Don't skimp on the agent when dealing with debt.

Debt is a very serious issue in South Africa at the moment and many people feel trapped in a situation where they have very few choices, such as sequestrating themselves or using all the additional equity in their home to "consolidate" their debt. 


In some cases, homeowners with large bonds may even feel that their only option is to sell their home to liquidate the debt in its entirety and hopefully have some money left over to use as a deposit on a smaller home. 


However, says Dr Piet Botha, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group, those who do make the decision to sell their homes to cover debt should also plan carefully to get the best possible price in the shortest possible time. 


"The necessity of a swift, uncomplicated transaction really comes to the fore when a seller has large debts to pay that are increasing every month as the interest on overdue amounts gets added. With this in mind, it is essential to enlist the help of a professional, experienced estate agent in order to sell the property." 


And as tempting as it may be when one is in this situation to opt for the agent who is prepared to sell the home for the smallest commission, owners should bear in mind that "you get what you pay for", he says. 


"Agents who are prepared to work for just 2 or 3 percent commission will inevitably rate your transaction as secondary to others where they stand to earn more, and put less time and money into marketing your home and exposing it to potential buyers - which is the exact opposite of what you want if you need to sell your home quickly and efficiently." 


Botha says urgent sellers should also guard against agents with insufficient knowledge of local market conditions and those who encourage them to bump up their asking price higher than the going rate for the area, as either of these failings is likely to result in delays in getting the property sold. 


"On the other hand, a good agent with excellent market knowledge, a level head when it comes to setting an asking price and access to a range of marketing methods as well as a large network of potential buyers will relieve you of a lot of the anxiety about your situation.

"Consequently, it is well worth seeking out such an agent before you put your home on the market and risk 'throwing it away' in your desperation to be rid of your debt burden."
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