Purple People Eaters

Disclaimer: These comments are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the current opinions and policies of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia.

When considering selling a property, about 1 per cent of all vendors choose to promote their property for sale themselves or with the limited assistance of other service providers such as Anreps, Buy My Place, For Sale By Owner, No agent Property, Go Private or –the latest of these players – Purple Bricks.

These groups are essentially running a web portal and offering limited advice and assistance to the seller during the process. Purple Bricks is a little different in that a real estate agent is involved offering constrained services for a small fee but it is, based on what I have seen, just like all the other services already available such as those listed above.

These are “pseudo agents”, businesses that purport to “save you $1,000’s in agent commissions,” by offering tacit support in how to handle contracts and put up a sign. These groups underestimate the true value of a professional experienced agent and are, in my opinion, a waste of time and money.

Apart from the obvious difficulties private sellers experience in accessing effective marketing media, the value of employing an agent is the “arm’s length” benefits. Private sellers cannot understand why after many weeks of home opens everyone tells them their home is lovely, but no one has offered to buy it. Buyers are normally too polite to tell the seller what they really think; that the property is over-priced, is too small, too cluttered, etc but they happily tell the agent their raw opinions on value.

Most private sellers lack sufficient knowledge of contractual procedure, an understanding of the Strata Titles Act for example, planning and heritage issues and matters concerning compliance and disclosure. And very few private sellers have an intimate knowledge of the Joint Form of General Conditions for the Sale of Land, the 23 page legal document that forms part of the sale contract.

Arguably the most important reason to use a REIWA agent when selling is the transfer of much of the risk from the principal (the seller) to the agent. In the rare instance something goes awry with the sale, the seller is entitled to look to their agent for guidance and, if appropriate, apportion blame if the agent has acted improperly.

Professional REIWA agents can make the task of selling property look relatively easy; I assure you it is not and the risks of selling privately far outweigh any vague possibility of saving the selling fee.

by Hayden Groves
REIWA President
REIA Deputy President

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