Should you use an estate agent, or sell it yourself?

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

Reporter: I would like to know, selling property yourself versus using an estate agent, what is the difference?

Simon Bray: We've got a unique history. As a property website, we started off just listing private sales - guys that wanted to do the whole process themselves. So we've got a long history working with people with that do-it-yourself mentality and, "I want to control the whole process". But we've learned over a period of time that that is only really 5% of the homeowner market in the country. Even today, after all these years, only 5% of the listings on Private Property are in fact for sale by the homeowner themselves. I think the reason for that is it's a far more difficult process than people think when they start. There's a lot of things that are taken for granted in the role of the estate agent. And so what we've seen over time is that Private Property has come to represent the entire residential property market, not just private sellers.

I once heard the statement, "Marketing is easy, but selling is hard." Do you agree with that?

Absolutely. Platforms like ours really do make the marketing part quite easy. If you list your property on our website, you're going to tap into millions of interested buyers straight away. Marketing your listing and advice around what pictures to take, floor plans, virtual tours, how do you feature your listing in front of the right audience, all of that is easy to come by. But what is difficult are those parts of the process no one enjoys - negotiating on this home that you've lived in for 15 years, that you absolutely love. When a guy lowballs you, how do you react to that? A lot of people are just not equipped for those kinds of discussions, and people don't want to open their homes on a Sunday and sit there for three hours and have no one come. You know, all of these tough parts of the process that no one really considers when they list their property. So yeah, I agree. Marketing, easy; actually closing the sale is the hard part.

What are the pros and cons of selling your property yourself?

You're putting me on the spot here. If you want to do it yourself, the obvious benefits are -- the one that people often think of is this idea of cost. You're going to save on agent commission potentially. The problem is a lot of do-it-yourself listers of property don't really know what to price the property at, and that's another key value that agents can bring. Sometimes they get that pricing wrong and maybe the cost benefit isn't as real. But certainly you could save money if you save, and you know what you're doing. You'd certainly control the process a lot more. It's your home. You can let people in whenever you like, whenever you're there. And then there's the knowledge about the home. You know a lot more about the property and its history than anyone else would. So those are the pros. The cons - I mentioned some of them already, but you've got to have the temperament to haggle. You've got to have the temperament to negotiate because people are out there looking for a deal, just like you are. And you've got to realise that it's a time-intensive thing. The average time on market in South Africa is between six and eight months for a property, so you can't expect it to just happen overnight. And I think people do lose patience with the property sales process when they're doing it themselves.

Simon, have you ever come across a scenario where a client is trying to sell a property on their own, but then they get inundated with calls from agents who are trying to get them to give them the property to market?

Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes people get irritated about that, but I see it quite differently. What are you ultimately trying to do? You're ultimately trying to sell your home. So you should be open to any type of deal no matter where that deal comes from. My advice to people selling their homes themselves is to be open to agent deals. If an agent calls you up and says, "Listen, I've got a buyer. I'd love to bring them through the home," then make the home available and see if there's a deal to be done there. It's actually a great way to interact with agents. A large number of our sellers on Private Property that are doing it themselves end up selling through an agent.

What is Simon Bray's tip of the day?

This tip is easy. Selling yourself is perfectly possible, but realise that you need to have the time and the temperament to do it. It's not just plain selling.

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