Private Sale vs. The Use of an Estate Agent

There are a number of challenges that should be considered when partaking on this much-harder than anticipated endeavour and when all has been said, it appears that the benefits of using an agent far out-weigh the commission fee at the end of the day.

There is far more than meets the eye when selling a home privately. “The first challenge right from the very start is establishing a price at which to sell the property. With no experience in this field, little knowledge of what similar homes in the same area are going for and lacking objectivity on the matter- this first obstacle is a tough one to tackle” comments Richard Gray, CEO of Harcourts South Africa.

Outlining some of the major challenges, Gray continues: “With regards to marketing and promotion of their homes, private sellers do not always have access to the avenues of promoting their home in the best way, using the best resources. When and if people do arrive at their Show House- it can be intimidating showing them around their prised possession. It is hard for private sellers to remain objective and the emotional attachment to their home makes the hearing of criticism extremely difficult. An influx of people leads to interest in the property and the possible offer of purchase. Private sellers are more than likely not possessed with the ability to negotiate the selling prise, which could lead to disappointing results.”

Other challenges present themselves in the form of legalities. However, this complication can be handled with relative ease with the hiring of a conveyencing attorney who can process the offer to purchase, agreed upon prise, conditions, occupation date, etc, on behalf on the private seller.

It is extremely important, especially for all potential home-owners out there, to be aware of the fact that terms with the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) are not applicable in the purchase of a property from a private seller. This is due to the CPA only covering people that are working in their normal state of business and as a private seller is not normally working as an estate agent it is not considered their normal state of business. However, with this being said, a private seller can not knowingly deceive the purchase of the property.

After having highlighted all the challenges associated with the private selling of property, its important to acknowledge and understand why selling through an agent is in more cases than not, the better option. The establishment of a symbiotic relationship between seller and agent- a relationship in which both parties work together to achieve the same objective is key.

One of the essential benefits is that an agent has the resources at hand to conduct a Comparative Market Analysis. By comparing the prices of similar houses in the area, they are able to establish a relative asking price. An agent also has experience in coordinating a suitable Marketing Plan. “At Harcourts, this marketing plan is known as ‘The Harcourts Promise Calendar’ and includes all planned activities confirmed on a weekly basis.” states Gray.

He continues: “An important aspect of the process is to provide feedback, which includes weekly marketing feedback, past inspection feedback and have a marketing review which will enable the seller to make any necessary changes based on the feedback from the potential buyers.”

In the end, it must be remembered that the estate agent is the expert, and therefore it would only be right to expect them to get more money for your home. With an agent already in possession of a buying pool that they have been working with for some time, they are there to facilitate the process in a smooth and professional manner, with as little interference into your daily life as possible.

Gray concludes: “Considering that in most cases private sellers eventually turn to estate agent to execute the final purchase, it goes without saying that there is a good reason behind their decision to hand over the responsibility to the professionals. However, when choosing an agent, always stick to a qualified agent who operates in the particular market as they know the market and potential buyers in that area, and soon enough you will be saying goodbye to your old home as you welcome greener pastures…”


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