Using an estate agent to sell your home is the smarter choice – here’s why

Let’s face it, the last thing most people want to do when selling their home is hand over a piece of the profit to their real estate agent. A lot of prospective sellers ask themselves if it’s really worth using an agent at all – how hard can it be to sell a home with all the advice and tools available on the internet?

“Selling property is a lot more complicated than most people realise,” says Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group. “That’s part of the reason why there were so many bad estate agents out there before compulsory qualifications and strict industry regulations were put in place.

“Private sales are certainly possible,” he continues, “but almost invariably end less favourably for the seller. It takes a lot of work, a lot of experience and a lot of skill to sell property well – without the right training, tools and commitment, it’s extremely difficult to successfully navigate the market.”

One of the common problems contributing to the misconception that estate agents aren’t worth their commission is the fact that the better your agent, the less it can feel like they’ve earned their keep. A quick, easy sale is the goal, after all, but it doesn’t exactly make selling property look like hard work.

“Sellers seldom realise the extent of what goes on behind the scenes at a good real estate agency,” says Rawson. “Quick sales happen when a property is priced accurately, marketed well, and exposed to a pool of suitable, serious buyers. Top sales figures are achieved through finely honed negotiation skills and a deep understanding of buyer psychology. Mastering those skills takes years of experience and access to vast amounts of industry data. It’s not something you can learn off the internet in a couple of weeks, or pick up on a whim.”

According to Rawson, this experience contributes towards the sales process from before the property is even listed.

“A good agent knows what buyers in your area are looking for, and will be able to give you clear advice on how to maximise your property’s appeal before listing,” he says. “They’ll also be able to conduct a detailed value estimation based on accurate and current market data to establish a realistic listing price for your home.”

Of course, these services are generally complementary, so morally flexible private sellers could utilise this information for their own sales campaign. That would, however, mean losing out on the considerable marketing and advertising expertise of an established real estate agent.

“Major agencies in South Africa invest a huge amount of time and money on producing high-quality marketing material, and distributing it through well-established channels for maximum exposure within their clients’ target market,” says Rawson. “The tools available to private sellers, on the other hand, tend to be fairly limited and simply cannot reach the same numbers agencies with extensive buyer databases do.”

In addition to this, many buyers are actively wary of private sales, since there’s always a risk of complications from substandard paperwork or legally non-compliant processes. “Good estate agents will have tried and tested, fool-proof contracts,” says Rawson, “and are able to customise these without compromising the agreement in any way. They also have networks of industry contacts for everything from compliance certificates to bond originators and conveyancing attorneys, and can provide invaluable advice on all parts of the sales process to both buyers and sellers.”

Rawson also points out the fact that most buyers who are willing to risk a private sale are well-aware of the fact that the seller is not paying commission, and will often reduce their offer accordingly. This, combined with limited exposure and therefore minimal buyer competition, almost always results in offers well below market value.

“In my many years in the property industry, I could probably count the number of truly successful private sales that I’ve seen on one hand,” says Rawson. “Sellers are far better off – both financially and emotionally – paying a reasonable commission to a qualified professional and enjoying a hassle-free experience.”

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