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Do your research before selling house

Ministry of Consumer Affairs

With the first whiff of summer teasing our limbs, some homeowners will be sprucing up their homes, ready to put them on the market.

Unless you’re one of a lucky few, your house is probably your biggest asset. So it’s wise to give yourself the best chance of getting a good price.

If you decide to sell your property through a real estate agent, make sure that they are the best person for the job.

You’ll be inviting them into your home, trusting them with your possessions and relying on them to negotiate on your behalf. So you need someone you trust.

Do some research − friends, family and workmates are a good place to start.

Your agent will ask you to sign a written agreement. Make sure that they give you a copy of the Residential Property Agency Agreements Guide to read and digest before you sign.

Your agency agreement is a legally binding contract. Breaching it, even if you didn’t realise, can be a very expensive mistake. So getting legal advice is also a good idea.

Pay particular attention to:

Agent’s commission: Be clear on what you will have to pay the agent, when you will have to pay and how the payment will be calculated. Commission normally includes a flat fee and a percentage of the sale price plus GST.

Additional expenses: Be aware of anything else you need to pay for like advertising. The agent has to tell you in writing about any discounts or rebate they receive on any of the services they provide for you. You may be able to negotiate splitting this.

Details that are listed about your property: Be sure that these are factual and accurate. Otherwise you could be open to legal action. Remember that you should have consents and permits for any work you have done to the property.

Type of agreement: There are two. A sole agency or exclusive agreement means that you give one agency the right to sell your property for a set time. A general agency agreement means that you can use several agencies at once, or even sell it yourself. Don’t get caught out! If you sign up with another agency when you already have a sole agency agreement, you may have to pay commission twice.

It’s always worth negotiating the terms of your agreement. And if you’re not happy with your agent, once you’ve signed, tell your agent or their manager.

If you don’t get a satisfactory result, you can take your complaint to the Real Estate Agents Authority 0800 for REAA (0800 367 7322).