Property: make it a fair deal

Estate agents have a moral and legal duty to protect the interests of property buyers and well as sellers.
“Sellers expect estate agents to protect their rights as a matter of course,” says Martin Schultheiss, CEO of Harcourts Africa, “but they should keep in mind that agents are honour-bound to also make sure that buyers’ interests are served.
“Buyers have a right to make sure that their property investment will be protected, and the only way they can determine this is if they have access to pertinent information, such as the reasons why the property is being sold,” he says.
“Reasons for selling property are mostly straightforward and can include the seller relocating to take up a job offer in another town or country, or retirees downscaling to more suitable property.
“Conflicts between buyers’ and sellers’ interest, however, arise when the reason for selling is that the seller wants to get out because of current problems in the area or because of planned developments that are likely to change the character of the area or impact on property values.
“Such information should be disclosed to potential buyers. Not doing so otherwise would, at the very least, constitute dishonesty,” says Schultheiss.
Agents, he says, should keep in mind that buyers are required to prove their bona fides by satisfying sellers that they are able to afford the property or that they can obtain the necessary finance from a bank.
“By the same standard, agents should advise sellers to disclose the reason for selling,” he says.

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