Friday, July 4, 2014

Searching for Our New Home

Our first family home. Sadly we've outgrown it.

We have been searching for our new home for months. Every weekend Husband and I set out on a manic house hunt with our spreadsheet and research. Most weekends we visit anywhere between 5-10 houses in our search for the perfect family home.

Saturday's in particular are especially frustrating. Trying to fit in weekend sports as well as the frantic rush from one open house to the other has been a challenge. We have made numerous offers, and had so many houses barely slip from our grasp. 4 bedroom homes in our area are in hot demand with so many buyers paying a premium to pull the right property off the market.

We simply cannot afford to pay a premium. Our finance and cash reserves are tight, and I'm not willing to end up with a too high lend, or worse, lose another deposit because we offered too much and the house under valued. At the end of the day, the banks base their lend on what the house is valued at, not how much we offer.

We had been wondering for some time how to tap into the owner/seller market. In seems logical that people who are saving a significant amount of money on Real Estate fee's would be more willing to negotiate and come to a good price. Under the right circumstances, the buyer gets a great price and the seller is still receiving more in the pocket than if they had engaged a Real Estate to sell their home.

After speaking briefly with a buyers agent, who is able to locate and negotiate prices on homes under these circumstances, we quickly realised we didn't have the $10,000 fee they were suggesting. Not even close. I'm sure they offer a valuable service, but we don't have money like that to spend.

 With all this in mind, I was very intrigued to find that my favourite go to sites for buying and selling used goods has a section for Real Estate. After a quick browse on Gumtree, I did find the expected rooms for rent or board, but better still I found a gold mine of Owner/Seller properties. This is where you go to sell your property yourself! It never occurred to me search here before, despite visiting at least 2-3 times per week for various reasons.

I saw many properties that hadn't appeared on the mainstream Real Estate sites, homes that I would never have had a chance to consider. Best of all it's a direct conversation, a chance to negotiate the price with the person who owns it, and probably is invested emotionally in making sure it ends up in good hands.

More terrific still is that it is free to list your home for sale on Gumtree. I actually expected to find there was a flat fee, so that was a nice surprise! I went through the process, wondering if it was more time heavy than the usual listing process, and found it to be almost identical but with a few extra fields to allow for improved searching criteria. Still not a lengthy experience, and the usual 10 photo's were included with the free listing. Of course, there were opportunities to boost or promote your ad, and those opportunities do come with a fee but were completely optional. I also noticed along the way that more and more Real Estate Agents are starting to use Gumtree, particularly good I would think as a way to get in front of buyers who are actively and passively considering a new house.

Some tips for Buyers and Sellers looking to deal through direct Owner/Seller channels:

  • Use caution when visiting a home or allowing a potential buyer to visit your home. You don't know each other and it is important to always use common sense as you would in any other buying/selling situation.
  • Don't stinge on the Conveyancers when completing a purchase. If you have dealt direct it is always possible that a buyer or seller in all innocence may not correctly complete a necessary process. A good Conveyancer will keep you both on track.
  • Buyers should try to look past photo's that have not been taken with an Agents clever eye. Poor lighting or angles may just show the honesty of the home you are considering, and flag the potential.
  • With that in mind sellers should try to take photo's that show a home at it's best. Photo's of homes with little clutter and mess, taken with as much natural light as possible and from an angle that shows the whole room will appeal more to buyers!
  • Always remember you are dealing with a person with feelings! Buying or selling there are some emotions attached to this transaction that do not have an agents gentle buffer to manage. Criticisms may not be taken well, and dishonesty in how you communicate will also go down poorly.
Have you had experiance in buying or selling direct? I would love to hear from you and how you found the process! We are still new to this and hope it will help us flush out that perfect home that will see our kids into adulthood.

This post was brought to you in partnership with Gumtree, helping home buyers everywhere find their dream home!


  1. I owuld never have thought to search Gum Tree when buying a house. Great tips.
    Lots of luck finding your dream house :)

  2. I never knew that you could lose your deposit that's crap. How good is gumtree!

  3. Buoying a property through a private seller is always difficult, as you have told in your post. I am glad that you have found a resolution through Gumtree. Here in the UK, we are pretty well off as we have a good selection of estate agents who help us through the ordeal of buying a home. Good luck to you.

    Elton Rousseau @ Hancock Lettings and Estate Agents


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