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Selling your home on Trade Me

Record Prices Paid for NZ Homes!

Well, that’s what the headlines say. Yet too many homes are simply sitting there, unsold. Something’s not right.

So we thought we’d share some advice on how to sell your home through Trade Me.

We refer you first to the Second Edition of TRADE ME SUCCESS SECRETS, where Chapter 13 (“Location, Location, Creation”), devoted to the topic of selling on Trade Me, takes you through 21 Steps to get your property up and running on Trade Me. We’ll share some of the key points from that chapter shortly, but first some homework for you to do before you even consider how your real estate gem should be listed on Trade Me Property:

1. Profile the best buyers
To whom would your home most appeal? Be realistic – is it ideal for a couple with a young family, hopeful first home buyers, elderly citizens, empty nest baby boomers, swinging singles? This is a vital first step — once you identify the very best prospects for your mansion, you can focus all your attention on the attributes that would appeal to such prospects — eg schools & parks for young families, indoor/outdoor one-level living for the seniors, easy motorway access for business couples, and so on. In this market, one size definitely doesn’t fit all.

2. Know your competitors – in the neighbourhood
Get yourself to as many Open Homes as possible in your neighbourhood, and see what sorts of houses you’re competing against. Listen to the chatter of other visitors to understand what they’re looking for — just resist the opportunity to invite those visitors to come and see your own home (“much nicer than this one”), or you’ll blow your cover and get yourself kicked out by a disgruntled agent or home-seller!

3. Know your competitors – online
Use Trade Me’s Advanced Property Search to:

(a) Identify properties in your Region/District/Suburb

(b) refine your search by numbers of bedrooms and/or bathrooms and/or price

(c) refine further by type of dwelling

and then (d) make it easy on yourself by setting up an automated alert to catch new competing houses coming onto the market

4. Agent or DIY?
Should you use an agent or sell your home yourself? That’s for you to decide. Just understand that, whether you use an agent or attempt to sell your home yourself, in either case you’ll need to put in a massive amount of effort yourself to get your house sold in a timely manner — you’re the one with everything at stake.

5. Finding the right agent
If you do decide to use an agent, how can you find the perfect agent? The best way is to get recommendations from friends whose judgement you trust. Ask your friends directly or just put the word out on Facebook (but watch out for sneaky suggestions from friends of friends of friends who you don’t know — they might turn out to be real estate agents themselves).

So what should you look for in an agent? Our thoughts:

  • experience of the current market
  • knowledge of the local area
  • recent references (and please, do check them out with a phone call)
  • honesty
  • a good communicator
  • and someone who can give you a detailed plan showing how they aim to promote and sell your house effectively.

6. Finding the flaws
We’ll assume you’ve found the ideal agent (such optimism!). Ask them to evaluate the condition of your home — and to be brutally honest. How does it look compared to other homes they’ve sold successfully? Is it in a good enough condition to sell? What needs to be painted, repaired, replaced? Also ask informed friends to give their opinion. Then fix what you can. Buyers can afford to be much fussier these days, either demanding large discounts for smallish faults or simply walking away entirely.

7. Checking Out Common Structural Problems
In this world of leaky buildings, we can’t afford to overlook structural maintenance. The Building Research Association of New Zealand identified these common maintenance problems:


  • unrestrained hot water cylinders and header tanks
  • header tanks venting from bathrooms and kitchens into roof spaces
  • defects in the ventilation of kitchens and bathrooms


  • inadequate ceiling insulation
  • inadequate subfloor ventilation (or blocked existing vents)
  • Inadequate clearance from the ground level to wall cladding
  • missing or corroding subfloor fasteners
  • poor maintenance and deterioration of timber windows
  • deterioration of wall and roof claddings
  • inadequate bracing
  • high moisture levels
  • borer and decay in subfloor timbers

Fix first and avoid litigation later. And keep the receipts — proof of timely maintenance is a great selling point (and it just might make prospective purchasers think twice about your competitors’ homes if they don’t have good maintenance records).

8. Make It Special
Your home needs to stand out from the crowd — to look so special that buyers are quickly won over. If you can, hire an hour or two of an interior decorator’s time and ask them to look over the inside of the house and (based on their years of experience) suggest ways to make the house as desirable as possible (for a small outlay). In a similar arrangement, invite an architect to give his/her point of view on the exterior. A few hundred dollars or so spent wisely just might add thousands to the final sale price.

9. Make your home sparkle
Buyers mostly lack imagination (with apologies to those who don’t). And they often can’t see past surface problems like untidy backyards, dark corners or small fixit jobs. Solve the problem for them, with a bit of elbow grease and (perhaps) a few dollars spent wisely.

10. Get real on pricing
Ask your agent to do their homework on pricing, identifying recent sales in and around your area of comparable homes. Decide whether you can live with the results.

11. A gift with that purchase?
Prospective buyers walk into your Open Home and see a glorious large-screen TV. The agent, seeing their interest, gets right to the point: “the lucky buyer of this home also gets the TV”. Or a killer stereo system. Or the late-model car in the garage. Or power and water paid for six months. Gardening/pool/maid service for a year. Or a free trip to Fiji, once all the unpacking’s over. It’s a small additional cost to you (compared with the value of the home) but it’s amazing how the Wow! factor impacts on otherwise rational home buyers.

12. Brief the agent properly
Do all your homework on your house. Write up all the features and benefits of your home and run through it with your agent. Don’t forget to focus on the things that matter to your best prospects.

If you’ve appointed an agent, you’re probably tempted to leave it to him/her to list your details on Trade Me.

Don’t. They may be the world’s greatest real estate agent, but some of them are — how shall we put this — Trade-Me-challenged. Even if you get them to do most of the actual donkey work, guide them through the following steps (we’re assuming you/they know how to find the Property section on Trade Me):

13. The headline
Your first decision is the Listing Title (we call it the headline) – how to describe your pride and joy. We recommend that you leave the headline until last, after you’ve worked your way through the rest of the listing detail. Then you’ll be in a much better position to decide exactly what makes your property special so that you can flag those qualities in the headline.

14. Choose your location
Noting a location is simply a matter of selecting from the appropriate drop-down boxes. Simple — unless you live in an area that straddles two of the districts offered as choices by Trade Me. Though it’s tempting to simply nominate the more sought-after district, we recommend you do a search on Trade Me for homes listed in the two districts under consideration. Who will you be competing with in each district? Will you be the worst house in the best district? And (if there are similar homes listed) how does the pricing compare? Don’t decide where you live until you’ve done all your homework.

15. Details matter
The listing form asks for lots of detail — number of bedrooms & bathrooms, floor area, land area, rateable value, yadda yadda. Give as much information as you can– if prospective buyers can’t easily find out what they want, they’ll quickly skip to the next listing. Not only that, but — because most of us use the Search facility on Trade Me — if prospects search for a keyword such as “bath” or “study” and you have such amenities but haven’t included them in your listing, the search engine will simply pass you by.

16. Rateable Value
This is an optional field (but not for you). Potential purchasers assess the rateable value as a useful comparative (and objective) measure when considering the relative values of various properties. Add in the numbers.

17. How Much?
Trade Me asks you to choose an Expected Sale Price. This number determines whether your property will feature in the results when a searcher nominates a price range. Be realistic. Be very realistic. If your house doesn’t show up in the search results for those people who might be interested in your property (and could afford to buy it), you might as well be invisible.

18. The Description
Both the book and our new course go into this in far more detail than we could possibly hope to canvass here. Let’s just say that your job is to make potential buyers fall in love with your home. You don’t have to be a Mills & Boon author, but you do have to sell the sizzle.

19. Say Cheese
Pictures are so very important — for many prospective visitors, the Trade Me photos are their first (and perhaps only, if they don’t like what they see) view of your house. Trade Me Success Secrets (and our new course) deal to photographs, with hundreds of words about capturing your property at its best. Here, we’ll just say: tidy up around your house first, capture the main features of your home and above all show that it’s a warm and inviting place that many would love to own.

20. Promote, promote, promote
Once you’ve completed your listing, get the word out there. Our research tells us that people still look at their local Property Press and (to a lesser extent) the local paper, so get your listing details into those publications. Ensure that your agent gets the details into RealEstate.co.nz and their own agency website. And, of course, get your (enhanced) listing on Trade Me Property. Are you on Facebook? Tell your friends your home is on the market. Got a video tour of the house? Pop it up on YouTube.

21. Make your home incredibly inviting
It’s Open Home time. You should make yourself scarce during session times, but make the home as inviting as possible first.

22. Responding to those insulting low offers
You’ll get offers well below what you think your home is worth. Develop a thick skin. And then think creatively — are there ways to do a deal leaving money in or swapping some chattels or exploring other options? In this market, you need to Think Different.

Even if you follow all our advice, your home will still take time to sell. Patience, we’re told, is a virtue …

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