It ended up being a brief process that was easier than I expected. I handled the sale on behalf of the family and we elected not to bother with an agent but to make it a sale by vendor.
My first preference was to auction the property, as the land size was highly desirable and the house itself was unusual. There were not many comparable sales around so establishing a value was not easy. Auctioneers who I approached to act on our behalf declined to do so, saying that they had to work for licensed agents for insurance reasons. That being the case, I decided to call for expressions of interest instead, with offers over $550k to be received in writing on the designated form by a specified date. We had already received a valuation at that price shortly after our father’s death and so that was our base price, allowing for some capital growth since that time.
Before commencing the advertising program, I engaged a conveyancer to prepare the forms that needed to be provided to a purchaser, and a blank contract as well so that I could seal the deal as soon as agreement was reached. I designed a sign board and commissioned that, organised paper advertising (Mainstream and the local Chinese Property News) and advertised on line as well. That just left the open inspections.
The interest invoked by the property was good and within a day we had an offer of $600k. There was a little negotiating with different parties but 8 days after our initial open inspection, on behalf of the family I shortened the sale period and accepted an offer of $612k. I felt that it was a very good offer and that the purchasers were so intent on buying something – if not our property then something else – that I should take it and not risk losing them.
It sounds easy but there was sadness too. I grew up in that house. Here were people pacing around the back yard and working out how many smaller homes they could fit on the block (they could fit three) and asking if there were any problems in chopping down the trees. In the middle of the yard is a huge olive tree. It has kept the family supplied with olive oil for years. It was our playground as kids as we climbed its branches and acted out various games. That was the first tree that everyone wanted to remove.
I made a conscious effort to dissociate myself from the emotional ties and to treat it all as an arm’s length transaction. We still told our stories though at the open inspections – about how our father designed and built the house; why he came up with such an innovative and unusual design, the environmental features and what we remembered growing up in what was once an outer suburb. People enjoyed the stories and appreciated being able to ask us detailed questions that perhaps an agent would not have been able to answer.
There is still another month until settlement day. I’ll be relieved with it is all over, but there will still be a little part of me that is left in that house and up the olive tree, the ghost of childhood past. It’s the end of an era.