HOW TO PAY THE LOWEST REAL ESTATE COMMISSION IN NZ
This freely available checklist will help you pay the cheapest real estate commission without compromising on quality. It will also help reduce or prevent other fees.
We also include how to potentially add 10-15% onto an expected sale price.
If the amount of equity you are left with at the end of the real estate process is your focus, you've come to the right place.
The combined value of the 10 recommendations below has added tens of thousands of dollars to our clients' bottom lines for over a decade. For higher value properties, the difference has added hundreds of thousands to sale prices.
View examples of real estate commission for various price ranges to get your starting point first.
We emphasise the most common, often unforeseen and costly real estate mistakes, problems and solutions so you will have a greater advantage than others, including:
a) Ways to offset real estate expenses
b) Ways to add value to your house sale price
c) How to increase your asking sale price
d) Ways to attract more home buyers and more offers to purchase
e) How to avoid negotiating the sale price downwards
f) How to avoid incurring unforeseen and unbudgeted expenses by using a vetted real estate agent.
Find out more about vetted real estate agents in New Zealand.
1. NEGOTIATE REAL ESTATE COMMISSION WITH YOUR AGENT
Paying real estate commission and fees are possibly the most dreaded part of selling a house in New Zealand but individual real estate agents only receive about 50% of the commission fee that will be charged.
Home sellers are often unsure if commission is negotiable because agents can give the impression that it's not. For some companies, that may be the case as they all have different company policies about real estate commission percentages.
You are well within your rights to discuss negotiating commission percentages with a real estate agent.
Discuss commission fees and all other expenses involved in selling a property so you have the whole picture. The best time to do that is when you have your property appraisals in front of you which often includes discounts, complementary services and other savings that can be made.
Real estate agents are required to disclose all costs prior to signing an agency agreement to sell - no surprises!
You don't pay any real estate commission to an agency until you have a signed an unconditional sale and purchase agreement so initially all that is required may be advertising expenses and many real estate agents help out with this. If you need help with this, get in touch or call 0800 789 532.
What To Do
- Don’t choose a property agent based on commission fees alone. This is a risk and can end up way more expensive in the end. Real estate agent competence wins every time.
- You could negotiate a reduced commission rate if your home sells within the first 2-3 weeks.
Make sure you choose suitably qualified property appraisers to ensure accuracy of the sale price ranges they recommend, then choose one.
MORE FACTS, TIPS & ADVICE ABOUT PAYING REAL ESTATE COMMISSION
How much is real estate commission? This covers fees, percentages, example calculations and how agencies divide commission
Negotiating real estate commission and fees plus ball park advertising costs, marketing costs, incentives offered, tips and trips to avoid
Examples of real estate agents' expenses and legal responsibilities, real estate company and compliance.
2. NEGOTIATE ADVERTISING EXPENSES WITH YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT
Real estate advertising packages provided by real estate agents are considered expensive by sellers and payment is most often required up front.
Newspaper advertising is one of the most expensive advertising options but is used less often in today's market as digital packages take hold.
Home sellers often believe advertising should be paid for by the real estate agents because of the commission charged. Find out just how real estate commission is divvied up by companies and what an agent’s responsibilities are to sellers.
Home sellers often don’t realise that you need to ‘invest’ to get some payback. As a percentage of the value of your property, the advertising budget is a smaller investment than often believed when seeing it from an investor perspective.
Advertising costs are all negotiable.
Think carefully about whether newspaper advertising for your property in your area and price range is really necessary.
Most real estate agents will pay for website, social media marketing and standard brochures for you. Some offer substantial discounts and complementary advertising, but not all do.
Some advertising will have standard costs that property agents have no power to reduce, although they do get discounts. Make sure these discounts are your gain, not theirs.
What To Do
- Make sure you formally approve and sign off all advertising material and any amendments made. Mistakes do get made.
- Ask your real estate agent if they will refund all the advertising budget once you have an unconditional sale price. This can be worth quite a bit to you in the end.
- Ask your agent about online-only and other advertising options that will have the greatest buyer reach while minimising the costs.
- If your house sells quickly, make sure any unused advertising paid up front is refunded.
- Use recommendations below to keep advertising costs to a minimum, especially the shorter contract period.
3. DON'T TAKE RISKS WHEN CHOOSING A REAL ESTATE AGENT
The impact of choosing the wrong real estate agent effects everything else you do throughout the whole selling process. The financial gains, or losses from this single choice can be life-changing.
Many people discuss their upcoming property sale with the nearest real estate agent, who can then make it hard for them to back out of signing up with that agent. This is especially so when property listings are in short supply.
Selling a property with your most local real estate agency is not necessarily the best way to choose a real estate agent.
Only discuss selling your house with a real estate agent who has proven to be the most competent, for your property type, location and situation.
That’s not an agent who sells the most real estate, but one who gets the best sale prices for home sellers.
Selling a house in this digital world broadens the real estate agent options from which to choose. It is common for real estate agents to sell across multiple suburbs.
Agents that sell across multiple geographical locations also have databases of buyers from multiple locations. This exposes your house sale to a larger buyer population.
Be aware that there is a legal cooling off period for vendors if they have been pressured to sign an agency agreement. This allows them to cancel that contract within the specified period.
What To Do
- Firstly, get agents professionally vetted and short listed for you to review before you start the process selling your house.
- Understand more about the appraisal process and in particular, the appraiser.
- If you need to sell quickly, the same day Express Service has brought relief to many home sellers. As one client reported:
- “It was a seamless way for us to review several real estate agents quickly. Your service took a lot of the legwork and guesswork out of the selling process”.
- Use the Agent Finder Questionnaire, to help you decide which real estate agent is right for you, your property and location, as if you were employing them for a job.
- Agent Finder NZ vets real estate agents and provides a 17-point questionnaire for sellers to ask agents that has undoubtedly empowered many home sellers.
- The financial benefit of doing this impacts on all points a) to f) above.
4. DETERMINE THE CORRECT SALE PRICE RANGE FROM THE OUTSET
Two of the main reasons a house does not sell, are due to either vendors having an over-inflated sale price expectation of their home or using an over-inflated appraisal by an real estate agent to gain a listing, which, in a tough market, is more likely to occur.
Either way, sale price reductions can be expected to quickly follow unrealistic sale prices being asked.
Unfortunately, keen home buyers who showed interest at the beginning have come and gone. Find out why the first day on the market is your most important day of all.
Another problem with an incorrect price expectation is that it doesn’t always become an issue until you are disagreeing with your agent over a disappointing offer on a sale and purchase agreement. This is typically the point at which price reductions begin to occur, along with the trust you have in your agent.
After the emotional and financial investment, you’ve put into the whole real estate process, it can be very disheartening, sometimes financially life changing.
This is all completely preventable with better sale price accuracy.
Relying on a property appraisal conducted by a competent, vetted real estate agent. This can provide you with better accuracy for your sale price.
Independent, professional valuations can often be well worth the expense.
Independent valuations also provide greater leverage for an agent when it comes to negotiating your sale price with a buyer.
A $700.00 investment in a home valuation can make tens of thousands of dollars differences to your bottom line because it provides buyers and sellers more confidence when negotiating.
What To Do
- Only get a real estate appraisal from an agent proven to be competent.
- Get the sale price range of your house sorted with your vetted real estate agent before you go live on line.
- Obtain a professional property valuation by an independent licenced valuer so you have more price power in the negotiation process.
- Use all recommendations below to help elevate the potential sale price wherever possible.
- If your real estate appraisal looks too good to be true, it might be. Get this sorted first and start with the real estate agent's rationale for their recommended price range.
5. WAYS TO INCREASE THE VALUE OF YOUR HOME AND YOUR SALE PRICE
Your real estate appraisal doesn’t ‘price up’ like you hoped it would.
Property inspection reports can show up issues that could put a ready-to-confirm conditional buyer off your property.
Buyers’ property inspection reports raise issues with the integrity of the property, and that gives them more power to negotiate the price downwards.
A competent real estate agent will advise you what areas of home improvement create the most value and what to leave alone so you don’t over-invest. There will be things you can do that cost nothing. Start with those.
The added benefit of doing this will tick more boxes if a buyer gets a property inspection report done.
It is better that you pre-empt issues, than put a buyer off when your sale and purchase agreement is ready to go unconditional. A building inspection report, is most often a condition of sale.
What To Do
- Ask your real estate agent, what rooms or areas of the property will increase the buyer’s perception of value and work on those first.
- Get a property inspection checklist, and do whatever repairs and maintenance you can legally yourself. The payback from being forewarned can far exceed the cost of any repairs and maintenance expenses.
- Get any outstanding codes of compliance signed off.
6. HOW HOME STAGING CAN ADD 10-15% ONTO YOUR SALE PRICE
A poor impression of a house can impact directly on the volume of buyers and consequently limit your price potential.
Some properties don’t sell at all, or take months to do so because they are poorly presented to the buyer market.
Home styling has proven to be one of THE MOST influential ways to elevate a buyer’s perception of a home’s value, regardless of the market, location or price range.
Real estate agents often report that home styling can add 10-15% onto an expected sale price because the updated presentation attracts a higher volume of buyers, who have been 'wowed'.
When a person really loves a property, they are more likely to pay more for it, especially when they know other offers are on the table. Nothing like a bit of competition to raise the stakes.
You only get one chance to make a good impression on buyers, so make it work for you.
What To Do
- For an empty house, hiring beautiful furniture can cost around $2k for 4-5 weeks but on a $500k property, this can potentially generate $50k more in a sale price.
- Home styling using your existing furnishings costs nothing, just some time, to declutter and re-style.
- If using a vetted agent, send in some photos to firstname.lastname@example.org for free advice tailored to your property. This can make you tens of thousands more in a sale price and it’s also free.
7. HAVE MORE CONTROL WHEN INTERVIEWING REAL ESTATE AGENTS
Inexperienced home sellers don’t get enough practice at interviewing real estate agents so are heavily reliant on what an agent tells them.
Real estate agents are primarily the information gatekeepers, good or otherwise.
Many home sellers report that real estate agents put them under pressure to list, are pushy and dominate the conversation. This occurs more often in a tight market when house listings are in short supply.
The elderly downsizing first time, and inexperienced home sellers are more likely to be pressured by real estate agents and more at risk of making ill-informed decisions.
The Agent Finder Questionnaire focuses on 17 keys areas and help to ensure that nothing is omitted, accuracy and information is transparent.
If nothing else, the agent knows you’re ‘onto it’, which must be a good thing for you.
What To Do
- If you are inexperienced at selling a home, Agent Finder NZ can help protect you throughout the whole process, starting wtih vetting competent agents for you, for free. Get in touch for help or advice.
- Use the Agent Finder NZ questionnaire to help you to ask prospective agents all the questions you should, up front, and when you most need it, to make good decisions going forward. This is free for Agent Finder NZ clients to use.
- Only interview agents you know are competent and vetted for you and your property type, so you don’t take risks or waste your valuable time.
8. CHOOSE THE RIGHT METHOD OF SALE TO OPTIMISE BUYER INQUIRY
This is important to get right as you will hear many stories and versions of what works best. Auction, Tender, Deadline Treaty, Priced for Sale.
Inexperienced home sellers mostly trust the recommendation of their real estate agent because they know little about the effectiveness of each method.
A competent agent will recommend the most effective method of sale for you in the current market, for your property type and allow for any pressures you may have timewise.
Make sure you understand and consider all the methods of sale to make the right decision and consider the impact of each one on your sale price and time on the market.
What To Do
- Discuss all the options thoroughly with your selected real estate agent and don’t be pressured by their agendas.
- Use the Agent Questionnaire to help you with these questions.
- Vetted agents will be focussed on the method of sale that generates the best sale price for you.
9. NEGOTIATE THE TERM OF YOUR AGENCY AGREEMENT FOR GREATER FLEXIBILITY
Most people don’t realise that unless you state otherwise, the term of an agency agreement with a real estate company is for 90 days.
Most people also don’t realise that the contract is with the company, not the individual agent.
Real estate is a legal and often complex process. Home sellers often underestimate the competencies needed of an agent to conduct a real estate sale.
If you regret your choice of agent, you can get stuck with them for the 90-day contract unless you’ve stated otherwise.
Going to market a second time around can be a costly affair.
It’s easy to extend an agency agreement but it can be hard to get out of one early if you want to.
When considering the term of an agency contact, allow time from the date you sign an agency agreement for the agent to do their due diligence in getting everything in order legally and otherwise prior to when marketing starts.
For example: shortening the term to 60 days helps put the pressure on the agent to get it sold quickly if need be, gives you more flexibility if you need to change your agent: and should allow for some preparation preparation time.
A deadline can also put pressure on buyers to act more quickly.
What To Do
- Consider carefully, the term of your agency agreement and don’t be pressured about this. You can choose any practical number of days you like but be realistic for your property type.
- A shorter sale timeframe can also reduce the amount of advertising investment needed.
- Opting for signing an agency agreement with a vetted agent provides greater assurance for you.
10. GENERATE MAXIMUM INQUIRIES WITH BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS
Poor real estate photography can ruin the whole campaign, and especially your sale price. Remember that these pictures are competing with thousands of others.
We find poorer standards of photography in provincial and rural areas mostly, although it happens larger cities as well.
A property should give the impression that it’s worth what price is being asked for. This does not always occur.
Professional photography is cheap at around $200.00 yet has the most impact on how much interest can be generated for your house sale.
Photography can have the same impact as home styling – the wow factor. Put the two together, and you make it harder for other properties to compete with yours.
What To Do
- Real estate agents aren’t photographers, use a professional.
- Use other recommendations in this article
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Article updated April 20, 2022 by Trish Willis | Member of Property Institute of NZ (IPAC) | About
- Awarded Best Property Advice Hub NZ 2021
- Awarded Best Estate Agent Vetting Service 2018