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6 tips for the first-time property seller

21 Jun 2017

Selling property can be daunting, more so when you are doing it for the first time.

You have to commit yourself to the process once you do decide to sell, and the first month or so after the property goes on the market is the most critical. As a seller, you have to be prepared to make the property available for viewing whenever a potential buyer would like to see it – within reasonable limits, of course, because the longer a property is on the market the more the probability of a sale diminishes.

There are many decisions sellers are faced with throughout the process and a number of pitfalls to be aware of that could make the transaction long and unnecessarily laborious. There can also be a lot of uncertainty about how much it will cost you and how long it will take.

But the process doesn't have to be stressful or scary. Harry Hattingh, Principal Agent at Leadhome estate agency, says even though selling your property is complicated, it follows a fairly predictable process that any reputable agent should be able to explain, to put your mind at ease.

Hattingh says the very best agents are transparent about the process from the beginning and guide sellers every step of the way – taking much of the guesswork and nasty surprises out of it.

He shares his top six tips for first-time home sellers:

1. The perfect time to sell is when you're ready to sell

Many novice sellers are unsure if they are actually ready to sell, or if it is the right time, and these first-time jitters are normal. The most important thing to realise is that you're ready to sell when you are, and that moment when you are ready is the right time. Speak to a real estate agency, even if you are unsure. Reputable agents will make themselves available to offer advice but won't pressure you into selling.

2. Be picky when choosing your estate agency

The seller's relationship with the agent is critical throughout the entire sale transaction. The agent is the first point of contact for the seller and should be a wellspring of advice and information on how to get the best result from the sale. This includes giving you a clear idea of what costs are involved, when, and what documents you'll need to provide.

Transferring the property to the new owner can take 60 days or more, depending on the attorney's capacity and expertise, so make sure you choose an experienced attorney that knows what they are doing.

Sellers should do their homework before they choose an agency, and select one that is trustworthy, communicative and responsive. Visiting the social media pages of agencies, and perhaps HelloPeter, and reading what other clients thought of the service they offered is a good way to gauge what to expect.

3. Fix material defects, but do not spend unnecessarily

There may be things about your home that you, as the owner, may have tolerated that you worry might put off potential buyers. It could be anything, from chipped, peeling paint to the quality of some of the finishings. Doing nothing about these things would be a mistake, as would doing a complete renovation without knowing whether it adds value.

Sellers should rely on the wisdom of their agents to decide what on the property is a material defect and should be fixed, what additional renovation may add value, and what isn't worth overhauling.

4. If you choose to sell, commit fully

You have to commit yourself to the process once you do decide to sell, and the first month or so after the property goes on the market is the most critical. As a seller, you have to be prepared to make the property available for viewing whenever a potential buyer would like to see it – within reasonable limits, of course, because the longer a property is on the market the more the probability of a sale diminishes.

5. Be your property's ambassador

There may be things about your home that you, as the owner, may have tolerated that you worry might put off potential buyers. It could be anything, from chipped, peeling paint to the quality of some of the finishings. Doing nothing about these things would be a mistake, as would doing a complete renovation without knowing whether it adds value.

Many buyers decide to make an offer based on the personal connection they make with the property, this is why it is important for sellers to show the property themselves. As the seller, you know the property best and are probably the best positioned to offer potential buyers insights on what owning and living on the property is like and establishing that all-important emotional connection. Tell everyone you know that you're selling and hype up your property on your social media platforms.

6. It's not over until the transfer is completed

So you've accepted an offer to purchase, the buyer's bond has been approved and the transaction is now with the conveyancing attorneys, but it's not over yet. The property and all the responsibilities that come with it remain yours until the transfer is complete. This includes keeping the property insured, in good condition and ready to be handed over to the buyer on transfer day.

Transferring the property to the new owner can take 60 days or more, depending on the attorney's capacity and expertise, so make sure you choose an experienced attorney that knows what they are doing.

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