By Trish Willis | Member of the Property Institute of NZ (IPAC)
Process Of Selling A House 3

The process of selling a house can be tricky, but if you follow the guidance of these 6 steps you will be setting yourself up for a positive outcome. They can also save you a small fortune in real estate commission and fees and enhance a buyer's perception of your home's value.


Just when sellers think it's all a done deal, a house sale can fall over, and often does due to neglecting preparation and detail.

Even though you have gone through the whole real estate process and reached the stage of having a signed sale and purchase agreement, the fact that some "i's" weren't dotted and "t's" crossed - because the sale was rushed into without adequate preparation or advice from your real estate agent - may trip you up at the last hurdle.

And when it does, the process of selling your house has all of a sudden become very expensive as you start marketing it all over again. It doesn't have to be like this, so follow the steps and use the flow chart below - it can be a lifesaver.

The Steps to Selling a House

Step One

1. Prepare the Section and Kerbside

Look around for repairs, unfinished work or general maintenance jobs, and tick them off, otherwise they could be picked up in a buyer's property inspection, which is very often a condition of sale, and already too far through the house selling process.

The kerbside is your first impression to buyers. Stand across the street, compare your kerbside with your neighbours', put your buyer's hat on and you might be surprised by what needs attention.

This is the exact place where a potential buyer can be put off and keep driving. Draw them in with the impression of a well-maintained property that looks better than neighbouring properties, regardless of the 'zone'.

The same principle always applies regardless of what area you are in, or how low or high a value your location is.

2. Complete Home Repairs and Maintenance

If you need to use tradesmen for structural/building repairs, electrical work or plumbing to complete a consent process, always use a tradesperson who is a Licensed Building Practitioner or a Registered Builder.

Shoddy building and repair work that is non-compliant can be a costly affair and incur time delays when it comes to selling a house, so get these basics right at the outset.

The Process Of Selling A House New Zealand
3. Edit the Home Interior Look - Home Staging Adds Real Value

Assess the look and feel of your home with a buyer's eye.

Go through every room and list what you can improve or remove. Notice the best features and highlight them as doing this can draw the eye away from the negatives.

Home staging and styling is an important part of selling a house as it is a proven strategy for lifting the sales price and shortening sales time. It can be done for little or no money and real estate agents report that it can add 10-15% more to a sale price than expected.

Step Two

4. Find the Best Real Estate Agents - Ask For a Short List

When selling a house, the process of finding the right real estate agent can be an exercise in casting about blindly. It's not obvious to the untrained eye who will get you the best price for your house, in a short time.

More property sellers, short on time but keen to get due diligence done are now using a real estate agent broker to help them sort the wheat from the chaff. Agent Finder NZ has been providing this service free to sellers for over 13 years. Give them a call to find out how they can help you on 0800 789 532.

Agent Finder NZ also has lots of advice and resources to help you sell your home, including an Agent Questionnaire. This will help you interview agents and acquire the information you should have to make such an important decision and is therefore is one of the key steps to selling a house.

Guide To Selling A House - Free Download

This Guide To Selling A House tells you how to influence a fast house sale and the best purchase price for your property. Or for more hands on help, get in touch with a free independent advisor to guide you through the house sale process simply.

5. How to Choose Your Real Estate Agent Wisely

Don't just take a stab, interview the real estate agents on your short list to gauge their strengths so you can compare them.

Choosing a real estate agent will mostly be determined by the quality and content in your property appraisals so you might like to find out more about what a real estate appraisal entails, what to look for and how to choose the best real estate agent for you, your property type and location.

It is a legal requirement under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008, to have a real estate appraisal in writing by a licensed real estate agent and they can be held accountable by the industry authority for providing these verbally or being misleading in their sale price range recommendation.

Real Estate Appraisals cover how the agent intends to get the best sale price for you. Among other things, it should provide examples of comparable sales in your location, describe different methods of sale and set out a marketing plan and what that will cost. Find out more about property appraisals.

Step Three

6. What is the Market Value of Your House?

Your property appraisal from each real estate agent will guide you with the recommended price range for which it will be marketed. Many home sellers are lured by the promise of a high sale price when in fact this can come back to bite you.

Setting an inaccurate sale price range is one of the leading causes of why a house doesn't sell, so focus on getting this as accurate as possible. Home buyers have access to so much information about house prices now and will contest what you think it's worth with data they've gathered online.

If you want more certainty and confidence about the price range you intend to market your house at, a full valuation carried out by a licensed valuer can be the best money invested when selling a house.

Find out more about how to price your house to sell including why valuations help give your real estate agent more leverage when negotiating with buyers.

The Process Of Selling A House Made Easier

Click anywhere on the above flow chart to help you see at a glance the complete selling a house process.

Step Four

7. Real Estate Commission and Signing an Agency Agreement

Once you have chosen a real estate agent, you will have discussed and understood the various methods of sale available and chosen one which should be outlined in your agency agreement. Your real estate agent should have explained them all and made a recommendation about which method will work best in your favour, in the current market and location.

When you sign an Agency Agreement you will assent to the commission fee. The thought of paying real estate commission and fees are possibly the most dreaded part of selling a house but you can find lots of independent advice about how to minimise all expenses, including commission and fees.

The real estate agency agreement is not with the individual agent, but with the real estate agency. Check the terms of contract and the commission fee which are both negotiable. Here are a list of things to check before signing an agency agreement.

8. Marketing Your House to Sell

Look over the marketing and advertising plan in detail.

Your real estate agent should give you a step by step plan which includes associated costs. If there are any amendments made to your marketing plan after your initial agreement, they need to be signed off by you again.

This is the point where you should discuss open homes versus private viewings. You can find out more about real estate marketing and advertising here.

If you are selling a house in Auckland, how it is marketed may be crucial, resulting in offers differing in value by tens of thousands of dollars. Find out why.

The Process Of Selling A House
9. Real Estate Photography

Having gone to the effort of decluttering and staging your home, make sure you capture the effect in good quality photographs.

Good real estate agents will set you up with a professional photographer. These are the pictures that will attract good buyers so they need to be effective and appealing.

Don't make the mistake of marketing your house for sale with unprofessional photography.

Picture boards can work especially well with some properties, often being the first impression to a home buyer.

10. Real Estate Websites

Your real estate agent will upload your property information to real estate websites as per your agreed marketing plan.

These listings describe features and benefits and special details. Be clear about your intended price range as website visitors will search according to their price range. Ask your agent specifically what price range they will enter as you need to be on the same page about this.

11. Open Homes vs Private Viewings

Talk to your agent about what process they use for viewings. When selling a home, there are different benefits and preferences for open homes versus private viewings according to individual circumstances.

Step Five

12. Communication With Your Real Estate Agent

You can expect your real estate agent to give you regular updates and progress reports on inquiries received. Ask how often these will be.

Congratulations - you're on your way.

13. Offers to Buy Your House

Buyers' offers will be presented to you via the Sale and Purchase Agreement. Verbal offers are not acceptable. Make sure you do your due diligence with a property lawyer to ensure this legally binding agreement is sound and the process of due diligence has been adhered to.

Step Six

14. Moving Day

With utilities and services all now online, getting them changed to your new address is easier than it used to be. Phone, power and gas can now all be easily sorted online.

Follow our Moving House Checklist

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Page updated March 31, 2023 by Trish Willis | Member of Property Institute of NZ (IPAC)

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