12 Selling property without a real estate agent – what you need to know If you’re selling an old appliance, or even a second-hand car, it’s fairly safe to assume you can do it yourself without much hassle. You advertise it; find a buyer, exchange the goods for the money and it’s all sorted. There’s no need for a third party to manage the process. But things get a bit more complicated when it comes to selling property. Get this kind of transaction wrong and you could be paying the price for years to come. The Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA), the independent Crown entity that’s responsible for New Zealand’s licensed real estate agents, wants people to be as informed as possible about buying and selling property. It recommends working with a licensed real estate agent when you’re selling. “Property transactions involve professional experts at every stage – as well as real estate agents, people are likely to engage with valuers, building inspectors, engineers and lawyers,” REAA chief executive Kevin Lampen- Smith says. “Real estate agents are expected to continually upskill to stay on top of changes to legislation and current requirements, so working with a licensed agent gives you improved security. If you sell your home privately you do not have the same access to redress if things go wrong. A real estate agent is there to help you navigate the process and get the best result.” If you want to sell privately – without the help of a licensed real estate agent - you need to weigh up the pros and cons of doing it yourself. There’s more to selling your home than just putting up a sign and showing prospective buyers around; you need to understand the value of your property, set a price and choose the best way to sell it (such as by auction or tender). You have to choose a method of marketing and answer questions from prospective buyers. You also need to organise the sale and purchase agreement, which is the legal document that transfers the property from one owner to another. This includes negotiating conditions of the sale, such as what chattels will be included, the sale timeline and any other variations. Even if you choose to proceed with a private sale, it’s a good idea to engage a lawyer at an early stage to handle the paperwork. A lawyer will generally need to be involved to carry out the actual settlement. As a seller, you are legally obliged to share all relevant information about a property to prospective buyers, such as whether or not it is subject to weathertightness issues, for example. If you mislead a potential buyer, they can seek to cancel the sale and purchase agreement. They can even take you to court later if you’ve misinformed them about the state of the property and they suffer subsequent financial loss. Lampen-Smith says people should also be aware of their obligations, particularly regarding commission, if a property had been first listed with an agent. “Make sure you are aware of the cancellation terms of your agreement as these vary between agencies. If the agent has done some work to market your property, but you then sell it privately, you may still have to pay them a commission.” If you decide to sell with the assistance of a real estate agent, make sure they are licensed. You can check out the REAA’s free online public register of licensed real estate agents, and get more information about buying and selling property, at www.reaa.govt.nz.
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