Contracts - not just a question of agreement on price

PRETRORIA (July 08) - Contrary to popular belief, the bottom line in contract negotiations is not always the bottom line. Obviously, how much you are going to pay for a home or gain from the sale of a home is top of mind but it is worth noting that sale agreements can and do fall apart when parties fail to agree on non-price terms of the contract.

For example, take a R1m offer for a house that was listed for R1m - you would think that would be it - done deal at the asking price, what more is there to talk about?

Well actually quite a lot more, says Dr Piet Botha, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group, such as the deposit, valuation, financing, any inspections and who's going to pay for them, fixtures and fittings, and the occupation date, just to mention a few.

"In fact any time the buyer starts asking for things, the seller has to sit back and weigh up the costs, both financial and other, and this is often where deals fall apart."

And it doesn't really matter, Botha notes, whether a disagreement is a matter of "principle" or one of "pride" - items as minor as a leaky tap can become deal-breakers, which is why it really pays to have an experienced estate agent involved as a third-party negotiator.

Other non-price aspects of the transaction that have to be settled could include continued occupation by the seller for a while after transfer, or what occupational rent is to be paid by the buyer who takes occupation before transfer.

Then there's the question of whether the bank valuation of the property will confirm the asking price; that of who will pay for the electrical compliance inspection; and that of which fixtures / fittings the seller will leave in place or is entitled to remove.

"Indeed, the list is potentially endless," says Botha. "Many times, the successful sale of a home is less about rands and more about common sense. For this reason, it is absolutely imperative to have a professional and well
versed estate agent backing you to ensure that you understand all the terms of sale contract and their respective implications."
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