With demand for residential property improving in South Africa, sellers need to improve their strategies

With South African residential property showing signs of becoming a preferred asset class once again, estate agents, says Tony Clarke, Managing Director of the Rawson Property Group, are finding that multiple offers on homes are now increasingly common.

“There have been many occasions recently,” says Clarke, “where bidding wars have taken place — and stock shortages are now beginning to be a problem, another sign that demand is increasing.”

In the new conditions, he says, more sellers will be coming to the market and if they are going to get the best price in the fastest possible time they should be working out strategies suited to today’s conditions.

The first and most important point to be grasped, says Clarke, is that great care must be taken to get the right estate agent.

“In appointing an estate agent, sellers are inviting them to establish a relationship with themselves which may last three or four months, possibly even longer. The estate agent, therefore, must suit the seller’s personality and must be right for the area and for the home being sold. If the seller appoints the wrong agent, his chances of selling quickly at a good price will immediately be reduced.”

The next step, says Clarke, should be to set about researching the details of similar properties on the market or recently sold in the area. This will involve going to as many show houses in the precinct as possible and reading local property advertisements so as to compare what others are offering with what the house in question offers.

In this process, says Clarke, it is important that the person coming to the market should recognize that sellers will usually overprice, to a greater or lesser degree and it can take careful research to establish what the true values of similar homes in the area are.

It is especially necessary, he says, to examine the recently achieved prices, these being more important than the asking prices in the long run. It is also helpful to compare prices on a square metre basis. If this is carefully done, it can lead to the seller actually having to re-adjust his price.

“It cannot be stressed enough,” adds Clarke, “that, if you are serious about selling, you must have a market-related price. Experienced estate agents will tell you time and again that if you inflate your home’s value you will end up actually selling it for less than its true value. This is definitely a route that should not be followed.”

Good estate agents, says Clarke, will always give their clients feedback on where a home is being advertised – and the seller should assess the success of the portals and media being used.

All homes should be given printed brochures for distribution to those interested and these should be available online.

In many of the more expensive homes, says Clarke, a walk-through video should also be part of the marketing kit and this should be professionally handled. Poor pictures in brochures and poorly executed videos, he warns, can discourage a potential buyer very quickly.

“Buyers,” adds Clarke, “will show greater interest if the home is advertised on the value range pricing system rather than with a single definite price.”

Once these databanks on the property have been established, it is wise, as early on as possible, to pack in a great many show days within a limited period.

“Do not,” he advises, “arrange to show the house once every two or three months. Aim for maximum exposure over a short period as soon as the sale is launched.”

Sellers who are not serious about selling but who are tempted to come to the market with inflated, unrealistic prices in order to see what offers they will get, says Clarke, should stay away.

“In recent years, the industry has been plagued by such sellers and regrettably all too often estate agents go along with them. However, the net result of their efforts has been simply to confuse both buyers and sellers and to make accurate marketing assessments more difficult.”

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