Help for owners wanting to sell their properties privately

With the advancement of technology and the world becoming more of a global village than ever before, more and more property owners are choosing to sell their properties privately, instead of going the traditional route of selling through an estate agent.

“To do this successfully,” says Chris Fick of Chris Fick Attorneys Inc and a founding member of the Attorney Realtor Hub (ARH), “you need to be able to rest in the knowledge that:

You have assessed and priced your property correctly.
You have or can find a willing and able buyer.
And your attorney is able to assist you with the necessary documentation and support required to transfer the property to the new owner seamlessly.”

He suggests that anyone choosing to sell property privately consults their attorney or an attorney realtor before putting the property on the market and any deal is concluded. This can be on an agreed or time-based professional fee basis.

“The cost of involving a property lawyer at an early stage will be a fraction of an estate agent’s commission but the guidance of a property lawyer is crucial before entering into this venture and exposing such a large asset to many risks without having done the necessary homework,” he says.

“Ideally, you should speak to your conveyancing attorney as soon as you first consider selling your property. He can assist you by ensuring that you have all the up to date information and necessary documentation at hand, so that you advertise your property correctly and provide interested purchasers with all the relevant information and documentation.

“He will also ensure that the contract is correctly drafted and reflects the intention of both parties, contains full and correct information of the property, the parties and other relevant factors including whether the transaction is a VAT transaction or not and various other relevant aspects.”

An important part of the process is establishing the market value of the property for sale. Sellers should not be tempted to overprice in the hope of getting more than a fair market price, but should rather rely on sales figures of comparable properties in their area. This can be obtained from property related websites, from property professionals or agents active in the area, or through Windeed, Lightstone, CMA Info and various other sources.

The last step is finding a buyer. Buyers are found by advertising the home for sale on property related websites, using recent photos to showcase it, combined with accurate and appropriate information, and having show days or show times for the property.

There is also the recommended option of including a virtual reality tour (VRT) so that interested buyers can view the home online before making an appointment with the seller. Through this technology, interested buyers from anywhere in the world can view the property to see if it is what they are actually looking for.

When buyers enquire about the property for sale and make appointments to view it, ensure that they supply information about themselves. Ask questions as to what kind of home they are looking for, what their specific requirements and needs are, whether they require a mortgage loan, and whether they need to sell their property to pay for the new purchase.

“It is as important to know your prospective buyers – and ascertain whether they are serious prospects and can afford it – as it is for them to know your property.” said Fick.

When there are serious buyers, provide them with as much detailed information as possible. Have copies of the property’s title deed at hand, a copy of the latest approved building plans, management and conduct rules of the body corporate (if selling a sectional title property or property in a community scheme), a completed defects disclosure list for any known defect, a copy of the latest sectional title levy account, a copy of the latest municipal rates and services account and any other documents or information which may be relevant to the property being sold.

“When you choose to sell your property without the assistance of a traditional agent, whether you do it yourself or with the assistance and guidance of your attorney, always get your attorney to draft the offer to purchase and to approve the buyers’ offer before you sign in acceptance. Selling your property yourself is possible but protect your asset and the deal by utilising your attorney’s guidance and expertise throughout the process,” says Fick.

“If you do find that you struggle and need further assistance, you can consider the “attorneys selling properties” option and involve your conveyancing attorney or members of the ARH platform (www.attorneyrealtorhub.co.za) as your property specialist – they market and sell properties at a recommended rate of 2,5% + VAT,” he says.