In the final part we’ll cover how to sell an apartment.
When selling your apartment you can choose between a few options:
- Use a traditional real estate agent to manage the selling for you
- Sell the apartment yourself
- Let Blok take care of the paperwork and marketing and just show the apartment yourself
Using a traditional real estate agent
The greatest benefits with using a traditional real estate agent is the ease and some security. It’s by far the most popular option among home sellers who aren’t familiar and/or don’t have time to get familiar with the intricacies of selling an apartment. The biggest disadvantage from the homeseller perspective is that real estate agents typically charge 2-4% of the apartments free-of-debt price. Depending on your apartments price this can easily amount to thousands upon thousands of euros.
Selling the apartment yourself
By far the most economical option is to sell the apartment directly yourself. This option suits individuals who have time and interest to familiarize with the selling process. The greatest disadvantages is that this option requires a lot of time and research. Based on interviews conducted with first-time sellers we estimate that a typical first time home seller uses up to 50h of their free time to sell an apartment themselves.
Blok combines the ease and security of traditional agents with the DIY mentality of selling the apartment yourself. We take care of the most work intensive phases such as marketing and drafting required paperwork, while you take care of showing your apartment to prospective buyers. We have streamlined, digitalized and optimized our part of the work, and are able to offer the service for considerably lower than traditional real estate agents. Blok charges 0.75% of the “free-of-debt” price.
Depending on the option you choose your responsibilities in the sales process will vary. The following introduction will give you an overview of the various tasks involved in the selling process.
Every home selling project starts with gathering various documents and certificates that need to be presented to the buyers. These usually documents include at least the following:
- House manager’s certificate (Isännöitsijäntodistus)
- Housing company’s financial statements (Taloyhtiön tilinpäätös)
- Articles of association (Yhtiöjärjestys)
- Energy certificate (Energiatodistus)
- Floorplan (Pohjapiirros)
The housing manager will usually charge somewhere around 100€-150€ for these documents. Traditional agents and Blok take care of this step for you, though many traditional agents charge you extra for handling the paperwork. If using a traditional real estate agent or Blok this will be taken care for you.
Establish a price
Wondering what price to ask for your apartment? A good way to start is to check what other people are asking for similar flats on the market. Benchmarking with similar apartments found on Oikotie or Etuovi is an effective way to establish a price range since you are effectively competing for the same buyers with your listing. However, do remember that the prices on Oikotie and Etuovi are asking prices. You can easily check for how much apartments have sold for in the past in your area from the database maintained by the Ministry of Environment. You can also try Blok’s valuator tool which uses historic price data from Statistic Finland combined with proprietary algorithms to establish a price range. Suitable comparison points are apartments of same size, located in either the same building or nearby buildings of similar age. Also keep an eye on the market situation. If you’re selling a studio and there are usually few studios on the market, there might be upward price pressure on the market. You can check the market situation in the Markkinapuntari service.
Noteworthy is that most agents will gladly appraise your apartment for free without the need to commit to using their services.
Create a compelling apartment listing
A good apartment listing evokes interest in potential buyers and can be achieved with a combination of pricing, great photographs and attractive description that highlights the key selling points of your apartment. Selling points may for example include: a functional floorplan, overall condition, completed repairs, nearby services, schools, public transport and the overall environment. Make sure to mention if there are any major repairs coming up and remember to highlight your contact details and tell when the next showing will be arranged. The main listing sites in Finland are Oikotie and Etuovi.
If you take photographs yourself make sure to first clean and simplify your apartment. Remove all small items and personal belongings to make the space neutral and calm. If your interior feels too plain and cold you can try adding small plants or flowers to add more life into the photos. Also make sure that there is enough natural light when taking the photo.
Both the apartment listing and photographs are included when using Blok or a traditional real estate agent.
Organizing an apartment showing
When organizing an apartment showing you can choose between organizing public or private showings. The advantage of public showings is that you can show your apartment to a larger group of people. The disadvantage with public showings is that you might need to show the apartment to several potential buyers simultaneously. To help with this we recommend that you enlist the help of a friend or spouse to help with the showing.
The advantage of private showing is that you have plenty of time to show the apartment and answer any questions the potential buyer might have. This option is however quite time consuming, especially when you have to keep the apartment clean and representative.. Remember that you are the best expert of your apartment, you’ve lived there for years and know every corner. Remember to show the different parts of the apartment so the buyer gets a good overall picture of the apartment. Don’t hide any faults and answer any questions truthfully. The seller has the responsibility to tell the buyer all necessary information along with any potential faults or deficiencies.
Print out key documents of the apartment which you can give to potential buyers if requested. Alternatively you can collect their contact information and send them electronically afterwards. If the pricing is right and there is interest you can expect to receive first offers within the first few days or weeks. The average selling time for apartments is around 69 days in Helsinki and 134 in the whole of Finland. In general bigger apartments take significantly longer to sell than smaller ones. The most straightforward way to take in offers is by asking the buyer to fill out an official offer form. This way you’ll have the offer in writing and the terms of the offer are clear for both parties.
Traditional real estate agents will take care of showing your apartment to potential buyers, while in Blok’s model the owner takes care of showing the apartment.
Go through the bill of sales to make sure the content is in line with what you’ve agreed with the buyer. Remember to check that all known faults are listed in the bill of sales and attachments, so it’s clear the buyer has been aware of these things.
Also check with the house manager that the house manager’s certificate and the information about the apartments share of the housing company’s outstanding debt is up-to-date. You should also make sure that you deliver the bill of sales and attached documents to the buyer well in advance so he/she has time to look into them in detail.
If the buyer has a home mortgage, the signing of papers will happen in the buyer’s bank. Ask the buyer to reserve a time from his/her bank.
Also be in touch with your own bank and inform them of your intent to sell the apartment (if you have a home mortgage). The physical housing company share, which is usually stored in your bank’s vault is needed to complete the transaction. Ask your bank to deliver the housing company share to the buyers bank so they have it ready for the transaction.
The transaction itself will happen after you and the buyer sign the bill of sale, and mark the transaction on the physical housing company share. The bank will facilitate the transfer of funds after the bill of sale is signed.
Traditional real estate agents will facilitate the transaction in person, while Blok will send a step-by-step checklist which enables you to take care of the transaction in the bank.
Transfer of control and keys
Keys and access codes to security systems should be handed over to the buyer at the date when the control of the apartment is transferred to the buyer. The exact date should be indicated the bill of sale.
If the sold apartment is rented
If you are selling an apartment that you have rented out, you should also hand over the rental agreement when making the transaction. You’ll also have to transfer the paid rent guarantee to the new owner.
Profits made from selling your apartment are tax free if you have owned and lived in the apartment for over 2 years. If these conditions are not met, any profits will be taxed with the capital gains tax which is currently 30% (32% if you have capital gains over 30 000€). More detailed and up-to-date information on taxations can be found here.