Cost vs Value – how trying to save on fees is likely to cost more!

I get it… I do. The temptation to sell one’s own property must be very compelling – especially when trading up or getting out from under too much debt, the need to save every penny and all. But here’s why selling your own property is going to cost you far more than you planned….

I had the pleasure of meeting a family last year who were selling their own home not far from where I lived. I popped in to one of their home opens (as I invariably do in my neighbourhood) intrigued by not only the lovely property, but by the process they were using to sell it.
The place was GORGEOUS. Fitted out to the highest spec, tasteful, colour schemes to appeal to all, and spotless like no-one even lived there. Let me also say, you would be hard pressed to meet a nicer couple. She is a qualified legal practitioner, he is a Doctor, they are huge community and church contributors, approachable, witty and downright bloody nice folk.

So why, after quite a number of weeks on the market, was the property still for sale? The market was tight in the area, low stock levels, very high buyer demand, and it was a quality property that was competitively priced.

After a few conversations with this couple, it became apparent that they weren’t getting many numbers through their home opens, despite getting the ‘hits’ online. And when they did get people through, they weren’t able to elicit much in the way of feedback or returned phone calls.

Long story short, I had now developed a relationship with this couple and as they reached a point of frustration, engaged me to list the property professionally. We ran a 4-week offers campaign (using the photos they had already) with a comprehensive marketing plan, including a premium online package and local mail drop. We had more through in the first home open than they’d had through in the 5 weeks duration of selling it themselves, and sold it for a great price within the new campaign timeframe. But why?

My colleague Jane (@janeduffieldproperty) had a similar situation recently. She approached someone who was (unsuccessfully) selling her own property and made some suggestions. After 212 days on the market already (one underwhelming offer that she was now regretting declining), the vendor loved her ideas and engaged her professionally to sell her home. Jane arranged a fresh marketing approach including updated photos and correspondence, and went on to achieve a price for her vendor that was $130k higher than the initial declined offer after only one home open! Delighted doesn’t even begin to describe the sentiment. But why couldn’t the vendor reach this outcome herself?

It may seem harsh, but here are some observations:

  1. Buyers seem to be inherently mistrustful of someone (who is not a real estate agent) selling their own property. They feel there could be something to hide. Is this the market price for the property? And what don’t these owners want us to see or know that they may be obliged to tell an agent and in turn, us as buyers?
  2. It can be construed by buyers than when someone is selling their own home that they are doing it to save costs (avoiding the agent commission), or that they really NEED to sell. This generally encourages ‘low ball’ offers from non-serious buyers who intend to capitalise on any time frame pressures or financial misfortune;
  3. It can be difficult for owners to confidently extol the virtues of their own home, lest they come across as arrogant or worse, someone disagrees with them. As a result, homeowners downplay or neglect some amazing traits of their property that aren’t always obvious and buyers really do want to hear about.
  4. Buyers seem very reluctant to provide feedback to someone on their pride and joy, the awkwardness of potentially offending the seller directly being a little too much to deal with, so they offer nothing instead by way of feedback.

It’s interesting. And human nature after all, but it’s not a risk that’s worth taking if you genuinely want to sell your property.


  1. Save your time and wasted effort by engaging an agent from the outset that is not only trusted by you, but also by the buyers (a ready database of investors, strong company and team ethos and great market knowledge is a good sign!);
  2. Share your story with your trusted agent about why you love the property so much, what amazing experiences you’ve had there and why the location is so fantastic – then leave it to them shout it from the rooftops (and let them read any objections/negative feedback as buying signals which can become great points of negotiation);
  3. Leverage the marketing, connections, economies of scale and corporate reach that a professional agency has – get involved in your marketing plan, listen to the advice, and embrace these steps knowing that they’re for the benefit of a swift and prosperous sale. No-one has control over what has sold in your area or what is on the market, but a good agent is capable of driving a level of ‘competition’ for your property that will achieve you the premium price;
  4. Trust that if you’ve picked your agent well, you’re going to have a smooth, stress-free and dare I say it, pleasant selling experience. You may even make some long-term friends in the process…. just like my clients did 😊



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