a coffee!

Why do I have to sign an authority? 

A sales authority is essentially a permission slip for the agent to sell your house for you, and how much they will charge you if it sells.  It is a legal requirement, and an agent can’t advertise or do anything to sell your home without it.

Why do some agents charge extra for marketing?

Different agents do things in different ways.  Make sure you find out all the fees, charges and costs that you will have to pay even if the agent doesn’t sell your house.  (Note: Wilsons don’t charge for marketing)

When do I have to pay the agent’s fees?

Usually when the house is sold, the agent keeps the fee amount from the deposit that the purchaser paid, or the solicitor arranges for the fees to be paid before the rest of the money gets sent to you.

My friend told me I need a Section 32, what is it?

A Section 32 is also known as a Vendor Statement, and is essentially the legal description of the property, it includes a copy of the title and other information about services connected to the property and other required information.  A solicitor or conveyancer prepares this.  MORE INFO AT THIS LINK

How do I pay the deposit for the house I am buying?  I need the money that the purchaser has paid to pay the deposit on my house.

You can often access the deposit paid, but your conveyancer or solicitor needs to arrange this.  It is called a Section 27 Early Release of Deposit, and the purchasers (and your bank if you have a mortgage) have to agree to allow it to be released.

Do I disconnect the power and gas when I move out?

Yes.  Contact your suppliers and tell them the date that you are moving out.

Do I take the bins with me?

The council bins belong to the property, but if you have a private collection arranged make sure you call them to ask.

Do I need to get the carpets cleaned when I move out?

Not necessarily.  If it was something agreed to and put into the contract then yes, but otherwise we go by the following rule of thumb – leave the property the way you would like to receive a property.

Is it okay to leave some old fence palings behind the shed? 

No.  The house needs to be given with vacant possession.  Follow the above rule of thumb.  If you think that the purchaser might like things left (for example tins of paint to do touch ups in the same colour), ask the agent to ask them a few weeks before settlement so there is no confusion.

What do I do with all of my keys when I move out?

We suggest that you put all of the keys together and drop them into the agent.  They will hand them to the purchaser when the property settles.

Is the settlement date in the contract definitely the date it will settle?

Usually this is the case, but your conveyancer should be in touch with you a week or so before this date to confirm with you.  Sometimes settlement can be delayed for a number of reasons, usually because of the purchasers’ bank, or a document not being received in time.

What time will the new owners be able to go into the house on settlement day?

We can only give the keys to the purchaser when we have been notified by the solicitor or conveyancer notifies us that settlement has been completed.

So while selling a home can be a huge thing, it is only by taking the first step that you will arrive at your destination.  No one is born knowing all that goes with selling a property, and unless you work in the industry or have experienced it, it is an experience unlike any other!  But knowledge is power.  Ask many questions, because you can be assured you are not the first person to have asked the question.  Find yourself an agency who work as a team, where you feel comfortable knowing that when a buyer calls their office they will be looked after by all of the staff, not just one agent.  I have promised her that I will answer all of her questions about buying her next home, so stay tuned!