How do you sell your house privately? 1


Make it appealing

Have a look at your house from all angles (particularly from the street) and see what you need to tidy up before putting it on the market.

Take some nice photos.  This bit is quite important because it will determine whether people actually turn up to view the house.

Determine your price

Have a look at other properties that are for sale and similar in condition and location to yours.  You could pay for a registered valuation to give you confidence in setting your price, or you could get a list of comparable sales from and determine the price yourself.  It’s not really that hard, but you need to put your emotions aside and look at the property as if you were a prospective purchaser.

Pricing strategy

There are a few common ways that private sellers price their house.

My husband and I have used both an advertised price a little higher than we wanted for the property (to allow for negotiation), and fixed price (not negotiable) based on registered valuation (for a commercial building).

Some people go for “offers over” and this can be a good one in the current competitive market.

We looked at a property a number of years ago with an “offers over” negotiation and the vendors did really well.  They had priced it far too low and the offers were well over their advertised figure.  The vendors showed the property over the weekend in 30 minute intervals, and on Sunday evening they took the best offer.  They were blown away by the price they got for their home.

This is a fair method, because people can still put in conditions, but are also inclined to put in their best offer if they think they will have competition.  This method of pricing also offers some protection  if you have inadvertently advertised your property at a much lower price than you should have. In a competitive market, purchasers will have quite a good idea what your house is worth, and they will know that they are competing with each other.  Obviously, this only works in a heated market, so you could still get stung if you only had one interested party – an auction wouldn’t get you a good price in that case either!

Purchasers like to know roughly what price you are expecting.  Many purchasers are put off by auction because they don’t know if the property is even in their price range.


Once you have determined your pricing, list the property on TradeMe.  This is where everyone looks these days.  You’ll get the same audience as you would have if you had used a real estate agent.

If you wish, you can get a sign made up for the front fence.  Your neighbours might know someone who wishes to move into the area.

Prepare for the onslaught

Prepare to be receiving many phone calls and needing to show people through.  At least with selling privately, you get to choose when people can view your house.  You have more control than needing to have the house spotless all the time for constant real estate agent visits.  The most efficient way to show your house, seems to be by appointment over the weekend.  You have more time to do this than a real estate agent who has to show many houses in the same weekend.  Space your appointments about 30 mins apart.  You might get some overlap, but it’s fairly unlikely and it’s not a bad thing if people see that they have competition.

Put valuables away

Make sure any valuables are locked away before letting people wander through your home.  Real estate agents keep a register of visitors to open homes, so you could consider doing the same.  These registers are not very helpful as security though, because everyone just gives their mobile number.  There is no way of knowing if a visitor has given you their correct name.  Although, there is no reason why you can’t ask to see a driver’s licence before letting people wander around your home.

Open homes are a tricky situation because the prospective buyers need to feel comfortable having a good look at the house, but you also need to be aware of where they are and what they are up to.  Best thing you can do is to lock everything small and valuable away so that you feel more comfortable during the open home.


Negotiation with a potential purchaser does not need to be scary.  If you have ever sold anything before, this is exactly the same.  By the time most people come to sell a house, they already have experience selling smaller items, such as a car.

Standard haggling rules apply  – obviously the seller wants the best price and the purchaser wants to pay less!

Make sure you know the figure you are aiming for before going into this negotiation.  The numbers might be larger, but it’s exactly the same as selling a car.  In fact, with a private sale it is much less stressful than using a real estate agent.  You get to deal directly with the purchaser and can haggle with them immediately.

Is it safe to sell privately?

Selling or purchasing a property privately is safer and less stressful for both parties, because both vendor and purchaser deal only with each other and their respective solicitors.  Neither should be under pressure and both should be getting professional advice at the time of drawing up or signing the agreement.

Unlike a typical real estate agent transaction, there is no pressure to quickly sign something because there might be another purchaser waiting in the wings.  Nobody’s commission is hinging on quick action.  Most vendors are pretty reasonable.  You verbally come to an agreement on conditions and price, shake hands and then the solicitors take it from there.  If you are worried that someone else will come in behind you and make a higher offer, you can always get something in writing from the vendor that they have agreed that you have first right to purchase their house and that they will give you “x” number of days to get an agreement to their solicitor.

Best practice is for the purchaser’s solicitor to draw up a standard sale and purchase agreement (whilst explaining the aspects of it) and then they forward this on to the vendor’s solicitor (who explains the same to the vendor).

The transfer of ownership of a property has to be done by a solicitor anyway, so by selling privately, you are just skipping the real estate agent step.

My husband and I have bought two houses privately, and sold a house and a commercial building privately.  If we can do it, so can you!

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