The pitfalls of selling a house – and how to avoid them

Australia’s current financial and property climate has made renting or buying property no easy task. But the mainstream media’s focus on the plight of buyers doesn’t necessarily mean selling is a breeze.

The pitfalls of selling property can be myriad, and some of those are particularly relevant to older sellers. Identifying and avoiding those pitfalls will give you a much better chance of a successful sale with satisfying results.

And the earlier you do so, the more likely you’ll come away from the process feeling content.

Perhaps one of the best things to do is to think about why you are selling. What is your ultimate aim? Is it time to downsize? Are you looking for a sea change?

If you no longer need a house as big as yours, then your motives for selling are obvious. If your reason for selling is a change of scenery, it may be worth taking some time to consider your options.

A couple I know well decided a sea change would be just the thing for them. The kids had moved out and an island property off the coast of northern Australia looked perfect.

They sold their house, pulled up stumps and set off on their new life venture. They were back within six months.

Was that such a bad thing? Nothing ventured, nothing gained after all. That’s true, but, in hindsight, the couple admitted to wishing they’d investigated where they’d bought more thoroughly.

Had they done so, they may not have made the move. The other thing they did not consider was what they would do if their island home dream didn’t work out.

That’s not to say they should not have sold, just that they might have considered their options further before doing so.

What are some of the other pitfalls of selling?

Once you’ve decided selling is the right thing for you, choosing a suitable real estate agent can be critical.

If time allows, chat to a few agents in your area to see which one feels right for you. A recommendation from a friend or near neighbour who has sold is a good idea, too.

A good agent will also give you some guidance on how best to present your house for sale. Having sold three properties over several decades, I’ve found that experienced real estate agents generally know best in this area.

Decluttering, painting and cleaning can make a huge difference. First impressions are lasting, they say, and that certainly seems to hold true for house buyers. Your agent might even recommend hiring furniture to add a further element of attractiveness to your house.

Anything else?

One of the great pitfalls of selling is ignoring all the ‘boring’ stuff. Things like how long your marketing campaign should be if you are selling by auction, setting a price and the length of your settlement period.

Again, a good agent will guide you on those decisions, although the settlement date may be determined by your next house’s settlement date.

And then there’s all that pesky paperwork. It might seem a chore but not dotting all those i’s and crossing all those t’s can lead to big headaches later. Finding a good conveyancer will minimise the risk of those headaches.

Finally, let’s not forget the financial implications. A registered financial planner can take you through the potential monetary pitfalls of selling.

Considering all possible scenarios, and how you’ll deal with them, before beginning the selling process could make a huge difference.

If you plan before you sell, things are more likely turn out well!

Are you considering selling? Or have you recently sold and downsized? What lessons have you learnt? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Downsizing simplified: make downsizing a positive and fulfilling experience

Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.
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