Selling your first home: getting started guide

By Johanna Seton

If you are about to sell a property in Australia for the first time you may be excited at the prospect, as well as a little nervous. The process of selling property is complex, and a level head is required.

However, with the right advice and guidance from your real estate agent, as well as some basic knowledge of how the market works, there is no reason why your first property sale has to be anything other than a complete success.

Choosing your real estate agent

Your real estate agent will value your home in accordance with prevailing market conditions in your local area, so it's vital that your choice is the right one.

You will need to compare the performance and customer reviews of several agents in your area in order to find someone with the necessary skills and experience – something our real estate agent comparison tool can help you with.

However, there are a number of factors to consider in your search for the most suitable agent in your area:

  • Local knowledge and an understanding of local market trends can be used to maximise the final sale price your property achieves
  • Shop around and do your research for the ideal local agent for your specific circumstances. Your real estate agent needs to have the right kind of experience, and there are big differences in agents out there
  • Negotiation style is very important, and you will get a flavour of an agent’s style during your own interview and negotiation. If negotiation leads to an abrupt reduction in the agent’s commission, alarm bells should ring. An agent may be just as likely to buckle under pressure when it comes to negotiating a final sale price on your behalf
  • Reading customer reviews is a fantastic way of checking the credentials and character of a real estate agent
  • References should always be requested and followed up on
  • Your instinct should serve you well when interviewing potential agents, as you will need to be able to work with them and have regular, open and honest communication
  • Choose the individual, not the brand, as there are big differences between the individual agents within each office. You want to make sure you have the perfect person working on getting you the best price for your property

Negotiating a listing agreement

Once you've decided on the most qualified real estate agent for the job, you'll need to agree on and sign a listing agreement. It's important to check the small print of such an agreement before putting your name to anything – checking for details such as cancellation policies and whether or not you're free to use other agents.

The agreed rate of commission will be stated in your listing agreement, so it’s important to settle on a mutually beneficial commission structure that will provide you with value and your agent with the necessary motivation.

Marketing your property

Marketing a property is key to achieving a quick sale and the best sale price possible, and it is where the services of an accomplished real estate agent will prove invaluable.

Marketing encompasses three main areas: price, method of sale and advertising.


Your real estate agent will suggest a listing price for your property that not not only represents value to you, but also attracts sufficient interest from buyers. Of course, you don’t want to be undervaluing your property, but it is also vital that you don’t alienate buyers with over-inflated listing prices before they have even viewed your home.

The valuation process is a complex one, and it will include the following considerations:

  • Location. Where you home is situated will have a direct impact on its final sale price. Areas which are highly sought after will attract a premium, and there can be significant differences in demand from street to street. Your agent will utilise their knowledge of the local market and their understanding of how buyers think to set a listing price that is sufficiently competitive to attract interest
  • Condition. If your home is attractive, in a good state of repair and appealing to a broad range of tastes, demand for it will be higher than if it were in need of updating. A good agent will be able to drive up the final sale price by manipulating this demand
  • Local amenities. If your property is close to good schools, reliable transport networks, areas of natural beauty, leisure facilities and any amenities that people need during the course of their daily lives, your agent will be able to exploit that potential for a higher sale price

Your agent may recommend that your house is listed with a fixed price or with a range of prices. In the case of auctions, no price will be set other than the reserve.

Method of sale

There are two main ways to sell a domestic property in Australia:

  • Auction. An auction can be used to drive up the final sale price of your property by creating competition for it during a bidding process. If you are appealing to investors, or if your home is in a highly desirable location, this way of selling your property could be a good idea. Auctions also give you a level of certainty when it comes to timescales. And because all bids are unconditional, you don’t have to worry about buyers pulling out at the last minute. However, there is no guarantee - even after the time and expense of marketing your property - it will sell.
  • Private Treaty. This is a private arrangement between you and your buyer, and it is currently the most popular way of selling a property in Australia. The property is advertised on the open market, and you will get the chance to accept, decline or negotiate any offers you receive - as you receive them.

Deciding how to sell your property will depend on a number of factors, but your agent will be able to discuss them with you in detail.


The whole point of advertising is to give your property as much exposure as possible. The more interest you attract, the higher the final sale price is likely to be.

With most listing agreements, you will be responsible for the bulk of advertising costs, but your agent will play the leading role in formulating a marketing and advertising strategy that best suits your property and the local market. This might include online and printed advertising, flyers, using local notice boards, open house events and editorials in local newspapers.

Formulating an advertising strategy is one of the main reasons you need an agent, so choosing someone with excellent local knowledge is essential.


The legal processes involved in selling a property in Australia can be complex, and your agent will be able to discuss the nuts and bolts with you. However, for your own peace of mind, hiring a conveyancer or real estate solicitor may be the best course of action.

Although this will present an additional cost, it'll ensure the process is legally compliant, your investment is protected and that delays are kept to a minimum.

You home is probably your biggest asset, so selling it should be approached with care and consideration. However, by enlisting the help of an experienced and competent agent, you can give yourself the best chance of securing a quick sale at the best price achievable.

For a comprehensive guide to help with selling your property, check out the OpenAgent Smart Seller's Guide today.


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