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Selling a house privately: Should you do it?

The process of selling a house privately without an estate agent can save you on commission fees, but will require you to do the following research.

Selling A House

Article summary

  • Selling a house without an estate agent can save you on commission fees, but does add a lot of work to your plate.
  • You’ll need to price the property yourself, so be prepared to do thorough research into the state of the property market in your area.
  • You will also need to market the property yourself, so ensure you’re familiar with the traditional and online marketing methods used for property.

Your house is a prized asset, and if you decide to sell it, you may be tempted to control every aspect of the process yourself. After all, you’re so financially (and emotionally) invested in the home, that it may feel like you’re giving away a part of yourself. However, the process of selling a house privately does introduce a few complications.

What you need to know about selling a house privately

Still, if you want to try your hand at selling a house privately without an estate agent, here are some things you should bear in mind:

1. You’ll have to price the property yourself

There are a number of variables to consider when pricing your home, including the area it’s located in, and the state of the market. For example, South Africa is currently in a buyer’s market, which means that if your home is in an upmarket area, you’ll likely end up selling it at a lower price than it’s valued at. Of course, market conditions can change…

Here’s where the services of an estate agent become so essential. Their insider knowledge of the market, and their experience in pricing homes, can be a big help. However, if you do your research, you should be able to come up with a price yourself:

  • Look at the price of other properties in your area (the price they were sold for, not the price they’ve been listed for).
  • Don’t base your selling price on what you think your home is worth, or what you paid for it originally; market conditions dictate the appropriate price.
  • Use whatever resources you have available to you to educate yourself about the current state of the property market.

2. You’ll have to market the property yourself

Hopefully you have an understanding of marketing, particularly online marketing, as that’s where the industry is headed.

Figuring out how to sell property privately online requires you to identify which sites are best for listings. You also need to arrange for professional photos to be taken of the property (you won’t attract any interest without that); and you’ll need to organise home stagings.
Marketing a home is very time consuming, but if you feel you can handle it, then go for it. You may even find you have a knack for it.

3. You’ll have to deal with the buyer

That means negotiating with the buyer, letting them know of any defects in the home, scanning the offer to purchase for relevant clauses, and finding out whether the buyer is applying for a home loan, and whether they’re relying on the sale of another property in order to fund this purchase.

4. You’ll have to appoint the transferring attorneys

You may be able to sell the home privately, but the legal process of transferring the property from you to the buyer requires the participation of lawyers and the Deeds Office. On average, it takes about 69 working days for property to be registered in the buyer’s name.

Estate agents have relationships with attorneys normally entrusted with the transferring of properties, but if you’re selling a home privately, you’ll have to appoint the conveyancing attorney yourself. It helps if you happen to know any lawyers who can recommend someone from their firm.

What are the benefits of selling a home privately?

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself “so what are the actual benefits of selling privately?”. While it does add a lot to your plate, it means you get to control the process from start to finish. There is always a possibility that you can negotiate a better selling price than the estate agent’s market valuation would have granted you; and you may also be a savvy marketing strategist who can exploit avenues others aren’t aware of.

Furthermore, you save significantly on agent commission fees, although that can backfire if you don’t manage your marketing expenses carefully.

If you should find yourself on the other side of the fence, looking to buy a home rather than sell one, bear in mind that ooba home loans — South Africa’s largest home loan comparison service, offers a range of tools that make the home-buying process easier. Start with their home loan calculators; then use their free, online prequalification tool, 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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