Selling a House in Australia

june 17Some of you will recall that I wrote a couple of articles about buying a house in Australia for Australia and New Zealand magazine recently. The first one was called Househunting: Australia and the UK Compared and the follow-up titled Buying an Australian House; Housing Chain? What Housing Chain?

Of course, usually if you buy a house, and you already have a house, then you probably need to sell a house as well. Yes, that’s what we had to do, and I wrote about that for the magazine as well, it appeared in their June edition.

Selling a house in Australia

selling a house in AustraliaIn recent magazine articles I’ve talked a couple of times about the process of buying a house in Australia. At the time we were house hunting. As I explained back then, Australia does not do housing chains. So the decision is do you find a house to buy first and then put your own on the market? Or should you sell your own house first and then go shopping for your new home?

Both have risks, but we decided to find our new house first before selling ours. We didn’t like the idea of maybe not finding a suitable replacement home before the contract went through and then becoming homeless. Having to find a rental or temporary accommodation didn’t appeal either.

As luck would have it, when we did find a house we wanted to buy, the sellers were happy to sign an extended contract of 90 days. They needed the extra time to find their new house. We were happy with a longer contract because we needed to sell our old one. Additionally, we organised a bridging loan as a backup in case we didn’t sell in time.

So how did that work out for us?

Well, firstly, we had a bit of work to do to prepare our house for sale. Decluttering, decorating, cleaning and tidying, all in preparation for those open days. I mentioned open days in one of those previous articles; they are great fun when you’re visiting somebody else’s house to have a nose. When the ball is on the other foot though, they are a nightmare.

Every Saturday morning we would get up earlier than normal to spend an hour or so preparing the house; vacuuming, dusting and clearing all work surfaces and tables. The idea being to make the house appear as though it is fully functional without anything being on show that’s normally required to make that happen.

For example, the rubbish bin would need to be removed from the kitchen; rubbish bins do not sell houses. The shoe rack, conveniently located at the front door, would be expelled to the garage.

Every remote for every gadget needed to be tidied up and stored away. These items would be replaced by the real estate agent with such essentials as dried flowers, scented candles and a bowl of fresh fruit.

fruitThese things, apparently, do sell houses.

Our final task would be to grab the dog, scoop up the cat and remove ourselves from our own house. We’d then go and have a 40 minute cup of tea with a friend round the corner and wait for a text message from the realtor. ‘Sorry, no one came today, better luck next week.’

Fortunately for us, that only happened once, and we only had to have six open days in all. Our house sold after 52 days on the market, not bad considering that included the quiet Christmas and New Year periods.

Our contract completed on the sale just 10 days after we moved into our new house, so we didn’t have that scary bridging loan for too long. All in all, the process worked well for us. Much better than the laborious chain building we remember from buying and selling a house in the UK.

Australia seems to have the edge on this one.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Dale Reardon October 25, 2017, 11:02 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,

    Great articles but just to add to it. We have sold many houses and you can definitely have a small chain in Australia – it is done through making an offer subject to sale of your own house – a condition precedent in the contract. The vendor has to agree of course and they don’t like them as much but I have bought at least 2 houses that way.

    Also the vendor can then insert what is known, at least in Tasmania, as a 48 hour clauses, which means if the vendor receives another unconditional offer they can give you 48 hours to either confirm your deal and go unconditional or walk away.

    • BobinOz October 26, 2017, 6:32 pm | Link

      Hi Dale

      It’s been a while, hope you’re doing well.

      Thanks for mentioning this, I really didn’t know that it was possible to make a chain in this fashion, although I was aware that you could pretty much try and stipulate anything in a contract subject to sale. Now that you have mentioned it though, I vaguely remember one real estate agent mentioning this possibility to me.

      As you say though, most vendors do not like it but if they have nothing better on offer, then I suppose they would agree to it. With that 48-hour deal in Tasmania though, I suppose a vendor has nothing to lose.

      That’s another complication though is in it, each state and territory can have different rules when it comes to buying and selling, and even renting, it’s impossible to keep up.

      I suspect the best advice to anybody looking at either buying, renting or selling is they should really make sure they know what all the options are that are available.

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