Ueli Schnorf uses an entertaining 11-point information guide to describe the vicissitudes of a Ticino homeowner who decided to sell his house without using a specialised estate agent.
Some property owners simply don't like to hire an estate agent as a matter of principle. Others think that an agent is too expensive, others still don't trust agents. All of these are good reasons to try to sell a property without a good professional. I won't go through the pros and cons of hiring a professional: in any case, you can still try to sell the property yourself. Unless you sign an exclusive mandate, you can save up to 5% of the sale price this way, but you will have to do all the work. So I'm going to give you 11 tips to help make things easier.
1. Prepare your property for sale
There are plenty of articles online on how to prepare your property for the market. You should know that your home should present itself perfectly and that it should convey a great deal of charm from the first moment. Fix everything that needs to be fixed, pay attention to details, ask a friend to give you an honest opinion and act on it.
2. Set a realistic price
In Ticino it is really impossible to make a comparative market analysis, especially in the luxury sector. There is no record of the prices at which other properties in your neighbourhood have sold in the past. The statistics you can read are mainly based on asking prices and not on actual sales prices: this makes a huge difference. You can hire an appraiser or you can act on your own, but do not overcharge the value of the property, otherwise it will stay on the market forever.
3. Learn to sell
Not everyone is a born salesman. It's quite difficult to sell something you've owned for a long time, like the house your children grew up in and where every room holds a memory. So you need to learn what to say and what not to say during presentations. Learn as much as you can about sales techniques and how to behave during a presentation.
4. Invest in a good photo portfolio
Since you are saving on a real estate commission, you can afford to spend some money on marketing material. Once you've got your property's image perfect, find a professional property photographer, not a wedding or portrait photographer. Include photos of the interior and exterior of your home. If you can afford to take a drone video and aerial photos, go for it! These tools often make a difference and make your property more attractive.
5. Write a persuasive description
If you consider yourself a good writer, take the time to make an attractive but concise presentation of the property. If you are a bad writer, find a friend or pay someone to do it for you. Write at least in Italian, German and English. Make sure you include at least one purchase-inducing incentive in your property.
6. Get good signage if you want to use signage
Choose a nice sunny day to prepare the 'for sale by owner' sign. Don't make it look cheap or 'homemade'. You want to let the world know that you are selling without an estate agent. This means buyers can deal directly with the owner. It also means that buyers can save up to 5% in real estate commissions. Count on getting phone calls at inconvenient times and people knocking on your door asking to see the property over dinner. Be prepared to meet curious people who have always wanted to see how you live. Over time you will get better at separating the curious from the serious and motivated.
7. Plan your advertisements
Find out how and where to advertise your property. Attracting the attention of a buyer is not easy and there is a lot of 'professional' competition. Most buyers in Ticino search online. You don't have access to estate agents' websites, so you need to find out where to advertise your property. Start by trying to set a budget for advertising. Properties won't sell if you don't spend money on promoting the sale. You could start by talking to the commercial departments of newspapers and see what your options are. There are online portals such as homegate, immoscout24, tutti.ch and others. Printed magazines and newspapers do not work as well as before, but there might be some options. Try to get cheap prices by ordering a lot of ads for a longer time, otherwise it quickly becomes expensive. Also, try to find out where your buyer might come from. In the Ticino luxury market, more than 50% of buyers come from abroad. The big "feeder markets" are Germany, Italy, the former Soviet Union, Benelux and Scandinavia. Try to address your potential buyers in their home countries. Talk to people of different nationalities who might be possible buyers, ask them how they inform themselves. Carry out all these tasks diligently.
8. ...and ensure the presence of your property on social media
In today's market, social media advertising is a must. You can try to sell a property without an estate agent on Google or Twitter, but the best solution might be Facebook. You can hire a social media expert or learn how to advertise on Facebook and promote an ad to specific targets. Use the photo material you have ordered. Keep in mind that social media preferences change very quickly. What was good last year may be outdated today, so keep yourself regularly informed and don't rely on information you have obtained in the past or information from friends or family that is out of date.
9. Be available
Don't waste all the effort you put into promoting your property - make yourself available to take calls at all times of the day, every day of the week. Potential buyers will call at 6am or 10pm. If they come from abroad, they will probably try to contact you in the middle of the night. Don't just rely on the phone, arrange to also be reachable by email and a free voice connection to the internet such as whatsapp. Many buyers want to look at properties at the weekend, so be available. You might lose that one buyer while you are having dinner or a bath. Don't be away for long periods, otherwise your advertising efforts could be wasted. Plan your holiday accordingly, either before you start selling your property or after you do.
10. Be patient
Don't expect to sell your property within 24 hours. If it does, great, but be patient and don't go crazy too soon. A luxury property on the Ticino market sells in an average time of almost two years, so you may need a lot of patience.
11.You have found a buyer
You've finally arrived at the most important part of the story: a person who is serious about buying your property has shown up. Now it's a matter of win or lose. The difference between a good deal and a bad deal can be up to 30% of the entire sale price. Don't get excited, don't get pushed and don't rush, just take one step at a time. Be prepared for the fact that many buyers are professionals themselves, they have long experience of how to get a lower price and will use all the tricks they know, mercilessly. Others may not have the faintest idea of a sales procedure and small issues that none of you have considered could become big problems later on, so be prepared. Find out exactly what a buyer's guarantee should look like, how a deed of sale should be worded, what should be included and what is better not included. Find out how you hand over your property, what the law prescribes about the condition of the property, maintenance, technical equipment, liability and so on. Know exactly what these definitions actually mean in the deed.
And then finally: relax, you've done it! Now you can book your postponed holiday.
You don't want to go through the work described in these 11 points? Then contact a local estate agent to take care of all the above. Find out which agents work best in your area, in relation to your type of property, and what connections they have with other agents in your area.
Riva Antonio Caccia 3
Via Antonio Ciseri 13A
Via Monte Verità 1
+41(0)91 601 04 40