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Two reasons why your agent DESERVES their commission

In emotionally charged scenarios it is easier to find a scapegoat for our emotions and rants than to reflect and look at the real situation, analysing the facts and admitting what we need to do to improve or eliminate any issues. It is precisely because of this that we so easily lash out against estate agents, or any other service provider working closely with us and our emotions, for that matter.

When making, arguably, the most important financial decision of your life, or at least for the next 20 years, it is easy to ask yourself why you need to pay a commission to someone, when you are not even sure what you’re paying for.

Lew Geffen, chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty says that the perceptions of agents simply popping a sale board on the lawn and hosting a show house or two to conclude the deal couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The sale of any property is a complex process requiring months of work from start to finish,” explains Geffen. “In addition to all the other professional requirements agents need to have a thorough knowledge of the real estate market in the seller’s area in order to achieve a realistic sale price in as short a time as possible.”

When we consider that these transactions involve many steps, multiple people and organisations, and, very often, a strong emotional quotient, it becomes clear why dedicated agents are worth the commission. The very fact that these agents have to deal with our emotions, in addition to all the behind the scene and, sometimes, after-hour work needed to conclude a property transaction, makes a strong case for paying for that personal service.

You’re paying commission for advice


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Dawn Bloch, Area Specialist in Lakeside, Zwaanswyk and Kirstenhof for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty recently concluded a sale that was not only a race against time but also a nerve-wracking experience for agent, purchaser and seller.

“In the first week of December I received a call from the owners of an historical home in Lakeside who had less than two months in which to sell their home as they were forced to relocate unexpectedly. Their initial attempts to sell through an on-line auction company and two other estate agencies that didn’t regularly work in the suburb had failed dismally and they were fast running out of time. Several major agencies were called in to market the property urgently in an open mandate situation.
There were also a number of other challenges and as the home was only partially renovated it required that I identify a purchaser who was able to appreciate the full potential of the property and commit themselves to the further cost of renovation to restore the landmark home to its former glory.
I ordered a professional photo shoot to showcase the property and got involved in staging and dressing the property to achieve the best photographic result. I went on to compile comprehensive marketing material – only to be told by the owner that he had received an offer from another agency, but for less than the asking price and subject to a 100% bond approval.
Although I was disappointed, I didn’t want them to suffer the repercussions of being let down at the last minute so I advised them to include a 72-hour ‘meet or beat clause’ to protect them as it allows marketing to continue while the bond approval proceeds.
Fortunately it proved to be the right call as an approved bond was still not forthcoming five weeks later and a very trying period ensued wherein I found a suitable buyer who viewed the property on 17 January and made an immediate offer – for more that the full asking price.
The owner was able to invoke the 72-hour clause and, although the other agency fought to the bitter end and made life very unpleasant, the fact is that their client was unable to produce an approved bond by the end of the 72 hour period.  I was able to give the owners the right advice at the right time to ensure that their house was sold for more than the asking price.”

You’re paying commission for patience


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Joanna Thomas of the Upper Constantia team also concluded a deal with enough hurdles and hoops for the transaction to have qualified as an Olympic event when it became convoluted enough for the story to be published as a novel.

“Last year we listed a lovely but unique home in Constantia that would not suit everyone’s needs but a very interested couple from Europe inquired and I took them to see a few properties – nine or ten viewings over the course of three days. They narrowed down to two properties then finally settled on one, this house, which they also wanted to visit at different times of day and weather conditions, some viewings taking in excess of three hours. During one memorable extended viewing, they relaxed and enjoyed a bottle of wine while listening for traffic noise.
They then flew home without making a decision and emailed a few days later to let me know that they also wanted to view homes in other areas but when they returned to Cape Town they contacted me to say they were still interested in the Constantia house and wanted to put in an offer.
This was followed a prolonged period of waiting interspersed by bouts of resumed interest from the buyers, whilst the sellers also had several changes of heart and there were numerous occasions when it seemed the deal was off the table for a variety of reasons.
But then I received another a call from the buyers who were very keen again and I was asked to drive a considerable distance to meet them to draw up an offer which eventually wasn’t signed and there was more waiting, another change of heart on the seller’s side as they suddenly decided to keep the house for a while longer and sell at a later date; and so goal posts were shifted several more times by both parties.
I did eventually conclude the deal after several months of ping-pong, extensions, negotiations about furniture and fittings staying or going, a particularly tense negotiation about occupational rent; that the seller didn’t want to pay, and intermittent cancellations of the deal by both parties.”

Considering these tales; and there are sure to be many more, Geffen rightly points out that good agents often put in months of work after normal business hours being friend, mentor, assistant and often even house cleaner for clients with no guarantee at the end of it that there will be a pay day.

“And legally, too, they are invaluable with advice such as knowing how valuable a ‘meet or beat’ clause could be for a seller when it came down to the wire – especially since the property had technically been sold at the time and the agent potentially had nothing to gain, but through sheer tenacity continued to market the property to her best ability,” adds Geffen. “At the end of the day a good agent will guide you through the entire process and will be your go-to person when any issues arise, whether they are a legal bind, a financial stumbling block or even personal issues relating to the move.”

As the very expressive Afrikaans adage so succinctly puts it: “Goedkoop is Duurkoop” when you’re buying or selling one of the most expensive purchases of your life.

Top photo: The sale process of this iconic landmark home in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs was successfully concluded at the end of the day because of a realtor’s dedication in the face of restrictive conditions and trying circumstances.


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