Selling your home, YOURSELF?!

Selling your home, YOURSELF?!
05 Mar 2021

When selling your home you want to get as much bang for your buck as possible. It’s only natural. For most people, it is not only their family home, but often times, an investment too. And with your home being one of your most prized possessions (and one of your most valuable resources), when you make the big decision to sell it, you want to ensure you do it the right way.

For some people, the thought of paying away valuable Rands and cents to estate agents has them running for the hills. Or at least running to their laptops to research other ways to sell their property.

And then all of a sudden it’s like a light bulb going off in your head –

I will sell it myself! (always said with self-assurance and confidence). I mean, if an estate agent can do it, surely I can too. How difficult can it be?”

Well, we are not saying it is impossible (nor are we discouraging you), but there are a number of considerations you should keep in mind, such as –

1. Valuating your home

How much you believe your property is worth, is not always realistic. Or current. Markets and suburbs change. As do their resulting values. But if you make the decision to sell your home yourself, you will need to undertake this valuation process yourself. If the price is too high, it will not be attractive to buyers and you will end up with a house on the market for far too long (often giving it the stigma that it is “undesirable”). Price it too low and you may end up getting more bang than buck. Then you will need to ask yourself what the point of not hiring a professional to get you the best price possible was..?

An obvious suggestion is to go online, look at properties in your area (with the same number of rooms and bathrooms). Get a feeling for and sense of what homes are priced at in your particular area (remembering that the price the homes were sold for and not the price they were listed for is more important). It is hard, but you often need to try be objective (and realistic) and look at your home through the eyes of a prospective buyer. Also it is important to keep in mind that the price of your home will not be what you originally paid for it. So factor this in and do your research.

You may be able to request an agent to provide you with a comparative market analysis – a list of similar properties sold in the area, research asking prices for similar properties or purchase a report from a property research company. Once you have the information required, you can set your asking price.

Here’s a consideration – South Africa is currently in a buyer’s market, which means that if your home is in an upmarket area, you will likely end up selling it at a lower price than it is valued at.

But of course, market conditions can change, so keep your ears to the ground and eyes on the prize….

As an aside, this is where the services of an estate agent become important. Their insider knowledge of the market (and the changes going on), and their experience in pricing homes, can be a huge (and valuable) help.

However, if you do your research, you should be able to come up with a price yourself.

2. Marketing your home

Everyone thinks this is easy. That getting your house noticed is just like getting likes on Instagram (in a way, it kind of is) but you need to ensure that you do this right. Marketing your home is not like posting the cutest pic of your cat (as adorable as he may be). It is far more intricate.

Advertising on the right websites and through the right channels is crucial. This can include tapping into your social media and listing on online property sites, like Private Property, for instance. Also just like dating, sometimes it is best to advertise your home on multiple websites. Just to ensure your home has the best chance possible of finding its new owner.

You should also arrange for professional photos to be taken of the property. Simply taking pics with your latest iPhone (as amazing as the lens may be) will not do your home any justice. And whether you have your home staged or not, is entirely up to you. But one thing is for sure. Your home needs to make the best first impression possible – remember yourself on a first date “back in the day”. Or even worse, a blind date? Think of your home in the same position – you don’t want it to be rejected. Do you?

With Covid still being very much on everyone’s minds, having show-days is not entirely realistic. At least not yet. So one way to combat this drawback is through video walk through’s or virtual tours. Prospective buyers can stream the uploaded video or virtual tour and feel like they are part of the action. Whilst still safeguarding your own health – people touching your stuff (even without Covid) is risky enough but limiting the germs that come into your home is absolutely essential.

As an aside, please do not take photos of the dead plants in your garden. As far as your budget will allow, ensure your property is in the best possible condition. But remember, it is also important to make the buyer aware of any flaws in the property. It is actually law.

3. Hire a conveyancing attorney

As the seller (and without an estate agent), you will need to hire a conveyancing attorney yourself. Perhaps you can seek recommendations from friends, or browse the websites of various law firms. Either way, you will need a suitably qualified conveyancing attorney to handle all the legal paperwork. And conveyancing attorneys, like Benaters, who have your best interests at heart (especially when going through this process without anyone in your corner) is a definite plus.

We have got your back!

We can provide the necessary documentation when it comes time to sign an offer to purchase, and we can handle the transfer of the property from you to the buyer once the deal is closed – a process that can take around 3 months (if there are no delays).

But be sure to decide which firm you are going to use for the transfer (even if it is not us) before you agree the sale of your house – they will be able to supply you with the relevant paperwork like an offer to purchase, and assist with any legal advice that you may require.

4. The offer to purchase

When an interested buyer makes an offer, it’s called an offer to purchase and it is legally binding. So ensure you are prepared for the legal ramifications. Which is why your conveyancing attorney should already be appointed.

The offer to purchase will include terms and conditions that need to be followed by both buyer and seller. It is always best to have legal support, like your conveyancing attorney in your corner, to advise you… it can get tricky.

Get in touch with Benaters who are always excited to support you during your important life decisions, like selling your home privately!

Whatever conveyancing attorney you choose, the offer to purchase document should include the property description, the purchase price, occupational rent amount (if applicable) and occupation date, special conditions and any other relevant information.

Once the sales agreement has been signed and completed, it is submitted to the conveyancing attorney who will handle all the paperwork from thereon. The attorney will complete various tasks and liaise with various people in order to get the property transferred from your name to the buyers.

5. You will have to deal with the buyer

Because you will not have an estate agent to do this for you, you will need to deal with the buyer and this often means some negotiation.

First things first – find out how the buyer is going to fund the purchase of the property – whether they are applying for a bond, or relying on the sale of another property to acquire the funds. This information will provide you with info on possible timeframes. Bear in mind that the offer to purchase will usually include a 72-hour clause, which gives you the right to continue marketing the property, but requires you to give the buyer 72 hours’ notice before you can accept a new offer.

6. You will have to appoint the transferring attorneys

Again because you do not have an estate agent who can assist and advise you on this, you will need to appoint transferring attorneys who will assist you with the legal process of transferring the property from you to the buyer (this requires the participation of lawyers and the Deeds Office).

Ok, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty – what are the pros and cons of selling your house, YOURSELF?

The Pros

a) This may be an obvious one but selling your house privately means that you will maintain complete control over the process. You cut out the middleman and you now control who has access to the property and when (and this can be a huge benefit);

b) Again obvious – but by cutting out the middleman, you save money on the commission you would have had to pay to the estate agent, which usually amounts to around 5-7% (on average) of the property sale;

c) You will have first line of all communication – with the buyer themselves, and all attorneys. And this can quickly clear up any confusion or anxiety on your side – we understand that this is a stressful process.

The Cons

a) It is extremely time-consuming – you will have to deal with every step of this process yourself. Ensure you are able to commit the time that will be required;

b) You may not have the knowledge and experience an estate agent can offer when it comes to valuing your home, marketing it, and hiring the required attorneys;

c) Without necessarily having a marketing background, identifying the correct channels for marketing your property yourself may prove extremely difficult and frustrating;

d) You will need to conduct home viewings yourself, and this has two considerations – i. requiring shuffling around of your calendar in order to incorporate viewings into your schedule and ii. safety and security concerns;

e) You will not necessarily have (unless you have appointed suitable attorneys) access to the advice an estate agent can offer on the legal and administrative requirements that accompany the offer to purchase and other steps in the home selling process.

As we said, selling your home yourself is not impossible (and we are not discouraging you), but there are some important considerations (and pitfalls) that can be avoided or at least, better managed, if you have the right people on your team. This may or may not include an estate agent. But it will include the right conveyancing attorney.

We can help you in this regard. You are not alone! Get in touch today!

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)

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