Before making a final decision or signing any contract:
- investigate your options thoroughly – consider your needs and what you can afford; and
- get advice from people you trust.
Real estate agents
Before you engage a real estate agent to sell your home or assist you to buy one, contact the Department of Commerce of Western Australia and check that the agent is licensed. Real estate agents must be licensed by the department.
Real estate agents charge sellers a fee for their services, generally calculated as a percentage of the sale price, plus marketing expenses. Although it is traditional for agents to charge a percentage fee (commission), there is no particular reason why their fee should reflect the value of the transaction. After all, they provide the same or similar service to most sellers. You have the right to negotiate the real estate agent’s fee. Consider:
- paying the agent a fee which represents the value of their service, not the value of your property; and
- proposing a flat (fixed) fee for a sale up to a price that you and the agent agree represents fair market value, and possibly a bonus if the agent achieves a sale at a higher price.
Consider a private sale
You may also consider selling your property without using a real estate agent, known as a private sale. There are companies that provide marketing resources for people who make this choice. If you are selling privately:
- contact the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia and obtain a copy of the standard-form Offer and Acceptance real estate contract and General Conditions;
- you may find our Legal guide to buying and selling real estate in WA a useful resource; and
- always obtain legal advice before you sign a contract.
Make thorough enquiries
Unless the contract makes specific provision, properties are sold in the same state as when first inspected. So it is essential to conduct a thorough inspection. Once you have inspected the property, if you want changes to be made prior to sale or you want to ensure certain items are included in the sale, you should insert specific terms or conditions into the contract. These terms need to be accepted by the seller.
The seller is not currently required to supply information about a property directly to the buyer. Certain exceptions to this rule apply to strata titled properties. Nor does the standard-form contract used in WA include extensive warranties (promises) by the seller as to the state and condition of the property. Therefore, it is essential that buyers make their own enquiries and not rely on information given to them by the seller or the real estate agent. Enquiries commonly made by buyers include:
- Landgate searches of certificate of titles, survey diagram and any encumbrances;
- Landgate property interest report;
- termite inspection report;
- building inspection report;
- thorough inspection of gas, electrical, plumbing, reticulation and pool fixtures and fittings and specific provision in the contract that they be in good working order at settlement; and
- enquiries of the local government to inspect the building plans and check that all structures on the property, including alterations, were constructed with the relevant approvals.
Generally, it is best for buyers to make as many of these checks as possible before signing the contract, engaging consultants such as plumbers or builders as necessary; however, some common checks such as termite or building inspection reports may be covered by special conditions in the contract.
It is important that the seller and agent do not deliberately mislead buyers about the condition of a property.
Choose your settlement representative wisely
Settlement is the process by which legal title to real estate is transferred from seller to buyer, rates are adjusted and the purchase price is paid.
Some real estate agents recommend associated settlement agents when you sign your contract – but it pays to shop around.
Birman & Ride also trades as Flat Rate Settlements which offers instant online quotes that are simple and transparent. But not everyone plays fair. Learn more about selecting a settlement representative.
Explore our real estate settlements blog
The Flat Rate Settlements blog is packed with useful articles about buying and selling real estate, including: