WORKING WITH AN ESTATE AGENT
What you need to know:
Most people are extremely careful about their choice of doctor, lawyer or stockbroker, yet surprisingly casual about the next most important professional in the lives – their estate agent.
We have advocated Exclusive Authority to Sell and the estate agency you choose should not be just another name on a list. When you sell your home, the agent is the key person in the transaction.
It is your investment – your money he or she is looking after – and you should be confident of getting the best return.
Owning a home is every South African’s dream; selling is often a nightmare. So your choice of agent is vital. It could mean thousands of Rand either way – the difference between realising the best possible price or selling it below market value. Make sure that in handling one of your most valuable assets, the agent is well qualified to do the job to your best advantage.
To select an agent, ask satisfied sellers to recommend agents – agents who know the area, have achieved fair prices and give good service. Spend some time attending showdays of houses for sale – to watch how different agents present homes. Do you like the way they talk to prospective buyers? Most important, do you like the way they advertise? Do they seem to be after a quick sale, using terms that suggest “desperate sale and/or bargain buy”, or do they present a house in the best possible way to maximise the price?
In this way you will not only see various agents in action, but get a good idea of the price range for the area.
Next, shortlist two or three agents and arrange to meet them. Don’t be passive when they present their “credentials”. Look for professionalism, knowledgeable enthusiasm and a positive approach. The agent you choose will be acting as both your adviser and representative with potential buyers. You must relate well, and have confidence that the agent will work with and for you – never against you. Your peace of mind and a large sum of money are involved.
Ask if real estate is the person’s full-time career, what training they have had, whether they are registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board and what management back-up they receive. Test them on their knowledge of what’s going on in the area – what similar houses have recently sold for, what’s available and how this compares to your home. Is the agent’s suggested price backed by a comparative market analysis? Check that they are not unrealistically inflating the price and over-valuing your property – telling you what you want to hear in order to get a mandate.
Ask how the agent will actively work to find buyers and to market and advertise your home – do they prepare information brochures and fact sheets for showdays? Most important, once you have given an agent a mandate will they retain contact – how often will they be in touch with you? You have the right to know what’s going on and are entitled to service well beyond accepting an offer, right to the point of registration of transfer and even beyond. Very often a relatively inexperienced agent with a fresh approach and outlook, provided he works for a company of good standing and has been well trained, is of equal merit to a more seasoned agent. But the choice is personal – it depends how the agent comes across. Then, consider the company. Does it have a reputation for honesty and ethical behaviour? How long has it been in business, what training and management back-up does it provide to its agents, and is it well connected to help arrange bonds with banks.
For your part your first responsibility is to hide nothing from the agent you appoint. Being open, not only about your home’s good points and aspects you enjoy, but is shortcomings, will help the agent to present it in the best possible way. Forewarned is forearmed. Supply as much useful information as possible – the size of the stand, the annual rates, what stays and what goes with you (curtains, light fittings, built-in appliances and so on). All estate agents have to adhere to legislation as it affects the real estate industry, including the “Financial Intelligence Centre Act” and the “Consumer Protection Act”.
Arising therefrom, the professional and responsible agent, when mandating your property, will ask you to give them copies of your ID (identity document) and a most recent utility bill (water, electricity and rates account not older than 3 (three) months) and to sign a “disclosure document” relating to the condition of your home that you are aware of, the availability of approved plans etc. – it must be stressed that this is in your own best interests as it limits the possibility of the buyer raising problems after the sale is concluded.
Heed the agent’s advice on improving your property for sale – major changes and large cash outlay are rarely recommend, but take note of what to repair, replace, clean up or remove.
Let your agent do the selling
Once the buyers are brought round, let your agent do the selling.
On a showday, you’ll be asked to be away; at other times say “hello” with a smile and get out of the way. In an innocent effort to help sell their homes, sellers sometimes say things that work against them. Buyers like to discuss (or criticise) the property freely without offending the owner. It’s part of the negotiating process and they can’t do it with you present. So let your agent get on with the job, using professional negotiating skills. It is what he is paid for.
And finally, while it is the agent’s job to “protect the interest of the client at all times” this is “with due regard to the interest of all parties concerned”. In other words, although acting on your behalf, the agent must ensure a win/win outcome to the transaction – that the buyer is happy with the price paid and the property bought and you’re happy to have achieved a fair price, based on the true market value.
Click on the below links to open to articles
Why Exclusive Authority to Sell
The question of the estate agent’s brokerage fee
First impressions count
Selling your home and buying another
Beware the dangers of over-pricing
Renovate or buy a new home: which is better?