Should you sell through an estate agent or go it alone?

The internet has disrupted the property market and there are more options than ever for buyers and sellers alike.

So, is it better to find or sell your home yourself? Or should you use an agent? Answering the questions below may help you decide.

Have you bought or sold property before?

If yes, you can give private selling or buying a go. If not, agents should take a lot of the angst out of the process as they know what is expected and what can go wrong. They also have a wide range of tools and contacts that private individuals don’t have at their disposal.

Do you have a legal background?

There’s a lot of legal work involved in the sale or purchase of a property and you’ll need some exposure to property law if you want to take this on yourself. Yes, you’ll use a conveyancer to get your deal signed and sealed, but you need to know what your legal rights and obligations are, for example with regards to FICA (Financial Intelligence Centre Act) and the CPA (Consumer Protection Act).

Do you have lots of time at your disposal?

On average it takes a lot longer to sell or buy a house yourself. Agents smooth the way and their networks are a significant advantage. Also factor in the cost and time involved in marketing your property or searching for one. An agent will take this on for you as it’s included in the mandate. But if you have the fortitude and pockets to do this for yourself, a private sale is an option.

Are your work hours flexible?

Are you able to drop everything to meet a buyer or visit a seller at the property in question, at a time that suits them? If not, an estate agent can do this for you and make a buyer assessment on your behalf.

Do you love paperwork?

If not, consider carefully the advantages of collaborating with an agent. There is a mound of administration work involved in property transactions.

Are you sure you have the right resources?

It’s possible to find a great number of properties and market your own through various internet sites. But are you confident you know how best to present your home or find your dream house? Can you see through the tricks unscrupulous sellers are employing? Are you sure you have a good idea of market value and that you know the value of the home you want to buy/sell?

If you answered ‘No’ to three or more of the above, it would be best to consider mandating a reputable agent.

We’re not just talking about sellers here. A buyer’s mandate gives buyers the peace of mind that a property professional is ensuring they experience transparency in the buying process, that they get access to the right properties and that they have an ally in the negotiations.

So how do you choose a good estate agent?

With close to 100 branches nationwide, Just Property is one of few national property companies that offers a buyers mandate. Chief executive, Paul Stevens, advises individuals entering the market to do thorough research when looking for an agent.

“Whether you’re buying or selling, go first to the agency’s national website. Evaluate the tools the site offers – is there a focus on information sharing? Does it offer no-strings-attached, value-added information? Is the technology employed innovative and market leading? Then take a reading of the values the company holds their agents to,” says Stevens.

“Qualities that are important are a sense of optimism, integrity, excellence and innovation. You need to be able to trust your agent, so look for an agency that is driven by a strong sense of right and wrong, with a proven track record of success.

“With an agent by your side you should have a partner working for the best outcome together with you. It’s not impossible to do it yourself, but I don’t know many people who’ve done it twice. That tells you something,” Stevens concludes.