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Should you sell your house privately? The pros & cons

Should you sell your house privately or employ an estate agent? We provide a rundown of the pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision.

Sell House Privately

Article summary

  • Selling your house privately gives you complete control of the process, cutting out the middleman.
  • However, it requires you to value your own property, market it, and hire the conveyancing attorney yourself.
  • It is a time-consuming process, and requires a lot of research, but it means you don’t have to pay an estate agent commission or allow strangers access to your home without you.

Your house is your most valuable resource, and if you decide to sell it, you want to make sure you do it right. One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether to sell the house privately or employ the services of an estate agent. Each approach has its pros and cons.

Here, we provide you with a rundown of what’s involved, so you can make the most informed decision.

Selling your house privately: What’s involved in the process?

Here’s what you’ll need to do if you choose to sell your house privately:

1. Value your home

An important part of the process, as if your house price is too high you won’t attract buyers. Look at what other homes in your area are going for to get an idea of what a suitable price would be.

2. Market your home

It’s your choice whether to conduct a home staging or not, but either way you’ll need to advertise your home through the best channels, which nowadays means finding the right websites.

Other tips include:

  • Ensuring your home is in the best possible condition.
  • Hiring a professional photographer to take the photos, so your home can be displayed in the best possible light.
  • Remove signs of habitation, such as photographs of you or your family, before conducting a home staging or having photos taken of the home. You want the home to look like it hasn’t been lived in.
  • Advertising your home on multiple websites, whether it be official property websites or a personal advertising space like Gumtree.

3. Hire a conveyancing attorney

Without an estate agent, you’ll need to hire the attorney yourself. Perhaps you can seek recommendations from friends, or browse the websites of various law firms. Either way, you need the conveyancing attorney to handle all the legal paperwork.

They can provide the necessary documentation when it comes time to sign an offer to purchase, and they can handle the transfer of the property from you to the buyer once the deal is closed; a process that usually takes around 3 months.

4. The offer to purchase

When an interested buyer makes an offer, it’s called an offer to purchase and it is legally binding. So ensure you’re prepared for the legal ramifications.

The offer to purchase will include terms and conditions that need to be followed by both buyer and seller.

Things you need to do before signing the offer to purchase:

  • Make the buyer aware of any flaws in the property.
  • Find out how the buyer is funding the purchase, whether they’re applying for a bond, or waiting to sell their current home in order to acquire the funds. You need to get an idea of the timeframe. Bear in mind that the offer to purchase will usually include a 72-hour clause, which gives you the right to continue marketing the property, but requires you to give the buyer 72 hours notice before you can accept a new offer.

Why sell your house privately? The pros and cons

The pros of selling your house privately:

  • Complete control over the process. You cut out the middleman and you now control who has access to the property and when.
  • You save money on the commission you would have had to pay the estate agent, which usually amounts to around 5-7% of the property sale.
  • You communicate directly with all the people involved in the sales process including the buyer themselves, and the conveyancing attorney.

Since your home is your most valuable asset, having complete control over its sale can be tempting. However, bear in mind the cons of selling your home privately:

  • It’s extremely time-consuming, considering you have to deal with every step of the process yourself.
  • You may not have the knowledge and experience an estate agent can offer when it comes to valuing your home, marketing it, and hiring the required attorneys.
  • You have to identify the channels for marketing your property yourself, since you lack access to the database that estate agents have.
  • You will need to conduct home viewings yourself, which will require you to be able to shuffle things around on your calendar in order to incorporate viewings into your schedule.
  • You won’t have access to the advice an estate agent can offer on the legal and administrative requirements that accompany the offer to purchase and other steps in the home selling process.

In short, the question is how much time you’re willing to sacrifice in order to maintain full control over the house selling process, and whether you have confidence in your ability to research home pricing, marketing, and the legal procedures accompanying the process.

Once you’ve sold your home, and are looking to invest the funds in a new home loan for your dream property, bear in mind that ooba Home Loans — South Africa’s leading home loan comparison service, offers a range of tools that can make the buying process a lot easier. Start off with their home loan calculators; then use the ooba Bond Indicator to determine what you can afford. Finally, when you’re ready, you can apply for a home loan.

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