What’s My House Worth?

4 Questions You Must Ask at an Open Home

Q: We’ve been doing the rounds of open  homes recently. While some agents are really  helpful, many are not. What are the most  important questions we should ask when we  find a property we are interested in?

John & Becky L.

A: The open home is the best time to qualify  a property in or out of your search. Take the

opportunity to ask the agent questions face-to-  face rather than via email or phone. If it’s busy  then either come back another time or stick  around so you can speak directly to the agent  after the open.

Remember, the agent is not allowed to lie, but  many are pretty good at avoiding giving you a  direct answer! Here are four initial questions  (we’re assuming sales by auction here), to make  sure you are as informed as possible.

Why are the owners selling? It’s great to know  the seller’s motivation. If the owners have already  bought, or are moving into a retirement village for  example, then you know they are serious and the  property will very likely be sold.

How long has it been on the market? If a property has been on the market for a long period of time it is most likely due to an unrealistic price expectation,  so a good guide to owners price expectation. But don’t let that stop you making an offer!

What is the seller’s price expectation? You can certainly ask this but most agents will not give you a straight answer. We do our best to be honest and we often have the same list of sold properties that we have supplied to the seller at appraisal time, available at the open homes. No one knows what a property will sell for at auction, but the agent should be able to provide you with some realistic and relevant information.

Has there been much interest in the home? This gives you an idea of the level of competition you are likely to encounter on auction day. Don’t be pu off if the open home is really busy. A busy open home does not necessarily mean a busy auction,  so make sure you ask the agent how much interest there is, and base your decision on that.

We don’t have the space here to go into all the detail, but feel free to contact us at with any questions.

What’s My House Worth?

Q: We are moving out of town and selling  our home of the past 9 years. It’s a little  shabby and could maybe do with a bit of  work. We have had two appraisals from  agents, but they both have given us a value  below what we need to sell it for, and below  what it’s worth. What should we do?

Try another agent or spend some money  tidying it up? Janice W.

A: Many people think that what they paid for  their home, or even what size mortgage they  have on it, makes it worth a certain price. You  may try another agent and that agent may well  give you a price that is close to your number,  but don’t be fooled: At the end of the day, it’s  only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it  and a reputable real estate agent should never  give you a price just to get the listing.

If your property needs “tidying up” then by  all means give it a tidy and a declutter but  don’t go down the renovation road because in most cases you only get back a percentage  of what you spend. Different improvements  offer different returns but in general these  improvements will make your home easier to  sell, but not necessarily increase the sale price.

Finally, remember that everything is negotiable.  Don’t focus just on the sale price – for example  you can perhaps negotiate the price using  some of the chattels that are not normally  included in the sale (maybe include the fridge  that fits perfectly in the kitchen – it may be  worth just $1,500 to you, but maybe more like $5,000 in convenience to the purchaser). The  settlement date can be used as a negotiation  too: Perhaps you can settle early to suit the  purchaser and  save a few thousand on your mortgage even though their offer is a  little below what you really want.

As above, at the end of the day your house  will be worth what a willing buyer is prepared  to pay, and that buyer will be found by a good  agent who reaches as many potential buyers  as possible via a good marketing plan.

Good luck with your sale.