Selling your home privately

In an attempt to cut down on costs, some people decide to sell their properties privately, as opposed to enlisting an agent. “This also means that sellers will have to do all the work themselves,” says regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett. But what does this exactly entail? Moneybags writer Danielle Van Wyk, looks at the process of selling your home privately.

“At first glance selling a property privately may appear to be an easy process of just listing the home online and waiting for a potential buyer to come calling. But there is a reason that only 5% of South African homeowners decide to take this route. Apart from the convenience of leaving it to a professional, an estate agent will be able to assist the seller to correctly price their home, market  and advertise the house, be available for show days and negotiate the sale,” adds Goslett.

Yet, there are increasingly more people opting to go it alone. “People are more and more selling smartly, through leveraging the power of the online marketing platforms. Hybrid models like PropertyFox are becoming increasingly popular as it offers the traditional level of service and support but without denting your pocket,” states Ashley James, co-founder of PropertyFox.

One of the biggest wins is the fact that you will be saving on realtor fees. “Selling privately, depending on marketing and legal costs, will be substantially cheaper in comparison to the traditional model. That being said, it only remains cheaper if sellers are experienced enough to handle the challenges mentioned above. Real estate agencies spend a great deal of time optimising their platforms to allow for the sale to happen as quickly, professionally and as seamlessly as possible. But great service should come at a fair price,” states James.

Another advantage is that you will essentially have more control over the process, be in direct contact with the buyers, and therefore be able to better negotiate. This becomes an important capability as negotiations have the potential to be stressful. “Selling privately is doable but would only be recommended for those with experience in the property market along with legal and negotiating skills,” James advises.

The process

If you have had experience in selling property privately or through a real estate agency, you will know it’s no walk in the park.

“In a private sale, you will need to take on marketing costs to market your home, host viewings, handle negotiations and the paperwork behind the deal. This may sound fairly simple but it rarely is when one is dealing with (often) your most valuable asset. While the sale of a home is at the root of it a simple transaction, it’s also very much an emotional one. Sometimes it helps to have someone handle the negotiations,” James explains.

Being in control of how you market your home may seem attractive and in many ways make sense, as you would have the most practical knowledge on the space, but it may also prove quite the task.

“Getting advice from an expert to ensure you market your home effectively and at the best price is key. Pricing your home correctly to ensure the best return on your investment might be challenging to those who aren’t educated on the property market. Marketing costs can easily build up with no guaranteed sale as well as legal risks if the agreements aren’t done by a professional” James adds.

There is no shame in enlisting help and “ensuring you get legal advice for all paperwork when wrapping up the deal, is also always advisable.”

While there are a number of challenges that you might face, being in South Africa, the first concern is safety. “Vetting all potential buyers might be a challenge to a private seller with none of the necessary tools,” says James.

Fortunately, the property landscape is changing and with the introduction of platforms like PropertyFox, you can more easily navigate your way through the process.

With a similar structure to realtors, this initiative allows for more seller participation and involvement. They charge a 1.5% commission rate on a successful sale.

“PropertyFox does absolutely everything regarding the sale of your home, from scheduling a professional [photographer] to shoot your home, competitive analysis on the home, listing it on all major property portals in South Africa, as well as international platforms, setting up viewings at the convenience of your time and all negotiations along with paperwork to wrap up the deal,” James highlights.

The above being said, selling your home privately is not an impossible feat, and with the correct support it could be the best experience for you. Just make sure you have the necessary time on your hands, and the needed support on hand.