Deal or no deal?

Potgieter, who is also a qualified Conveyancer, says: “There are circumstances that some sellers find themselves in that could make them desperate to sell their home.” He highlights the case of one seller who had been offered a new position in Cape Town to start in the New Year. The children had to start at their new school, so the move had to be a speedy one. For this seller, renting out his property could always be an option, but stories of bad tenants had left him wary of taking this route, leaving no other choice but to sell, and sell quickly.  “Desperation, be it financial or otherwise, and property sales make strange bedfellows,” says Potgieter.

He says that there are a few tips that sellers can take note of to avoid making the wrong decision during a property sale while they are under pressure:

The seller is asking R1,5 million, the purchaser offers R1,8 million or more in cash

Potgieter notes that in the current economic conditions, every serious and honest buyer haggles about price – no exception. Even though the seller pays the estate agent’s commission, some buyers may even try to reduce that. Should a buyer offer more than your asking price, be cautious.  As the age-old saying goes, if something is too good to be true, it probably is. “There is a good chance that the seller is being conned in this scenario, so they should insist on meeting the buyer in person. It is important to listen to your gut feel and follow your instincts. If the seller is still thinking about pursuing the deal, they must insist on delivery of banker’s guarantees for the full purchase price and payment of transfer costs prior to occupation,” says Potgieter.

You are offered your price or slightly more, and the buyer needs to move in immediately.

An old maxim in property states: ‘No guarantees – no keys.’  Potgieter says that now, more than ever before, this holds true. Sellers should never allow occupation of the property prior to transfer or at least until guarantees for the full purchase price have been delivered and all transfer and bond costs have been paid. Once this has been done, chances are much slighter that the deal will fall through. Once a buyer has occupation, it is extremely difficult to get rid of them should the deal turn sour.

The buyer pays the purchase price in instalments

“For some reason many buyers in the current market think that all sellers are in serious financial trouble. They then get creative and invent weird ways to assist the seller get rid of their property, while many of them simply do not qualify to get a cent from any bank.
Avoid instalment sales at all costs,” warns Potgieter, “Although it is a perfectly legal way to buy and sell property, often the buyer is not able to keep his side of the bargain causing the deal to fall through and the property to be off the market for a very long time.”

The buyer insists on using his own transferring attorney

In our legal system, the seller appoints the transferring attorney and the buyer pays the fee. That is the way it works. Often buyers insist that a family member who is an attorney and lives in another town attends to the transfer as this would save the buyer bags of money. “In cases like these, it is best for sellers to bury their pity and insist on using someone they know or who comes highly recommended. If an attorney acts outside the area in which they have jurisdiction they will have to appoint correspondents to attend to the dreary task of getting clearance figures from city councils, lodgement of deeds in the Deeds Office and so on. It means double work and most possibly delays,” advises Potgieter.

“Lastly,” says Potgieter, “When in doubt and especially before accepting an offer, consult with a property professional of good standing. A reputable estate agent or attorney will be able to speedily advise on the possible pitfalls of an offer and suggest changes to protect both parties. Their fee may prove to be the best investment ever made,” he concludes.
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