How to Sell Property in South Africa

An outline of the options and process

When you sell your property you are selling a major financial asset. If you don’t understand the selling process it can be an emotional and stressful time. The good news is that after reading this 5-step “How to” guide you should be able to sell … and sleep easily at night!

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Step 1: Decide Whether to Sell Your Property Using a traditional Estate Agent,
Sell Privately, or choose a Modern Estate Agent

Using an estate agent to sell your property was the traditional way of selling. A great estate agent should be able to make the selling process as stress-free as possible and should be able to answer all the queries you may have along the way. They should be excellent marketers, good negotiators, able to finalise a sale on your behalf and do all the running around for you.

Unfortunately there are many estate agents who may in fact irritate potential buyers, not return your phone calls or emails, and present your home poorly. If, by some miracle, you still manage to sell your property you will probably feel upset about paying the estate agent’s commission.

For this reason, some people consider selling a house privately. Apart from saving on estate agent commission, these owners prefer to be in complete control of the process. Private sellers are usually people who have sold previously and have knowledge of the offer and sale process, plus the confidence to be able to show people around their homes. The greatest challenges to sell a house privately are being able to market the property cost-effectively, managing the buyer-seller relationship, and knowing the legal requirements and liabilities.

Until the launch of Steeple, South Africa’s first online estate agents, in 2012, selling your house in South Africa meant you only had a choice between these two ways to sell property (namely, using a traditional estate agent or selling privately). Now  a modern estate agency that is technology-enabled, such as Property Fox, offers a third way.

Step 2: Determine the Correct Selling Price for your Property

Choosing the correct price to market your property at is critical to achieving a quick sale. You need to set a price for your house that depends on numerous factors.

Read more about these factors in the tutorial: Price: the Key Element to Selling a House Quickly.

Step 3: Make your Property Attractive with Home Staging

Your home must be appear attractive, both in photographs (for viewing on the internet or in print) and when a
potential buyer conducts a viewing tour. The art and science of perfect presentation is called Home Staging.

Discover crucial presentation tips in the tutorial: Home Staging Secrets to Sell a House.

Step 4: Market your Property Extensively

A property that is not marketed may just as well not be on sale.

Read an analysis of how to sell property with twenty-first century marketing in this tutorial: Selling Houses in the Online Age.

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Step 5: Finalise the Sale Agreement

(Note: this is not definitive legal or tax advice on how to sell property. That advice is best obtained from a conveyancing attorney.)

A buyer who wishes to purchase your property needs to sign an Offer to Purchase, which will become binding and be known as the Sale Agreement once all parties have signed. It is wise to get your conveyancing attorney involved before you sign if you are not working with a reputable estate agent.

An Offer to Purchase document will state the amount that the buyer is willing to pay and any restrictions and conditions that may apply to the offer. For example, the offer may be valid for only a certain period or it may be subject to the buyer getting an approved bond from a bank (very common).

To avoid misunderstandings later, it is also always a good idea to note the things that will or won’t be included in the sale – permanent fixtures and fittings are automatically included, but sometimes things like chandeliers, curtains, satellite dishes etc. can be the cause for disagreement between the parties. If there could be doubt, make specific reference to these types of items in the legal document.

Many buyers have trouble getting bonds from banks in South Africa, and this can cause a potential property sale to fall through. Most estate agents will offer to assist the buyer to get a bond by submitting a request to a mortgage originator. The mortgage originator sends an application for a bond to multiple banks. Estate agents will do this mainly in the interests of finalising the sale but may also earn a small commission from the mortgage originator if a bond is approved, although the amount is usually insignificant. Banks in South Africa may try to reduce their dependence on the bond originator “middlemen” and one way that they can do this is sometimes by offering better deals to buyers who approach them directly. However, for most people it is easiest to use a bond consultant so you don’t drown in red tape!

If you wish to sell property in South Africa, a key individual is the conveyancing attorney. This attorney will process all the legal paperwork after the sale agreement has been received from the etate agent, and make sure the title deed is registered in the buyer’s name. The conveyancing attorney is usually appointed by the seller but the costs are paid by the buyer. The banks generally appoint another attorney to handle registration of the buyer’s bond, and a different attorney could handle the seller’s bond cancellation so it can get confusing!

Take it Further …

This guide provides a brief outline of how to sell property in South Africa. If you are interested in selling your house and you want to benefit from the advantages of technology in speeding up your home sale, we would love to hear from you!

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