If there is a mismatch between homebuyers and sellers, estate agents have a huge role to play in creating a “meeting of the minds” - especially in the current real estate scenario.
“At the moment,” says Dr Willie Marais, national president of the Institute of Estate Agents (IEASA), “buyers are hearing a lot about a slow housing market and assuming that they will be able to find a major bargain, while many sellers are still unwilling to accept that because sales have slowed and there are more properties on the market, their initial asking price may actually be too high.
“And this is where knowledgeable agents will prove their worth. They will, for example, explain to hesitant buyers that while there may be a lot of homes on the market right now, they don’t need to look at them all in order to make a good choice.
“Then when it comes to sellers, experienced agents will be able to muster a whole range of information to help their clients set realistic price and time goals and achieve a satisfactory sale.”
Firstly, he says, a good agent will stand firm and not allow sellers to “test the market” with a price that’s not going to prompt very much buyer interest. “There are unfortunately many agents who will give in to sellers on this point just to secure a mandate, but this is actually not in anyone’s best interest.”
A knowledgeable agent will also be able to show sellers “the market in action”, says Marais. “They will for example have the facts at their fingertips as regards the current local absorbtion rate - the percentage of homes sold out of all those listed for sale in the area over, say, the past six months – and what this means in terms of the likelihood of the property being sold.
“They should also be able to present a proper market analysis of comparable homes in the area that have recently been sold, showing length of time on the market as well as the eventual selling price. The analysis should also include homes that have been listed but remain unsold or have been withdrawn.”
In addition, a good agent will not hesitate to give home sellers a list of things they need to do to improve the appeal and saleability of their home. “Once again, says Marais, “there are many agents who will baulk at doing this for fear of offending a potential client, but seasoned professionals know that the difference between a sale and no sale in a tough market can be as simple as a clean house or a fresh coat of paint, and they want their clients to have every possible advantage.
“In short, they are prepared to put everything on the line to fulfil their basic brief of getting the buyer and seller to see eye-to-eye.”