Selling a house: Sell it yourself or hire a realtor?

5.11.2020
  1. Step 1: The selling price
  2. Step 2: The sales documentation
  3. Step 3: The tender
  4. Step 4: The negotiations
  5. Step 5: The contract of sale
  6. Step 6: The payment processing
  7. Step 7: Fees and taxes
  8. Is a realtor worth it for you?

Do you want or need to sell your house because you are changing jobs, the house is too big or you are planning your retirement abroad? Sooner or later, the question arises of what to do with your single-family home or condominium if you are childless or your children do not want to or cannot take over the property. You have two alternatives: sell or rent. In this article, we explain how to sell your property - and why it probably makes more sense to hire a realtor to sell your house.

Step 1: The selling price

You can set a selling price or sell your property in a bidding process. With the bidding process, if all goes well, you sell for more than you thought, but you may be left holding the house or apartment. Most bidding processes take place in two rounds. In the first round, all bidders submit their bids; in the second round, everyone knows the highest bid from the first round and submits their final bid. The seller selects a bid and does not have to accept the highest bid as in auctions.

Houzy Hint

Tip

Sellers like to find the valuation too low because they associate the house or apartment with fond memories and therefore estimate the value higher. An online valuation provides a good indication quickly and easily.

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With Houzy's free Property Valuation, you can estimate market value online in two minutes. The valuation is based on current market prices for comparable houses or apartments in the same region and is a solid basis for price negotiations. If you want a more detailed estimate, hire a realtor or valuation expert.

Step 2: The sales documentation

You can sell your house faster and for a better price with professional documentation. Therefore, it's worth investing some time in the sales documentation and, if necessary, spending some money on pictures. On the one hand, the documentation gives the all-important first impression and contains all the relevant information, and on the other hand, the buyer can submit it with his loan application. This information and enclosures belong at least in your sales documentation:

  • Map of the region and municipality with important offers in the surrounding area
  • Map of the city and neighborhood with important offers in the surrounding area
  • Overview of important transport connections (public and private transport)
  • Detailed description of the property
  • Detailed description of the equipment
  • Pictures of the house from the outside, aerial photos if necessary
  • Pictures of the apartment or house from the inside
  • Plans and floor plans on a scale of 1:100, sections and facade views
  • Excerpt from the land register with easements and cadastral plan
  • Building insurance policy as proof of insurance
  • Price (or basis for negotiation)
  • Contribution to the renewal fund if you are selling a condominium
  • Estimate of the realtor or property valuation by Houzy
  • Possible takeover date
  • Name, address, telephone number and e-mail address of the seller

You can do this yourself or leave it to a realtor. In many cases, this makes sense because the realtor knows how sales documentation is structured. In addition, he understands what is important to prospective buyers who are looking for an apartment in a certain municipality, for example, and adapts the documents accordingly.

Selling a house: advertise your house or apartment online.
Advertise online and share the ad on social media and with your network.

Step 3: The tender

Buyers today search on the Internet. Therefore, advertise your house or apartment online. Preferably on a large Internet platform or, if the budget is sufficient, on several large Internet platforms. Use the same pictures - in lower resolution - and texts as in the sales documentation and upload the documentation (step 2) as a PDF. If you want, the realtor will take over these tasks. This has the great advantage that he also answers all inquiries, makes appointments for viewings and shows the property to interested parties. Whether you want to be present at the viewings is up to you to decide. It often makes sense to leave the viewings to the realtor, because he is objective and, for example, does not react to comments about the house or apartment like someone who is emotionally attached to it.

Talk to people and tell them that you are selling your apartment or house. Post the ad on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter and share the link via email or WhatsApp with acquaintances, friends or colleagues. Talk to everyone, privately and at work, maybe you may post the ad on the bulletin board or publish it on the intranet.

Step 4: The negotiations

Before each conversation, think about the advantages of your house or apartment for the prospective buyers and derive meaningful arguments. For the family with school-age children, the kindergarten or school right across the street is a plus point; for the elderly couple, the elevator from the underground garage to the barrier-free terrace apartment on the 4th floor. Expect critical questions, for example about the noise from the nearby school, and refute them with convincing arguments. Be honest, however, and do not, for example, invent other interested parties in order to drive up the price or to put pressure on them. You can also leave the negotiations to a realtor if you don't have time or are too emotionally attached to the house or apartment.

Houzy Hint

Tip

Set the selling price a little higher. This way you can accommodate a prospective buyer and convince him to buy the house or apartment.

Selling a house: Buyer and seller sign the contract at the notary's office.
The house or apartment belongs to the buyer only when the change of ownership is registered in the land register.

Step 5: The contract of sale

The contract of sale is drawn up by a notary. It records all information and regulates all conditions for the trade, among others

  • Name and address of the seller,
  • Name and address of the buyer,
  • Description of the property (address, cadastral number, building insurance amount and land area),
  • purchase price,
  • Distribution of fees and taxes, especially real estate gains tax,
  • establishment of mortgage bonds,
  • condition of the real estate at the time of handover,
  • Terms of payment and payment procedure,
  • Deadline for the transfer,
  • Arrangements as to whether and, if so, how insurance policies such as building insurance are to be continued,
  • Easements (as in the land register) and
  • Liability to pay damages or other arrangements if one party fails to fulfill the contract.

If you sell an apartment, the contract must show your contributions to the renewal fund separately from the purchase price. In addition, it must refer to all regulations of the condominium owners' association, the regulations for areas under common ownership and any special rights of use. Special use rights are usually not part of the contract, the buyer only confirms that he has seen the documents and is aware of them.

Buyer and seller revise the draft until it is right for both of them. It is best to seek the advice of a notary so that everything is legally correct and nothing is missing. The contract is signed by the buyer and seller at the notary's office and notarized by the notary. Ownership is transferred after the entry in the land register, and only then does the house or apartment finally belong to the buyer.

Houzy Hint

Tip

Therefore, do not go to the notary until the contract is right for you and for the seller. If not, you should postpone the appointment.

Step 6: The payment processing

The contract of sale regulates, among other things, how payment is to be handled. As a rule, the buyer must pay as soon as the change of hands has been entered in the land register. During the contract negotiations, however, you need a guarantee that the buyer will pay. So the buyer must prove his willingness to pay. In most cases, the buyer's bank irrevocably guarantees to trigger the payment as soon as the bill of exchange has been entered in the land register.

Step 7: Fees and taxes

Fees and taxes are incurred in the case of a change of hands. All cantons require a land registry fee, half of which is usually paid by the buyer and half by the seller. Almost all cantons - except for Aargau, Glarus, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Uri, Zug and Zurich - also require a transfer of ownership tax, which is usually paid by the buyer. However, you can regulate this differently in the contract of sale if you wish. In addition, there is the fee for the notary, which is shared by the buyer and seller.

As a buyer, you also pay property gains tax. It is calculated on the difference between the original purchase price and the sales proceeds. The tax rate depends on the length of ownership and varies from canton to canton. You can deduct value-enhancing investments and the costs of the sale from the property gain and thus reduce the tax burden.

Houzy Hint

Tip

If you buy another house or apartment with the money from the house sale, you can defer all or part of the property gains tax and pay it only when you sell the new property.

Selling a house: Hire a realtor
A realtor takes a lot of work off your hands and increases the chances of a sale.

Is a realtor worth it for you?

Yes, unless you know a lot about real estate and have time to spare. The investment pays off for you. On the one hand, because the realtor takes a lot of time-consuming work off your hands, from the valuation to the change of ownership in the land register. On the other hand, because he knows the market and potential buyers and is likely to sell your house or apartment at a higher price than you. Choose a realtor in your region who has already sold comparable houses or apartments, so that your property fits into his offer.

A reputable realtor charges 2 to 3 % of the selling price as a fee. If he sells your house for 930,000 instead of 900,000 francs, it pays off - and you had no work with the sale.

If you have an Houzy account and have already evaluated your property, you will find in the account overview under "Valuation" three realtors from your region that we recommend in good conscience. If not, you can evaluate your house or apartment now and receive three realtor recommendations from Houzy with the result:

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