Century 21 SA - Go Fish

When it comes to property, it’s a seller’s dream to make a quick, successful sale. Duncan Gray, CEO and national franchiser of CENTURY 21 South Africa, says that sellers need to be less random in order to achieve a successful sale in a quick turn around time. Essentially, the correct target market needs to be identified. “Casting a big net and hoping to catch a buyer does not work. Buyers need to be targeted correctly the first time around. Efficiency is a vital part of the buying and selling process.”


There are many factors to consider when selling property and sellers would do well to pay attention to every detail. Buyers can broadly be classified into six basic segments: First-time homeowners, family buyers, mature buyers, recreational buyers, off-plan investment and top-end buyers.


Family buyers

Family oriented buyers have very specific requirements when it comes to buying a house. Gray says that “Deciding factors for these buyers include proximity to good schools and all necessary amenities. These buyers seek secure, typically pleasant residential node where their children can grow up, yet still maintain the value of their property investment. Other deciding factors for this market are value added features such as a swimming pool and additional rooms that can be used as entertainment areas or games rooms for the children. A well maintained, large garden may also be an important consideration for the family-oriented buyer.”


Keeping up with the Jones’s

We all know how important an address is to some and for ‘Top End’ buyers this is probably one of the more crucial elements. According to Gray, ‘Top End’ buyers are looking for quality accommodation and an exclusive address before anything else. Exclusive features such as superior en-suite bathrooms, imported finishes and so forth are essential considerations. Good security and close proximity to major arterial routes including important business nodes are all aspects that hold equally important standing in this markets decision to purchase.


Nest eggs

Buyers in the investment market on the other hand do not usually intend to occupy the residence themselves and more often than not will rent the property out. These purchasing decisions are not based on emotions but are usually driven by investment return figures.  “For a home to appeal to an investment buyer, it needs to show potential for both capital appreciation and rental income.”


To a large extent, investments buyers are going to be property savvy as there are risks and expenses involved. One of the threats these buyers are aware of is not being able to find suitable tenants. They also know that tenants sometimes skip rent. Depending on the market, it could also be hard to sometimes find any tenants at all. Tax implications could also put off investment buyers and therefore sellers need to do their homework on all tax aspects if they hope to attract investment buyers.


When buying ‘off-plan’ for investment purposes, a buying decision for the purchaser will be to a large extent based on the developers history and reputation. Gray explains that “It is important for the buyer to investigate the developer’s previous projects and successes. This may include re-sale value of homes in the developer’s previous projects and the quality of building used and implemented.” As the seller, you can aid this process by having this sort of information available, or by having the relevant contact details at hand. This will also help create trust with your buyer.


Senior citizens

Mature buyers are also an important buyers group. While various features are sometimes negotiable for buyers, mature buyers at or near retirement age require certain features that are non-negotiable. A retirement friendly home is imperative to such buyers. Non-negotiable features include one storied dwellings and well-proportioned bathrooms with handrails, should the buyer have a disability. Given the nature of the country we live in, security is also a big issue for this segment. “The home for the mature buyer will inevitably need to be close to medical facilities and transport nodes. Mature buyers may require a home within a secure development that caters for the retiree with extra benefits such as frail care facilities and activities like bowls.”


Lucky fish

As for ‘recreational’ or ‘leisure’ buyers, they are usually looking for a holiday or second home and therefore the property needs to be situated close to all attractions. Hartebeesport Dam is a perfect example of a ‘holiday home’ area that has experienced significant growth and property price increases in the last couple of years. Numerous developments and homes have been built here due to its proximity to Johannesburg and Pretoria and the various attractions surrounding the area. It’s perfect in that it’s close enough for a weekend getaway and within easy reach of the city.


Location, location, location

Sellers looking to sell plots of land or residences ‘out in the sticks’ have a challenge on their hands. The ever-present crime, squatter encroachments and lack of basic services such as refuse removal are serious issues that have to be contended with. These sellers should look to enhancing the positive points about country living, such as peace and quiet, ‘fresh air’ and space. If that doesn’t work, the seller can always try catching the eye of a big developer.


One of the trademarks of modern Johannesburg in recent years has been the development of ‘security villages’ and ‘golf-estate living’ rather than isolated homes. High crime rates and a demand for safe residential living have created vast complexes of townhouses that festoon the Jo’burg horizon. These lodgings can range from four or five residences to several hundred. Characteristically a townhouse comprises of a small plot straddled by a sizeable house. Most of these establishments offer 24 hour security and controlled access. Consequently, high prices are being paid for rather ordinary abodes and developers are on the lookout for land that suits this purpose.


Entry level buyers

In South Africa, property ownership ranks high in the national consciousness. Trevor Manuel’s budget speech for the 2006 transfer duties on residential properties brought much relief to the market recently, especially those on the entry to mid-level market. All transfer duties on properties up to R500, 000 have now been scrapped. According to Gray, “Entry level or first time buyers with a limited budget and negotiating power deem this extremely important due to the issue of affordability and value for money.”


This is especially pertinent for the growing black middle class. ‘Historically Disadvantaged’ groups are now supporting the demand for properties in previously ‘whites only’ residential areas and should be viewed as an opportunity to be tapped into.


Some general guidelines

Different factors apply to different buyers but a few common rules apply to all. We’ve all heard the saying, ‘first impressions last.’ This adage´ applies not only to people but to property too. Picture this. A young couple decides to view a house that is on show. The ad makes the place sounds great, in fact the house sounds perfect. The couple arrives at the address, only to find that the garden is full of weeds and the façade is peeling. Their dreams are dashed and any chance of a sale is lost.


Sadly this sort of situation happens all the time.  The exterior appeal of a property is sometimes neglected and in fact is one of the key elements in many people’s purchasing decision. From the moment a buyer steps onto a pathway, they are forming conclusions. This first impression is remembered long after the potential buyer has left.


The condition of the interior of a home is also significant. It is crucial that the home is clean, uncluttered and well maintained. A neat home creates a sense of order and will tempt buyers. Likewise the garden [if there is one] garners attention. It doesn’t need to be a grotto worthy of the Chelsea flower show but a few basic elements such as a weeded, trimmed lawn and a smattering of daisies can make all the difference in the world.  These simple attributes lend themselves to an appealing environment all round and can make or break a sale.


 Needs some TLC

The state of readiness of a home also affects a buyer’s decision to purchase and unless your buyer is a DIY fundi, the residence needs to virtually be ready to move into without any significant extra work needing to be done. Buyers will feel far more positive about a potential purchase if any cosmetic or structural issues have already been addressed. You’d be amazed at what a fresh coat of paint can do.


Finally, a good agent will help facilitate a quick, successful sale and make life just a little easier for everyone concerned. If you follow these suggestions and know who you’re selling to, then a quick, successful sale should be as easy as pie. 


Visit www.century21.co.za for more information.
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