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In selling a home, the seasoned estate agent is irreplaceable

Throughout the long history of real estate marketing in South Africa there have been attempts by new arrivals on the property scene to undercut the professional fees charged by estate agents while at the same time ‘in theory’ providing a service of perceived equal efficiency. However, history has shown that these alternatives seldom gain more than a small niche in the market.

This was said recently by Wayne Albutt, the Rawson Property Group’s Western Cape Regional Sales Manager.

“Those interested in this matter,” said Albutt, “should remember that four different parties are involved in 80% of property deals. These are the seller, the buyer, the bank and the conveyancing attorneys – but the real estate agent is the only person dedicated to the marketing of the property and our experience is that agents are totally irreplaceable if a truly effective transaction is to be achieved which serves the best interests of the seller in particular, with due regard to all other parties.” 

“The simple truth,” said Albutt, “is that the seller of a property (like the seller of any other valuable asset) does need the input of a trained professional marketer operating on a very personal basis. All our experience shows that if you remove this personal service from the equation, and rely on the mechanical aspects of online advertising being punted as effective marketing, you will inevitably get a less effective holistic service, which in practice means a lower price achieved, amongst other probable negative aspects like inconvenience and time delays, to name a few.”

Organisations like HomeBid among others, said Albutt, place a great deal of reliance on property values given by bank valuations – but, particularly in changing markets where prices are in flux, these valuations (being based mainly on past sales) have time and again been found to be less accurate and lower than those the agent is able to achieve when he is close to and in touch with the market. A bank valuation also follows prescriptive principles based on financial risk assessment with very little regard to consumer supply and demand. Furthermore, bank appointed valuers only actively assess values of properties being traded, where mortgage bonds are required, which omits all cash transactions. And possibly most importantly, do not have access to what is currently being marketed, due to the fact that they are not involved in the marketing process.

Similarly, conveyancers, though essential to the ownership transfer of the property and enforcing the legal obligations of the parties on behalf of the traditional seller, have little ability to value the property.

“The conventional thinking on these matters,” said Albutt, “in my experience remains wholly true: if you think hiring a professional is an expensive, wait until you hire an amateur – he will cost you far more in the long run.”

Albutt said that he would state, on behalf of the Rawson Property Group, and risk stating the same on behalf of all other large real estate brands that in more than 98% of instances, a seller and a buyer will be better served employing the services of a qualified estate agent, with local knowledge and experience in comparison with attempting this process themselves or through other seemingly similar service providers.


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