Do I Sell Privately?

From time to time we meet property sellers who decide to sell their property themselves.  In our experience there are usually two reasons why a seller may decide to do so:  they’ve had a bad experience with an agent, or they wish to save the cost of the agent’s fee if they can.

Both reasons make perfect sense.  But let’s discuss the merits of the argument for a moment.

Sadly, there are many estate agents who promise a certain amount of marketing and service, and who don’t deliver what was promised.  For the most part, the seller is tied into their sole mandate with no options.  There is a provision in the Consumer Protection Act to cancel a sole mandate, but there are often costs associated with that.

To be honest, I’d never sign a sole mandate with anyone unless there was a clause in their agreement allowing me to place the agent on terms should they not deliver on their service and marketing promises – which also need to be in writing.  If the agency doesn’t perform you need an easy way to terminate their services, without any cost to you.  So look for an agency that gives you this option in writing, and don’t sign a sole mandate with anyone who doesn’t!

Let’s have a look at the issue of saving the agents fee.  To be frank, there is no reason you can’t sell your property yourself.  You probably have the ability, and your attorney could do the paperwork.   If you just want to sell your property, you can definitely do it yourself.

However, for most property owners, you don’t just want to sell your property.  You want the absolute best price the market will pay – and you deserve it!

The real value of an agent should be the ability they have to attract you the very best buyers through marketing strategies that, as a private seller, you would not have access to.  And I’m not just referring to print or online ads.  I’m talking about intelligent strategies that give you access to buyers you wouldn’t usually reach – and then the ability to get them to compete against each other to make their best offer.

That’s the difference between selling privately and selling through a professional agent.  The best agents will have a very strong offering and they will be able to show you what their strategies are.  So ask them – and don’t list with an agency that can’t demonstrate their value to you.  Great agents will also demonstrate their negotiating skills – skills they will use to get a buyer up to their maximum.

Most private sellers may well try to sell their property themselves, but if not successful they will consider listing with an agency later.  So if that’s what you’re thinking, then interview potential agents to see who will earn the right to represent you.  In most cases, the best agents are worth every cent of their fee.

Steve Caradoc-Davies

Principal of Harcourts Platinum
Director of Harcourts South Africa

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