Selling your home is like filling up your car, right? We should all know exactly where to begin and what to expect; and if not there is a gap in your knowledge of the world and everything in it.
Wrong! Deciding to put your first home on the market, and then actually finding the right property professional to partner with, is a complex process that will require research and lots of questions. Lots and lots of questions.
Graham Knoop, area specialist in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, explains where to begin and what to expect from the agent you partner with.
I’m serious about selling, where do I begin?
Request two to three evaluations from agencies which have experience and a high profile in your area and make your final selection based on your confidence in the agent’s ability, experience and knowledge, which will also be reflected in the accuracy of their valuation.. A marketing strategy will be discussed and agreed upon and your property will then be put onto the market.
Expert tip: Bear in mind that the highest valuation is not necessarily the best one. An accurate property evaluation not only determines the final sale price achieved but also the length of time a home spends on the market, which is especially important if the seller is buying another home subject to the sale of his current property.
An estate agent’s knowledge of the home buying process and the local market is key, so ask questions like the length of time they have been in the industry, recent sales history and about their familiarity with the law pertaining to property transactions. Ask to see proof of the agent’s Fidelity Fund Certificate, issued by the Estate Agency Affairs Board. An agent who holds a Fidelity Fund Certificate, is not only serious about his profession but qualified to deal with most eventualities and operates according to stipulated rules of conduct.
How do I decide between a sole and open mandate?
It’s an old analogy, but still rings true; the next time you have bacon and eggs for breakfast, remember, the chicken was involved, but the pig was committed. The point is, however one analyses a mandate, commitment plays a massive role in both parties achieving the desired outcome. If priced correctly, a good agent will strive to create competition amongst buyers. This can only be achieved through a sole mandate. You want buyers competing against one another, not agents. So, to achieve the best possible price for your property, one needs to create a platform of competition amongst buyers, a difficult task to achieve on an open mandate.
Expert tip: As you commit to an agent, in turn an agency, so too will the real estate agency be prepared to commit to you and dedicate a considerable marketing budget to a sole mandate rather than an open mandate
Service, transparency and accountability is what one should expect. The truth is, a seller is entrusting an agent with the sale of arguably their biggest asset, so the agent should be an expert and professional in every facet of selling property, from legal processes to tax laws, marketing processes and strategies, through to negations skills and sales techniques. Service doesn’t end at good communication skills and social niceties; it should encompass everything necessary to achieving the best possible price for the seller. The agent has the responsibility to guide the seller as professionally as possible through the process of selling. And when things don’t go according to plan, the agent needs to step up and take on the responsibility.
But in an age where information exists at our fingertips, sellers need to begin educating themselves and start asking the right questions. A seller should know exactly what the marketing strategy is for their property, and this should be presented by the agent.
No two properties are the same and nor should the marketing approach. The manner in which online users consume property is ever changing. Property Marketing is constantly growing and evolving, and so should the agents. One cannot afford to be left behind.
Who pays for the marketing?
Real estate agencies pay for marketing of the property, so this budget is often determined on whether the property is on a sole or open mandate. Agencies are taking the risk by out-laying spend on the marketing of a property before its sale, which is why a sole mandate is always in the best interest of both parties.
How much admin will I have to do and how much will my agent do?
There are reams of documents to be read through and signed during the selling process but your realtor and conveyancing attorney will draft all the documentation pertaining to the sale and will also conclude most of the steps on your behalf, such as registering the sale at the deeds office.
This is where the real work of an agent begins and, on average, the process takes around three months from the date of sale until the property is registered in the new owner’s name if there are no delays. Once a seller has accepted an offer to purchase, the buyer must produce proof of a successful bond application.
A conveyancing attorney is then appointed who will apply for the bond cancellation figures from the bank as well as the rates, lights, water and refuse removal clearance figures from the local authority and, if it’s a sectional title home, levy figures from the body corporate or home owners’ authority. Only once the attorney has these documents, can the transfer documents be drafted.
Will my agent provide assistance in dealing with the bank and the bond cancellation requirements?
If the seller still owes money to his bank in respect of his current property for sale, the bond will have to be cancelled at the same time the property is transferred to the purchaser. The conveyancer must obtain the original title deed to the property from the seller’s bank, who will be holding the title deed as security. The seller’s bank will also inform the conveyancer regarding the exact amount still owed by the seller. When the property is registered in the name of the buyer, the existing bond will be cancelled and the seller’s bank will be paid the outstanding amount with the balance paid to the seller.
Remember: The cost of cancelling the bond is paid by the seller and will be deducted from the purchase price before the seller receives the balance.
How can I work with my agent to do extra marketing, or over and above what the agency offers to really get my home out there? Is that possible? Who will pay for that if I require it, is it negotiable?
Anything is possible, and the fact that the seller is exploring additional options is great. Real estate agents should know which marketing tools and channels yield the biggest return in terms of exposure and conversions. Today’s digital age allows us to communicate to multiple audiences, across a variety of channels in many cost-effective ways and the agent should be familiar with them all. It essentially comes down to the online knowledge you and your agent possesses and what platforms/support you have access to.
Expert tip: Don’t just post, publish or upload online for the sake of it. Know what your strategy is and why you are doing it. If in doubt, jump onto YouTube, there are plenty of tutorials which will be able to advise you.
First-time seller, got a burning question? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org