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Selling a property can be one of the most important financial decisions you will make. Avoiding mistakes is crucial.

Selling in 2024? Beware these mistakes

In a strong buyer's market, vendors can't afford any mistakes. Here are the top three mistakes we often see vendors making.

In many respects, 2024 is likely to be a buyer's market and vendors can't assume this year will resemble anything like the bonanza of the last few years. With fewer buyers per property, and more stock on the market as cost of living bites, it's important to avoid the following common selling mistakes.

Failure to prepare the property for sale Gardening, repainting and a spring clean are always necessities, but other preparations should be considered as well. These include decluttering, repainting in generic colours, new curtains/blinds, creating a home office/study space, sanding/oiling an outdoor deck, removing all outdoor rubbish and beautifying the outdoor area (festoon lightning, outdoor heating, planter boxes, seating). A reputable, local real estate agent will be able to advise you what buyers are specifically looking for, which could be factored into any minor renovations you might undertake prior to listing for sale.

Illegal building work As tempting as it might be, never undertake structural building work without the proper Council planning and building permits. Illegal building work is often a deal breaker for prospective purchasers, because it can void building and public liability insurance = if someone trips and injures themselves on the deck you illegally built, it's highly unlikely to be covered by any insurer. Same goes for structural damage if a room was illegally built - things like garage conversions into habitable rooms, and load-bearing walls being removed or constructed in living spaces. You may think you are saving time and money by avoiding the Council and building permit process, but it could end up costing you far, far more if the property becomes uninsurable and, to a certain extent, unsellable except to bargain hunters.

Using a weak contract The basic real estate contract template in Victoria (the general conditions) is, in our view, unreasonably favourable towards purchasers in a number of respects. These include when a purchaser defaults in fulfilling their obligations under the contract, including failing to settle on time. Vendors can incur all sorts of out-of-pocket costs in the event of the purchaser's default (such as additional mortgage repayments, accommodation costs and legal expenses), so it's very important that special conditions be included in the contract, to ensure vendors can recoup these costs from the purchaser. The general conditions also enable purchasers to easily raise frivolous disputes about the condition of the property as settlement approaches. Appropriately worded special conditions can stop purchasers doing this, by reasonably balancing their legal rights against the vendor's. A lawyer or reputable conveyancer should prepare the contract, not a real estate agency.

Note: the above is general information and should not be considered as legal advice.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

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