Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions I receive from people looking to buy or sell their home.

Can the level of investment we commit to our marketing actually influence the price our house may sell for?

Short answer – Yes.

I encourage my clients to consider the funds that they commit to their marketing campaign as an investment, rather than a cost. The amount a client invests can dramatically impact their level of return. In a market the size of Auckland, with such a high activity level, mediocre advertising just gets lost in the crowd. To make your property stand out from the rest and compel buyers to want to view your home, the marketing simply must be of a high quality. As with anything in life, quality has a price tag attached to it. A bold and effective campaign can attract more buyers, creating greater competition, which leads to premium results.

I am not in the business of selling advertising, I sell homes. In saying that, I have a strong understanding of all the marketing options, both traditional & digital, and how they can maximise the chance of a premium result for my clients.

Related blog: How digital marketing can help achieve a better result when selling your home

Do we have to pay any money up front to get our house on the market?
  • The commission – this is only payable after a real estate company delivers an unconditional sale that is at a level (price) acceptable to you. So, in terms of commission, it is actually a success fee, and is only applicable once your home is sold. Your agent (and agency) is effectively working for free until an acceptable selling transaction is concluded.
  • Marketing funds – Your investment in some marketing funds is needed before a marketing campaign can be started. This is because a lot of the elements of the campaign (advertising bookings, photography, videography, brochure production etc.) have to be paid for by the agency up front.

Barfoot & Thompson make no money from marketing. We are in the business of selling homes, not selling advertising. Every cent you invest will be used to maximise the exposure of your home.

How much money should we invest in our marketing campaign?

There is no set amount of funds, or pre-set campaign package that I propose when commencing a new marketing plan. Every campaign starts with a blank template, from which I add all the elements in consultation with my clients. There are so many options available, I don’t try to pre-empt what my clients may want to select. Using this collaborative approach has been extremely successful for my business, as it enables my client’s inclusion in their campaign design, whilst still ensuring I have professional input into an effective marketing plan.

Please view your marketing funds as an investment, rather than simply as a cost. You only get one chance to market your home well, and you need your home to stand out from the crowd. The investment you make into a strong marketing package creates the potential to enhance your sale result hugely through increased buyer competition.

How much notice do we need to give to an agent before we might want to commence marketing our home for sale?

Generally the most time consuming part of preparing for the commencement of marketing, is completing the property presentation. Property preparation may include such tasks as de-cluttering, maintenance/repairs, cleaning, redecorating, yard maintenance, or rubbish removal. This can vary hugely from one property to another, depending on how much the owners want to achieve before they start their campaign. Once the property is prepared, I only need a couple of weeks to book all the marketing services (such as photography and videography), and design the marketing elements before your home can ‘go live’ on the market. Obviously, the sooner you get your agent involved in the planning, the easier it is for him/her to avoid delays by booking everything well in advance.

How should we prepare our property for marketing? What are buyers looking for?

I am a firm believer that you only get one chance at a first impression. I know you can easily lose a potential buyer before they have even stepped onto the property.

Anything you can do to prepare your home to look at its best can only benefit your sales process. The dilemma for some owners is that they may have been in their current home for so long, they just don’t really know where to start and what to do. Your agent should be an expert in marketing and property preparation. Seek their advice, and formulate a plan on how to move your home from ordinary to compelling.

For more advice, check out my blog post – 8 simple tips to prepare your home for sale and maximise your result.

Should we sell before we buy?

This is probably one of the most frequent questions I get asked, and one with no absolute right or wrong answer. There are actually pros and cons to the either selling first, or securing your next home – then selling your current one. Each person’s circumstances changes this consideration, and must be taken into account. In general though, this is the way I advise ‘most’ people to proceed.

I believe that in the current market conditions the prudent strategy is to secure the sale of your home before you purchase your next. Why?

  • This is the only way you can actually know what your purchasing budget is. Regardless of what appraisal/valuation advice you have had on your current home, nothing is proven until you actually sell. You may risk over committing with your purchase if your sale doesn’t produce the result you had hoped for. Alternatively, you may dismiss a home you love, thinking it is out of your price range, only to find that after you sell you actually could have afforded it!
  • Such a high percentage of property is being offered for sale by auction in today’s market conditions. Anyone purchasing at auction, does so unconditionally. This requires the availability of funds for deposit and settlement on short notice. This usually requires the sale of the existing home in most cases.
  • Even for homes being offered for sale ‘By Negotiation’ or at a set price, the unconditional buyer is in a far stronger position to purchase, and will have a much higher chance of success over conditional buyers.

This question actually deserves far greater discussion. I welcome you to contact me to fully explore all of the options around the sequence of buying and selling.

Should we sell by auction, set price, or use another method?

There is no absolute black or white answer to this one. All methods of sale should be considered before you make the decision on the best option. Your agent should explain the pros and cons of the various alternatives before you commence your marketing. The prevailing conditions in the Auckland market are leading a high percentage of sellers to elect auction as their preferred sale method at present. Restricted supply, coupled with high demand and cheap mortgage finance, are all key ingredients for strong auction results.

Related blog post: The benefits of selling your home via auction

There seems to be so many agents working in our area, but we don’t know any of them. How should we select one? Is there anything that makes one agent better than the others?

The agent you select is a critically important decision that can affect the entire sales experience (and outcome). I can see how, from the outside looking in, all agents must appear to do pretty much the same things, and offer the same service. In reality, there are some very significant differences between the way we work, and the service we offer. But how can you assess those points of difference? Here are a few things I would research if I were trying to decide on an agent to work with:

  • Firstly, and very importantly, what company does he/she work for? Once again, I accept that most people must think all agencies are fundamentally the same. There are such significant differences between the way Barfoot & Thompson works for you, when compared to a franchised company or small boutique operator. It is essential you get this information first.
  • Visit local open homes being hosted by various agents and get a first-hand impression. How professional/welcoming/helpful were they?
  • Speak to past clients –  An agent should be able to provide you with the contact information for a list of past clients happy to speak to you about their experience.
  • Online research – Company profile information, social media business profiles, or a web site such as the one you are on now, can all provide a wealth of background information. It is amazing in our modern society how a simple Google search can produce a selection of valuable information sources.
  • Request a meeting with an agent/agents that seem to be demonstrating the qualities you are looking for. Even before you are ready to sell, why not request a face to face meeting and have a chat about the potential for working together in the future? Ask them what it is that they offer that should compel you to choose them over the competition. There is no obligation to commit, and this may give you the firsthand information you need to provide the confidence to take the next step.
We are considering selling our home. Should we wait until after winter and list in the spring season?

People often delay marketing their home because they feel it will present better when the weather improves.

Although I can understand this reasoning, not listing in winter has a down side as a lot of home owners are thinking the same thing. We often notice a flood of new listings all hitting the market at around the same time in September – October. This increases supply, and gives buyers greater choice. Ideally you want buyers looking to move to your area to be drawn to your home, and not have a huge selection of other property to consider. This is an example of how the classic supply and demand principle can work for you. In my experience, winter listings can achieve premium prices due to the relative lack of available listings on the market during the winter months.

For more advice, check out my blog post – When is the best time of year to sell your home?

We are considering selling privately to ‘save the commission’. Surely this is worth a go when the market is hot?

Have you ever noticed how professionals in their field, whether it be a performer, painter, or cake decorator, make what they do look easy? Real estate is no different. What looks straight forward, can end up being a real nightmare for the inexperienced. Your professional agent can handle every aspect of selling your home, dramatically reducing the stresses involved with such a major undertaking. The other harsh reality is that buyers considering a private sale property always factor in that the seller isn’t paying a commission, and tend to reduce their offer accordingly. So in the end, it’s often the buyer that benefits, not you. Why would you want to take on the burden of marketing, buyer management and contract negotiations for your home, with no tangible benefit? The final piece to this answer is that a professional agency such as Barfoot & Thompson can deliver more buyer competition through our huge agent network than a private seller could possibly hope to achieve. This can deliver a higher return (even after commission) than a private sale.

More buyers = more competition = premium result for you. Simple.

We have a boutique operator in our area marketing themselves on a platform of ‘saving us thousands’ through reduced commissions. Why wouldn’t we go with them, rather than Barfoot & Thompson?

The obvious inference with small companies such as these (although often not actually stated) is that they can, for a reduced fee, deliver the same level of service and sales results as a major company such as Barfoot & Thompson. I am sure that you will agree that whenever considering options for providers of any service you require, it is important to know that you are comparing “apples with apples”.

One of life’s lessons that has stuck with me over the years is that, as a rule, “You almost always get what you pay for!”. Please make sure you investigate what service is actually being offered for the reduced fee, and compare it to what you would experience with Barfoot & Thompson.

The really big question is – Do you want a premium result, or discount service? The ‘perceived savings’ you believe you are making dealing with a discount agent are often quickly lost by a poor sales result. It’s the money that you take away at the end of the process that counts – not the commission level. Unfortunately, the reality is that when owners list with one of these ‘boutique discount agents’ they don’t know how much money they may have in fact lost, as they never see the result they could have achieved by working with Auckland’s leading real estate company.

We have noticed that all of the mainstream real estate agencies have sold property in our area. Why should we select Barfoot and Thompson?

I can see how all the ‘big name agencies’ must look the same to a home owner considering selling. The reasons I selected Barfoot & Thompson to build my business with were many, but here is one that really counts for you. We are the only non-franchised large real estate company there is. No franchise boundaries. No exclusive sales areas. Just one huge network of family owned branches working with no restrictions to help buyers and sellers right across Auckland. We are the only large real estate company operating under this business model. The results speak for themselves. More Auckland home owners choose to work with us in the sale of their home than any other company. Barfoot & Thompson has been doing it this way for over 90 years, and aims to continue to be the industry benchmark for many, many more.

What does the term ‘Digital Marketing’ actually mean?

The world is moving into a new era of digital technology at an ever increasing rate. The real estate sector is not immune to this trend. Although internet advertising has been with us for quite some time now, it is the way we are utilising the web that has changed a lot in recent times.

Traditional real estate advertising on the internet basically consists of nice photography and some text. This still has relevance, but now needs to be improved with newer ‘rich media content’ such as interactive floor plans and HD property video tours. Social media can also be utilised to maximise the exposure of your home. With the increase of portable devices these days, if you are not marketing your home in a modern, easily accessible and engaging manner, you may be missing a huge opportunity to connect with today’s web based property searchers.

Related blog: How digital marketing can help achieve a better result when selling your home

What if we see a house we like before we have sold?

If you find a house you would like to buy, but you haven’t sold your current home yet, there are only a few options available.

  • If the home you have found is being marketed by a means other than auction, you may make an offer to purchase the home, which is conditional on the sale of your current home. You can include the sale price you must achieve for your home and when this must be achieved by in your conditional clause.
  • You can secure bridging finance to enable you to secure the new home, while you market and sell your current home. I recommend that you seek the services of a financial/mortgage adviser for guidance in this area, as this type of financing is generally very expensive to service.
  • You may choose to keep your existing home and purchase the home you have found. Depending on the level of equity you hold in your current property, this may be an opportunity to build financial security for your senior years. Once again, seek the professional advice of your accountant, or other trusted advisers.