Costly (Common) Mistakes made by Property Sellers

house fall priceIn your eagerness to sell your property beware of the costly mistakes that can make the whole selling process your worst nightmare either in selling too cheaply or in needless expenses that end up draining not only your bank account but also your emotional health.

To assist you avoid COSTLY MISTAKES we have put together a 5 point checklist including important guidelines when deciding on a Real Estate Agent.

1. Choosing the wrong real estate agent

How do you choose the right Agent?

Before you start ask family or friends who have sold in the area for a reference if they had a positive experience and were happy then chances are you will be too.

Make an appointment with this Agent, they will want to come to your property and this is a good opportunity to interview them and assess if they are the right one for you.

It is essential you choose an Agent you like and trust.

If you can’t get a personal referral then due diligence is always the first step, check out the Agents in your area and see what results they are achieving, check references, also be mindful an office in a prime location will attract more attention and passing trade.

Guidelines when deciding on a Real Estate Agent:

  • Beware of an Agent who quotes a cheaper Commission – there is an industry standard and cheaper commissions usually signal cheaper services.Ensure the Agency you select quote the industry standard, you don’t have to pay a premium commission to secure a premium Agent.
  • Beware of an Agent who quotes a higher selling price than what properties in your area are selling for.
  • agent houseBeware of going with multiple Agents – exclusive agency means you will be looked after.
  • Beware of signing a Standard Agency Agreement, read the fine print carefully as this is a legal contract.The Agreement you sign must protect your interests and suit your terms.Ask your Agent for a copy of the Real Estate Consumer Protection Guarantee it’s a wise idea to read it carefully before you sign.
  • Beware of signing up for too long once you sign you are “locked-in” to that agreed time frame.
    Keep in mind that the longer the agent has your home the more chance you could be pressured to lower your price.
    You need the option of moving to another Agent after a given time if you are not happy.
  • Beware of the Advertising trap: Agents use property advertising to promote themselves and the more advertising they can secure from a seller the better it is for their Agency.An Agent may want you to advertise, advertise, advertise your property every week, however the reality is the more a home is advertised and the longer it remains unsold, the easier it is to persuade you to lower your price.
    And from a Buyers perspective homes that are advertised week in week out set up alarm signals that your property has problems, problem houses sell for lower prices.
  • A good Agent will help you work out an advertising campaign that is right for your budget and for your property.Plus a good Agent will have a bank of buyers waiting for properties in your area and they should be able to get these prospective buyers interested without an expensive advertising campaign.
  • Beware of an Agent who is not a good negotiator, good negotiation can be the difference between getting an extra 10% on your selling price or losing 10% below your selling price.A skilled Agent will be a skilled negotiator.

2. Setting the wrong price

It’s easy to believe your property is the best in the area and therefore demands the highest price, but the reality is we live in a very volatile real estate market and fluctuations in interest rates, employment issues, and the general global finance crisis have impacted on how much Buyers have to spend.

Be realistic set an achievable price based on your own research and advice from your Agent and a registered Valuer.

Keep in mind these 4 points:

  1. Overpriced properties take longer to sell and usually the price is lowered during the campaign making the property stand out as one that will end up selling for less again, this will attract buyers who want to bargain then the pressure mounts on you to accept an offer far below your anticipated
  2. Unrealistic Low prices simply attract the wrong buyers and usually end up selling for much less again, or don’t sell at all.
  3. When to accept an offer: The best offers often come early in the process, if one comes your way and it meets your criteria think carefully before rejecting it. If you have set a realistic and achievable price based on your research and the market opinion from an Agent and a Valuer then the offer should be somewhere in the ballpark and the wise seller will accept it.
  4. Over-supply of ‘For Sale’ in your area: if there are a lot of properties for sale in your area and they are not selling quickly, this is not a good sign and is an indication that perhaps this is not the best time for you to put your property on the market.

3. CHOOSING THE WRONG SALES METHOD (can be very expensive)

Auction or private treaty?


The greatest myth with auctions is that they are the “the best way to sell” actually this is not true, in fact in most instances auctions achieve lower prices and they invoke extreme pressure and higher costs to the seller and the Agent walks away with higher returns and less pressure to perform.

Auctions are very popular in Metropolitan areas but this is often driven by the Agents and although some properties will do very well at Auction others don’t reach the reserve and the seller still has to pay all the Auction costs.

Private treaty: 

It may take longer for your property to sell but then if it is priced correctly this should not be the case. Property-Investment-Checklist

Private Treaty requires your Agent to be a skilled negotiator when the offer/s comes in, and of course you have a fixed cost with the commission and no extra costs involved.

The decision to go to Auction or stay with Private Treaty is up to you, but don’t be pressured into Auction until you do your due diligence and factor in the extra costs involved, this is where a cost benefit analysis is absolutely critical.

If all the properties in your area are selling at Auction ensure you attend as many Auctions as you can to ascertain the prices achieved, talk to sellers if possible to gauge if they were happy with the result.

Whether you sell by Auction of Private Treaty ensure you have a prominent FOR SALE sign at the front of your property, many prospective buyers drive around areas looking at properties if they don’t see a For Sale sign on your property you may miss out on a potential sale.

4. Don’t reveal the reason for the sale

You have your reasons for selling, this can be anything from simply wanting a change to financial to personal family matters and everything in between, letting buyers know why you are selling can weaken your position at the negotiating table.

Keep the reason close to your chest and don’t even tell your Agent, this is your business and your business only.

5. The wrong presentation

Presentation is everything, a home that looks good makes you look good, it will have the right feeling and will attract the right buyer and usually sell for the right price.

Take the time to prepare your home for sale by paying attention to details.

First impressions are vital and this starts outdoors, make sure that from the garden fence to the front door the whole appearance is clean, well maintained and inviting to the buyer as they walk in.

The interior of course should sparkle from front door to back door.

Ensure there are no leaking taps, sticking windows or doors, dirty floor coverings, moldy bathrooms and smelling sinks, cluttered wardrobes and bedrooms.

Have fresh flowers in a vase and an open air feeling, this will do wonders to a buyer and make your property desirable.

Remember a serious buyer will want to come back several times and bring family or friends and they want to show a property that looks great, it’s a matter of pride, ensure your property looks great and give yourself the best possible chance to sell for the best possible price.

Garth Brown’s comment:

Selling a property is right up there with high stress factors in life, to try and make the whole process as painless as possible it’s up to you to avoid Common Mistakes and ensure you have a checklist of “Do’s and Don’ts” and stick to them, and try not to allow pressure to sell, pressure you to sell at any cost!

As we have said many times ‘due diligence’ before you make any major decisions is always your best ally when it comes to Real Estate. 

Want more of this type of information?

Garth Brown


Garth Brown is the Founder and Director of Brown and Brown Conveyancers one of Sydney’s leading Conveyancing Firms. With 20 years experience as a practicing Conveyancer he has assisted hundreds of Clients to navigate through the maze of conveyancing issues when buying and selling property. Visit

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