Checklist: Preparing to sell your home checklist

Written and accurate as at: 5 August 2014

Unfortunately, selling a property isn’t as simple as putting up a “for sale” sign and waiting for the buyers to come to you. There are many steps involved in selling a property successfully. You can use our checklist to help you understand the process and prepare for a successful sale.

Do your research
It’s important that you understand what the property market is doing in order to understand what is best for your particular situation. If you are selling in a “high” market and looking to buy then you can most likely expect to buy “high”. Conversely, selling in a “low” market may give you an opportunity to buy “low”. 

Timing is important in any market and it can sometimes be better to wait to sell before committing to a new purchase.

Choose an agent
Choosing an agent is an important step towards a successful sale of your property. With the abundant services on the internet there are some people selling their home themselves, with no agent. The real estate agent will be doing the hard work in selling your property. They will be listing the property, marketing, and holding open homes, negotiating the sale and taking care of the legal aspects. A good rapport is essential when it comes to finding the right real estate agent.

As a starting point it’s worth asking family, friends, and neighbours who have recently sold property for a referral or recommendations.  Websites like and can provide insight into which agents are doing well in your local area. You can find this information by visiting the “sold properties” or “sold prices” tabs on their websites.

When researching agents in your locality, you might want to ask them questions to gauge:

  • Their experience and how long they’ve been in business (the types of properties and location that they have experience in selling as well as the average length of time that homes listed with them are on the market for). Don’t be afraid to ask for references from previous clients.
  • How many clients they are currently representing. Using popular agents can be great, but if they’re serving too many clients your property may not get the attention or priority it deserves.
  • How they will keep you updated (frequency and form of communication and updates you will receive in terms of buyer interest and open house feedback).
  • What their marketing strategy will be (including whether you will have road signage, open homes, or advertisements in local papers, online or as direct mail campaigns). You may wish to check the photography and advertisements used by the agent for other homes to make sure you are happy with how they are displayed and advertised. Be sure you know what level of marketing you are signing up for, before you agree to list with them.
  • How they recommend you sell the property. You may wish to offer the property at a fixed price, on an offers over basis or alternatively you may opt to go to auction. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages and will depend on your preference, the value and property location, and agent’s experience.
  • How much they charge. Most fees are negotiable. Agents typically charge a percentage of the sale price, however fixed fee commission arrangements are becoming more popular. An agent who charges commission to sell your property may have a different approach to one that charges a fixed success fee.  Take the time to understand the different options available to you and what the average fee is for the area. Going for the cheapest commission structure may not necessarily be the best solution for you.

Determine your Selling Price and Set Expectations

It can pay to have the property evaluated by a property expert who will assess the location, size, age and property inclusions in order to determine an approximate value for listing.

Your agent should advise you on the current market trends and indications of property values in the area to help you come up with a reasonable listing price. You need to understand how much you need and how much you want from the property sale. These two figures may not be the same amount, but separating the two can help you when it comes time to negotiating offers and being realistic about the sale.

You can use our Property Selling Costs Calculator to gain an estimate of the cost to sell your property including agent fees, lenders fees and exit cost and other costs such as removalist costs.

If the property is an investment property, you may need to consider Capital Gains Tax implications on the sale of the property. If unsure, you should seek professional advice.

Sign the Contract with your Agent
Listing with an agent is a legally binding contract. The contract will detail the commissions or fee structure, the estimated and agreed sale price, length of the agreement, marketing inclusions and advertising costs, as well as the auction process and other terms. Before signing with an agent, carefully check the terms of appointment and any cancellation fees or other transaction fees that may be involved in selling your home.

At this time, a contract of sale and a vendor’s statement (referred to as other names depending on what State you live in) is prepared by your conveyancer or solicitor. You may also choose to use your real estate agent’s conveyancer or solicitor to draft these documents. The information in these documents includes information taken from the property title, road, and land tax searches as well as encumbrances. The purpose is to fully disclose all relevant information to the buyer before they sign a final contract.

Advertising the Property
Good photography is an important element of the successful advertisement of your property. Details on your property may appear online, in newspapers or on a billboard and the quality of the photos may affect the level of interest in the property.

These days an online presence is vital with research showing that 87% of people search for properties to buy on the internet. 1

The presentation of the property is crucial for first impression for interested buyers. You may have to de-clutter the home for photos and open houses or even rent some more modern furniture. It is probably time to fix all of the little things you were going to always fix.

Sale & Negotiation
Prospective buyers may attend scheduled open homes. An agent is required to present all offers made by potential buyers to you. When an offer is presented, your agent is responsible for the negotiation between you and the buyers.

If you accept an offer, or your property is sold at Auction, your Solicitor or Conveyancer will prepare the final contract, which both parties will need to sign. The buyer will also be required to pay a deposit on the property.

Under contract
Prior to settlement, the details of the sale (including all legal and financial requirements) will be checked by the lawyers and banks for both parties. During this time your property is “under contract”.

Settlement Day
On settlement day, the legal rights (and keys) to your property are exchanged with the buyer for the balance of payment owned. Once the transaction has taken place, your home is officially sold.

1 Statistic from Residential Consumer Property Seeker Report, October 2011