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Most common mistakes sellers make and how to avoid them

Grant Gavin, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Panache which services the KwaZulu-Natal coastline north of Durban through to Umdloti says that in the years he has been involved in real estate, he has seen a trend of common mistakes that sellers tend to make when it comes time to put their home onto the market.

“It is understandable that sellers find the process of selling their home complicated and overwhelming, as it’s not something they do every day. However, with the right research to ensure they are prepared for the sale, and to ensure that they use the right agent, many of the common errors could easily be avoided,” he says.

For example, Gavin notes that many sellers tend to select an agent to sell their home based on who gives them the highest valuation. “This is a mistake as by doing this, sellers may inadvertently be employing the least experienced or least productive agent,” says Gavin. “Instead, agents should be selected based on their expertise and knowledge of the area and the property market, their marketing plan and by other homes that they have sold.” Gavin points out that good agents will have a solid track record of properties they have sold which will give a good indication of their ability.

Pricing the home at a premium in the initial marketing period is another common mistake sellers tend to make.  “This is the most critical time when marketing a home because the most active buyers in the market will come through during this period. That is why it is critical for the home to be priced at fair market value from the outset.”  

One of the most detrimental mistakes that so many sellers make when putting their home on the market is overpricing the property, says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He notes that often sellers set a higher price for their property than what they want to get out, with the hope that if a buyer offers a lower price, they are still able to negotiate close to the original price they wanted. “However,” says Goslett, “if the property is overpriced, many buyers won’t even take the time to view it and would rather look at other properties that are priced at what they deem to be reasonable market value. All over estimated prices will do is make properties that are priced correctly look like a bargain buy.”

Gavin says that many sellers also tend to turn down the first offer they receive.  “When sellers receive an offer early on in the sale process, it’s fairly common for them to feel that they need to wait and see what else the market will deliver. Unfortunately,” says Gavin, “the longer a home stays on the market, the lower the eventual selling price that can be achieved.  If the agent markets a home correctly at an accurate price, then sellers should be prepared to receive an offer early on in the process,” he says.

With the Consumer Protection Act in mind, failure to disclose faults in the property that may not be visible to purchasers when inspecting the property is another mistake often made by sellers, according to Gavin. He says that buyers are more aware than ever before of the importance of getting a home properly inspected to ensure they know what they are buying. “Should faults be discovered that the seller would have known about, things get tricky and it will more than likely put the sale at risk.”

To sell a home in the shortest amount of time for the best possible price, sellers need to have done their research and select the best agent to work with them in order to achieve their goal, Gavin concludes.


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