Seven reasons why private sellers should not be selling their homes

This week’s article was contributed by John L. Bradfield, and originally appeared on his blog “This ‘n That”. John is a Real Estate professional with 20 years’ experience in this industry. He is based in Hermanus, the whale-watching capital of the world.

Private sellerAt first glance, selling your home privately can seem like an attractive proposition. You’ll save the agents commission, right?

In fact many private sellers are home owners in financial trouble, and are hoping to avoid paying the agent’s fee in order to clear an outstanding mortgage loan without “paying in”.

The reality is that many of these homes end up as “distressed sales”, and are auctioned by the bank at greatly reduced prices.

Sadly, in many of these cases the result can mean even greater financial hardship for the unlucky owners. In some cases the shortfall translates into a long-standing debt that will represent a financial burden for many years to come.

Many of these unfortunate experiences come about because private sellers are misinformed about the role of estate agents and about what an experienced realtor can bring to the process. Without access to relevant data, private sellers sometimes begin by overpricing their homes — based on other overpriced homes in the same area. There are a few pitfalls to avoid. Here are seven of the most important reasons why private sellers should not sell their homes:

7. Lack of time

Selling a house involves a great deal of time. Someone must be on hand to handle all enquiries any day of the week, including weekends, to show the house, work with prospective buyers, and deal with paperwork. You may be working full-time or you could be relocating. You could find it difficult to devote the necessary time to selling your home. This can result in lost opportunities that may be scarce in the current market. A full-time estate agent can devote the necessary time to showing your home, dealing with prospective buyers, and taking care of the paperwork.

6. Lack of objectivity

From a purchaser’s perspective, an estate agent brings an air of objectivity to the sale. One of the reasons that private sellers may find it difficult to deal with potential buyers, is a lack of the required detachment. The private seller’s natural emotional involvement with the home can leave potential purchasers feeling awkward and inhibited while viewing. An estate agent can help to assess potential offers from an objective and expert perspective, offering professional and researched opinions to help overcome the purchaser’s objections in a reassuring way.

5. Lack of security

Private sellers are faced with the problem of giving out their personal information to strangers. As a private seller you will have no screen between you and a potential buyer or a potential scam artist who may be trying to trick you into gaining occupation of your home. Even worse, you may be faced with a criminal inside your home who could try to steal things while looking around, or perhaps “case” the property and security systems for a much bigger crime at a later date. Estate agents deal with potential buyers on an ongoing basis, can preserve your privacy, and can usually tell if something doesn’t feel right, thereby preventing potential problems of this kind.

4. Working with unqualified buyers

In the current market less than 50% of potential buyers will qualify for a home loan. It’s sometimes difficult for private sellers to ask the probing questions that are required to thoroughly check out the financial capabilities of potential buyers. Sometimes a buyer has not properly investigated how much cash is required upfront for the deposit and transfer fees, leading to a failed transaction. A professional estate agent is trained to do a proper assessment that can save time and expense down the line.

3. Paperwork and legalities

Apart from the need to achieve familiarity with sale agreements and other legal documents, private sellers are faced with liability issues when dealing with buyers one-on-one. Laws dealing with property sales have increased and become more complicated in recent times. The new Consumer Protection Act is the most recent example of these.

A professional realtor is trained to deal with these legalities and provides the seller with the security of knowing that these issues will be properly taken care of. When drawing up the Deed of Sale, certain details can be contentious. An experienced estate agent can recognise the pitfalls and traps in any given situation, and do the drafting of special clauses in such a way that both parties are protected from nasty surprises or disappointments later on.

2. Lack of exposure

Private sellers must carry the costs of advertising and marketing, whether they sell their homes or not. Most private sellers don’t have the knowledge or resources to create enough awareness, and for these reasons they will not have the ability to select the most effective advertising methods, and will not have access to a wide enough pool of potential buyers. However, a professional estate agent has access to an existing database of buyers, and to national and international referral and marketing channels.

1. Inexperience in negotiation

Possibly the most important aspect of selling a home involves the concept of price negotiation when an offer is received. The agent’s fee is percentage based, so the bigger the sale, the higher the fee. Typically, buyers approaching a private sale feel that the private seller’s saving in commission should accrue to them, and not to the private seller. A good estate agent is a trained negotiator and is skilled in the art of maximising the selling price of your home. For these reasons an estate agent will often achieve a higher net value than a private seller at the end of the day.

Visit the BetterBond website for more information about bonds and estate agents.

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