Know your options before you list your apartment for sale.

Know your options before you list your apartment for sale.

The most common method of sale in WA is what is known as ‘private treaty’ — simply, you set a price with your agent, then negotiate on that price with a buyer. But there are other, less common options for you as well.

Auctions are big elsewhere in Australia, though not as popular in WA.

As of August 2015, 40% of residential properties in NSW and a third of Sydney units are sold by auction, peaking above 95% in some suburbs.
In Perth, just 3% of properties — and one per cent of units — are sold at auction, with most of those at the upper end or with some unique qualities that might make them attractive enough for buyers to compete.

REIWA research published in December 2014 found that going to auction could cut the time residential properties were on the market, with auctioned homes selling an average 26 days faster.
A third option is going to tender, with a set date sale, end date sale or expressions of interest. In these cases, you would usually not disclose a price (though might provide a guide) and would-be buyers put in a formal written offer.

What about fees?

When choosing a real estate agent you want the one who is going to work hardest to get you the best possible price in the timeframe you have set for sale.

Choosing an agent based on fees alone is unwise. An agent charging high initial fees might work harder than one charging less, but there are no guarantees. Some agents will incorporate marketing costs into their fees. Others have low flat fees but focus on a quick sale even if it is at a lower price.

In WA, most agents charge 2-3.5% commission on sales; more if there marketing is included. But you can negotiate the rates and you might consider scaling commissions, paying more if they achieve a higher than expected price.

Before you settle on an agent here are our tips:

1. Check recent sales: Find out what they have sold recently, and for how much. How long did the properties sit on market? What discount was applied to get them to sell?
2. Talk face-to-face: If you were a buyer would you feel comfortable with their sales technique? Are they friendly? Knowledgeable? Across the detail?
3. Get several quotes: Always talk to three or more agents about the market, your unit and their plan for sales. This will help you compare before you list.

What price should I set?

The market price for your property can be affected by lots of different things — enthusiasm in the market for your particular unit, general buyer sentiment, the amount of competition, the quality of your agent, even the time of year you list.

To decide where to set your price, consider the local market first and look at the level of competition for similar properties, what they are listed for, as well as they price they achieve.
Your agent can help you do this or you can use free tools like the ‘views’ figure shown on real estate website listings. If 500 people have looked at an apartment similar to yours, that suggests a strong market. If it is just 15, you might be struggling to find buyers.

Next, think about price points. People searching online might set a maximum of $600,000 or $750,000. Putting your price above a $50,000 range might knock out buyers just below that level, so consider $599,000 and $749,000 instead.

Watch out for wildly inflated estimates. Just as some agents will try to get you to price your property from a very low base to get buyers in the door, others will try to flatter you into listing with them by telling you your apartment is worth more than you thought. Ignore both as one method will leave potential buyers frustrated and disappointed and the other could see your property languish on the market.

Lastly consider being the nicest apartment in your range: some agents recommend that rather than bump up to the next bracket, you position yourself as the nicest apartment in a lower one. That way, your unit looks better than anything else on the market, which helps drive interest and, potentially, your final sales price.