Buying from a private seller? What can go wrong?
Let’s be honest, most home sellers would prefer not to pay commission to their estate agent at all; and there are some who try to avoid this at all costs by selling their homes privately.
Buyers browsing their local newspaper or online portals such as Property24, Gumtree or Private Property, will find sellers going commando. And while it can be done, if their business is not property they may just end up wasting your time and inadvertently delaying the sale altogether – leaving you disappointed and out of pocket.
Brian Hickson, Jawitz Properties’ Midrand franchisee principal, says that buying or selling a property does not only amount to the exchange of cash. Instead, he says, there are stringent legal requirements and procedures that have to be adhered to, not to mention a strict code of ethics that estate agents have to abide by. Estate agents have to be registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) and have to be suitably qualified. This would, however, not apply to an individual selling a property.
- As a buyer, you need to be aware of biased contracts that could favour the seller.
It is in your interest to deal with an agent who works in the area and who can advise on current market trends. He/she will also be able to protect the interests of both seller and buyer, not only during the sale, but throughout the transfer process.
- Hidden defects in the home could easily be overlooked, resulting in expensive repairs at a later stage. An agent would be able to spot them, or at least ask the owner pertinent questions about them.
- Loopholes in the sales agreement may be detrimental to the buyer further down the line. Contracts often contain unrealistic requirements regarding the period allowed to secure a loan or to effect transfer, which would place the deal, and the buyer’s deposit, at risk.
- If there is no provision for fittings in the offer to purchase, a seller could abscond with blinds, carpets, stoves and the like.
Selling your own home might save you money in the short term by cutting out the estate agent’s commission, but marketing and advertising are costly and time-consuming, and you will potentially lose more money for every extra week your home sits on the market.
- Estate agencies have long-term relationships with the property media and buy space in bulk. They are therefore able to negotiate reasonable advertising rates on your behalf.
A credit check needs to be done to minimise the risk of the deal falling through should the buyer not be able to afford the property.
- An agent can draw up an offer to purchase inclusive of all aspects of the sale. This will not only look after your interests, as the client, but also those of the buyer.
- An offer to purchase agreement is often couched in legalese making the content difficult to interpret. A qualified estate agent will always be on hand to take you through the document and explain any clause that is not fully understood.
- During the transfer phase, you would need a transferring attorney. Due to estate agencies working with transferring attorneys on a daily basis, a reputable firm could be recommended, if required.