A guide to selling your home

Are you thinking of selling your home? Learn about the process in our quick guide.

Selling your home is a complicated process. This guide is designed to provide you with an overview of the things you need to know before you put your house on the market.

Get legal advice

Get legal advice

Selling your property isn’t just about getting the best price. You also need to make sure you know your rights and meet your legal obligations, which is why you should enlist the services of an experienced property lawyer before you sign anything.

How to find a property lawyer

Select your real estate agent

A real estate agent works for you to help you sell your property for the best price. You sign an agency agreement with them and pay them a fee when your property is sold. It’s important that you choose someone you feel comfortable with and that they are properly licensed.

You can check the public register at rea.govt.nz, which will let you know if your chosen agent is licensed and whether any complaints have been upheld against them. If you deal with an unlicensed person, the Real Estate Authority (REA) will not be able to help you if things go wrong. All real estate agents must follow the Code of Professional Conduct and Client Care. You can find a copy of this at rea.govt.nz. Remember, the agent works for you and must always represent your best interests.

Select your real estate agent

Choose an agency agreement type

There are two types of agency agreement

Sole agency agreement
Applies if you list your property with a single agency which will have the exclusive right to market your property. If you sign a sole agency agreement, you shouldn’t sign an agency agreement with anyone else, or you may end up paying commission to both agencies when your house sells.

General agency agreement
Aplies if you list your property with more than one agency. You’ll sign a separate agreement with each but only pay a fee to the agency which introduces you to the buyer of your house.

Before you sign an agency agreement

Your real estate agent must:

  • Give you a written estimate of your sale price which must reflect market conditions and be supported by information about sales of similar properties.
  • Discuss the different methods of selling your property, and how that affects the % of the fee the agent will receive.
  • Give you a written estimate of the fee, stating how it is calculated and when it must be paid.
  • Give you a copy of the New Zealand Residential Property Agency Agreement Guide, which they’ll ask you to confirm in writing that you’ve received.
  • Explain how they’ll market your property and how much the marketing will cost.
  • Explain the risk of paying two commissions if you sign other agency agreements.
  • Give you the opportunity to seek legal advice before signing an agreement (which you should always do).

You should only sign an agency agreement once you’re happy with it, and you fully understand things such as the sales method, the agreement term, fee charged on a successful sale and what the expenses you’ll need to pay (like advertising).

Make sure you know how long your agreement lasts and when you or your agent can cancel it. Sole agency agreements can be cancelled without penalty if it’s done in writing by 5 pm on the first working day after you receive a copy. After that, if you cancel an agreement before it ends, you may still have to pay a fee to the agent if they have done any work that helped to sell the property.

Also, make sure that your agent does not have a conflict of interest, such as wanting to purchase your home for themselves. Learn more about conflicts of interest at the REA website.

Understand the process

Understand the process

Properties can be sold in several different ways. Talk to your agent about which method suits your circumstances best.

Usually, property sales in New Zealand fall into four different categories.

  • Advertised Price
  • Tender/Deadline Sale/Set date sale
  • By Negotiation
  • Auction

Advertised Price

An advertised price sale is where your property is marketed at an advertised price with no time limit. You should set a price that represents what you’d be happy to accept for the property as well as what the real estate agent thinks it is worth. Carefully consider all offers that you receive. They may be over or under the advertised price.

Buyers will often make conditional offers, which rely on them being able to meet certain conditions like selling their own house, securing finance to buy yours, and being happy with a building inspection. You can set conditions too, like a settlement date that is convenient for you. Your agent can negotiate the terms of sale and price on your behalf and make any changes to the sale and purchase agreement.

Before signing any contract, you should always seek your solicitors advice or approval. Once the contract is signed by all parties, you are under contract. Upon all or any conditions being satisfied, and the agreement becomes unconditional, the buyer should pay a deposit (usually 10%) to the Agencys Trust Account.The deposit is usually released after 10 days from the Trust Account, at which point you pay your fees to the agency, and then the balance is released to your solicitor for distribution to you. On settlement date, you are paid the balance of the purchase price and will need to vacate the premises.Once you have received payment and the Agency has received notification of settlement, the keys are released to the purchaser.

Tender/Deadline Sale/Set date sale

When your property is sold by tender, it is not marketed with a price (although a minimum guideline price may be advertised). Buyers make confidential offers to your agent by a set date and time, after which you have a maximum of five days to decide which offer, if any, to accept. You can choose to market your property with or without a guide price. If your property is advertised as “for sale by tender (unless sold prior)”, it means it can be sold before the tender date. The marketing material and tender documents must make it clear if this is the case.

Every tenderer must pay a deposit when they submit their tender. If they are unsuccessful, this will be returned to them. When you have chosen an offer, get your lawyer to review it. Once you accept it, the remainder of the selling process is the same as an advertised price sale. Remember, you are not obliged to accept any of the offers you receive.

A deadline sale/Set date sale follows much the same process as a tender – it is also marketed without a price but with a set end date. However, you can sell the property at any time during the listing period, and when you receive offers, you do so on a standard sale and purchase agreement rather than a tender document.

By Negotiation

This is an alternative to advertising with a Price. By negotiation is a method of inviting buyers to make an offer without the seller disclosing what they will accept. This method also includes conditional offers.


An auction is an open process where buyers bid against one another to purchase your property. Before the auction, you must decide on a reserve price, which is the minimum price you are prepared to accept. The auctioneer will work to get you the best price for your property. Bids may start below your reserve price, but once the reserve is met, the highest bidder is legally committed to buying your property immediately. If your auction doesn’t meet the reserve price, you can choose to negotiate with the highest bidder to achieve a sale. You can accept pre-auction offers if the terms of your auction allow it.Auction agreements are an unconditional sale.


The sale and purchase agreement is a legal document, so it’s vital to read it carefully and to get legal advice before you sign. It contains the terms and conditions of the property sale, such as:

  • The price
  • Details of the buyer’s deposit
  • Any chattels included (like carpets and ovens)
  • The property title (i.e., freehold, leasehold)
  • Any conditions specified by the buyer or seller
  • Unconditional and settlement dates

It also contains clauses that outline the buyer’s and seller’s obligations and outlines what kind of penalties will apply if either party defaults on the agreement terms (e.g., delaying settlement).

You cannot change your mind once you have signed the agreement and all conditions have been met – you are legally committed to the sale. Before you are asked to sign, the selling agent should give you a copy of the Real Estate Authority (REA) guide (which can be found here).

Are you thinking of selling your home but you’re not sure what it’s worth? Find out how to get a free appraisal from one of our friendly team.


Find out the current market value of your property with a FREE appraisal from RE/MAX Warkworth

If you are thinking of selling, renovating or refinancing, getting an estimate of your property’s current market value is a great place to start and will assist you in determining your equity position. Our experienced agents will give you an obligation-free assessment and answer any question you have, all at no cost to you.

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