Selling guide

Selling a house in NZ: a step by step guide

An overview of the standard property selling process in NZ.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to research your home’s value
  • Timing your sale
  • Choosing your agent
  • Deciding method of sale
  • Preparing your home for sale
  • Marketing the home
  • Accepting the offer and settlement

The experience of selling your house will vary every time you do it and it’s your biggest asset, so you need to get this right. Here’s an introduction or a refresher of the house selling process from start to finish, laying out all the key decisions you’ll need to make during this journey.

Selling a house in NZ: the steps

1. Research: deciding to sell

Chances are, by reading this article, you’re already in stage one of your home buying process – research. Good on you, this is an essential step, and rushing into a sale without proper preparation is rarely a good idea.

There are three questions you’re probably asking yourself above all others at this point:

  • How much is my home worth?
  • When is the best time to sell my house in NZ?
  • How do I choose a real estate agent to help with the sale?

We’ll get to that third question further down, but there are two key things you can do to get on top of numbers one and two:

  • Use property insights on this free interface allows you to easily track a property (including your own) to get estimates on how its market value changes over time. By tracking your home, you’ll receive monthly emails on how its value is changing.
  • Keep on top of property news: the real estate markets are constantly evolving and responding to changes in the broader economy. We highly recommend keeping your finger on the pulse throughout the selling process by following our online property news.
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Research is a key and ongoing part of a successful sale.

2. Choosing the right agent for you

Now, you don’t have to use a real estate agent when selling your home. A small percentage of vendors choose to sell privately. At Trade Me Property, typically private sellers make up around 3% to 5% of our Residential for Sale listings.

For the majority, however, who want the reassurance of a professional agent, the million dollar question is what to look for when choosing a real estate agent. In New Zealand, you’re not short on options when it comes to finding a great selling partner – so how do you pick the right one?

There are a few things you can do to narrow your search:

  • Ask the right questions: in your first meeting, you need to get a handle on their track record. Don’t be afraid to quiz them on this, and concentrate on their recent rate of success in your area.
  • Talk to their clients: and ask for permission to speak to past vendors, as well as homeowners they’re currently working with. This can be a good way to find out how responsive and hands-on the agent is.
  • Talk about your property: ask for their first thoughts on how they’d go about marketing your home from what they’ve seen so far.

Good agent interview questions include:

  • How successfully have you sold in the last six months?
  • Have you sold any homes in my area recently?
  • What have been the average days on market for your listings recently?
  • How well do they know my neighbourhood and how would you describe it to buyers?
  • How many markets do you cover?
  • You have provided local market reports, how are they relevant for my home?
  • How would you describe my home to buyers? What are its best features?
  • How do you use technology as part of your sales toolkit?

It’s worth taking your time to pick the right real estate agent – they don’t have to be your best friend, but they’ll be an integral part of your journey, so it’s good to have an amicable relationship with them at least. If you’re starting from scratch, try our free Find an Agent tool, where you can search our directory by entering a location and/or agency name. Your real estate agent will help:

  • Lead the drive to advertise and market your home.
  • Help you list and show off your property in the best light.
  • Negotiate with interested buyers.

Your agent will be an integral part of your selling journey, so you need to find the right person.

3. Deciding how you want to sell and setting a price

There are several different options for how to sell a property in NZ which your agent will take you through. Among the most common are:

  • Selling by advertised price
  • Selling by deadline sale
  • Selling by negotiation
  • Selling by auction
  • Selling by tender

Talk with your agent about which is the right approach for your property. You may have a preference in mind, but it’s worth listening to their expertise and considering the alternatives. Setting a price is something your agent will play a major role in too.

4. Finding a lawyer

Solicitors, also known as conveyancing lawyers, play several key roles when selling a home including:

  • Communicating with the buyer’s lawyer about deposit payments.
  • Ensuring any conditions of sale are met.
  • Completing the settlement of your property, and handing keys over to the buyer.

5. Getting your home ready to sell

With your agent’s help, it’s time to think about how to get your house ready for the market. Your to-do list will include:

  • Doing any necessary work: if parts of your house need a little TLC, now’s the time. This could be big changes (like a kitchen reno) down to small fixes like finally repairing that stiff window latch. Top tip: if you’re making large upgrades, make sure you’ll recoup the costs in your sale.
  • Declutter: You’ll want to ensure prospective buyers can see themselves in your space. To help with this visualisation, your agent will advise moving some of your belongings into temporary storage when buyers come for viewings.
  • Clean: you’ll want your surfaces shining and your corners dust free. You can either do this, but this will be a deep clean so get some professional cleaners in to get things really sparkling.

You need to get your home looking spick and span in preparation for viewings.

6. Marketing your property

With your property looking its best, it’s time to start shouting about it. Your agent should be leading the charge here, but you need to educate yourself on the different options for advertising:

  • Open homes: there’s an art to preparing for an open home. This is a key forum for gauging buyer opinion on your home, and knowing if you need to make any changes to your overall approach.
  • Digital advertising: your home needs to have a strong digital presence to alert buyers that it’s on the market. Integral to this is staging your home and taking high quality real estate photos.
  • Traditional advertising: despite living in a digital age, flyers and leaflets are still a solid option for marketing a property in NZ.

7. Accepting an offer

In Aotearoa, all written offers have to be presented to the seller, but your real estate agent will help you weigh up the different offers you receive. They can negotiate with buyers to try and get the best price possible for you.

Even when you accept an offer, there are several things that need to happen before the sale is complete:

  • Sign the sale and purchase agreement: this is legally binding, meaning it’s usually hard (and expensive) to change your mind.
  • Meet any conditions: if the buyer put in a conditional offer, these conditions need to be met by the agreed deadline.
  • Buyer pays deposit: this sum will be held in a trust account until the settlement is complete.

8. Settlement day

This is when the balance for the property is paid, and usually (but not always) when the keys are handed over. At this point, your house is sold - congrats!