Selling your home can prove to be an experience that will test your patience and your business skills. It can also be a lengthy, complicated and stressful business process, often affected by factors beyond your control Below, you will find information and useful advice on selling your property.
Seek Expert Help
The first rule of selling your home is to obtain expert help. Consult your bank, and preferably an attorney, who can alert you to the many pitfalls and guide you through the financial implications.
Your Selling Options
There are two options: selling privately or with the assistance of a competent estate agent.
Before you decide on this option, be sure that you can answer all the following questions positively:
- Do you have adequate knowledge about the residential property market and are you able to price your home correctly?
- Are you skilled enough to develop and implement a promotional plan for your home advertising and merchandising?
- Do you have all the necessary negotiating skills? - Do you understand all the legal and financial requirements of buying and selling property?
- Are you prepared to accept phone calls at strange hours and contend with strangers looking through your home?
Finally, if you can satisfy the above requirements, you may be able to sell your property yourself and save a considerable amount of money you would otherwise be paying somebody else to market your home.
Should you wish to obtain more information regarding the private selling route, obtain the advice and guidance of people skilled in this area from advertisements run regularly in property magazines.
Choosing and using an estate agent
An experienced estate agent can be of significant assistance to you as a seller. However, take care to choose an estate agent that will represent your needs and interests. Spend a lot of time on the selection process as this will pay off in the long run.
A competent estate agent will screen prospective buyers and match their financial means to your property. Estate agents are able to employ extensive promotional tactics to sell your property and, as an added benefit, are familiar with the market conditions and information on area zoning.
Generally, agents put in a lot of work and effort that go unseen by the seller and the commission you pay the estate agent is normally worth it. If you decide upon this route, leave the selling to the estate agent.
The Importance of Asking the Right Price
This is certainly the most important aspect of selling your home. Over-price it and the chances are you will delay the sale; under-price it and you will regret selling too cheaply.
Most buyer interest occurs when your property initially goes on the market. When a home is priced correctly, buyers are less likely to submit low offers, since they would then stand a chance of losing an attractive deal.
Current economic conditions and market conditions, the location and size of the property, the accommodation and the features the property offers normally determine the actual selling price. You will get a good idea of the correct price by looking at what similar properties are fetching in your area. Do not be misled by the asking prices in the area. Remember that the seller usually sets the price, the buyer usually sets the value!
Make sure that your price includes all the extras, such as fixtures and fittings. Remember that the right price attracts the right buyers. An overpriced home that has been on the market for months becomes difficult to sell. Also, the enthusiasm of your estate agent will decrease as buyers wonder what is wrong with the property if it has been on the market for long.
Merchanidising Your Home
Create a warm and homely atmosphere for prospective buyers. There is no need to redecorate your home extensively before putting it on the market, yet some attention to the following will pay dividends:
Inside your home
Since you will be marketing your home as well, take advantage of the incentive to make your home look more spacious by discarding unused items.
- Check cupboards for neatly arranged clothes, make sure as few items as possible are stored on overhead shelves.
- Leave kitchen tops uncluttered. Arrange the inside of the kitchen cupboards in an orderly manner.
- Go through the attic, storeroom and garage and organise them so that they appear as spacious, neat and clean as possible.
- Check all walls for smudges, chips in paint and torn or loose wallpaper. If the walls are in poor shape, consider painting - be sure to use only neutral colours.
- Wash curtains, or dry clean if needed.
- Shampoo carpets, wash floors. If your carpets have seen better days, consider replacing them.
- Tighten loose doorknobs, cupboard doors, towel railings, light switch covers. Fix sticking windows, squeaking doors. Repair and clean waterproofing around baths and hand basins. Fix leaky taps and remove water stains.
Outside your home
The appearance of the house from the street is very important - first impressions count. Maximise your sales potential by ensuring this appearance is appealing.
- Keep your lawn trimmed and edged. Remove all garden refuse.
- Put away lawn equipment. Arrange outdoor items, patio furniture, etc.
- Repair broken perimeter walls and paint.
- Clean out gutters - touch up with paint, realign if crooked.
- Fix broken windows and clean.
- Check roof tiles that need replacing.
- Make sure the outside lights and intercom work.
Selling for the Best Offer
If you have priced your property correctly, your asking price should be very close to your actual selling price.
The right offer may well be the first you receive and if you turn it down, you may not receive another one as good. The best offer may not be the highest, particularly if there are conditions involved.
Put yourself in the buyer's shoes and ask yourself if he / she is getting a fair deal. If that's the case, then that's probably the best offer.
The Deed of Sales Agreement
A verbal agreement between the buyer and the seller of a property has no legal validity. There has to be a written contract, with the terms and conditions of the sale set down in detail.
Most estate agents have a standard contract form, which should be studied, carefully before signing. It is recommended that both purchaser and seller carefully examine the deed of sale, which the estate agent submits to them for signature. They must ensure that the terms included in the agreement accurately reflect the total agreement reached.
Note: If you are in doubt on any point, please contact an attorney before signing any agreements. This will ensure your rights are adequately protected. Under no circumstances should an agreement be signed while it is incomplete or without first being read and fully understood by both parties to the agreement.
Important Legal Aspects of the Agreement
Particular attention must be paid to the following:
- The agreement must accurately record the description of the property sold the correct purchase price and the identity of the purchaser and the seller. Delete clauses that are not applicable and leave no blank spaces. Both the buyer and the seller must initial all alterations and deletions.
- The agreement must record all the conditions agreed upon. All verbal undertakings given must be reflected in the agreement.
- If the sale is subject to a condition that the purchaser obtains a loan to finance the transaction, the purchaser must make every effort to fulfil the condition or else be in breach of the agreement.
- The agreement must correctly reflect the agreed date of occupation of the property by the purchaser and the amount of occupational rent to be paid. Careful consideration must be given to the amount of occupational rent, as this should cover at least the monthly home loan repayment.
- If the sale is "voetstoots" ("as is") the seller cannot be held liable for latent defects in the property of which he was unaware. However, this clause does not protect the seller who fails to disclose latent defects of which he is aware and does not disclose in order to deceive the purchaser.
- Beware of any clause in the agreement that states that the estate agent may deduct his commission from the purchaser's deposit before registration of transfer of the property. Delete such a clause if this should exist.
- Care must be taken when a sale agreement is subject to a purchaser first selling his / her present property on or before a certain date. Many problems can arise with this type of transaction. Any such clause should be carefully worded to provide adequate safeguards for both the seller and the purchaser.
- The seller should know which fixtures and fittings have to stay and what can be removed. It is advisable that any items that will be removed and those that will stay, are written into the offer to purchase, ie a wendy house, pool cleaner, special house nameplates, etc.
- Once the sale has been negotiated, any deposit should be placed either in a registered estate agent's trust account or an attorney's trust account until transfer of ownership is completed, with interest being for the benefit of the purchaser.
Electrical Compliance Certificates
By law, an Electrical Compliance Certificate has to be in the possession of every new purchaser of a property, to confirm that the property's electrical system complies with safety regulations. You are obligated to supply it to your buyer at your own expense prior to registration of transfer. It is not the agent's responsibility to obtain it. In certain areas (mainly coastal regions) the seller also has to supply the buyer with an Entomologist Certificate confirming that the property is free of wood borer or termite infestation.