The role of an estate agent

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

Reporter: We're talking about estate agents. Can you tell me what exactly is their role?

Simon Bray: You see those boards all over the street. Estate agents are a huge part of the real estate market in South Africa. But a lot of people don't really understand exactly what it is to be an estate agent until they have to come and sell their home. They take all of the difficult parts of the sales process and they make them easy. So they tell you what your property is worth in a kind of unbiased market-related way. They certainly do all the hard graft in terms of setting show days and showing people through your property and doing all the viewings - which can be quite a hassle. They negotiate. Not a lot of us are great at haggling on price and estate agents are born to do that. Most importantly, they market your property, so they give your property access to the broadest possible audience that it could receive through platforms like ourselves. We partner with estate agents across South Africa to bring the A listings to life on Private Property.

If I was looking to sell a property, how do I go about choosing the right estate agent?

It's like anything in life - you really want to research it well, you want to get an understanding on what's going on in your local market. Platforms like ours can certainly help. You want to see who are the active agents in your market, who are the guys that are getting good referrals. It's great to talk to your friends that have recently sold and see what their experience was like with a estate agent. If you really don't have any other touch points like that, our website also provides a great service where you can find estate agents in your area. You just type in the suburb that you're looking to sell in, and we give you a list of recommended agents. I think the one thing that's quite important to understand is that the estate agents are actually professional individuals. They're qualified, they've got certification, so it's important to ask them for that certification when they're coming to market your property, as well.

I believe in letting the professionals do the job. On the flip side of that coin, what if I were looking to buy? Would I need an estate agent as well?

It's an interesting question. In some markets around the world, there's an agent that represents the interest of the buyer, and there's an agent that represents the interests of the seller. In South Africa, we have one-agent mentality. So usually, one agent will show buyers around the property as well as talk to the seller. That's why property portals become a very valuable asset to buyers. Because there isn't really the buying side agent. The portal becomes their opportunity to see everything that's in the market, to acquaint themselves with properties, even before they go and visit them.

Homeowners - what can they expect from their estate agents?

The critical first step is to ask your agent what is their marketing plan. They're going to be marketing your listing, they're going to be putting it online, in newsprint. They're going to be marketing with For Sale boards, they're going to marketing with show days. So it's important to understand what the steps are that they're going to take to support the marketing of the property. Because obviously, the broader the audience that sees your property on the market, the more likely you are to get the sale that you want. A marketing plan is all important, but you should also expect a lot of support in the sale process - For Sale documentation, advice on which attorney to use, advice on how the new buyer should perhaps find finance for the home. That's the kind of professional support you'll get from an estate agent.

So, it's also knowing what the right questions are that you have to ask as a homeowner, as well?

Absolutely. And it's worth tapping into resources and finding out what advice others have got on the issue before you sell.

What's our Simon Bray tip of the day?

When you're talking estate agents, you can look at the commission and think that it's quite a hefty price to pay. But paying for professional service is a lot better than paying for amateur service. So if you find the right agent, they're absolutely worth the money.

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