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Can I sell my home while living on the other side of the world?


Hi, I am thinking of selling my sectional title unit in Centurion. I left South Africa for Canada in 2012 and have been renting it out but would now like to sell. I was thinking of attempting a private sale but I am concerned about the fact that I do not know much about the area anymore and I don’t know how the viewings will be managed. Do you have any advice? – Brian


Hi Brian, as an agent I obviously want your business so would prefer you not sell privately, but let me answer you from an unbiased perspective, or try to. Being a low commission agency we often get the worn-out criticism of not being able to provide our client and potential buyers with the local area expertise traditional agencies commonly have.

Our competitors see this as an attack since it is believed that this is somehow indicative of an inability for us to accurately provide our clients with a valuation of their property. The fact is that we use some of the best, professionally registered valuators in the business to give a recommendation to our clients. My view is that as long as you are making use of the services of such an experienced valuator you do not need the so-called localised specialist.

Your concerns about not being able to manage the viewings may be a valid concern. However, usually the tenant shows the buyers the home and sellers prefer this as there is no pressure from an agent wanting to make the sale. About 30% of the homes we sell are tenanted and the tenant invariably shows the buyer around on behalf of the seller.

As nothing beats that person-to-person interaction you could get from showing your home yourself, if there is an issue with a vacant home, it is also a good idea to enlist the help of a friendly neighbour or family living nearby. This individual could show your home to potential buyers and with the money you save on not paying a traditional agent’s commission you could even give them a cash reward to say thank you for helping you!

We believe that having an owner (or friend in your case) or the tenant show the home to potential buyers is also far more conducive to connecting with the buyer. It’s a real person-to-person connection which brings transparency into the transaction and brings a sense of comfort to both the buyer and seller. At the end of the day nobody knows the home better than the seller or tenant and intimate knowledge of the home, street or complex and suburb also likely beats the expert local knowledge of the traditional area specialist.

Bottom line is you have alternatives to paying the traditional agent up to 8.5% plus Vat, even if you are thousands of kilometres away.

Got a burning question? Email mariette@hometimes.co.za and we’ll be sure to assist you

HomeBid-Logo-large-screen.resizeWho is Cavan Sheahan?

Cavan Sheahan, MD of HomeBid

Cavan Sheahan, GM of HomeBid

Cavan is the general manager at HomeBid. The agency is part of a property economist consultancy, investment, and development business founded in 1977, and is the largest low commission estate agency in South Africa, currently selling over 50 homes a month, at a minimum commission of R17,500 plus Vat.

Cavan has been involved in the ‘art of selling’ since 2005, in 2014 he entered into the property playing field and in 2015 joined HomeBid. Cavan believes that he was drawn to HomeBid because he shares the same vision as founder, Neville Berkowitz, that HomeBid will revolutionise the way residential properties are bought and sold in South Africa.

“We pride ourselves on the fact that our clients can rely on our group’s over 40-year reputation for unbiased and independent advice to institutional investors and developers as well as to the man- in the street sellers and buyers.”

Click here to learn more about HomeBid.


Mariette Steynberg is a qualified economist with a post-graduate diploma in financial planning. She has enjoyed working on holistic financial plans for clients in various stages of life, as well as a development economist assessing the socioeconomic impacts of new developments. When she is not working, Mariette enjoys parenting her quirky, delightful toddler girl. Cloth diapering, Eskimo kisses and the importance of reading to your child are all causes close to her heart. Mariette is passionate about financial education and hopes to use the experience she has gained to share knowledge with HomeTimes’ readership. Her goal is to provide information that is implementable by everyone.

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